Writer’s Favorite Lens – the Tamron 18-270mm


Darren recently suggested that the dPS writers to contribute to a semi-regular series featuring our favorite lenses, and I knew, hands down, which lens I wanted to feature: my daily workhorse, the Tamron 18-270mm lens. All photographs in this article, with the exception of the lens itself were taken with the Tamron 18-270mm.

church, fall, autumn, architecture, framing, fall leaves, Tamron18-270mm

Introducing the Tamron 18-270mm

The full name of this lens is the Tamron 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD lens. It is a great all-in-one zoom lens and covers a wide-range of photography situations. Vibration control (VC) allows you to handhold at slower shutter speeds, and the proprietary piezodrive autofocus is quiet and fairly fast. Tamron makes versions of this lens compatible with Canon, Nikon, and Sony camera bodies. While some may argue that this lens is a “jack-of-all-trades but master of none,” I would contend that the Tamron is a perfect fit for the photographer looking to get a lot of use out of a single lens.

camera lens, tamron, tamron18-270, all-in-one zoom, zoom lens, photography

Ideal Uses for the Tamron 18-270mm

The Tamron 18-270mm is a perfect lens for travel photography and for the photographer-on-the-go who does not want to spend time constantly switching lenses or hauling large amounts of gear. In a single lens, you have the capability of shooting everything from wide angle, to 50mm, to a pretty substantial zoom.

When I made the decision to upgrade and replace my two kit lenses (the Canon 18-55mm and 55-250mm), I knew that I wanted a lens or lenses that would cover a similar range of photography situations and offer an improvement in image quality. I was also preparing for some extensive traveling (including backpacking) and did not have an endless budget, so both weight and cost were important considerations.

hiking, backpacking, Badlands, tent, camping, travel photography, Tamron18-270mm

At 450 g (0.99 lbs) this is not a light lens, but it compares favorably to other long zoom lenses, such as the Canon 55-250mm I was replacing (390 g or 0.86 lbs), the Canon 24-105mm (525 g or 1.16 lbs), or the Canon 70-300mm (630 g or 1.39 lbs). After a long day of hiking and photographing, you will know that you have been carrying your camera around, but you would be hard-pressed to find another lens for a DSLR that will give you this range and flexibility that is any lighter.

Price-wise, the Tamron is a steal. This lens retails today for around $450 USD, and its newly-released upgrade, the Tamron 16-300 f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro currently retails for $599 USD, after rebate. This is a great value for a quality lens for those who lack unlimited funds to spend on multi-thousand dollar lenses.

Advantages of All-in-One Zooms

The main advantage of an all-in-one zoom lens, like the Tamron, is the flexibility. You can go from shooting a wide-open landscape shot to a close-up zoom of an individual bird in the flick of a wrist. These two photographs at Mammoth Hot Springs were taken just moments apart, at the two extremes of the Tamron’s range. If look carefully in the middle left of the wide view, you can just make out the bird. You will no longer have the excuse of “not having the right lens” if you miss a prime photographic opportunity.

Yellowstone, Mammoth Hot Springs, landscape, photography, National Park, wide angle, Tamron18-270mm

Yellowstone, Mammoth Hot Springs, landscape, photography, National Park, zoom lens, Tamron18-270mm, bird, wildlife

Never having to change lenses also keeps my camera and sensor cleaner, my reaction speed faster, and my backpack and purse emptier. I rarely travel around with a full camera bag, since I can slip an extra battery or a few filters into a pocket or my purse. In fact, I can easily stow the entire camera, with the Tamron lens attached, in my fairly-small purse without incident (though I usually use a neoprene wrap around it).


The Tamron 18-270mm lens is a great lens for you if you do not want to specialize or you want to shoot a wide range of subjects and situations. You can go from shooting close-ups in the mornings, to architecture at midday, to your child’s soccer game in the afternoon, and still have the same lens on for shooting a few shots of the moon before bed.

closeup, macro, bee, bumblebee, Tamron18-270mm

architecture, theater, blackandwhite, Tamron18-270mm

moon, full moon, eclipse, night photography, astrophotography, Tamron18-270mm

The main downside to an all-in-one zoom is that you have a range of aperture values across the different focal lengths. With the Tamron 18-270mm, I can shoot as wide as f/3.5 at 18mm but only have f/6.3 at 270mm. Prime lenses offer much wider aperture values. As a workaround, backing up and using the longer focal lengths still allow you to capture decent blur and bokeh.

If you want a zoom or all-in-one zoom lens with a wider aperture value across the whole range, you need to be prepared to shell out significantly more money (say, a cool $2199 USD for the Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM or $1450 for the version without image stabilization).

Why I Love the Tamron 18-270mm

In the end, your favorite lens comes down to what you want to shoot and how much you can afford. For me, the Tamron 18-270mm was an excellent choice to satisfy my wide-ranging photographic interests on a limited budget. The majority of photographs that I take, including those for my articles here on dPS, have been shot using my trusty Tamron 18-270mm lens. With this single lens, I am ready for nearly any photographic opportunity that comes my way.

6 month old, newborn photography, infant, baby, mother and child, mom, Tamron18-270mm, portrait

What will you shoot? What’s your favorite lens?

More Favorite Lenses from our Writers

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category

Katie McEnaney is an educator and photographer from Madison, Wisconsin. Read more tips on her blog, Boost Your Photography. Her first eBook, Boost Your Photography: Learn Your DSLR, is now available for Kindle on Amazon.

  • greg

    I bought this lens for a relative with a Canon SL1 instead of the kit lens. Great pictures. Well worth the money! Tamron is producing some great glass for a whole lot less!

  • lisa5295

    Alexandra . I can see what your saying… Lucille `s c0mment is super… last friday I got a great new BMW 5-series from earning $9361 this – 4 weeks past and-over, ten k this past munth . this is certainly the most-financially rewarding I’ve had . I began this six months/ago and almost straight away started bringin home minimum $86 per/hr . see here now…..>> -> internet paying jobs for home!!! <-

  • Russell Bell

    I love my Sigma 18-250mm lens. I use it on a Canon 70D and the auto focus is fantastic.

  • lfl

    I bought this lens to replace a Tamron 18-200 and I have to say that I have yet to make peace with it. The zoom creep is awful – at least on mine. I NEVER had that problem with the old one and have read that the lensband (or even one of those plastic “cause” bracelets) will fix it so I’ll be giving that a try. I notice a lot more flare with this lens, too. I’m hoping to love it as much as I loved my old one (we were bonded). Any suggestions happily received…

  • Stephen Phillips

    what do you and readers think of the Canon 18-200 S lens? i have found it pretty good -worth changing if for the Tamron 18-270?

  • RamblerSteve

    I agree with you, Katie. I write and take photos for a motorcycle magazine and some newspaper and concert work as well, and have used the Tamron 18-270 for the last 5 years. Prior to that I used a Sigma 28-300 lens and had to sharpen nearly every photo I sent in. The Tamron has performed flawlessly and I have never had to sharpen an image that was shot through it. The range is nearly perfect on the Canon 50d I’ve was shooting with. Yes, I have the standard Canon 16-35 and 70-200 2.8 lenses which work well in low light and require that I carry two cameras but on multi-day events they get pretty heavy especially if I’m logging several miles a day at an event on my feet. The Tamron lens is perfect for these events as I only have to carry one camera and a lightweight lens that wiil operate in all of the focal points I use. 90% of all the photos I take are with this lens and several of them have wound up on the front cover, My only complaints are that even with the VC, it is not a low light lens, the lens creep is substantial and I often would like to be able to get a little closer to the subject sometimes so I am considering the new Tamron 16-300 to replace it. The new lens also has some degree of waterproofing over the older model and gets me down to 16mm (24mm cropped) on the short end. It should work fine on my new 7d Mark 2. For low light I still have my 2.8’s on a 5d.

  • Judge_Snyder

    I have one of these. As a travel lens it’s hard to beat.

    Yes, If I’m doing more specialised photography (Wildlife, low light etc) then I’m going to revert to a prime designed for the task, but when I’m just doing the touristy thing and want to keep gear to a minimum then this lens never lets me down, and has enough capability to deliver quality images.

  • Mark Altmeyer

    When I can get it to fire without going to error 01 it’s a almost decent lens. Serious distortion on the edges and this isn’t the first Tamron to act this way.

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