Tamron AF 18-200mm F3.5-6.3 XR Di-II LD IF - Verdict

Verdict

Delivering a focal range equivalent to 27-300mm on most DSLRs, the Tamron 18-200mm is a highly versatile lens. Its massive 11.1x zoom range allows you to capture both wide landscape shots and decent close-ups of distant subjects such as wildlife without worrying about carrying additional lenses.

Unsurprisingly a lens with this kind of focal range is rarely going to perform as well as one with a shorter range, but we were impressed overall by the results possible. Certainly unless you’re into extreme wide or telephoto work, or demand the ultimate quality, you could really be very happy with one of these lenses. Indeed many photographers could fit one and never take it off again – and that’s not only highly convenient but also greatly reduces the potential for dust to enter the camera body.

So an 18-200mm could be the ideal lens for you, but since the Tamron and Sigma models essentially cost the same, which one should you go for? Or is it really worth spending double on the Nikkor version?

Looking at the Tamron and Sigma results first, both lenses scored similarly in many respects: their macro, fringing, geometric distortion and vignetting results were essentially the same with only slight variations. Where they differed were in our outdoor and corner sharpness results.

As can be seen on our corner sharpness results page, the Sigma clearly doesn’t perform as well as the Tamron in the extreme corners at both their 18 and 200mm focal lengths. Switch to the outside test taken at a focal length of 35mm though, and the Tamron crops are noticeably less sharp than its rival. Comparing their physical characteristics, the Tamron’s a little larger and heavier than the Sigma, while its focusing is slightly louder. They’re subtle differences though.

Ultimately there’s not a great deal to choose between the Tamron and Sigma 18-200mm lenses. A handful of our results favoured one over the other, but neither took a decisive lead overall. Since the prices are essentially the same, we therefore have to call it a draw, and leave the final decision between which personally looks and feels better in your hand.

Which brings us to the Nikkor. It may offer the same focal range, but sports three key differences. Most importantly, there’s the inclusion of Vibration Reduction which as we illustrated in our review, effectively combats camera shake. Secondly there’s the slightly optically faster focal ratio of f5.6 at the telephoto end. Third, the Nikkor model boasts noticeably superior build quality which extends to the smoothness of the mechanics and silence of its focusing. In terms of our results, it also took the lead in corner sharpness and vignetting at wide angle, although the macro reproduction was less impressive.

The Nikkor 18-200mm is clearly a superior lens in many respects, but only you can decide if its benefits justify paying twice the price of the Tamron or Sigma. While we at Cameralabs believe its worth spending the extra on the Nikkor if you can afford it, anyone on a tighter budget can’t fail but be impressed by the sheer value of the Tamron and Sigma lenses. They both offer a very impressive deal for the money and come recommended.


Good points
Highly versatile 11.1x zoom range
Great value
Relatively small and light – great travel lens
Polariser-friendly internal focusing

Bad points
Sigma version very similar
Pricier Nikkor version has anti-shake
Pricier Nikkor version is optically faster
Pricier Nikkor version has better build quality

Scores
(relative to other zooms)

 


Build quality:
Optical quality:
Specification:
Value:

17 / 25
19 / 25
20 / 25
22 / 25

78%

 

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