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Hands-On Review: Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 SP Di VC USD for Canon

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Tamron’s brand-new 150-600mm f/5-6.3 SP Di VC USD has generated a lot of attention with its release. This is mainly because it offers Canon, Nikon, and Sony shooters access to the super-telephoto zoom. This lens replaces Tamron’s 200-500mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD and provides photographers with just a little more reach for better accessibility to wildlife, sports, and other distant subjects. It’s compatible with both full-frame and APS-C camera systems, with the latter resulting in a focal-length equivalence of approximately 240-960mm on Canon and 225-900mm on Nikon and Sony cameras. Buyers can get an impressive, high-performance lens that really stands out in its class.


Handling

This is a large lens, although that can be a subjective observation. Anyone accustomed to shooting with similar super-telephoto zooms won’t notice much difference. At slightly more than 4 pounds, its weight is comparable to Sigma’s 50-500mm f/4.5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM and it's about a pound heavier than Canon’s popular EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM. Compacted, it’s a little more than 10” in length. Extended to the longest end of the zoom range, and with the hood attached, it measures more than 17”. An included removable tripod collar is quite useful for anyone who doesn’t have the desire or ability to shoot handheld. While it’s certainly possible to shoot this way, it’ll get tiresome quickly if you don’t have the strength and stamina—you’ll need to mount it on a tripod and prevent additional shake from fatigue. The large detachable hood works well to suppress flare, though Tamron’s eBAND and BBAR coatings do a great job of minimizing these issues even without it.

The filter thread is a considerable 95mm, which makes for a very large front element. The downside here is that 95mm filters can get expensive, and you might not be able to double their use for much else in your kit. The front cap is a center-pinch type piece that stays securely in place and doesn’t pop off with a slight bump or jostle, a benefit to those trekking out for nature photography. There’s a handy zoom-lock lever on the barrel, and it leaves little option about whether or not to engage it—without it, the lens does creep. The ribbed zoom and focus rings are large and easy to grip, which makes manual focus incredibly smooth. The lens seems to be relatively durable as well, and after shooting for three days straight in a sub-zero wind chill, never faltered. Overall, it feels comfortable and sturdy in the hand, delivering across the board as both ergonomically and visually pleasing.

Performance

The 150-600mm f/5-6.3 was tested with a Canon 5D Mark II, and definitely proved to be an impressive piece of glass. The speed of its AF system (an Ultrasonic Silent Drive motor) is easily comparable with those equipped with Canon and Nikon’s high-end glass, kicking into action in a snap. It’s incredibly smooth, silent, and fast every time.

ISO 1250 | 600mm | f/6.3 | 1/160 sec. | Handheld with VC on

The lens is very efficient at finding an established focal point, something that can be tricky with super telephoto, and doesn’t cause you to miss out on a shot due to hunting for focus. There’s also a focus limiter switch, which further expedites the process, if need be. The only issue was accuracy, which suffered just slightly with moving subjects. Even at fairly high shutter speeds, subjects in motion were more susceptible to blurriness. Stationary shots were consistent in their clarity, throughout. Overall, AF could use a few improvements, but remains pretty solid for a lens of this type.

ISO 500 | 600mm | f/6.3 | 1/250 sec. | Handheld with VC on

Image sharpness in general is notably stronger at the wider ends of the zoom range, primarily between 150-300mm. At 500-600mm, softness can occur. A tripod does help to minimize this. Handheld shooting at the long end of the zoom becomes a little harder to do, especially if you lack the aforementioned arm strength. Vibration Compensation is very useful here, and definitely makes a difference in the details when you have no other option but to handhold the lens. It also helps to stabilize what you see in the viewfinder, so you end up less shaky when trying to compose. As a note, Tamron’s Sony-compatible version of this lens does not include VC, and relies instead on in-camera image stabilization.  

ISO 250 | 600mm | f/7.1 | 1/320 sec. | Handheld with VC on

Background bokeh is beautiful. This lens houses a circular 9-bladed aperture, and it yields stunning, painterly elements of defocus when shooting at shallow depth of field. Of course, the 150-600mm tops off at speeds between f/5 and f/6.3, depending on where you are in the zoom range. Like a lot of lenses, its maximum aperture is not quite its sharpest.

ISO 500 | 600mm | f/6.3 | 1/400 sec. | Handheld with VC on

Around f/8-f/10, there’s a notable jump in clarity. Considering that it seems to need a lot of light, especially for action shots, this can be a bit of a handicap. To really capture crisp subject matter in motion, especially at the longer end of the zoom, a fast shutter speed is optimal—and necessary.

 

    ISO 125 | 600mm | f/10 | 1/100 sec. | Handheld with VC on                                                   ISO 125 | 150mm | f/10 | 1/100 sec. | Hand-held with VC on

Some slight chromatic aberration and fringing was evident from time to time, though it was very minimal and easy to overlook without close inspection. Pin-cushion distortion, a common issue in telephoto photography, was barely, if ever, noticed. When magnified on a computer monitor, image sharpness pleasantly and consistently retained its integrity from corner to corner of the frame. The colors remained true and rich, even when out shooting in a bleak winter environment, and would undoubtedly do well capturing bright foliage or birds.

ISO 125 | 600mm | f/10 | 1/320 sec. | Handheld with VC on

©Images by Amanda Bellucco Photography

Conclusion

While it’s not without flaws, the 150-600mm f/5-6.3 SP Di VC USD’s amazing range is going to be pretty hard to beat. All things considered, it exceeds expectations. It looks solid, feels solid, and performs with a great deal of heart. For nature photography in particular, this lens is really going to make a name for itself. Given the chance, it just might surprise you. Looking for a reliable super telephoto zoom? In this case, Tamron’s got the answer.

Watch this hands-on review of the Tamron 150-600mm lens.

Format Compatibility 35mm Film / Full-Frame Digital Sensor
Camera Mounts Canon EF, Nikon F, and Sony A
Focal Length 150-600mm
APS-C Equivalent Focal Length Canon: 240-960mm
Nikon: 225-900mm
Sony: 225-900mm
Maximum Aperture f/5.0-6.3
Minimum Aperture f/32-40
Angle of View 16° 25' - 4° 8'
Minimum Focus Distance 8.86' (2.7 m)
Maximum Reproduction Ratio 1:05
Lens Construction 20 elements in 13 groups
Aperture Blades 9
Tripod Collar Yes, removable
Image Stabilization Canon, Nikon: Yes, Vibration Compensation
Sony: No
Autofocus Ultrasonic Silent Drive Motor
Filter Thread 95mm
Dimensions 4.2 x 10.2" (10.6 x 25.8 cm)
Weight 4.3 lb (1.95 kg)

Discussion 141

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I want to use the Tamron AFA011S700 SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD Zoom Lens for Sony Alpha Cameras. The package I looked at contains Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD Lens for Sony + Sony LAEA3 A-Mount to E-mount Lens Adaptor + Sony 64GB MC + 95mm UV Protector + Battery/Charger + 59" Tripod + Silicone Band + Large Lens Pouch. will this work with my Sony a6300 e mount?

The LA-EA3 is designed for use specifically with Sony lenses. While you could use the Tamron 150-600mm lens with the adapter, we would not be able to guarantee the functionality of the auto functions. From all accounts, autofocus can be hit or miss with this combination.

I am wondering if this Tamron lens 250-600 works with the Canon EOS 60d, will I need any adapter? Also what is the Country of Mfg.

Thanks

Oooops fat finger 150-600

The Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD Lens for Canon will be compatible with the Canon 60D. You would not need an adapter. According to the information in our system, provided to us by Tamron, this lens is currently being made in China.

I am looking for some help I bought this lens for Christmas and have been enjoying it to the fullest. Today I am finding it difficult ot turn the lens to zoom in and out. Any suggestions on what might be going on and what I should do. Thank you.

Just solved my own problem...did not know I had a zoom lock feature. Sometimes what seems like a problem becomes a pleasent surprise.  

is there a teleconverter compatible with the tamron 150-600 lens for the sony a 77?

Unfortunately there is not currently a teleconverter that will support the 150-600mm lens with a Sony A-Mount camera.

Would this lens work well with my D7100? I am planning to get one for a safari trip.

Hi RRG - 

The lens discussed in the article is for CANON cameras.  You would use this lens with your Nikon D7100:

Spanning a versatile and long-reaching focal length range, the Nikon F-mount SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 from Tamron is a 4x zoom covering telephoto to super telephoto perspectives. Complementing the long reach is an optimized optical design that features three low dispersion (LD) glass elements to reduce chromatic aberrations and color fringing throughout the zoom range. eBAND and BBAR coatings have also been applied to reduce ghosting and flare when working in strong, backlit lighting conditions.

Beyond its optical attributes, the G2 version of this lens also incorporates a FLEX ZOOM LOCK mechanism to permit locking the zoom position at any focal length position to prevent accidental zoom extension. Conventional zoom lock is also featured to prevent barrel extension during transport. Suiting handheld shooting situations, Vibration Compensation (VC) is a 4.5-stop-effective image stabilization mechanism that helps to reduce the appearance of camera shake for sharper results when working with slower shutter speeds. A ring-type Ultrasonic Silent Drive (USD) autofocus motor delivers notably quick and accurate focusing performance to suit working with fast-moving subjects, and full-time manual focus is also supported for fine-tuned control. Benefitting its use outdoors, the lens also features a moisture-resistant construction along with a fluorine-coated front element to guard against dirt, dust, moisture, and smudging from affecting image quality. The ergonomic and durable metal construction of the lens also incorporates textured focus and zoom rings, and a removable, rotating tripod collar with an Arca-type compatible foot is supplied to better enable shooting from tripods and monopods.

Is this available in Sony E mount?

Unfortunately, Tamron is not offering the 150-600mm G2 in an E-mount at this time. 

Does the Vibration Control (VC) on this lens work in Video mode on Canon DSLRs?

Vibration Compensation*

The VC will function during video.

Can you direct me to some of the sample images as seen in the 150-600mm video?

Hi David,

I am sorry, but we do not have access to those images as the video was produced through our partnership with Kelby Media.

Thanks!

Can you please tell me which Teleconverter is appropiate for "Tamron SP 150-600mm F5-6.3 Di VC USD" I am using it with my Nikon D7000 and would like to increase my reach to 2X.

For the original 150-600mm lens, you would need to look for a third party teleconverter.  You could look at the Kenko TelePlus MC7 AF 2.0X DGX Teleconverter.  Keep in mind that will lose autofocus using a teleconverter with the 150-600mm lens.

I have the new Tamrom 150-600 G2 and love it. I'm thinking about purchasing one of the telconverters. Shooting birds, I'd like to get as much reach as possible, particularly for waterfowl out on lakes. What are your thoughts on the 2x compared to 1.4x???

If you are looking to get the most reach possible with your new Tamron 150-600mm, then the 2X teleconverter would likely be the best option.  Autofocus won’t be possible when using either teleconverter, so that wouldn’t be a factor in deciding between them.  You would get better results going with the 2X, than shooting with the 1.4X and cropping.  So, if the maximum amount of reach is your main objective, the 2X would be the best option. 

Is this a good lens for sports action photography?

The Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 SP Di VC USD would be an excellent option for sports and action, especially if you won’t be close to the action.

I hav this lens and love it  on my Nikon Dx I would like to upgrade to an fx Nikon would my lense work or would I have to upgrade the lens to an fx model

This lens is designed for use with Full Frame (FX) Sized Sensor cameras, no need to upgrade the lens. 

Hi,

Please don't laugh if I ask this question, but does this lens works with Canon 700D as well?

Yes, the Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD Lens for Canon will be fully compatible with the Canon 700D (T5i). 

WILL THE TAMRON 150 TO 600 mm Tele work on a Canon 80D ?

The Tamron 150-600mm lens for Canon will be compatible with the Canon 80D, yes.  Any compatibility issues should have been resolved by now.  If you do encounter issues,  you could send the lens into Tamron to get the firmware updated.

I just purchased the Tamron 150-600mm lens for my 5dMKIII. Is a Canon 2X teleconverter compatible with the Tamron lens?

Thank you

Unfortunately, none of the Canon extenders would be compatible with the Tamron 150-600mm lens.  The Canon extenders are only compatible with a select number of Canon’s pro-level telephoto lenses.  They are not compatible with lenses from other manufacturers.  While there are other brand teleconverters on the market that could work with the 150-600mm lens, autofocus would not be retained.

Ok..I have a Canon 2 x teleconverter and it fits, but I have not had an opportunity to go out shooting.  Can you explan what you mean that it is not compatible.  Does that just mean certain features won't work?  Does it just not give you the "extra reach"?  Or will it damage my lens in some way?

The Canon extenders are not designed to work with third party lenses.  They are only designed to work with certain Canon lenses.  While you might have been able to physically fit the extender on a third party lens, I wouldn’t risk the combination.  There is no telling whether or not you might damage the lens or extender. 

I have a Nikon D810 and am planning on adding the Tamron 150-600mm to my lens collection very soon.  I am trying to find if there is a teleconverter, either 1.4x or 2.0x that works well with this lens? 

Thanks,

Dan

While there are teleconverters you could use with the Tamron 150-600mm lens, autofocus would not be retained.  The lens isn’t overly bright to begin with, and you lose roughly 1-stop with the 1.4X teleconverter and 2-stops with the 2X teleconverter.  This wouldn’t be enough light for the camera’s AF system to function. 

Hi. A friend of mine has bought the Tamron 150-600mm F/5-6.3 lens. It works perfectly on his Nikon D80 but only manually on his Nikon D5300. Any ideas on how to get it to work on the D5300?

The Tamron 150-600mm lens for Nikon should be able to autofocus on the D5300.  I would suggest having your friend contact us directly through an email.  We could then begin to trouble shoot what might be going on.  In the email he might mention if the lens tries to focus at all, if he has been having this issue with other lenses on his camera, and if he is shooting in the same conditions with both the 80D and D5300.  AskPhoto@bhphoto.com

Hi! I am looking to buy this for use with the Nikon D3100. Will it work for wildlife and bird shots?

Secondly, in the near future I intend upgrading to the Canon 7D II. Will the lens that I buy for the Nikon D3100 be compatible with the Canon 7D II or will I have to change the lens again?

You could use the Tamron 150-600mm lens for Nikon on the D3100, and the lens would be a great option for wildlife and birding.  Though, if you upgraded to the 7D II in the future, you would need to purchase the Tamron 150-600mm lens for Canon.  You wouldn’t be able to use the same lens on both cameras as they have different mounts.

Is this compatible with Nikon D750

The Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD Lens for Nikon is compatible with the Nikon D750, yes.

is this lense can be used with canon 70D to shoot wildlife photography and sports?

Hi -

The Tamron 150-600mm lens for Canon would be fully compatible with the 70D.  Great wildlife and sports photography will be yours with this lens.  A good tripod/monopod is strongly recommended as well.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

I currently use a 7D but I am cotemplating a switch. Is the Tamron 150-600 good on the 7d for birds in flight or is it a case of upgrading the body to get sharp results.

The Tamron 150-600mm lens for Canon would be fully compatible with the 7D.  It would be more than possible to get good bird shots with the 150-600mm lens and 7D.  Though, if you are looking to upgrade, you could look at the newer version of the 7D: 7D II.  It has a completely redesigned autofocus system, and is noticeably faster. 

Curious, will the Nikon version work on the Nikon F6 film SLR?

The Tamron 150-600mm lens for Nikon should be compatible with the Nikon F5, as the F5 can control a lens’s aperture through the camera and supports image stabilization.

Not so sure about the compatibility of the Tamron with the F5.  I have a Tamron SP 24-70 Di VC USD with a Nikon mount.  It works great on my Nikon D750 but not on my F5.  It mounts just fine, but the AutoFocus does not work.  It sounds like it tries to focus but no movement, and no focus.  I know the Camera works fine because it works with my other Nikkor lenses; and I know my Tamron lens works because I use it on the D750.  Now I know the question was referencing the Tamron 150-600mm, but it's hard for me to believe that the Nikon compatibility is different between those two lenses.

Hi Bill (and Patrick),

On your F5 and the Tamron lens, what you hear, Bill, is the auto focus motor on the F5 trying to engage the motor on the Tamron lens. For several generations, Nikon lenses did not have their own auto focus motors—the camera had a pin that engaged a screw on the lens' mount and the camera drove the helicoid inside the lens to achieve auto focus. Most of today's auto focus lenses have their own motors, so all that is needed is the right electrical connection in order to auto focus—not a mechanical connection.

The F5 likely does not have the electronic connections needed to signal a lens auto focus motor to operate. Therefore, the camera tries to auto focus by turning its drive blade. As there is no screw to be turned on the Tamron, nothing happens. The same thing will happen with the F6, based on my research.

Thanks for writing in!

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