If you own a DSLR camera it means you take your photography relatively seriously. And that means you might be looking at adding to your kit lenses. But if you don’t have the budget, what’s the best walk around lens that will cover you in almost any situation?
From the start, I should mention that this relates to APS-C format cameras, or DSLR cameras which have smaller sensors than full frame cameras and have a crop factor around the 1.6x mark (in the case of the Canon 7dmkii). For me, the best walk around lens is definitely the Tamron 16–300mm. Why? Let me give you 3 reasons: versatility; design; and price.
The Tamron 16-300mm's Versatility
When I first bought the Tamron 16–300mm I was looking for a lens that I could take with me anywhere and would be suitable in almost any situation.I didn’t have the money to get the best lens in each focal range so I wanted one lens to cover me for everything from wide-angle landscapes through to shooting high action sports from a distance. The Tamron has never let me down. Below I will show you some pictures I have shot with the Tamron to show you its versatility.
This was shot on the island of Tanegashima, in the far south-west of Japan. I shot this at 18mm and got right in close to those rocks in the foreground. The sharpness and clarity of this image are fantastic, and this photo has been used in a calendar by the island’s Chamber of Commerce.
This photo above was taken during the typhoon season which hits Japan from July to November every year. I shot this at 280mm, which was effectively 450mm with the APS-C sensor. This place doesn’t allow you to get a close vantage point so having the incredible zoom capability of the Tamron 16-300mm was a huge bonus in allowing me to get this shot.
This waterfall photo was taken in Yakushima, a world heritage listed island in the very south west of Japan, just south of Kagoshima. I got down low in front of these rocks and used the Tamron 16–300 mm at 28 mm. I also used an ND grad filter to get the silky effect on the water.
I love this photo. The one car train and the lush greenery perfectly encapsulate Miyazaki, the prefecture in Japan where I live. This was shot at 120mm, handheld without a tripod. This photo has been syndicated by the prefecture in a number of promotions, and still remains one of my bestsellers in Japan.
This shrine gate on the mythical island of Aoshima, in Miyazaki, Japan, was shot at 5 o’clock in the morning just after sunset in the warm Japanese summer. I had to stand a fair distance from the shrine gate in order to get the leading lines of the water rushing across the sand. It’s a handheld photo using Tamron’s patented Vibration Control (VC) system, where I waited for people to walk under the shrine gate so I could capture their silhouette. This was shot at 180mm.
This final shot was taken at Duranbah beach, on Australia’s Gold Coast. It is a wonderful view looking down at this beach during the day and this shot was taken at 225mm, handheld (effectively 360mm). Again, I used Tamron’s Vibration Control system to stabilize the image and the sharpness throughout the frame is fantastic.
These six pictures that you've just seen demonstrate the versatility of the Tamron 16-300mm perfectly. Whether it's shooting landscapes or seascapes at 20mm or less or shooting fast moving action such as surfing zoomed to almost 300mm, the Tamron offers more options than almost any other lens. And in regards to quality, I can only judge by the fact that I've never had any editor turn away a photo I've taken with the Tamron and submitted for print or publication.
The Tamron 16-300mm's Design
One of the great things I really love about the Tamron 16-300mm is its compact design and size. Even though it has a focal range of 16mm–300 mm, it is incredibly easy to handle and has some great features that its competitors don’t have.To get a good idea of just how compact it is, take a look at this comparison photo below.
The smaller lens on top is the Tamron 16-300mm. And the giant lens below is the Tamron 150-600mm. Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the Tamron 150–600mm telephoto lens. However, it is big, bulky, and heavy. In this photo, you can see it is more than double the size of the 16-300 mm Tamron, and much, much harder to carry around and shoot handheld.
In this next photo below you can see how the Tamron 16-300mm stacks up against the Tamron 150-600mm and the Canon 24-105mm L Series lens.
In the photo above, the Tamron 16-300mm is the lens in the middle. You can clearly see that it is easily the smallest of the three. It is not as bulky as the Canon nor as long. It fits nice and snuggly in your hand and is incredibly compact for a lens that offers so much in terms of its focal range. The Canon lens only has a focal range of 24-105mm yet is much bigger and bulkier than the Tamron. And when you attach the Canon lens to the body of your camera, you can definitely feel the difference. So much so that I have left the Canon lens at home at times simply because I knew I could get what I wanted from the Tamron and I didn't want to bother with the bulk of the Canon.
Another design feature which I really love about the Tamron 16–300mm is the ability to lock it in place at the focal range you desire. There is a simple lock switch you can see in the picture above which, when activated, prevents the lens from involuntarily zooming out and lengthening.This is especially handy when you’re traveling or walking around and you don’t want the lens to keep lengthening and lengthening without your knowledge. You simply click the lock switch and it doesn’t move.
The same can’t be said for the Canon 24–105mm lens. You can see from the photo below how the Canon 24-105mm lens has a tendency to creep on you. For me, I only need to take a few steps when I'm out and about with the Canon lens hanging from the strap around my neck and suddenly it has zoomed out fully to 105mm. Very annoying!
You might not think this is a big deal but the photo below shows you just what a difference it makes. The ability to keep the Tamron 16-300mm locked and compact is very convenient. And vice versa applies for the Canon 24-105mm lens. In the photo below I have the Tamron 16-300mm on my Canon 7d mkii, and my Canon 24-105mm on my Canon 5d mkiv.
You can see how the Tamron is far less bulky and cumbersome simply because it has the lock features which prevents lens creeping. If only Canon lenses would follow suit!
The Tamron 16-300mm's Price
As I said at the start, I originally bought the Tamron 16–300mm lens because I didn’t have the budget to get higher range lenses in the different focal range categories. I needed one lens to cover most situations. So you'd think that a lens that is so versatile and offers such good quality throughout the zoom range, and almost eliminates the need for many different lenses would be astronomical in price. But it’s not. At just $599 it is an incredible value and is cheaper than any other lens I have used with commercial success.
So if you’re looking for a lens that you can take anywhere with you and will be suitable for almost any conditions you encounter then I can’t go past the Tamron 16–300 mm.
Please comment below if you have any experience with the Tamron or if you have an alternative which you think might be a good match.
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