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Old Sep 14, 2007, 11:36 PM   #1
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Naturally we are seeing more and more posts requesting info about various consumer level DSLR cameras that have now fallen to the $(US) 400.00, mark or there abouts.

Consider this please: Is it wise to purchase a consumer level DSLR camera body and selecting just a single lens? No, I will readily admit, it is neither a prime lens nor is it a fast lens. However, none the less it is one of the most popular lenses available in the USA for the consumer level DSLR cameras. Please comnsider that!

I am talking about the Tamron 18-250mm lens that is available in a variety of camera mounts for just under around $(US) 500.00. More than ever before, this Tamron lens seems to truly offer the one lens solution for the folks who want to move into a DSLR camera, all the while carefully guarding their camera budget.

Yes, we all are familiar with the DSLR scenario, where the new DSLR user is astouned by the many lens choices available for their DSLR camera, and litterally goes just a bit overboard with their plan to purchase all the lenses that they might ever need! Folks, it is a financial pit of no return! The $$ just keep adding up, and soon you are well over your budget.

In contrast, why not plan to purchase just one lens to start with on this photographic oddessy, called being a DSLR photographer? It would make good sense. It would keep your budget intact. It might even save you from falling over the financial brink. The lens that I am thinking of is the Tamron 18-250mm lens. no, I am not shooting sports photos inside a well enclosed gymnasium. JohnG are you listening. I am just your average family photographer who has a "yen" to learn a whole lot more about photography, to be a bit creative, and to faithfully record the various holidays, school plays, and dance/music recitals, that every family seems to encounter as they pass through life.

Please think about this question, won't you? Why not just purchase the DSLR body and a single lens! Is there really an economical, one lens solution, in the Tamron 18-250mm lens, that will save a whole bunch of credit card ridden photographers from the brink of economic whatever?

Sarah Joyce
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Old Sep 14, 2007, 11:57 PM   #2
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Hi, Sara;

It does seem like it could be the DSLR lens solution for those who would otherwise purchase a superzoom camera, as well as for those of us who hate changing lenses, knowing the dust is going to get in there and make a mess of some beautiful scenery. Popular Photography seems to like it, they have claimed it has better IQ than the 18-200 it is replacing, as well as the increased zoom range. It should handle about 90% of most people's needs. Of course, that other 10% is where the expense is in photography anyway. As I used to tell my employer- nearly anyone off the street can do 90% of my job, it's the last 10% that you are paying me all this money for.

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Old Sep 15, 2007, 2:16 AM   #3
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Well - it sure does look like the designers have done a good job on it, and its IQ seems to be just as good as similar 18-200 lenses.


However the reason not to get it is the same as not getting any high-zoom lens. The bigger the zoom range, the more optical compromises you are forced into.

This lens is pretty soft at the telephoto end, and the suffers from distortion all through the zoom range. And it's an f3.5-6.3 maximum aperture making it completely unsuitable for low-light work.

But - choose the right tool for the job - if you think a big zoom range is important and you don't like changing lenses, and are willing to accept the compromises then sure - why not?

I would be tempted to put it on an Olympus body with in-built stabilization and the smaller sensor - effectively losing the worst part of the image circle as far as sharpness and vignetting are concerned. Unfortunately it isn't available in 4/3 mount (yet?). But on a Pentax or Sony with in-body AS sure, it would seem to offer better IQ than a P&S superzoom, so why not?

I personally would have no use for one however. I use a 50mm prime on my Canon 5D about 60% of the time and a 24-105 zoom for most of the remainder. I have used a lens > 105mm in focal length on only one occasion in the last year.
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Old Sep 15, 2007, 5:46 AM   #4
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IMO the market already spoke: Nikon had a shortage of 18-200 VR when it came out and the vendors are even gouging on their retail price last year... because of the strong demand

Also Sony now has two kit lens shipping with their camera: a DT 18-250 (rebadged Tamron) and a DT 16-105 (24-157mm) which are perfect for most uses until their owner become more familiar with the cameras...
-> They can always purchase more specialized lenses afterward
(but theses super-zooms are always handy to keep around for convenience sake)

On the other end of the scale (i.e. not beginner) I already have a bag full of fast zooms and super-tele prime, but I 'm seriously looking at a lighter alternative for my birding trips. The 50-500mm Bigma (10x) super zoom also seems to fit most of my need depending on which body it goes on... A Sony has IS built-in, but an Oly not only has IS but a 2x crop making it a unique super light-weight 100-1000 zoom not available anywhere else!!!
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Old Sep 15, 2007, 7:01 AM   #5
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mtclimber wrote:
Please think about this question, won't you? Why not just purchase the DSLR body and a single lens! Is there really an economical, one lens solution, in the Tamron 18-250mm lens, that will save a whole bunch of credit card ridden photographers from the brink of economic whatever?

Sarah Joyce
Well, there are plenty of reasons not to purchase a body and a single lens, just as there are reasons TO purchase such an outfit.

Any 10x lens is going to make compromises. Image quality as a whole will not be as good as a lens of equal quality with a zoom of less than 4x, just as the 4x zoom will tend to not perform as well as a prime at a given focal value. What kind of image quality IS needed? The consumer is the only one to make that call.

A one lens DSLR should be out of the question. Why not just get a P&S type camera? The thing is the entire digicam market has abandoned the larger sensor and have gone to superzooms with quite small sensors. There are no longer even 2/3 sensors and what else is a consumer who wants a lower noise level and more tolerance to blowing out highlights going to choose? The single lens DSLR is a valid solution to some consumers.

Now that I've said that, I would want the same consumer to take a look at another option. How about a TWO lens solution. Changing a lens is not rocket science. Take a look at an Olympus E410 camera and its two kit lenses. There is a 14-42 and a 40-150, both are f3.5-5.6. The lenses are extremely compact and if desired, could be carried in a pocket. It would give similar coverage with less distortions and aberrations and is still as light as the single lens setup.

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Old Sep 15, 2007, 7:35 AM   #6
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Back in the early 1980s I switched to one of the first super zooms, the Kiron 28-210mm f/3.8-f/5.6 macro 1:4 on a Minolta X570 body. (Remember Minolta?) This configuration replaced two Minolta SRT-101s and a gaggle of primes.

It was a very good travelling kit, much lighter and convenient than the previous kit and capable of good results for both family journalism and artistic use.

It was a slow lens however and I soon found I had to shoot with ISO 400 film to get usable shutter speeds, even in bright sunlight, as well as getting reasonable range from the flash. It also didn't take very long either to find that 28mm wasn't wide enough and 210mm wasn't long enough!

The current crop of super zooms are also slow but pumping up the ISO for a few shots is not the issue it was with film where you were stuck with whatever was in the camera at the time. (Or forgot to put in the camera as happened to me once!)

Overall there is nothing wrong with a DSLR/super zoom solution to start as most of us don't have the budget to get the professional grade lenses we would like. You get coverage for the most useful range and acceptable results for small prints and Internet/email posting. The image quality issues discussed are usually not that evident until you start making big prints or huge magnifications on the monitor.

They will soon leave you with a taste to acquire additional lenses however to get more coverage at the long and short ends, faster lenses for low light work, better quality glass for larger prints, as well as speciality lenses such as macros. (aka Nikon/Canon/Pentax/.... Acquisition Syndrome)

There is no law that says you can't upgrade to better quality lenses in the future as your requirements mature. That is, of course, the key to the DSLR concept, the lenses are interchangeable!

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Old Sep 15, 2007, 9:09 AM   #7
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I happen to be one of those unfortunate individuals that put their faith in the 18-250's predecessor, the 18-200. I had hoped that the KM 18-200 f/3.5-6.3 (a rebranded Tamron) would do almost anything I wanted. As with a superzoom digicam, it did many things adequately, but nothing well. I concede that the 18-250 is a much better lens (it would not take much to be better than the 18-200), but it still suffers from a major complaint I have with its predecessor. It's too dim.

I acknowledge that you admit that it's dim, but then you go on to suggest it be used for situations where it's too dim.

mtclimber wrote:
...I am just your average family photographer who has a "yen" to learn a whole lot more about photography, to be a bit creative, and to faithfully record the various holidays, school plays, and dance/music recitals, that every family seems to encounter as they pass through life.
"... school plays, and dance/music recitals ..." are exactly what this lens won't do.

My daughter-in-law teaches Band for our local public school system. I've attended her concerts and brought along my KM5D and my Beercan (70-210mm f/4.0).The following shot was taken in the auditorium/gymnasium/cafeteria roomthat is a popular featurein our schools. All the shots I took were at various focal lengths, but always at f/4.0 and ISO 1600, and at shutter speeds as high as 1/60" to as low as 1/25". At the f/6.3 aperture permitted by the Tamron 18-250 f/3.5-6.3, those shutter speeds would have been from 1/25" to 1/8". The slide on a trombone would be blurred,the turn of a headwouldblur a face, and a dancer would be blurred to the point of appearing only as an ghostly apparition.

It would be nice if there was a 'one lens solution' for general photographic needs, and I think the Tamron 18-250 f/3.5-6.3 is a big step in that direction, but we're not there yet.

And once you have a lens that does many things adequately, it's hard to justify, to yourself or to a significant other, spending hundreds of dollars on a lens that will do one thing better. So people that have started with a kit lens might buy a fast telephoto later, but someone with a superzoom might be stuck with it for quite a while.

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Old Sep 15, 2007, 9:40 AM   #8
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Sarah - your post brought back some memories. You are right that this would be a good solution for many people, and not everyone will find the lens limiting - it might be their permanent solution. When my (then) boyfriend gave me my first SLR camera, it came with two lenses. I shot with those two lenses for probably 15 years before buying buying an upgrade to one of them. Those lenses were a 50mm 1.7 and a 135mm 2.5. It never occurred to me during those 15 years that shooting with sharp, fast primes might not be as convenient as shooting with a zoom lens. I'm sure that there will be many people that will buy the 18-250 and be perfectly happy with the image quality they get from it, and never buy another lens.

Just my opinion, but I briefly owned a Panny FZ30. I didn't think much of the dynamic range or noise levels caused by so many pixels jammed into its small sensor(Neat Image dealt with the noise well, but at the expense of diluting certain colors and losing details). A dSLR with the 18-250 lens would be better than that particular Panny was.

Like anything else in photography, there isn't a one-size-fits-all answer. The Tamron lens will be the right answer for some, while it will be the wrong answer for others. As for me - I find myself forgetting when I have a zoom lens on the camera and using it more like a prime (either zoom with my feet or change the composition) and using it at whatever focal length it happens to be set at (old habits).
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Old Sep 15, 2007, 10:39 AM   #9
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Many thanks for all the replies-

My post originated due to the fact that we see many posts right in this folder from folks who have decided to upgrade to a DSLR camera. By and large the are not familiar with the range of lenses available, they just want to get started in bettering their photography skills.

A DSLR body + the Tamron 18-250mm lens would give them a way to get started rapidly with a camera platform where they could hone their skills and not force them into an immediate decision tinged with budget considerations and a lack of knowledge.

As we know, lenses do keep the majority of their value. So perhaps a year or so after making the decision to go to a DSLR camera, they can then, with some good shooting experience under their belt, retire the Tamron 18-250mm lens, and get a good portion of their investment back, and branch out to more specialized lenses that they have determined will more realistically fit their photo shooting needs.

The whole idea is to create an "easy starter platform" that eliminates some of the barriers that we have seen this year in particularly. So, it is nothing more than a suggestion, an idea, or a proposal idea.

Once again, many thanks for all of your fine input based on extensive knowledge and experience.

Sarah Joyce
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Old Sep 15, 2007, 12:04 PM   #10
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mtclimber wrote:
I am just your average family photographer who has a "yen" to learn a whole lot more about photography, to be a bit creative, and to faithfully record the various holidays, school plays, and dance/music recitals, that every family seems to encounter as they pass through life.
I'm with TCav.

School plays and dance/music recitals are conditions that I'd expect a lot of frustration trying to use one of the Super Zoom type lenses.

The last dance recital I went to, I was only getting around 1/160 second at f/2.5 and ISO 1600 with a Minolta 100mm f/2.

Trying to use a dim super zoom model at f/6.3 and ISO 1600 would have required around 1/25 second for proper exposure in that same lighting. That would make for *lot* of blurry photos (from both camera shake and blur from subject movement).

Even at ISO 1600 and f2.5, a relatively high percentage of my photos still had some motion blur from hand and foot movement (and these were only 2 and 3 year olds, not fast moving older dancers). Here are some examples of motion blur at 1/160 second.

Note that many were much blurrier than these. I only uploaded the ones that I thought were acceptable, *despite* some motion blur. ;-)

KM Maxxum 5D, Minolta 100mm f/2, ISO 1600, f/2.5, 1/160 second.

A super zoom type lens at f/6.3 would have needed 1/25 second at ISO 1600. So, you'd need to catch the performers when they were motionless (not to mention you'd want to use a monopod or tripod to reduce motion blur from camera shake).

Even if you used an external flash with one instead, you'd probably still have problems with the lens struggling to Autofocus with a lens that dim in light this low.

From my limited experience, the lighting you find on typical school and church stages is not going to be much better than this.

Can you get keepers using slower shutter speeds in light this low? Sure, if you're real lucky, and can hold the camera steady enough to avoid shake (or use a monopod) and catch the dancers when they're motionless.

For example, here's one using a Konica KD-510z at f/2.8 and 1/15 second. But, the vast majority of my photos trying to use one at shuttter speeds that slow were very blurry. ;-)

Note that this was a totally different stage (at a school auditorium). The last photos were at a church auditorium. Yet lighting was virtually identical (an EV of around 6). So, this photo would have also required around 1/25 second to expose at ISO 1600 using a super zoom type lens at f/6.3. That would make for a lot of frustration from a parent thinking this type of lens would work well in those conditions. Lighting at school and church auditoriums around here is not the best.

*If* the camera could Autofocus with a lens that dim in this kind of lighting, an external flash would be an option. But, most super zoom type lenses are going to struggle to focus in this type of lighting.

So, I'd set some expectations if a camera buyer wanted to consider one of these lens types (they may not be suitable for dance recitals, plays, etc. at a typical school or church auditorium, unless the lighting is a lot better than what I've seen at this type of thing, unless they do like I did and stayed on the wide end of the lens, crouching under the stage and trying to smoothly squeeze the shutter button to reduce blur while catching the performers when they're still.

I'd suggest a much brighter lens than the Super Zoom type models if a parent wants to take a lot of photos at these types of events and don't want the vast majority of their photos to turn out blurry. Perfomers are not going to be this still very often at a dance recital. ;-)

Konica KD-510z, ISO 200, 1/15 second, f/2.8

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