Any lens that is capable of taking good shots in a variety of conditions will always be a hit and high in demand. All-in-one lenses offer more flexibility than any other kind, eliminating the need to lug around too much gear.
The 16-300mm lens by Tamron is one of the latest additions to this category. Vendors market it as the go-to option for zooming in tight for close-ups and taking wide-angle photos. In this Tamron 16-300mm review, we’ll look at some of the things to consider when buying the 16-300mm lens. The question is, does it live up to the claims? Let’s find out.
Tamron 16-300mm – Our Opinion
The Tamron 16-300mm is a wide-angle telephoto lens designed for DSLR cameras with the APS-C sensor. It offers premium features like a 35mm focal range of 24-450mm, Vibration Compensation for combating blur, 39cm minimum focus distance, Piezo Drive motor, and more. It comes in different fits for various camera types, including Nikon, Sony, and Canon.
- Great value for your money
- Effective VC stabilization
- Offers all-in-one versatility
- Has close focusing capabilities
- Improved weather-resistant build
- Slower maximum apertures
- Less reliable autofocus when zoomed out
- Sharpness reduces at longer focal lengths
- Lens feels tight and heavy
- Noticeable chromatic aberration
What we like
Superzoom telephoto lenses have always been a compromise, offering wide focal range and versatility at the expense of high aperture figures and image quality. While this holds for the Tamron 16-300mm, it does a better job by addressing weak spots and improving specifications. Compared to the previous 18-270mm, this lens offers a better focal range and a higher zoom ratio of 18.8x. Its ability to frame subjects 2.4inches across is quite beneficial.
The Tamron 16-300mm comes with many mechanical improvements that can benefit all-round photographers. The focusing ring is better positioned and supports a full-time manual override. Its autofocus is a step up, while its VC stabilization is quite useful.
The moisture-resistant build, sleeker styling, and compact packaging are a huge bonus. Image quality is probably best at longer focal lengths. The lens also delivers crisp and sharp images across the frame, making it a perfect fit for landscape photography.
What we don’t like
Unfortunately, the Tamron 16-300mm has its fair share of downsides, starting with a downturn in sharpness at the edges at 200-300mm. The sharpness at this range is wanting, and the many levels of chromatic aberrations don’t help matters.
The other issue is that Tamron assumes that the main subject is almost always at longer settings. Vignetting is not an issue, though, and the distortions and chromatic aberrations can be fixed post-processing.
Focus breathing, which refers to the reduction in focal length at closer focusing distance, appears to be a constant problem that has no fix. While it won’t always affect image quality, it may become problematic when dealing with smaller subjects like birds.
Alternative telephoto zoom lenses you may consider purchasing include:
- Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM – This lens comes with two fluoride low dispersion elements. It has an incredibly fast autofocus system and excellent image stabilization, hence sharper images in the long-range. The carrying strap helps with transportation, especially since the lens weighs nearly 6 pounds.
- Nikon AF-S 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR – Highlights include a fast ring-type ultrasonic autofocus, updated stabilizer, four extra-low dispersion elements, sealed mounting plate, and super ED element.
- Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM – This might be good if you want a lens on a tight budget. Some of its features include two low-ultra dispersion elements, four-stop image stabilizer, fast and accurate autofocus, and comprehensive weather seals. The contrast and sharpness are perfect throughout the zoom range.
Features and Benefits
- Seven circular diaphragm blades
- f/22-f/40 minimum aperture
- 15.3 inches minimum focusing distance
- Canon, Nikon and Sony mount
- 16-300mm focal length
Performance and image quality
The sharpness at 16mm and maximum aperture are outstanding, and peak sharpness is attainable at f/1.8. However, it reduces considerably towards 70mm, and some clarity at the edges of the frame is noticeable. Chromatic aberrations are an issue at 300mm and highly visible along the edge of the frame. While its macro performance tends to reduce at 300mm, this lens holds up nicely considering its wide zoom range.
Bokeh is creamy and color reproduction quite impressive. The inclusion of three aspherical lens elements helps keep aberration and vignetting at bay. There is discernible softening around the edges at wider apertures.
At just over a pound, the Tamron 16-300mm is significantly denser than its predecessor the 18-270mm lens. It is also half an inch shorter, but this doesn’t make handling any more difficult. The f/5.6 aperture helps minimize weight and bulk. Tamron moved the focus ring to the back, thus providing full-time manual override while ensuring it doesn’t move during autofocus. The zoom action is more cumbersome and lump-free.
Considering the barrel telescopes out to double the length, the minimal wobble at full stretch is acceptable for a consumer-grade lens. The thing though is that it doesn’t affect image quality. The lens can focus to within 3.5 inches of the front element. At a 300mm focal length, this means the lens can focus on subjects 2.4 inches wide.
Like most lenses nowadays, this one is made from high-grade plastic. The 16-300mm can also hold up in rainy condition as it comes with a sealing gasket.
Tamron’s Vibration Compensation System does not disappoint when it comes to image stabilization. It makes a massive difference in image quality, even at 300mm and below the standard hand-holding threshold. It sets a baseline that accounts for individual variables and establishes acceptable limits of sharpness.
The Tamron 16-300mm uses the PZD Piezo Drive ultrasonic motor to focus, which is smooth, accurate, and operates silently. It is swift at extended settings, taking 0.6secs to shift from 3 meters to 5 meters at 300mm. This makes the 16-300mm suitable for sharp sports and action photo shoots. The maximum aperture increases to f/6.3 at 300mm, which is beyond the f/5.6 norm for most DSLRs.
The autofocus performs well on different subjects at varying settings, particularly at short and mid-range focal lengths. The only issue that could arise is at the long end when a photographer quickly switches from a close subject to a distant one. However, a user can fix this by adjusting the focus ring.
Fit and Finish
The Tamron 16-300mm comes with a hood as well as front and rear caps. It is considerably lighter than other lenses with a similar aperture and zoom range. At 3.9 inches long, it feels compact, too. However, it extends to nearly double the length when zoomed out.
Generally, the lens feels solid and doesn’t rattle or have any gaps. The controls are well placed to allow for ease of use. Both zoom and focusing rings are made from rubber with enough bite to adjust the lens without the sticky feel of cheaper lenses.
Tamron includes tips for taking better shots along with the paperwork that comes with the lens. Not many manufacturers go the extra mile to educate users on how to get the most from their lenses.
Deeper finger grips
More pinchable clips make it easier to attach and remove lens caps.
Manual override autofocus
It allows photographers to adjust focus in autofocus mode. This manual mode not only saves time but helps maintain mental focus while working.
Zoom lock function
A lockable zoom eliminates constant pulling of the barrel, which is highly likely when hiking or walking with a large lens.
Aspherical lens elements
They help minimize some distortions.
General user impressions
For most users, the Tamron 16-300mm lens is not perfect but proved its worth. The autofocus system is fast and accurate. Many found that the manual focus ring is easy to use and smooth. Some users say the zoom is a bit stiff when new, and the zoom lock function prevents zoom creep. Many are also in agreement that image stabilization is excellent, allowing them to capture crisp handheld photos shot at slower shutter speeds.
Some users cited slight fall-off at the corners, though. The consensus is that the lens is relatively light and easy to carry around. It is also versatile, and unlike other lenses, doesn’t have an issue vignetting. However, some users took issue with the distortion at wider edges, but what lens doesn’t have the same problem?
From architecture and portraits to close-ups and landscapes, this lens does a great job. Optical distortions are noticeable in the middle of the range, but these are easily fixable during post-processing. All in all, the Tamron 16-300mm is a nice upgrade from other cheaper kit lens. It offers stunning image quality and all-in-one versatility that travelers so much desire.
Other users were happy because of the solid build and the weather sealing that makes it usable in rainy conditions. On the flip side, many users claim this camera feels cumbersome compared to similar lenses.
Things to Consider
We’re all hunting for the perfect all-in-one option to complete shoots with a single lens. Such a lens is capable of handling any photographic demand – macro shots, portraits, grouping photos, wide-angle landscapes, and telephoto framing of distant objects, to name a few. The all-in-one zoom lens for DSLRs and mirrorless cameras is one such jack of all trades.
We give Tamron some credit for providing the lens movement a boost by releasing the Zoom Wide Angle Telephoto 28-200mm in 1992. It was specially designed for 35mm cameras (see our full list of the best 35mm film cameras) and universally regarded as the first high-ratio zoom lens. Since then, interchangeable lenses have been released, with the latest ones offering a whopping 33x zoom range.
Getting through the maze of lenses can seem like a fulltime job for the unaccustomed buyer. With hundreds of designs and models, how do you know which model is right for you? Here are a few factors to consider during your search:
This is a common feature in telephoto lenses, particularly those with a slow aperture. It helps minimize camera movement and shake while in motion. Manufacturers use different names for this feature; Image Stabilization (Canon), Vibration Reduction (Nikon), Optical Stabilizer (Sigma) and Vibration Compensation (Tamron).
If you’re going to shoot on the fly, you want to ensure you get a camera that provides image stabilization. Without it, the shutter speed drops below the focal length, and the resulting image is blurry.
Modern telephoto lenses come with autofocus features that pulse with stepping motors. They are a huge step up from ultrasonic motors as they are quiet and allow for smooth focus transmissions.
A higher focal length often means the lens will be more zoomed out. Short telephoto lenses (70-105mm) are suitable for portrait primes. They do a fantastic job of separating the subject from the background without really isolating it. For distant shots like landscape, consider telephoto lenses in the 105-300mm range. Anything higher than this range will suit animal and sports photography.
This refers to the opening through which light enters into the lens. A smaller hole will allow more light to go through than a wider one. The result is a shallow depth of field that makes it easier to shoot in darker conditions. When shopping, consider purchasing a lens with the smallest aperture possible.
Low dispersion lens
Cheap glass often results in chromatic aberration, and that’s something you want to avoid.
Silent wave motor
In addition to being reasonably quiet when shooting, this type of motor focuses faster and doesn’t move when focusing.
If you have a smaller camera with a smaller sensor, you’ll need this feature.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Does the Tamron 16-300mm have image stabilization?
A: Yes, it uses Tamron’s Visual Compensation stabilization system that enables it to take good shots at slower shutter speeds.
Q: What kinds of mounts are available?
A: The Tamron 16-300mm comes in three fits; Nikon, Canon, and Sony. The Sony version doesn’t have VC stabilization since all Sony cameras have built-in image stabilization.
Q: Which focus motor does the Tamron 16-300mm use?
A: It uses the patented Piezo Drive ultrasonic-drive autofocus motor, which is swift, accurate, and quiet.
Q: What optical improvement does this lens offer compared to the previous lens?
A: Increased focal lengths at both ends of the scale resulting in sharper images. Also, vignetting is not a problem, while blur resistance is impressive.
If you use a crop-sensor DSLR and don’t like the idea of switching lenses, the Tamron 16-300mm is a good contender. It is an all-in-one telephoto lens that handles all kinds of photography needs from close-ups to wide-angle while packing minimal gear.
It’s exceeded our expectations and is a pleasant surprise considering the wide focal range. The low weight and compact design make it an excellent choice for travelers and itinerant photographers. It also feels robust, thanks to its high-quality construction.