Steve's Conclusion

NOTE: All sample photos were shot with the Tamron 18-400mm lens attached to the Nikon D7500 DSLR camera.

SPEED & AF PERFORMANCE

| Aperture Priority mode | f/8 | 1/2500 sec. | ISO 800 | 400 mm |

The Tamron 18-400mm lens includes a high/low torque-modulated drive (HLD) focus motor that works quickly and accurately. It's not the fastest autofocus mechanism on the market, but it works well enough. The Tamron lens also provides a very quiet autofocus operation, which isn't always the case with low-priced zoom lenses.

Another nice feature of this lens is Tamron's Vibration Compensation (VC) technology, which provides correction for about 2.5 stops of camera shake. VC works well, but we'd still recommend using a tripod with this large lens whenever possible. And VC does introduce a bit of shutter lag to your shots.

STILL IMAGE QUALITY

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| Aperture Priority mode | f/6.3 | 1/60 sec. | ISO 100 | 32 mm |

For general, everyday photography, the image quality you'll achieve with the Tamron 18-400mm lens is more than adequate. Its images are pleasingly sharp most of the time, especially at larger aperture settings. As long as you aren't looking to make huge prints with these photos, you won't notice major flaws with the images.

You may notice some chromatic aberration at times with this lens in the areas where you'd expect to see it, where you have a dark object next to a brightly lit area of the scene.

I did like the ability to shoot sharp close-up photos with this lens, as it has a minimum focus distance of about 18 inches. At the maximum focal length setting, the magnification ratio is 1:2.9, which gives you a bit of a macro photography capability.

For more sample images, please check out our Sample Image Gallery page.

ZOOM PERFORMANCE

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| Aperture Priority mode | f/11 | Focal length settings of 50mm, 125mm, and 400mm |

Obviously, the greatest feature of this lens is its impressive zoom capability. Having the ability to shoot photos between 18mm and 400mm of focal length is incredibly handy. If you're looking to pare down your gear for a long trip or for a hike, this lens will give you the kind of versatility you need to make it the only lens you'll need.

At the minimum focal length setting of 18mm, you may notice a bit of barrel distortion, so you'll want to be careful about the subject matter you're shooting at that setting. Avoid shooting subjects with a lot of straight lines, for example. You'll see less barrel distortion at the minimum focal length when shooting at a high f-stop number, say f/11 or higher, than with a low f-stop number.

Sharpness is pretty good at the maximum focal length of 400mm; good enough that you can use it to shoot some close-ups of objects. It can be difficult to maintain a really sharp focus because of camera shake when shooting with the lens barrel fully extended, so you may want to use a tripod as often as possible when shooting at 400mm.

You certainly cannot consistently create professional-level, extremely high-quality photos with this lens, but for some photographers -- especially those traveling -- the trade-off of having one lens that can handle such a wide range of focal lengths is worth a slight loss of quality.

BOTTOM LINE

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| Aperture Priority mode | f/8 | 1/1000 sec. | ISO 800 | 50 mm |

The Tamron 18-400mm lens is a fun interchangeable lens that will serve you well for many different types of photographs. You'll be amazed at the different types of looks you can achieve through the wide focal range of this lens, which makes this model a great lens to take when traveling. Rather than filling your camera bag with multiple lenses, you can use the Tamron 18-400mm lens all by itself and save some weight in your bag when traveling or hiking.

With most zoom lenses limited to a 300mm focal length setting, this Tamron lens breaks the barrier -- and then some -- by going to 400mm.

To be fair, using this zoom lens will require a bit of a trade-off. You aren't going to create perfect photos with this lens in certain settings. You'll see some barrel distortion at the 18mm focal length setting and you'll see some purple fringing at the edges of contrast. As with most large zoom lenses, the sharpness isn't quite as good as what you'd find with a prime lens, especially at large f-stop numbers.

This isn't the fastest lens either, offering a maximum aperture of f/3.5, but for general, everyday photography, you may not need a smaller aperture.

Even though the Tamron 18-400mm lens has some drawbacks, the low price tag will make you forget about a lot of them. The overall build quality of the lens is actually pretty solid.

Ultimately, this lens represents a great value for those photographers just looking to create general images and who aren't looking to put too much stress on the lens with tough shooting conditions. If you're looking to have a bit more fun in your photography options, the huge zoom range and impressive telephoto capabilities of this Tamron lens will deliver.

PICK THIS UP IF...

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| Aperture Priority mode | f/8 | 1/40 sec. | ISO 4000 | 35 mm |

You want a reasonably priced zoom lens with an almost unbelievable focal length range that works well for everyday, general photography.

WHERE TO PURCHASE

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Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.