First Impressions: Tamron 100-400mm f4.5-6.3 Di VC USD

The Tamron 100-400mm f4.5-6.3 Di VC USD is a pretty impressive optic

When I first got to see and hold the Tamron 100-400mm f4.5-6.3 Di VC USD lens, I didn’t think it would be anywhere near as lightweight as it is. To be honest, I’ve seen and held 70-200mm f2.8 lenses that are heavier and in some ways bigger, at least when collapsed. Granted, this lens has external zooming.

The Tamron 100-400mm f4.5-6.3 Di VC USD is designed for photographers who shoot stuff like wildlife, sports, etc. and want something lightweight, good quality and with professional performance. And even though I handled a prototype at Photo Plus, it’s showing a lot of promise.

Tech Specs

Tech specs taken from Tamron’s website

Model A035
Focal Length 100-400mm
Maximum Aperture F/4.5-6.3
Angle of View (diagonal) 24°24′ – 6°12′ (for full-frame format)
15°54′ – 4°01′ (for APS-C format)
Lens Construction 17 elements in 11 groups
Minimum Focus Distance 1.5m (59 in)
Maximum. Magnification Ratio 1:3.6
Filter Size Φ67mm
Maximum Diameter Φ86.2mm (3.4 in)
Length* 199mm (7.8 in) Canon
196.5mm (7.7 in) Nikon
Weight 1,135g (40 oz) Canon
1,115g (39.3 oz) Nikon
Diaphragm Blade Number 9 (circular diaphragm)**
Minimum Aperture F/32-45
Image Stabilization Performance 4 Stops (CIPA Standards Compliant)
For Canon: EOS-5D MKIII is used / For Nikon: D810 is used
Standard Accessories Lens hood, Lens caps
Compatible Mounts Canon, Nikon

Specifications, appearance, functionality, etc. may be changed without prior notice.

* Length is the distance from the front tip of the lens to the lens mount face.
** The circular diaphragm stays almost perfectly circular up to two stops down from maximum aperture.

Release Date 
November 16, 2017 (Canon, Nikon)

Ergonomics

The Tamron 100-400mm f4.5-6.3 Di VC USD is a pretty beautiful lens. It has a matte finish on the outside typical of many of the other Tamron lenses out there. The zoom ring is further out towards the front and the focusing is towards the back.

When you turn towards the mount for the Tamron 100-400mm f4.5-6.3 Di VC USD you’ll spot some of the weather sealing. There is a rubber ring here.

When you turn towards the front of the Tamron 100-400mm f4.5-6.3 Di VC USD has a rubber ring too. This is designed to absorb shock.

When zoomed all the way in, the Tamron 100-400mm f4.5-6.3 Di VC USD is at its longest size. When you add a lens hood, I can imagine it would be even larger.

Build Quality

The Tamron 100-400mm f4.5-6.3 Di VC USD has weather sealing built into it. In fact, there is something like 11 or so gaskets and seals in addition to what’s available on the mount. It’s a perfect blend of both elegance and quality. The day a lens like this ever becomes available for the Sony FE camera lineup is the day that I make a massive switch.

Ease of Use

What you’ll want to keep in mind is that the Tamron 100-400mm f4.5-6.3 Di VC USD has switches on it. These switches control the autofocus, the vibration compensation, etc. According to Tamron:

“We received an email last night with clarification of the function of VC mode 2. We had been under the understanding that the lens had auto detect panning as the 18-400mm does. However, on this new lens you switch into VC 2 for panning. I apologize for this misinformation. Please let me know if you have any questions.”

So when you work with the lens, you’ll see that

Image Samples

Unfortunately, I didn’t get the opportunity to slap the Tamron 100-400mm f4.5-6.3 Di VC USD lens onto a camera body. But we’re told one is coming out way very soon.

Conclusions

I’m pretty intrigued by the Tamron 100-400mm f4.5-6.3 Di VC USD. It will be a nice travel lens, though at the same time when I look at it and think about it, I wonder if doing this for DSLRs was a winning strategy. Here at Photo Plus, lots of companies are predicting that in 2019, mirrorless will overtake DSLRs.

We’ll just need to see.