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Tamron AF18-270mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC LD Aspherical (IF) Macro zoom lens
Tamron's new 18mm-270mm raises the bar for the all-in-one lens segment in many areas
By Robert Jensen

Tamron's Di II type lenses are designed for APS-C sized digital cameras so translating the 18mm-270 mm (15X zoom) into a more understandable measurement it zooms from 28mm to an amazing 419mm equivalent in 35mm film camera terms.

Face it, most people who step up from the point-and-shoot type of digital cameras aren't interested in carrying around 2 or 3, or more, lenses and constantly changing back and forth between them. Who of you out there who do own several lenses has missed that once in a lifetime shot while switching lenses? Thus the popularity of the all-in-one lens.

There are two technologies that help make the modern all-in-one lens perform much better than they used to.

Optical Image Stabilization
The advance in optical electronics, image stabilization, has brought the amateur and professional photographer alike better images by compensating for the small movements we all make hand holding the camera while the image is being captured. Such movement is often mistaken by the beginning photographer as poor optics. Over the 25 years I worked in a camera store I had my share of times where a customer showed me an enlargement of a shot they'd taken that was blurry.

Caption: This lens has an incredible 15x zoom packed into a small size. Click for full view


They'd come back to the store to complain that the lens, or camera, they'd recently bought was defective. I'd take one look at the photo and could tell where the problem lay. I then would explain motion of the camera during exposure and mention that that's why tripods were a good thing to shoot with, even though they greatly increased the weight of gear you had to carry. I'd also try to give them some tips on how to hold the camera steadier when a tripod wasn't handy to carry with you. Lens stabilization has been a real boon to photography over the past 14 or so years.

This is shown at 100% size and was taken at 1/100 second at 419mm, normally I'd have to shoot at 10x that, 1/1000 or maybe 1/2000, to get something this sharp.

Second shot is the best out of a series of shots with VC turned off. Click for full view

Tamron has dubbed its implementation of image stabilization, VC (vibration compensation) and it is a step up from the competition. Instead of a simpler design that only senses along an X/Y axis the Tamron incorporates a 3 axis design that senses movements in 360 degrees of rotation, in real time, to give you better stability. When I say real time, that means there's no delay when panning like with some other lenses where you start to pan with the action and after a delay the lens mechanism jumps to catch up.

One advantage of having image stabilization in your lens is when you're using a Polarizing filter which can cut your exposure by 1.5 to over 2 stops. Suddenly you find your stuck either going to a much higher ISO speed or compensate or risking very blurry photos. Funny how that 2 step improvement is just the advantage that most image stabilizers give you. So their respective advantages/disadvantages pretty much cancel each other out but that's a good thing when you must use a Polarizing filter to get that improvement in your photographs. 

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