A steady complaint about small-format digital SLRs is that they lose wide-angle possibilities. With their smaller sensors, they take lenses that we've known and loved from 35mm work and cause them to gain a telephoto effect. Focal lengths that worked great for wide-angle shots in nature lost that wide-angle feel.
Tamron has introduced a new wide-angle lens, the SP AF11-18mm ƒ/4.5-5.6 Di II LD Aspherical (IF) zoom, specifically matched to the needs of the small-format digital SLR. It covers the APS-sized sensor perfectly, but won't work on a traditional 35mm camera (or larger sensors). Its focal length range of 11-18mm is approximately equivalent to what you'd expect with a 17-28mm range on a full-frame 35mm camera.
I used the lens while working in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park recently and I truly fell in love with it. It's compact and lightweight—a perfect match for my small digital SLR. I like compact packages of lens and camera, and at 3.3x3.1 inches and 12.5 ounces, the lens fit my way of working perfectly. In addition, it performed beautifully in the field. Photos from it are crisp and sharp.
Tamron's 11-18mm zoom is a digital lens with new multicoatings and designs to make it work with digital camera sensors (which have a protective cover that's reflective). A quality addition to this lens is the use of special glass elements for higher image quality—the lens has one element of HID (High Index/High Dispersion glass) and LD glass to minimize chromatic aberrations. The lens also includes three aspherical elements—a high-precision, glass-molded aspherical element, plus two hybrid aspherical elements—important lens features to reduce aberration problems with wide-angle lenses.
The combination of low-dispersion glass and aspherical elements obviously works well for this lens, as it offers excellent results with the very short focal length of 11-18mm. And it's an internal focusing lens (IF), which keeps the lens short and compact as well as ensuring that the front of the lens doesn't rotate (important when you' re using filters with it).
The only limitation I found was the maximum ƒ-stop. To keep the lens small, the designers had to use a maximum ƒ-stop of ƒ/4.5 at 11mm that changes to ƒ/5.6 at 18mm. Still, I found that a small price to pay for the versatility of a lens that would easily fit my gadget bag. The Tamron SP AF11-18mm zoom has a list price of $981.95, although it likely will be found for a street price of around $600.
Contact: Tamron, (631) 858-8400, www.tamron.com.
Focal Length: 11-18mm designed for small-format digital SLRs
35mm Equivalent: Approx. 17-28mm
Maximum ƒ-stop: ƒ/4.5-5.6
Filter Size: 77mm
Minimum Focus: 9.8 inches
Size: 3.3x3.1 inches
Weight: 12.5 ounces
Mounts: Canon, Konica Minolta-D and Nikon-D
List Price: $981.95
|1 Highly corrected wide-angle zoom with aspheric and low-dispersion glass elements
2 Lens is both lightweight and compact