Tamron 18-200mm zoom lens for Sony NEX - Review

Sony NEX-7 Tamron 18-200mm zoom lens
Sony NEX-7 Tamron 18-200mm zoom lens

This is Tamron's first lens for the Sony NEX system, though as Sony is a significant shareholder in the company, they probably do make other lenses.  However this is their first branded version.It is different from the Sony 18-200mm in that it is less bulky and 100g lighter. Though not a light lens, it doesn't overwhelm the NEX cameras in quite the same way as the Sony lens. It also has Tamrons proprietry image stabilisation system.

Sony NEX-7 Tamron 18-200mm zoom lens

Sony NEX-7 Tamron 18-200mm zoom lens

The first thing to say is that its a very well made lens. The zoom grip is large as you can see and the lens has a lovely feel to it. Not to loose, not too tight. There is also no "zoom creep" whatsoever. There is also a rather nice metalled finish to this black version. There is also a hood provided with the lens.

In terms of optical performance, it performs very well. Raw files, processed via the newest version of Adobe Camera Raw, are mostly free of CA and fringing and the lens is certainly nice and sharp, with the exception of the usual superzoom weak spot, fully extended at 200mm.

Sony NEX-7 Tamron 18-200mm zoom lens

Sony NEX-7 Tamron 18-200mm zoom lens

Like most lenses of its type, its a pretty slow lens at the long end. f/3.5 at 18mm is OK but f/6.3 at 200mm is difficult. However it does have excellent image stabilisation which is fine unless you need a fast shutter speed, in which case you have to increase the ISO. The image below shows just how good the IS is.

Sony NEX-7 Tamron 18-200mm zoom lens

As you will be aware 1/8th.sec. at f/5.6 and ISO 1600 means that its pretty dark.To be honest, At the time I took it I didn't think this shot would work, but as you can see at 1/8th. sec. hand-held its pin sharp and I don't think many of us would have any complaints about that.

This performance is very similar to the Sony 18-200mm, and in fact I found that the pictures the Tamron took were close in terms of colour, sharpness etc. So maybe Tamron did make that lens after all.

Sony NEX-7 Tamron 18-200mm zoom lens

I must admit, I have gone back to a superzoom because of the improvements in raw processing from the latest version of ACR. Adobe's one tick CA removal and the new defringing control, now turns lenses like this into a viable quality option. Though these lenses are always going to be an optical compromise, software like Photoshop, with its new raw controls and lens profiling (CS6 has a profile for this lens) can significantly reduce these problems and allow lenses such as this to turn out files that are virtually indistinguishable from prime lenses. Add in the effect of what are now very sophisticated stabilisation systems and you have, for many uses, a very capable and useful lens. 

I must admit I was very pleasantly surprised by how well this lens performed  on the NEX-7. I like to use ISO 100 all the time and narrow apertures. I was working in bright sunlight which helped, but I was able to keep the lens stopped down to f/8 or f/11 for the majority of my pictures, knowing that the IS system would deal with the slower shutter speeds this created. 

So all in all a good lens. I'll add more as and when I use it.

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