Lens review

Tamron 18-400 mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD

7 November 2017
Arkadiusz Olech

10. Autofocus

The Tamron 18–400 mm f/3.5–6.3 Di II VC HLD is equipped with an ultrasonic autofocus motor HLD (High/Low torque modulated Drive) so focusing is practically noiseless. Still the speed is a topic worth an essay. The pace of work can differ greatly as it depends on lighting conditions, focal lengths and the direction of movement. If everything goes as it should, the focus can be set even in 0.4-0.5 of a second which is a good result. However, if it is darker and you employ longer focal lengths the mechanism can be as slow as 2-3 seconds. The whole range of different focusing speeds we observed not only with the lens attached to older bodies such as the Nikon D7000 or the Canon EOS 50D but also for the newest ones like the EOS 80D. It seems the lens, not a camera, is responsible here.

If you are lucky enough to buy a properly calibrated lens, or if you are patient enough to calibrate it on your own, the accuracy of the mechanism won’t be an issue. Still he calibration might be because the lens shows front and back focus tendencies which are distinct and they differ greatly at particular focal lengths. If you add changes stemming from different distances from the photographed objects it becomes obvious that you are going to spend long hours with the Tamron TAP console, tinkering with the software of the lens. It can be a daunting task as few amateur photographers (who are, after all, the target audience of this lens) are aware of these kind of problems and the existence of such a device as TAP.

Below we show an example – how the situation of our specimen of the lens looked before its calibration. At 35 mm we had huge back-focus which decreased a bit at 50 mm and at 100 mm there was not a trace of it and the lens was able to focus spot-on. At longer focal lengths the back-focus returned but wasn’t so pronounced anymore.

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D7000, 35 mm, f/4.0
Tamron 18-400 mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD - Autofocus
D7000, 50 mm, f/4.5
Tamron 18-400 mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD - Autofocus
D7000, 100 mm, f/5.3
Tamron 18-400 mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD - Autofocus
D7000, 200 mm, f/6.0
Tamron 18-400 mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD - Autofocus
D7000, 400 mm, f/6.3
Tamron 18-400 mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD - Autofocus