Lens Test: Tamron 16–300mm f/3.5–6.3 DIII VC PZD Macro

Tamron ups the all-in-one ante

Tamron has once again thrown down the all-in-one zoom gauntlet, delivering the widest zoom range ever, 18.8X, in its 16–300mm f/3.5–6.3 DiII VC PZD Macro ($629, street). Covering an APS-C-sized sensor, the lens provides the full-frame equivalent of about a 24.8–465mm in a confoundingly petite package.

The lens boasts a stylish design with crisp, easily legible numerals and overall unshowy barrel markings that struck us as classy and restrained. Only the subject-distance scales caused some hesitation: Both feet and meters are in white, and we like the convenience of seeing these scales in contrasting colors.

The lens’ Piezo Drive autofocusing motor is quiet, fast, and accurate. Its manual-focus ring turns with a smooth, even action and a not-too-long-or-too-short 130-degree turning radius. At less than a half-inch across, though, the MF ring feels somewhat skimpy in scale.

On our optical bench, the zoom produced Excellent SQF scores at three focal lengths but, as is common for all-in-one zooms, it dipped two levels to Average numbers at its long end. The Tamron’s SQF numbers and distortion, as measured by our tests using DxO’s Analyzer 5.3, ran neck-and-neck with recently tested all-in-ones, including the Pentax 18–270mm, Sigma 18–250mm, and Tamron 18–270mm.

Optically, the lens comes into its own in the macro range. First, its subject magnification of 1:2.30 makes it the mightiest magnifier of recent all-in-ones. Second, it produced no edge vignetting at all in the macro range. And third, our tests found almost a complete absence of distortion (0.01% pincushioning) at its tight 12.75-inch close-focusing distance.

Another distinguishing virtue? At only one of its four tested focal lengths did we detect any edge falloff and, for that one (16mm), the vignetting disappeared by an easily forgivable f/4.

Between that (almost) 19X zoom, and its macro might, you could arguably shoot almost anything with this Tamron.


16-300mm: (16.61–299.76mm tested), f/3.5–6.3 (f/3.31–n.a. tested*), 16 elements in 12 groups. Focus ring turns 130 degrees. Zoom ring turns 80 degrees. Focal length marked at 16-, 35-, 50-, 70-, 100-, 200-, and 300mm.

Diagonal view angle: 82.5 degrees

Weight: 1.28 lbs

Filter Size: 67mm

Mounts: Canon AF, Nikon AF, Sony AF

Included: Lenshood

Street Price: $629

Website: tamron-usa.com


Distortion: At 16mm, 0.70% (Visible) barrel; at 35mm, 0.33% (Visible) pincushion; at 100mm, 0.30% (Slight) pincushion; at 300mm, 0.18% (Slight) pincushion

Macro Distortion: At 300mm, 0.01% (Imperceptible) pincushion

Light Falloff: At 16mm, gone by f/4; at 35mm, 100mm, and 300mm, none

Macro Light Falloff: At 300mm, none

Close-focusing D****istance: 12.93 inches

**Maximum magnification ratio: **At 16mm, 1:12.59; at 35mm, 1:5.34; at 100mm, 1:2.98, at 300mm, 1:2.30

Image Stabilization: 2.0 stops

Macro Stabilization: 2.0 stops