Then, around Summer 2011, something happened. I got a Fuji X100.
The Fuji X100 was so much fun to shoot with. No longer did you have to lug around a heavy DSLR with a heavy lens on it – the X100, although sometimes too big to fit in your jacket pocket, it was still lightweight compared to DSLR – and it was a lot less obtrusive, and near-silent, nobody – I mean, nobody – could hear you snap a photo. Let me repeat: Nobody could hear you take a photo – the “leaf shutter” was amazingly silent. That made the camera well suited for street photography.
I discovered photography on a whole other level. The level where it doesn’t matter if a pixel is super sharp or not, but what matters more, is the quality of your photo, not the sharpness of each pixel. Pretty much since then, that expensive Nikon 24-1200mm F4 lens had been on the shelf, rarely used. Don’t get me wrong, the Nikon 24-120mm F4 lens is an amazing lens with top-quality glass, perfect for those who demand the best from their camera and/or if you own a full-frame camera. I sold it a few months ago and replaced it with the new’ish Tamron 18-270mm PZD VC lens.
It’s full name is: Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD LD.
Here it is shown on my Nikon D7000:
And you know what? Despite it being a superzoom, which means less quality pixel sharpness, I’m really enjoying it. It doesn’t weigh much, it’s the smallest superzoom for DSLR’s out there, and I don’t have to change lenses all the time. Need a wideangle 18mm? I got that. Need to zoom in to 270mm? I got that too. What it does not have though, is a really wide aperture – so it does require a good amount of light, especially at 270mm which means f6.3. Good thing it has a really effective VC (Vibration Compensation) which gives you 3 or 4 f-stops, it’s as good as Nikon’s VR.
Oh, the Fuji X100 – I sold that one too. I believed that the X100 replacement was just around the corner and I wanted to get rid of the X100 while it was still hot, a few weeks later, X1 Pro was announced (still not available though). I don’t know if second-hand X100’s dropped in price after that, but it certainly didn’t increase in price.
Anyway, back to Tamron 18-270mm PZD. If you’ve read that Tamron 18-270mm is a slow and bad lens, you’re right – the old version probably was. Make sure you get the new one with “PZD” which means it’s much faster at auto-focusing.
Overall I’m satisfied with my Tamron. It makes it easy just to grab the D7000 and go shoot all day with just one lens. In my pocket, I’ll usually have either a Nikon 35mm f1.8 or 50mm f1.8, just in case I need something with shallow depth of field.
As for the quality/pixel sharpness of Tamron 18-270mm PZD, well, it’s decent. I don’t miss anything in daily use, but it does help if you stop it down a bit, to get better corner sharpness. I shoot it wide-open most of the time, but sometimes I step it down one or two stops if there’s enough light available or if I want to make sure I get the best out of the lens. When I compare a 18mm shot at f3.5 with a f8 shot, looking in the corners at 100%, I can see that the f8 shot is sharper – but when I zoom out, and compare the f3.5 with f8 in full-screen on my computer, one at a time, I’m not seeing any difference.
If you’re a pixel peeper, this lens is NOT for you. If you just want a single lens for most stuff and you care more about getting the shot than getting sharp pixels, you may like this lens. It currently sells for $649 on Amazon and is available for both Canon, Nikon and Sony.
Also I wanted to show you how effective zooming from 18mm to 270mm really is – so here’s a few shots where I go through the zoom range. Don’t judge the corner sharpness on these photos please, I had focused on the dome in the center of the frame and, especially on the 18mm shot, the stuff in the lower corners are only a few meters in front of the camera, compared to the dome which is 4200 feet (1.3km) away.
Tamron 18-270mm PZD at 18mm:
Tamron 18-270mm PZD at 70mm:
Tamron 18-270mm PZD at 185mm:
Tamron 18-270mm PZD at 270mm:
So, there you have it, my impressions of Tamron 18-270mm PZD. Superzoom lenses are not for everybody, but for many people, they can easily save the day. Whether you get this Tamron, or Nikon’s own 18-200mm VR II, or Sigma 18-250mm OS HSM, you’re going to get a decent and versatile lens, with Nikon probably being able to deliver the best quality. The difference between 200mm and 270mm is not that big, so if money is not an object, I’d probably go with Nikon, but for the money, the Tamron is a really good buy.
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