6 out of 10 points and recommendedExcellent Range, decent quality particularly considering the rangeHeavier than Nikon 18-200mm, slow focusing, particularly in low light
My typical lens use is a Nikon 16-85 VR (I love this lens) and a Nikon 70-300 VR on a D40, however for a trip I wanted to avoid carrying extra lenses.reviewed January 8th, 2009 (purchased for $585)
The quality of construction is less than my typical lenses. It is not poorly constructed, but only a small step over the standard Nikon kit lens. The zoom is does not have a linear feel, but has heavier feel up to a detent ~100mm and then becomes quite a bit lighter in use. Lens creep is a problem when carrying with a strap so the lock is a necessity. Autofocus is slow when compared to my Nikon 16-85 lens. The manual focus is very, very light in use. In high movement, high light situations (like in a boat) in many instances the Tamron would not autofocus over 100mm at all with my D40 and the VC would often 'snap' visibly. In low light over 50mm the autofocus is very slow and often takes multiple tries to get a lock even with an SB-600. Autofocus over 200mm is noticeably slower at well over 1 second even in good light in less than high contrast situations. Maybe this would perform better with something other than a CAM-530 AF system.
Never having used the Nikon 18-200 VR lens much to develop a great comparison, the Tamron is a bit less than what I was searching for. While it may have greater reach than the Nikon equivalent, it is quite a bit heavier and appears in passing to have more issues with developing a moderately quick autofocus lock in comparision. I would say that the pictures were of high quality (sharper than my limited experience with the Nikon 18-200). I did miss a number of shots due to slow autofocus that I feel should have been available.
Overall I will probably hang onto this lens for the limited number of situations where one lens must cover all (the quality of shots when the AF works is good). However in low light, this lens is not an acceptable substitute for something shorter and faster. This lens is not a bad travel lens (although it is a bit heavy), but careful consideration must be taken for its use. AF is fairly slow at anything over 100mm which is the compromising experience with such a wide ranging zoom. Pictures are of good quality and build quality is acceptable but not at the Nikon 18-200 levels.