My favorite photo subjects are birds, and I like to travel light, so I do most of my shooting with one lens, a fast telephoto. But between close encounters of the bird kind, I often come across lovely landscapes and flowers that require a much wider or closer viewpoint. The 18-200mm zoom lenses for my small-sensor digital SLR aren’t quite long enough for most birds and other distant wildlife, while the 28-300mm lenses aren’t really wide-angle on such D-SLRs. So I have to carry another lens or two or miss out on those non-bird photo ops.
Tamron’s new AF18-250mm ƒ/3.5-6.3 Di II LD Aspherical (IF) zoom provides a pleasant solution to this problem. Optimized for APS-C-sensor D-SLRs, the lens offers 35mm camera-equivalent focal lengths of about 29-400mm in a single, handy, compact package—a 13.9:1 zoom ratio that goes from true wide-angle to true supertelephoto at the twist of a wrist. And the lens focuses down to a 1:3.5 reproduction ratio, so it can handle flower close-ups, too.
One feature I especially like is that you don’t have to fumble around to enter (and later escape from) a special macro mode when you want to focus on nearby subjects. Focusing is continuous from infinity to 17.7 inches at all focal lengths. Focusing-ring travel is about a one-eighth turn, so manual focusing is very quick. (I always focus close-ups manually because precise focusing is important when depth of field is minimal.) Another useful feature is a handy zoom lock that keeps the lens at its shortest physical length while you’re trekking between shots.
The 250mm long end of the focal-length range works for a variety of flying critters (and land-loving fauna, too).
At 250mm, the ƒ/6.3 maximum aperture slows autofocusing some compared to my 300mm ƒ/4 bird lens, but that 300mm weighs nearly three times as much as the 18-250mm, costs more than twice as much and provides just the one focal length. And the 18-250mm gave me some bird shots I wouldn’t have captured with the 300mm because I wouldn’t have taken the big 300mm into that rough terrain.
Currently, the 18-250mm is available in Canon, Nikon, Pentax/Samsung and Sony/Maxxum mounts.
Contact: Tamron, www.tamron.com.