Tamron have unveiled what they are claiming is the world’s first ultra-telephoto all-in-one zoom lens for APS-C sensors. The Tamron 18-400mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD provides a ridiculous range, with a 22.2x zoom. This type of focal range is basically what you would get if you were using a 2/3″ ENG broadcast lens such as the $46,800 Fujinon UA22x8BERD.
If you only have one lens, make it an 18-400?
If you truly do want one lens for your Super 35mm digital cinema camera that covers every focal length you may possibly need, then this is it. Ultra-telephoto all-in-one zoom lenses definitely can have their drawbacks, but in certain scenarios they allow you to get shots that you would otherwise miss.
Tamron say that their latest optical design includes elements such as LD (Low Dispersion) glass and aspherical lens elements. They also claim that problems like chromatic aberration and distortion are controlled throughout the entire zoom range, regardless of whether you are shooting at wide or telephoto focal lengths.
The lens is also compact and lightweight at just 121.4mm long and weighing in at only 705g (1.55lb). It has a 72mm front filter diameter and an impressive close focus ability of just 45cm (17.7 in).
Most ultra telephoto zooms that I have tried have had horrible mechanics, especially when it comes to the extending zoom barrel. Tamron however, claim that an all-new barrel design distributes complex movements across three cams, so that all zoom extensions are smooth and easy.
The lens also features Tamron’s HLD (High/Low torque-modulated Drive) for more accurate and quieter focusing. This HLD design also has the added benefit of providing a space-saving AF module that has helped reduce the overall size of the lens.
The 18-400mm also benefits from Tamron’s VC (Vibration Compensation) technology which is important to have, especially at longer focal lengths.
Ultra-telephoto zooms: practical, not wonderful
While ultra-telephoto all-in-one zoom lenses don’t offer the optical performance of zooms with smaller focal ranges they can come in very handy when covering news and documentaries. I used a Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC LD on my Sony F3 back in 2011 to cover the Japanese earthquake/tsunami for this very reason. Even though the manual focus and zoom mechanism were horrible, the lens allowed me to cover almost everything I shot.
Price, availability and specs
The Tamron 18-400mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD will be available in July in either Canon or Nikon mount for $649 US.
Focal Length 18-400mm
Maximum Apertur F/3.5-6.3
Angle of View (diagonal) 75°33′ – 4°
(for APS-C format)
Optical Construction 16 elements in 11 groups
Minimum Object Distance* 0.45m (17.7 in)
Maximum Magnification Ratio 1:2.9
Filter Size Φ72mm
Maximum Diameter Φ79mm
Length** 123.9mm (4.9 in) Canon, 121.4mm (4.8 in) Nikon
Weight 710g (25 oz) Canon, 705g (24.9 oz) Nikon
Aperture Blades 7 (circular diaphragm)
Minimum Aperture F/22-40
Image Stabilization Performance 2.5 Stops (CIPA Standards Compliant)
For Canon: EOS-80D is used / For Nikon: D7200 is used
Standard Accessories Flower-shaped lens hood, Lens caps
Compatible Mounts Canon, Nikon
* The MOD (minimum object distance) may change if camera is used in live view mode.
** Length is the distance from the front tip of the lens to the lens mount face.
What do you think about the 18-400mm F/3.5-6.3? Would you buy one? Let us know in the comments below.