Andy Westlake takes a detailed look at a budget all-in-one superzoom for APS-C DSLRs
Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC – Build and handling
In terms of build quality, the 18-200mm is pretty much what we might expect for a £169 lens. The barrel is predominantly plastic, with rubberised grips on the zoom and focus rings. The lens mount is unusual in that it’s made from plastic but with a metal sleeve on the inside that’s presumably designed to minimise wear. A feature of note is a rubber seal around the mount designed to protect against water getting into the camera. With this in mind, Tamron refers to the lens as ‘splash resistant’, but cautions against using it in heavy rain.
On the camera, the lens handles pretty well. Weighing just 400g, it’s the lightest DSLR lens of its type, although at 97mm in length and 75mm in diameter, it’s noticeably larger than Sigma’s equivalent. The zoom mechanism is quite firm, though, and can be jerky when trying to fine-tune composition. But on a more positive note, I didn’t find it at all susceptible to ‘zoom creep’, with no tendency to collapse or extend under its own weight when the camera is pointed up or down. So while the lens can be locked at 18mm using a small switch on the zoom ring, I never felt the need to use it.
Two switches on the side of the barrel control image stabilisation and focusing mode. Like other inexpensive DSLR lenses, the focus ring shouldn’t be turned when the lens is set to AF. However, when it’s switched to M, the manual focus ring rotates smoothly enough. It traverses a pretty small angle from infinity to minimum focus, but despite this I found manual focusing to be straightforward and precise.
Activating the image stabilisation with a half-press of the shutter button gives an uncannily stable viewfinder image, which helps a lot with composition, especially towards the long end of the zoom. I found it was generally good for around 3 stops of stabilisation, with your chances of getting a sharp image improved by taking a few duplicate shots when using slow shutter speeds.