Test: Tamron 150-500mm F / 5-6.7 Di III VC VXD lens

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By Mike O’Connor | November 9, 2021

The Tamron 150-500mm F5-6.7 Di III VC VXD lens is a pretty convincing package – it offers an ideal focal length for sports and wildlife photography, a weather-resistant construction, great optics and a very competitive price (1,899 AUD) to make it a solid option for more budget-conscious photographers.

Image: Tamron

Sony’s E-mount is fairly well covered for longer telephoto lenses in 2021. Sigma offers its 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM lens as an E-mount ($ 1,979), and Sony sells two telephoto lenses – the Sony FE 100- 400mm f / 4.5-5.6 GM OSS, ($ 3,369) and the FE 200-600mm f / 5.6-6.3 G OSS ($ 2,899).

Unlike Sigma, Tamron manufactures its 150-500mm exclusively for Sony’s mirrorless system and, compared to the other lenses mentioned above, this is the most affordable super telephoto option for the E-mount – not that you will know it by looking at it. , although.

To build

At 209.6mm in length and 1725g without the tripod mount, the 150-500mm is a heavy lens, although it is almost as compact as Sony’s 100-400mm FE, but the Tamron offers 25% more range. Compared to the Sony FE 200-600mm, the Tamron is noticeably smaller and lighter, although you forgo a 100mm range at the long end. And, like Sony’s two lenses (and many other telephoto lenses), it also extends when zoomed in.

Image: Tamron

The barrel is made of a composite material and is fully waterproof, and the front element has a fluorine coating to repel fingerprints and water droplets.

The lens comes with a removable tripod collar and Arca-Swiss style tripod stand, as well as a reversible lens hood. The lens accepts 82mm filters. It would help if the barrel had 90 degree click stops to switch from portrait to landscape orientation, but the collar is adjustable if you want to set it at square angles.

Inside, the lens has 25 elements in 16 groups, including six special scattering elements and two aspherical elements. It has a very useful minimum focusing distance of 0.60m with a magnification of 1: 3.1 and a working distance of 0.37m to 150mm. At 500mm, the minimum focus is approximately 1.5m.

On the outside, there are four toggle switches to control (up and down), focus zoom range, AF / MF, VC (vibration control) On / Off, and a switch to toggle between the three stabilization modes.

Image: Tamron

To prevent the dreaded lens drift (well some people dread it), Tamron includes a zoom lock switch, which keeps the barrel set to its shortest length for storage and transport. interestingly, there’s a lockable zoom clutch as well.

This allows the zoom to be locked at any focal length: just push the zoom ring forward to set the lock, and pull it back to release and readjust the zoom control. It’s a cool feature that is perfectly integrated.

Image quality

I have used the 150-500mm with two Sony cameras, the flagship Sony A1 and my own Sony A7 III, and with both found excellent results, especially with the higher resolution housing.

Sony A1, Tamron E 150-500mm F5-6.7 @ 374mm lens.  1 / 320s @ f6.3, ISO 800.
Sony A1, Tamron E 150-500mm F5-6.7 @ 374mm lens. 1 / 320s @ f6.3, ISO 800.

At f / 5 at 150mm, there is very little barrel distortion, and by the time you hit f / 8 at f / 11, the sweet spot, images show excellent sharpness throughout the focal range. Having used the Sony 100-400mm f4 / 5-5.6 for the past three years (a great performer), I was very impressed with how close the Tamron is edge to edge.

If you’re an APS-C shooter, you’ll likely find even better results, as cameras like the Sony A6000 series only use the middle area of ​​the full frame image circle.

Sony A1, Tamron E 150-500mm F5-6.7 @ 500mm lens.  1 / 400s @ f9, ISO 400.
Sony A1, Tamron E 150-500mm F5-6.7 @ 500mm lens. 1 / 400s @ f9, ISO 400.

Finally, this sharpness is aided by the VC system built into the Tamron 150-500mm. It offers three modes: Mode 1 is standard stabilization, Mode 2 is specifically for panning, and Mode 3 maximizes viewfinder stabilization for easier framing.

Since I was mainly focusing on moving objects for this review, I really didn’t push my shutter speeds that low, but the indications are that you can expect around two to three stabilization stops and usable footage. at 1 / 15s depending on the light and the subject.

Sony A1, Tamron E 150-500mm F5-6.7 @ 150mm lens.  1 / 2000s @ f5.6, ISO 1000.
Sony A1, Tamron E 150-500mm F5-6.7 @ 150mm lens. 1 / 2000s @ f5.6, ISO 1000.

The only downside of the Tamron 100-500mm is that it is not compatible with teleconverters, with which the Sony 100-400mm and 200-600mm can work to extend their versatility.

Autofocus

The Tamron 150-500mm’s AF operation and image stabilization are virtually inaudible, and I found the lens to match the autofocus performance of both Sony cameras well, focusing quickly and following the action. hassle-free.

There’s a caveat for Sony A1 users, but it’s worth mentioning – the A1 supports full continuous drive mode at 30fps with many Sony FE lenses, but is limited to “only” 15 frames per second with the Tamron 150-500mm.

Sony A7 III, Tamron E 150-500mm F5-6.7 @ 500mm lens.  1 / 1000s @ f6.7, ISO 1600.
Sony A7 III, Tamron E 150-500mm F5-6.7 @ 500mm lens. 1 / 1000s @ f6.7, ISO 1600.

Conclude

After over two months and over 1000 images with the Tamron 150-500mm F5-6.7 Di III lens, I was very impressed with its overall performance, sharpness and build. If you don’t want to jump into the native (and quite expensive) Sony 100-400mm or 200-600mm E-mount options, the Tamron offers great value for money and impressive imaging capabilities that will thrill the crowd. most photographers. We highly recommend it.

More pictures

Sony A1, Tamron E 150-500mm F5-6.7 @ 150mm lens.  1 / 6400s @ f8, ISO 100.
Sony A1, Tamron E 150-500mm F5-6.7 @ 150mm lens. 1 / 6400s @ f8, ISO 100.
Sony A1, Tamron E 150-500mm F5-6.7 @ 374mm lens.  1 / 1000s @ f6.7, ISO 1600.
Sony A1, Tamron E 150-500mm F5-6.7 @ 374mm lens. 1 / 1000s @ f6.7, ISO 1600.
Sony A1, Tamron E 150-500mm F5-6.7 @ 160mm lens.  1 / 80s @ f6.3, ISO 3200.
Sony A1, Tamron E 150-500mm F5-6.7 @ 160mm lens. 1 / 80s @ f6.3, ISO 3200.
Sony A7 III, Tamron E 150-500mm F5-6.7 @ 500mm lens.  1 / 1000s @ f8, ISO 400.
Sony A7 III, Tamron E 150-500mm F5-6.7 @ 500mm lens. 1 / 1000s @ f8, ISO 400.
Sony A1, Tamron E 150-500mm F5-6.7 @ 176mm lens.  1 / 1250s @ f5, ISO 6400.
Sony A1, Tamron E 150-500mm F5-6.7 @ 176mm lens. 1 / 1250s @ f5, ISO 6400.


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