Tamron 18-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di III-A VC VXD - The Perfect All In One for Fuji X and Sony E

The Tamron 18-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di III-A VC VXD is a new 16.6x superzoom telephoto lens for Fujifilm X-series and Sony E APS-C mirrorless cameras. Recently Tamron has expanded its offering of APS-C lenses for Sony, releasing the 17-70mm f/2.8 and 11-20mm f/2.8 lenses in the last year. The 18-300mm marks a new feat for Tamron - its first Fujifilm X mount lens. We were sent a sample unit of the E-mount lens to test out - read on to see our thoughts and sample images. 

The 18-300mm is a fairly compact lens, coming in at just under 5” long when retracted. This makes it a great lens for those who want one lens to do it all, and those who like to travel with minimal gear, but still have a large range of focal length to work with. The f/3.5-6.3 aperture is fairly normal for a lens of this type, and having VC (Vibration Compensation) built in is a great feature for those Fuji and Sony cameras without IBIS. 

The build quality is solid,and is just like Tamron’s E-mount zooms. As with most lenses, it is weather sealed. When extended to 300mm, the lens almost doubles in length and the focus ring is fairly stiff - which some may like, but others may not.  

The lens has 19 elements in 5 groups, a 7 blade rounded aperture, and the often used 67mm filter thread. It also features impressive macro capabilities, with a minimum object distance of just 5.9 inches at the wide end, and 39 inches at 300mm . The autofocus motor uses the VXD motor - the same one found in the 70-180mm f/2.8. The only button/switch on the lens is the zoom lock switch, which locks the lens in at 18mm to prevent barrell creep. 

Like most all-in-one lenses, it may not be the sharpest or fastest lens, but compared to the current options on the market, the Tamron is definitely at the top. The sharpness is pretty impressive throughout the range with the peak sharpness coming from the 18-110mm range, though you won’t notice any quality differences unless you zoom in significantly on images. 

Despite being a relatively small aperture, the bokeh quality is quite nice, though the lens can be prone to flaring at wider angles compared to short wide angle zooms. As far as the aperture is concerned, it hits f/4 at 35mm, f/4.5 at 50mm, f/5 at 70mm, f/5.6 at 100mm, and finally hits f/6.3 at 200mm. 

Lens Performance

Overall during testing the lens, the AF was fast and accurate, though it did struggle a bit after 200mm in mediocre lighting conditions. As with other Tamron lenses, the tracking and Eye-AF worked flawlessly. From 18-70mm, the best sharpness seemed to come around f/5.6, and from 70mm on, it was around f/8. 

While we had the lens, I had the chance to take it on a camping trip, and the benefit of having just one lens instead of carrying 2-3 and constantly changing lenses was great. On a couple of occasions I wish I had a wider lens, like the 11-20mm. Being able to hike around the forests of NY and PA with just a regular backpack instead of a camera bag, and just carrying the camera/lens on a strap was convenient. Pairing it with a Sony a6400, the VC performance was great, and I was able to get sharp handheld photos around 1/10-1/15th of a second. 

Final Thoughts

While the Sony E-mount system has some options for all-in-one lenses, none have the reach of the Tamron 18-300mm. The Sony 18-200mm is significantly smaller and lighter, but it is almost 10 years old now, and is almost $150 more. For Fuji users, this lens is an eye opener. Their only all-in-one lens is the XF18-135mm f/3.5-5.6, which is $200 more. The Tamron 18-300mm finally gives X photographers an all-in-one lens with the reach of other APS-C camera users like Canon, Nikon, and Sony. Paired with Tamron’s 6 year warranty, and coming in at $699, there is no doubt this lens will be a home run for Tamron. 

You can order the Sony E-Mount version here (now shipping), and the Fuji mount here (estimated to start shipping at the end of October).