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Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VC VXD (A057) Lens Review

John Riley has been putting the super-telephoto Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VC VXD lens through its paces to find out how well it performs. Will it be the perfect lens for wildlife and sports photographers? Let's find out.


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Tamron 150 500mm Top View At 150mm | 0.5 sec | f/16.0 | 36.0 mm | ISO 100

The introduction of the Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VC VXD lens opens up all sorts of long-range possibilities for Sony FE full-frame and Sony E crop-frame cameras. In the latter case, the lens offers a “35mm-equivalent” field of view of 225-750mm. Add to that the ability to focus very closely indeed, surely a major strength of many zoom lenses over primes, and we have a very attractive proposition. Let's team the new lens up with the 42MP Sony A7R III camera body and put it through its paces.

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Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VC VXD (A057) Handling and Features

Tamron 150 500mm On Sony A7R III With Hood | 1/4 sec | f/16.0 | 31.0 mm | ISO 100
 

This is a heavy lens, weighing in at a substantial 1725g, with the supplied tripod mount adding another 155g. However, it is also fairly compact and actually balances well with the Sony A7R III. Starting our tour of the lens with the supplied round lens hood, this bayonets lightly but positively into place. Within the bayonet fit for the hood is a conventional 82mm filter thread. The lens is multicoated using Tamron's BBAR-G2 second-generation version of the highly successful Broad Band Anti Reflective coatings. In addition, the front element has a Fluorine coating to help repel dust, grease and moisture. The whole lens is moisture resistant, a useful feature for any optic that is likely to be used in the field rather than the studio.

The zoom ring is smooth in operation, but quite heavy, presumably as it is shifting a fair amount of glass. The scale is clearly and accurately marked at 150mm, 200mm, 250mm, 300mm, 400mm and 500mm. The zoom ring can also be pushed forwards to lock the zoom at any desired setting. A white ring is revealed to indicate the lock is activated. This feature really comes into its own when using the lens for close work on a tripod and pointing it downwards. There is then no chance of the zoom setting creeping whilst using a longer exposure. There is also a conventional zoom lock switch to lock in the 150mm setting for use when transporting the lens.

Apart from the aforementioned zoom lock switch, there are also several other switches around the barrel. VC Mode is selectable, Mode 1 being a general-purpose one, Mode 2 for panning and Mode 3 for maintaining a composition whilst moving objects are within the frame. The VC on/off switch is self-explanatory. The AF/MF switch works as expected and the lens is compatible with Fast Hybrid AF, eye AF, DMF (Direct Manual Focus) and also lens corrections in-camera. The lens firmware updates are handled via the camera. Finally, the focus limiter gives a choice of Full Range, infinity to 15m or infinity to 3m.

 

Tamron 150 500mm On Sony A7R III | 0.6 sec | f/16.0 | 36.0 mm | ISO 100
 

The manual focusing ring is electronic in operation and silky smooth, as we would expect. Focusing is down to a very useful minimum focus distance of 0.6m (23.6 inches) at 150mm, a maximum magnification of 1:3.1, and 1.8m (70.9 inches) at 500mm, a maximum magnification of 1:3.7. This is excellent, although at very close distances the field is not particularly flat so the edges of flat subjects may start to fall out of focus. This may not be a problem with more 3D subject matter.

There is a well-made tripod mount, released by a screw that is long enough and secure enough to give confidence that it will not become easily dislodged. The tripod foot is Arca SWISS compatible. There are also locking screws provided that can be used to make absolutely sure that the lens will not become detached from the tripod head.

Optical construction is 25 elements in 16 groups, including 1 Glass Moulded Aspherical, 2 Hybrid Aspherical, 5 LD (Low Dispersion) and 1 XLD (Extra-Low Dispersion). The diaphragm comprises 7 rounded blades.

The VC (Vibration Compensation) system is a particularly useful inclusion with such a long and heavy lens. It works extremely well, and although this will vary from photographer to photographer and even from day to day, for this reviewer on this day it proved to reliably deliver 4 stops to 4.5 stops advantage.

 

Tamron 150 500mm Rear Oblique View | 0.3 sec | f/16.0 | 40.0 mm | ISO 100
 

AF is driven by a linear VXD motor, which is quiet, fast and effective. It is rare for the lens not to lock on to the subject virtually instantly.

So, this is quite a package, to which we can add a 5-year warranty; clearly Tamron expects the lens to continue to deliver for a very long service life.

In terms of handling, the ergonomics are excellent, although there is no escaping the weight. This can be mitigated by using a sling-type strap that can carry the weight easily until the lens needs to be swung into position. But overall, a really good lens to use and very versatile.


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Comments


11 Oct 2021 10:18PM
I was wondering why the scale of the resolution chart only goes until 3k although it was tested on an A7Riii, on other tests with the same camera it goes up to 4000. is the tamron really performing that bad?
11 Oct 2021 10:34PM
The scale is adjusted to the required range for clarity and will vary from lens to lens and camera to camera. To clarify further, the description is added of "good", "very good" and so on. Even this has to be weighed against the characteristics of a lens - the gradation, the bokeh, and the overall "look". These have to be described in this way to try and recognise lenses that have some distinctive quality that can't be expressed as a bald measurement.
for the sake of better comparability the scale should always be set in a way that the max mtf corresponds to the sensor to show was the theoretical maximum is, a lens can achieve. that's actually also the practice on this site usually. hence I suspect that a mistake happend to this graph.
bokeh, look etc are certainly also important aspects but are not directly related to mtf measurements.
13 Oct 2021 9:20AM
I take the responsibility for that as I make the graphs. As you say, I usually make the graph represent the theoretical maximum, to the nearest convenient interval on the y axis. Thanks for raising the point.

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