Tamron’s upcoming telephoto zoom doesn’t just pack in more zoom than the competition — it’s also smaller and lighter. The Tamron 50-400mm f4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD is an 8x zoom telephoto made for Sony E-Mount shooters. The lens is both smaller and lighter than the Sony 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 GM OSS, despite packing in a wider view. And, if past lenses are any indication, it could also be cheaper. Tamron has only announced the development of the lens, and while pricing details have not yet been released, a full launch is expected this fall.
Tamron 50-400mm f4.5-6.3 Key Features
While Tamron’s announcement is only for the development of the lens, here’s what the third-party lens brand has shared so far:
- The lens is as compact as many 100-400mm lenses, measuring 7.2 inches long and weighing 40.7 ounces.
- With the ability to focus close enough for a 1:20 half-macro shot, the lens uses a Voice-coil Extreme Torque Drive autofocus motor for quieter performance.
- It’s stabilized.
- The design includes a focus limiter switch and moisture-resistant construction. Tamron says the design has also been updated for better scratch resistance. A tripod collar can be added, but Tamron doesn’t say if it’s included or sold separately.
- It takes 67mm filters.
- Tamron hasn’t yet announced pricing details. It’s expected to be fully launched in the fall of 2022, but that could change.
A More Versatile Zoom, in a Compact Body
The 100-400mm is a more standard focal length, but Tamron is pushing that on the wide end. The new lens encompasses not just telephoto but the standard 50mm focal length as well. With a kit lens covering the wide angles, photographers could cover a wide range of focal lengths with just two lenses.
Despite offering more zoom, the lens is still fairly compact. It’s smaller than Sony’s 100-400mm by almost a full inch and lighter by roughly eight ounces. Telephoto lenses tend to get heavy fast, so that could make a difference in how long photographers can haul the lens around.
A Narrower Aperture
The sacrifice here is the aperture. Sony’s G Master 100-400mm has a 4.5-5.6 aperture at the widest. While 50mm on the 50-400mm will be just as bright, 100mm will likely be somewhere in the middle of those two numbers. 400mm has a 1/3 stop less of light coming in, and while 1/3 of a stop isn’t huge, telephoto lenses tend to require faster shutter speeds for subjects like sports and wildlife. That third of light can push the ISO even higher.
What’s more budget-friendly than an affordable lens? One lens that covers the same range as two lenses.
Narrower apertures on telephoto lenses can sometimes also reduce the hit rate of the autofocus system. But, Tamron tends to have a pretty good autofocus system for a third party.
Sony’s lens is also part of the G Master family. These lenses tend to be ultra-sharp, technically superb optics. It’s impossible to just look at the specifications of two lenses and discern their exact differences. If I had to guess, I would expect Sony’s G Master to be sharper but Tamron to have more character-building flare.
Tamron Is Continuing to Innovate with More Versatile Lenses
The 50-400mm lens isn’t the only oddball focal length Tamron has launched lately. In fact, several of their latest lenses are more versatile than the standard zoom ranges, like Tamron’s 28-75 or the 17-70mm. Tamron seems to be focusing on offering more versatility without swapping lenses. And, as Tamron lenses tend to be a more budget-friendly option for enthusiasts, it’s not a bad idea. What’s more budget-friendly than an affordable lens? One lens that covers the same range as two lenses.
For now, Sony E-Mount shooters will have to wait until the full launch to see where the price point of Tamron’s latest flexible zoom will sit.