Best super zoom lens for travel: our verdict and rankings
Sigma's 18-300mm delivers a mighty 16.7x zoom range with deliver excellent sharpness and reasonably low amounts of distortion and colour fringing. It does rather better than the Tamron 16-300mm in all aspects of image quality.
However, the Tamron is more refined in terms of handling, thanks to the way the focus ring doesn't rotate during autofocus and enables full-time manual override.
The Tamron also has a weather-sealed mount that's lacking in the Sigma, as well as giving a wider angle of view at the short end of the zoom range.
Overall, it's a close call but the Sigma edges ahead for outright image quality and price.
For outright value, Sigma wins again with the latest incarnation of its 18-200mm lens. The zoom range is less powerful but all-round quality is very impressive at such a low asking price - it's the cheapest lens in the group by quite a margin.
We prefer Sigma lenses to the Canon 18-200mm and Nikon 18-300mm own-brand options.
The Canon is dated and needs the same kind of refresh that the company's 18-135mm has benefitted from, while the Nikon lacks telephoto sharpness and is fairly poor value for money.
For Micro Four Thirds, the Panasonic 14-140mm gives best all-round image quality and boasts optical image stabilisation, but it's slightly down on telephoto reach compared to the Olympus and Tamron 14-150mm lenses.
1 Sigma 18-300mm f/3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM | C
What's good: Powerful zoom range; excellent all-round image quality; effective stabiliser.
What's bad: Focus ring rotates during auto- focus; mounting plate lacks a weather-seal.
We say: It edges ahead for image quality.
2 Tamron 16-300mm f/3.5-6.3 Di II VC PZD Macro
What's good: Extra-wide viewing angle at 16mm; good handling; weather-sealed mount.
What's bad: Loses out to the Sigma 18-300mm for sharpness, distortions and colour fringing.
We say: It adds extra wide-angle potential.
3 Sigma 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 DC Macro OS HSM | C
What's good: Very compact and lightweight for an APS-C format lens; strong performance.
What's bad: Relatively modest telephoto reach; focus ring rotates during autofocus.
We say: It's a highly impressive superzoom lens at a bargain price.
4 Panasonic Lumix G 14-140mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH Power OIS
What's good: Small and lightweight build but with good performance and stabilisation.
What's bad: Less telephoto reach than the Olympus and Tamron 14-150mm lenses.
We say: The increase in image quality and added stabiliser makes this the best MFT buy.
5 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm f/4‑5.6 II
What's good: Beautifully built with the inclusion of weather-seals; good image quality.
What's bad: No optical stabilisation; sharpness drops off at the telephoto end.
We say: It's a pretty good lens but the Panasonic is a better buy at its lower price.
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