Tamron has released a new range of APS-C lenses with an ultra zoom and a wide-angle. I was asked to try out the new ultra zoom, which is an 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3. While it’s also available for Fujifilm X cameras, I took a look at the Sony E-mount version.

I was pretty keen to have a look at it after the great experience I had with the 28-200mm a few months ago. As I don’t have an APS-C camera, I was at first a little concerned, but there really was no need to worry. This lens certainly had the versatility to get out in nature with its all-in-one APS-C ultra zoom specs, even on a full-frame camera.

Can you use an APS-C lens on a full-frame camera?

The short answer is yes. Depending on the make and model of your camera (and lens), you’ll have a different experience. My Sony a7R III has an APS-C option, which allows me to use an E-mount APS-C lens with no real issues.

Why use an APS-C lens?

It all boils down to more bang for your buck. Traditionally APS-C lenses are a cheaper alternative to full-frame lenses. Assuming you’re not trying to print anything billboard-sized, or you’re a hobbyist photographer, shooting mostly for fun and happy snaps, there is nothing really wrong with a crop sensor lens, especially if you have a crop sensor camera.

Crop sensor lenses are also slightly smaller and more lightweight than their full-frame counterparts. This ultra zoom offers real value for money as it covers such a range normally requiring multiple lenses. Apart from the drop in overall pixel count on your images, I think that there is a small drop in clarity and quality of the images, but again, if just for happy snaps or social media, I’m doubtful you could really tell a difference.

Getting up close to nature

Tamron’s obsession with getting up close and personal with your subject holds true with this lens. With the 18-300mm (B061S) lens, you can shoot 1:2 macro and get as close as 5.9 inches from your subject at the wide end, and 1:4 macro at 39 inches at the telephoto end. It’s perfect for those not super close macro shots in the garden, working with flowers, food and more.

The overall size (125.6mm), weight (620g) and versatility of this lens mean it’s a fantastic lens for travel and especially nature photography. You can get this lens up close to your subject — really close.

Having the 1:2 macro capability means capturing macro images in the garden is terrific. Normally you can only get this close (19mm) with extension tubes. Using an aperture of f/3.5 is perfectly fine when dealing with an up-close subject and a much smaller depth of field. The autofocus was relatively quick and didn’t seem to struggle up close. 

Becoming one with nature

Using the autofocus (with continuous shooting) works well and is quite “sticky” on my subject. The variable aperture worked the best and I found between 50-200mm was the sharpest with a shutter speed of 1/400–1/600s. The zoom is fast enough — I think that for me, I’m just slow, especially with flying birds. I’m fine when they sit still, and the steady shot helps.

I did find some chromatic aberration in high contrast areas, especially in bright sunlight, which seems to be a common thing in most of the Tamron zooms, but easily dealt with during post-processing.

Great action at the dog park

The AF-C and Animal Eye AF worked like a treat at the dog park, with some really fast active dogs. The higher shutter speeds didn’t impede the lens and the higher ISO was manageable in post-processing. This includes capturing the water drops off the shaking dogs coming out of the lake at 300mm.

Versatile, fast, entry-level ultra zoom

If you are looking for a versatile entry to mid-level ultra zoom lens with incredible range, check out the Tamron 18-300mm lens. Of course, being Tamron it comes standard with great weather sealing to protect against moisture, dust and grime. It’s light and compact, offers terrific features and is great value for money. So you really can get out in nature with this all-in-one APS-C ultra zoom lens.

Tamron 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di III-A VC VXD for APS-C mirrorless

The 18-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di III-A VC VXD (Model B061) is an all-in-one zoom lens for Sony E and FUJIFILM X-mount APS-C mirrorless cameras. It is the first lens in the world for APS-C mirrorless cameras with a zoom ratio of 16.6x and 18-300mm focal length range (the full-frame equivalent of 27-450mm). Zooming from wide-angle to ultra-telephoto, it covers a broad array of shooting situations, including landscape, sports, wildlife, snapshots, and portraits.