Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro
Compact and light, Tamron’s 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro lens has a lot in its favour. It’s arguably the best extended-range zoom lens we’ve reviewed so far, and is well qualified for our Editor’s Choice award.
Released in April 2014, Tamron’s new 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro lens uses the same PZD (Piezo Drive) ultrasonic motor as the 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD lens we reviewed in March 2011. It’s also designed for DSLR cameras with APS-C sized sensors but provides a wider 18.8x zoom range with focal lengths equivalent to approximately 25.6-480mm on the Canon cameras we used for our tests.
Angled view of the 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro lens. (Source: Tamron.)
On Nikon and Sony DSLRs this lens provides a focal length range equivalent to 24.8-465mm in 35mm format. Lenses with the Sony mount don’t include the VC image stabilisation mechanism, since stabilisation is built into Sony’s DSLR cameras.
The optical design is complex and based upon16 elements in 12 groups. Three glass-moulded aspherical lenses and one hybrid aspherical element are included, along with two low dispersion (LD) elements, one XR (Extra Refractive index) glass element, and one element of UXR (Ultra-Extra Refractive Index) glass, as shown in the diagram below.
The performance of the review lens was much better than we expected, given its 18.8x zoom range. Although not a match for prime lenses or significantly shorter zooms with respect to resolution, it is still an outstanding performer for a zoom with such a long focal length range.
Provided you’re not fixated on having edge-to-edge sharpness at wide apertures, the usable aperture range is actually quite broad. Even at maximum aperture with the 300mm focal length, image sharpness in the centre of the frame should be good enough to suit most potential users’ requirements.
Most aberrations were handled remarkably well and distortion, though moderate, is easily corrected in modern cameras. The small amount of vignetting we found should have little or no impact on most shots.
Mechanically, the lens performs exactly as it should, providing smooth and controllable zooming, negligible zoom creep and the ability to fine tune focusing manually. Autofocusing is virtually silent and the in-built stabilisation provided a reliable couple of f-stops of shutter speed compensation.
Combine these advantages with weather protection and a physical size that is both compact and light and Tamron’s 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro lens has a lot in its favour. It’s arguably the best extended-range zoom lens we’ve reviewed so far, and is well qualified for our Editor’s Choice award.
- Build: 9.0
- Handling: 8.5
- Image quality: 8.5
- Versatility: 9.0