The Tamron 150-600 is an affordable ultra telephoto lens that works better than anyone would expect. Its release was announced towards the end of 2013, making it one of the models with the most up-to-date optics. It is the tool of choice for distant or small objects, particularly when large primes are impractical.
Despite having telephoto zoom lenses that cover long ranges, none of the popular models, including Nikon’s 80-400mm, Canon’s 100-400mm or Sigma’s 50-500mm, can reach the focal length of 600mm. Attaching a teleconverter on slower zoom lenses doesn’t help much as it often results in potential loss of autofocus capability or image degradation. That said, this lens is uniquely suited for various applications and this review will show you just why.
Tamron 150-600 mm Review
The Tamron SP 150-600 mm VC lens is, for many, a game changer and understandably so. You won’t get any other lens that will give you a reach of 600mm at less than $1000. What makes the Tamron 15-600mm truly unique is that it is a 4x ultra-zoom lens that can provide a reach of 600mm at f/6.3 on full frame and APS-C cameras. This opens up a whole new world for wildlife and bird photography for enthusiasts and amateurs alike. Other notable features include an UltraSonic Drive autofocus motor, 95mm filter thread as well as superior coatings.
Build and Handling
Being a large lens that’s subjective to observation, you probably won’t notice much difference if you’re used to shooting with similar telephoto zoom lenses. It weighs a little over 4 pounds and measures 10 inches in length when compacted. The length extends to 17-inches when the hood is attached.
Included in the package is a removable tripod collar, which comes in handy for someone who doesn’t want to shoot handheld. Mounting it on a tripod will help prevent additional shake from weariness. The large detachable hood does a good job of suppressing flare, so do the BBAR and eBAND coatings.
The Tamron 150-600 is constructed using high-grade plastic, which some consumers may interpret as not being of professional quality. All things considered, the build quality is exemplary at its price range. The use of plastic helps with reduced weight. The controls are very solid and the zoom quite smooth. The focus and zoom rings all have well-grooved surfaces, hence a solid feel and good grip. The F-mount is made from metal.
This lens comes with three controls including a vibration control on/off, auto/manual focus switch and a focus limiter. These are well positioned on the top left. The focus and zoom rings are 22mm apart, making it incredibly easy to obstruct the focus ring operation mistakenly. The zoom lock on the right-hand side provides two focal lengths – when fully retracted and at 400mm.
The AF system, which happens to be an UltraSonic Silent Drive Motor, has a good speed and kicks into action with a snap. It is efficient at finding an established focal point, which is not easy to achieve with a super telephoto. The focus limiter switch makes the process more efficient. The main problem with its performance is the accuracy, where objects in motion are susceptible to blurriness.
The image sharpness is significantly stronger at the wider zoom range, particularly 150-300mm. Softness can occur at the 500-600mm range but a tripod will help minimize this. Vibration compensation is very useful for handheld shooting at the long end of the zoom as it helps stabilize the image.
There is a notable jump in clarity around f/8 – f/10. This can prove a bit of a handicap especially for action shots that need a lot of light. A faster shutter speed is necessary to curb this and capture subject matters in motion at the longer end of the zoom.
The lens comes with a 9-bladed aperture, which makes for stunning images especially when shooting with a shallow depth of field. But like most lenses, the maximum aperture is not the sharpest. All things considered, the background bokeh is gorgeous.
The chromatic aberration of the Tamron 150-600 is very high at 600mm. A strong red cyan can be seen fringing at the edges and corners of the frame. It is however very low at 300mm and not particularly bad at shorter focal lengths. It’s important to note that while many Nikon DSLRs may be able to compensate for this with JPEG processing, the same cannot be said for Sony and Canon cameras.
With the longest focal length compared to other lenses in its class, the Tamron 150-600 is a contender. The Sigma comes closest, providing a focal range of 150-500mm. Canon, Nikon and Sony also offer ultrasonic focus motors with optical stabilization. Some of the most notable competitors include:
- Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3.
- Sony 70-400mm G Alpha A-Mount Telephoto Zoom Lens.
- Nikon AF-S Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR Lens.
- Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Lens.
Tamron 150-600 mm Specs
• 4x ultra-zoom lens with a 150-600 mm focal range.
• F/5-6.3 maximum aperture and f/32-40 minimum aperture.
• 9 diaphragm blades and 3 LD glass elements.
• 106.3 inches minimum focus distance.
• 95mm filter size.
• Nikon F-Bayonet mount.
• Vibration Compensation mechanism.
• Ultra silent drive motor.
• Removable tripod collar.
• Lens construction – 20 elements in 13 groups.
• 1:05 maximum reproduction ratio.
Tamron 150-600 Price
The Tamron 150-600 is a super affordable telephoto zoom lens that has a starting selling point of $860 and can reach up to $1,399, the price depending on camera mount.
While it is not without its shortcomings, the Tamron 150-600 is a strong contender in its class. It offers the longest focus length and the best thing is the image quality isn’t compromised. The lens is perfect for enthusiastic photographers looking to shoot distant objects where the longest zoom possible comes in handy, like wildlife and sports. The cheap price tag is a nice bonus for anyone who doesn’t have much to spend.