We’re swiftly approaching the holiday/vacation season and as keen photographers, you’ll probably be taking your camera, lenses and accessories with you. However, if you plan on packing a variety of lenses into your kit bag, it’ll soon start to feel heavy when exploring a city, walking along a beach or rambling in the countryside but you can save on the weight by simply packing a superzoom instead.
Superzooms are versatile, space-saving pieces of kit that give you focal lengths from wide-angle to telephoto in one piece of kit. You’re also less likely to miss a shot as you don’t have to worry about digging in your kit bag to change lenses and as you’ll not be swapping lenses, there’s less chance dust and dirt will reach your sensor.
ePHOTOzine has reviewed a huge number of superzooms over the years so to help you decide which is the best lens for you, we’ve put a top ten together that features the highest-scoring versatile superzoom lenses we’ve taken a look at.
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1. Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master OSS
The Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 G Master OSS is a superb lens in every way and when coupled with the A9 body, more than capable of doing some amazing things for wildlife and sports photographers. Reviewed with the A7R II it is still quite clear what the potential of the new lens might be. Quality clinches it as an Editor’s Choice.
2. Sigma AF 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM
Very long lenses have always been more expensive, with the affordable telephotos ending around 300mm. That extra 400mm is very valuable for wildlife and sports and we have here from Sigma such a lens, but one that is much more reasonably priced.
The features cost is in lens speed, so cameras with good high ISO performance are the order of the day. Other advantages are a more compact and lighter optic, still quite large but nowhere near the bulk of some of the alternatives.
Performance is sound, giving excellent sharpness and lovely bokeh at an excellent price.
3. Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD
The Tamron AF 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD covers a huge range and sports silent autofocus and VC. Considering the massive range this lens covers, it is surprisingly compact, and at only 450grams, it is lightweight too. During testing, it proved itself more than capable of decently sharp, contrasty images, especially when used at optimum apertures. Its lightweight, compact design makes the lens perfect for travel, especially when paired with a more compact SLR body.
4. Panasonic Lumix G Vario 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6
When we tested this lens’ predecessor, we liked it a lot, as it offered good performance for a 10x zoom. As this lens performs even better throughout the zoom range, we like it even more. Very few zoom lenses are able to deliver as consistently as the Panasonic Lumix G 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6 does throughout the zoom range. Although this lens may seem expensive when compared to its predecessor, or the Olympus equivalent, it is probably worth the premium.
5. Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
The relatively new 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC lens, as the VC suggests, features Vibration Compensation for Canon and Nikon shooters to take advantage of and it has an impressively low price. The lens is light, balances well and focus is acquired efficiently and swiftly with little or no hunting. The 18-200mm from Tamron performs very well and is an inexpensive, versatile lens that’s perfect for holiday or travel lens.
6. Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD Lens
The Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di VC PZD lens was released back in 2014 but it’s still a cracking versatile zoom well-worth considering. It sports optical vibration compensation, a silent piezo-electric focusing motor and a splash-proof construction. Plus, it’s lightweight and offers excellent sharpness. The 28-300mm is a great choice for someone looking for a convenient option for travel, or simply for when wandering around towns or even the countryside with their camera.
7. Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM
The Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC Macro lens is lightweight, reasonably priced and is almost as small as many standard 18-55mm kit lenses. High-quality plastics have been used for much of the lens’ construction, with a smooth matte finish that doesn’t mark easily and the lens mount is made of metal. The lens delivers sharp, contrasty images throughout the zoom range, build quality is great and so are focus speeds.
8. Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Macro OS HSM C
The Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Macro OS HSM C is reasonably compact, well built and the price is very reasonable too. Those looking for a lens covering a wide range of focal lengths, whilst allowing them to travel light should certainly give this lens serious consideration, especially as the image sharpness is decent and it offers good focusing speeds.
9. Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro
The Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro lens sports Vibration Compensation, a silent Piezo Drive focusing motor and splash-proof construction. The absolutely huge zoom range offered by this lens hasn’t compromised the size, with it having similar dimension to many 4x or 5x zooms lenses and it weighs only 540g. Although those who will only really be happy with the absolute sharpest of lenses may not be overly excited by this lens, those who value convenience will find this lens is more than adequate for general photography. The low weight and compact size make this lens an ideal candidate as a walkabout lens for those times you may wish to travel light.
10. Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR
The Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3G ED VR sports internal focusing, Nikon’s VR system and covers a huge 16.7x zoom range, equivalent to 27-450mm on a 35mm camera. This lens is relatively compact and lightweight, only weighing 550g and high-quality plastics have been used for much of the lens’ construction and a rubber gasket surrounds the metal lens mount, to help prevent the ingress of dust and moisture into the camera body. Performance is decent for such an extreme zoom lens, especially in the centre of the frame and when stopped down. As far as sharpness is concerned, this lens delivers sharp enough images for general photography and casual users should be chuffed to bits with it. Those looking for a convenient all-in-one zoom lens for travel, or simply to cut down on lens changes will love the extreme zoom range this 18-300mm lens offers.
11. Sigma 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM
Back in 2012, we took the Sigma 18-250mm superzoom out for a test drive and it certainly impressed. If you’re after a convenient all-in-one lens for travel, then the sharpness delivered by this lens certainly makes it worthy of serious consideration. It performs well, offers effective optical stabilisation and is built really well. Plus, as it was released a few years ago, the price is pretty good as well.
12. Sony FE 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3 OSS
The Sony FE 24-240mm is a 10x super zoom lens sports optical image stabilisation, a dust and moisture resistant design and a useful 10x zoom range. Overall, it is a decent superzoom lens delivering excellent levels of sharpness in the centre of the frame but it’s not as compact or lightweight as other superzooms which you may want to take into consideration when choosing kit to take on holiday. If you’re able to overlook these aspects of the lens, in the name of convenience, then this lens will still be able to deliver decent quality images and should make a decent addition to your kit bag.
13. Tamron 18-400mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD
For the bridge camera user moving up to the larger format of a lightweight DSLR, or indeed for anyone wanting to travel light without constantly changing lenses, the appeal of an 18-400mm lens is plain enough. The Tamron 18-400mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC HLD has been able to do this in such a small lens is impressive, especially as the cost has been kept within reasonable boundaries.
The lens is reasonably priced and offers a single lens solution for travel. For small prints and the web, there will be users who could be very happy with this but performance at 400mm is not sparkling.
However, full marks to Tamron for pushing back the boundaries and breaking the 300mm barrier in superzooms.
14. Pentax SMC DA 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 SDM
This 18-270mm f/3.5-6.3 SDM, 15x zoom lens from Pentax is incredibly lightweight for the range it covers, weighing only 453g, and performs really well at the shorter focal lengths but the lack of sharpness at the telephoto end may put some off. Having said that, the lens is still more than capable of producing decent results.