I must admit to being a lens snob. When I bought my first Sony A-mount DSLR, the A350, I bought the Sony 18-250mm general purpose wide range zoom to go along with it. Since then every time I've bought a new lens my intention was to improve the image quality. So I bought narrower range wider aperture zooms, and primes.
When I'd replaced the general walk-about opportunistic snapping range of the 18-250mm zoom with the superior 16-50mm and 70-300mm I shelved the 18-250mm and started walking around with the two better lenses. I soon got fed up with missing good unexpected photo opportunities because I happened to have the wrong lens on the camera and no time to change it. I tried carrying two cameras so I didn't have to change lenses but it was a bit too much weight and bulk when I was just going out to do some shopping. So I dropped back to the good old 18-250mm as the lens to use when I was carrying the camera around just in case a good photo opportunity turned up.
When I upgraded my camera to the 24MP A77 I expected to find that my best lenses would show an improvement in detail resolution, but that the 24MP wouldn't improve the images of the 18-250mm, just reveal its flaws. I was surprised to discover that 24MP did improve the images from the 18-250mm, not as much as my better lenses improved, but an improvement nonetheless.
When the Tamron 16-300mm came out I was intrigued. I wasn't sure if it would offer any noticeable improvement in image quality over my old 18-250mm, but the extra range would definitely increase its versatility. When I was lucky enough to win a ticket to walk over the new Forth Road Bridge before it was opened to traffic (and closed to pedestrians) that was just the excuse I needed to buy the 16-300mm. Even odder was that one of the best shots I got on that trip was a photograph of the bridge taken from the top of a moving double decker bus through the not entirely clean or flawless window glass.Queensferry Bridge in perspective
by Chris Malcolm
, on Flickr
As often happens, content trumps image quality.
The 300mm end of this 16-300mm is a bit suspect. As often happens with such wide range zooms, the longest end is a bit of a push, often offering no more detail resolution than pulling back a bit, more of a composition aid than extra reach. So I when I found myself unexpectedly sitting near some dramatic near sunset lighting effects with the 16-300mm on the camera I took this 300mm photograph more as an experimental note to come back one evening with a better lens and a tripod. It turned out surprisingly well, being capable of producing an impressive A3 print. Misty sunset approaches Inchmickery Island
by Chris Malcolm
, on Flickr
As often happens, lighting and content trumps image quality. And this was a very transient effect. Within 15 seconds it had gone. I could go back there 100 times with a better lens and a tripod and never see that again. So I'm becoming less of a lens snob. If someone comes out with a 14-400mm zoom I'll study the reviews with great interest