Third-party lens makers such as Tamron used to always be the second choice alternatives. These days, the tables have turned, with Tamron producing some mighty fine optics in all price bands, appealing to professionals and amateurs alike. But just like the rest of the third-party pack, for the best offerings in the wide-angle lens department, you will have to cough up a fair amount of money. That’s why we are taking a closer look at the best Tamron wide-angle lenses under $500.
In this price bracket, there are still good lenses that are affordable and come within our budget, while also delivering fine image detail. As we are juggling with a limited budget today, we are focusing on zooms to cover the wide lens types. These options still offer loads of top-level optical quality and a good level of features.
1. Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD
The Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD is available for both Canon and Nikon mounts, coming with a very streamlined design and a reasonable weight of only 439g. The lens is equally capable on crop sensor cameras, providing an equivalent focal length of 15-36mm.
To maintain overall image clarity, the optical arrangement consists of one XLD, LD, and molded glass aspherical element. Each element has also been treated to a Broad-Band Anti-Reflection coating, with a fluorine coating added to the front element to guard against dust and dirt.
To cover autofocusing duties, the high/low torque modulated drive motor supplies very quick and quiet workings, with full-time manual override. In use, the system is extremely efficient, with only a few missed shots in very low-light conditions. Additionally, the lens features an image stabilization system with four stops of compensation for handheld shooting. This feature isn’t always needed on wide-angle lenses, but it will help out enormously for handheld shooting and video work.
The only real downside to this lens is its variable aperture, which may not go as wide as higher-priced offerings. But in terms of overall sharpness and definition, the 10-24mm provides excellent results for the price.
2. Tamron SP AF 11-18mm f/4.5-5.6 Di II LD Aspherical (IF)
If you don’t mind diving into an older style zoom, the AF 11-18mm is designed for APS-C sensor cameras, providing a 16.5-27mm equivalent focal length. This particular zoom falls under our proposed budget of $500 with the ability to cover very wide-angle views.
The AF 11-18mm may have a slightly more narrow aperture than the 10-24mm lens above, but it’s still highly capable in reasonable light conditions, providing excellent image definition and detail. This is accomplished with the use of HID and LD glass elements, along with hybrid elements to maintain overall image detail and clarity. Each element has also been treated to special coatings to eliminate the usual amounts of lens anomalies.
Most wide-angle lenses live in the middle of the aperture range for the sharpest detail, which is where the Tamron SP AF 11-18mm f/4.5-5.6 Di II LD Aspherical (IF) provides its best results. Being an older lens, it can still pull out all the detail needed from the latest high-resolution cameras. That makes this lens a good viable alternative to not just other Tamron wide-angle lenses under $500, but also to camera manufacturer versions.
3. Tamron 14-150mm f/3.5-5.8 Di III
This particular wide-angle zoom is going to appeal to those on the Panasonic and Olympus platform, using the Micro Four Thirds format. The Tamron 14-150mm f/3.5-5.8 Di III is one of those general all-rounder zooms which covers not just the wide-angle side of things, but also ventures into the short telephoto lens arena.
Although the lens doesn’t feature image stabilization, which would help out at the longer focal lengths, it does include a good deal of corrective optics. These elements come in the form of one hybrid aspherical, one LD, and two molded glass aspherical versions to maintain overall image quality.
The stepping motor also works respectably well for both stills and video, with the system being extremely quick to lock into focus, only being tripped up from time to time in low-light conditions. The lens is also very lightweight, coming in over 280g, making it a good all-round travel solution.
4. Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC (Budget Winner)
The Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC may be the cheap option on our list, but it can still provide plenty of image quality where it counts. It’s also good to see that image stabilization has been incorporated into this lens, which works extremely well at the longer focal lengths.
Being a more budget-friendly lens, it has a DC autofocus motor, which is still respectably fast in good lighting conditions compared to higher-priced offerings. The lens also features a good deal of glass to cover the long focal range, consisting of 16 elements in 14 groups, with a hybrid aspherical and low dispersion element to control lens anomalies. Lastly, the lens has a fully moisture-resistant barrel and a reasonable weight of 400g, making it a good all-day shooter.
For a lens that can be picked up for just under $200, Tamron has packed in a lot of features and quality for the price. It may have a variable aperture which will need reasonable light levels to work at its best, but when used from f/5.6-f/11, the lens is sharp where it counts.
Check out our complete review of the Tamron 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC to see if this is the right lens for you.
What to Look for in Tamron Wide-Angle Lenses Under $500
The realities of having a limited budget to spend on any type of lens means there will be some caveats along the way. When dealing with lenses under $500, this means you’ll get zoom lenses with variable apertures. But if you don’t need to use any of these lenses in low-light conditions, they are all wonderfully accurate in the middle of the aperture range, which is an ideal place for wide-angle shots.
For the best in overall image quality, the 10-24mm zoom is a great, affordable wide-angle solution, with the added benefit of image stabilization. But if you want the most bang for your buck, with an almost equal in efficiency stabilization system, the 18-200mm provides good image definition for the price, while also being a very good all-rounder lens covering a wide focal range.