Review: Tamron 150-600mm f5-6.3 Di VC USD

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I have tested a few long lenses here. They were mostly prime lenses. The Tamron 150-600mm f5-6.3 is one of the latest zoom lenses from this third party lens maker. It is a company with a long history in the photography world. I recently purchased their 70-200mm f2.8 and was eager to try this new telephoto zoom. What mattered to me about this lens most was its performance. During this review period, we were at the tail end of some psychotic weather. Snow was still everywhere.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • The Tamron 150-600mm f5-6.3 is not too big.
  • Image Stabilization works very well on the Tamron 150-600mm f5-6.3.
  • The Tamron 150-600mm f5-6.3 is easy to carry around.

Cons

  • The lock on the Tamron 150-600mm f5-6.3 only works at 150mm. It would be nice if the lens could lock at all the marked focal lengths.
  • There is severe lens creep without the lock.

Gear Used

To test this lens I used a Canon 5D Mk II. I carried the lens in my Case Logic SLR Camera Backpack. I used my 3-Legged Thing X1.1 Brian Evolution 2 Carbon Fiber tripod with its own Blue Air head and the Manfrotto 393 Heavy Duty Gimbal Type Telephoto Lens Support.

Tech Specs

Tech Specs from B&H

  • Focal Length 150 – 600mm
  • Comparable APS-C 1.6x Focal Length: 240 – 960 mm
  • Aperture Maximum: f/5.0 – 6.3
  • Minimum: f/32.0 – 40.0
  • Camera Mount Type Canon EF
  • Format Compatibility 35mm Film / Full-Frame Digital Sensor
  • Canon (APS-C)
  • Canon (APS-H)
  • Angle of View 16° 25′ – 4° 8′
  • Minimum Focus Distance 8.86′ (2.7 m)
  • Maximum Reproduction Ratio 1:5
  • Elements/Groups 20/13
  • Diaphragm Blades 9
  • Features
  • Image Stabilization Yes
  • Autofocus Yes
  • Tripod Collar Yes Removable – rotating
  • Physical
  • Filter Thread Front:95 mm
  • Dimensions (DxL) Approx. 4.16 x 10.15″ (105.6 x 257.8 mm)
  • Weight 4.30 lb (1.95 kg)
  • Available in a Canon Mount, Nikon Mount and Sony Mount

Ergonomics

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The clearly marked zoom ring is the bigger of the two rings on the lens. Both rings have a nice grip to them.

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Fully extended, the lens has an impressive length.

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With the lens hood on the Tamron 150-600mm f5-6.3 has an epic length.

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This lens has a lock, which is in a good position on the barrel. It helps when traveling.

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There are three buttons on the left side of the Tamron 150-600mm f5-6.3: the autofocus limiter, the AF/MFTS switch, and the vibration compensation switch.

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The tripod collar is removable, but it’s better to keep it on. It makes it easier to hand hold the lens. The lens has a decent weight to it and is easier to hand hold than it looks.

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On the top of the Tamron 150-600mm f5-6.3 is a distance scale. It’s something I rarely use, but it’s good to have it just in case.

Build Quality

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The Tamron SP 150-600mm is extremely well put together, and it’s weather-sealed. The lens is solid, and all its parts are working seamlessly together. I was already used working with the Tamron 70-200 f2.8 and I have the same level of satisfaction with the 150-600mm’s build quality.

Autofocus

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The autofocus worked very well. It was quick and responsive. The autofocus on the Tamron 150-600mm f5-6.3 was also extremely quiet. When capturing stationary objects, it was fast without the limiter, but with it, the autofocus was even quicker. This made it easy to capture moving objects like birds at a distance. If you are a bird shooter or a sports shooter this lens is worth looking at. I am not really a bird shooter, but to test it, I took the Tamron 150-600mm f5-6.3 along the Hudson River. Seagulls are not exotic but they make great test subjects. The lens handled the challenge admirably. Even though I was shooting hand held, I was easily able to get the birds.

 Ease of Use

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There was no real learning curve to this lens. The Tamron 150-600mm f5-6.3 was easy to use out of the box. The biggest decision is if you are going to shoot hand held or on a tripod.

Image Quality

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The image quality of the lens is superb over all. The Tamron 150-600mm f5-6.3 is just as good or better than some of the telephoto lenses I have worked with in the past. The colors are good, and it has lovely bokeh. In all my travels with this lens, I had no complaints.

Vibration Reduction

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One of the first things I did with the Tamron 150-600mm f5-6.3 was create an image of an icicle hanging of my house. The light was not that great, so I knew that in order to get a proper exposure, the shutter speed needed to be low. I would not have been able to create this image without the vibration control of this lens.

Bokeh

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The bokeh of the Tamron 150-600mm f5-6.3 was fantastic. At every focal length this lens performed well, and the bokeh was extremely smooth and clean.

Sharpness

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This lens is insanely sharp. I created an image of a sign in a park, and when I cropped the image, I was easily able to read the sign. This image was created at 600mm f8 at ISO 3200 1/400 second. The sharpness of the Tamron 150-600mm f5-6.3 will not let you down at all.

Color Fringing

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In interesting low light situations, there was some color fringing. I was doing a long exposure of a waterfall at sunset on a winter’s day. The sky was somewhat bright for the moment, and my focus point was the dark log in the water. This caused the background to overexpose. This is when I noticed the fringing. Overall there was minimal color fringing in my images.

Color Rendering

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The color rendering with the Tamron 150-600mm f5-6.3 is accurate and consistent. Skin tones are nice and even. The image above was straight out of the camera. In Lightroom, I converted to JPEG, put my metadata in, and that was it. The Tamron 150-600mm f5-6.3 was nice in this regard, and I saw the possibility of doing portraits with it.

Distortion

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This lens had much less distortion than I expected. Throughout the zoom range, the lens was very consistent. I never felt the need to correct the image. All of my subjects were well proportioned and nothing seemed out of place.

Conclusions

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With some imagination, you have a lens that can be used for a variety of creative projects. The Tamron 150-600mm f5-6.3 is a reasonably priced lens that really delivers. It’s not a cheap doorstop telephoto lens. While it is f5-6.3, make no mistake: this lens is phenomenal. Its size makes it well suited for travel. This lens is ideal for bird photographers, sport photographers, and anyone else who thinks they need a zoom lens. There’s something delightful about a piece of gear that works very well.

Recommended Cameras and Accessories

Additional Sample Images

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Gevon Servo

Gevon Servo aka @GServo is an eclectic, NJ/NY Photographer. He’s a Nikon shooter, by choice nevertheless, will always test any piece of photography equipment. He believes that like ‘Photography’, ‘Coffee’,’Beer’ and ‘Comics Books’ and other things ‘Geek’ “You must try everything once to discover what you want to try again.