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Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 Review

Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 Review - John Riley reviews the new Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 lens, the latest telephoto zoom from Tamron for full-frame cameras.

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Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 in Interchangeable Lenses

Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Tamron 150 600mm Front Oblique View

Here we have an updated version of Tamron's already excellent 150-600mm zoom lens. With the promise of improved optical performance, faster AF, improved VC (Vibration Compensation) and many other minor improvements this looks to be a compelling upgrade. Let's see how it performs.

Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 Handling and Features

Tamron 150 600mm Side View
 

The lens is available in Nikon and Canon mounts with VC built in and in a Non-VC version for Sony full frame A mount cameras. In the case of Sony, the vibration reduction is built into the camera body so is not included within the lens. This review of the lens uses the Canon EOS 6D full frame DSLR body.

There is a generously sized bayonet lens hood, which surrounds the 95mm filter thread. Weight is a fairly heavy 1990g and is best supported when carrying by some suitable carrying sling or strap. There is a zoom lock switch that can be engaged at 150mm, preventing the weight of the lens causing it to extend whilst travelling. There is also a Flex Zoom Lock mechanism, whereby pulling the zoom ring forwards will lock the zoom setting. This could be useful in preventing unintentional changes to the focal length selected. The zoom action is, however, quite firm and there does not seem to be much of a problem anyway.

Lens construction is 21 elements in 13 groups, with the front and rear elements being Fluorine coated to help repel water, dust and dirt. Closest focus is 2.2m (86.6 inches), which gives a very useful maximum magnification of 1:3.9 at 600mm. This is as high a magnification as many standard zooms, but also allows a different perspective because of the increased subject to camera distance.

The zoom ring is generously sized and quite smooth in operation, although also very firm when new. The manual focusing ring lies closer to the camera body and is equally smooth in operation. When set to AF, manual focus can be used at any time, after which another half press on the shutter release will re-enable the AF as desired. The usual window reveals distances marked in metres and feet and to the left of that can be found a series of switches.


Tamron 150 600mm On Canon 6d

The focus limiter switch helps prevent excessive hunting, the choices being full range, infinity to 10m and 10m to 2.2 metres. Next around the barrel is the AF/MF switch, the VC on/off switch and the VC mode switch. This last one has three options. Mode 1 is the standard mode and balances keeping a stable viewfinder image with reducing camera shake. Mode 2 is for panning. Mode 3 prioritises compensation at the moment of shutter release. For general purposes Mode 1 is very satisfactory and offers a significant advantage in increased stability. Of course, VC will do nothing for moving subjects, where a high shutter speed will still be needed to arrest subject movement.

The tripod mount allows the lens to be rotated, which is very convenient when used mounted on a tripod. The mount is also ARCA-SWISS compatible.

Although the lens is heavy, it is also reasonably compact for its specification. As a consequence it is easy to handle. The AF system locks on quickly and reliably. Also, none of the controls are misplaced, so there is little chance of nudging a switch inadvertently. In use, the Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 lens proved to be a thoughtful, ergonomic design. The moisture seals around the lens are an added bonus, allowing use in more arduous conditions.                       

Tamron 150 600mm Rear Oblique View

Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 Performance

Central sharpness at 150mm is excellent from the start, and this holds from f/5 through to f/16. At f/22 and f/32 sharpness is still very good. The edges are also excellent from f/5 to f/16, very good at f/22 and still holding to good levels at f/32.


 

 
Tamron150 600mm MTF@150mm
MTF@150mm
 

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution as LW/PH and is described in detail above. The taller the column, the better the lens performance.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Canon EOS 6D using Imatest.

 

 
Tamron150 600mm CA@150mm
CA@150mm
 

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Canon EOS 6D using Imatest.

At 300mm, central sharpness is very good at the widest aperture of f/6.3, excellent from f/8 to f/16 and very good at f/22. It is still good at f/32, but drops to only fair at the minimum aperture of f/40. The edges start off very good at f/6.3 and f/8, are excellent at f/11 and f/16, very good at f/22. f/32 still sees good sharpness, but f/40 is only fair.

Tamron150 600mm MTF@300mm Tamron150 600mm CA@300mm
MTF@300mm CA@300mm


At 450mm, the centre shows excellent sharpness from f/6.3 to f/11, very good from f/16 to f/22, still good at f/32 and only dropping to just fair at f/40. The edges show very good sharpness at f/6.3, excellent at f/8 and f/11, and again a similar pattern as the centre. Very good sharpness holds to f/16 and f/22 and this drops to good at f/32 and fair at f/40.

Tamron150 600mm MTF@450mm Tamron150 600mm CA@450mm
MTF@450mm CA@450mm


Sharpness centrally is still holding well at 600mm, being very good at f/6.3 and f/8, excellent at f/11, very good at f/16 and f/22 and good at f/32. F/40 is just fair. The edges at 600mm start off fair at f/6.3, becoming good between f/8 and f/22, and dropping again to fair at f/32 and f/40. Although the performance has dropped off at 600mm, the centre stills hold up well and make the lens very suitable for a good range of wildlife and sports photography. It is also worth noting that at the best apertures the image quality is very even, edge to edge.

Tamron150 600mm MTF@600mm Tamron150 600mm CA@600mm
MTF@600mm CA@600mm


Correction for CA (Chromatic Aberration) is of a high order. Throughout the zoom range, the centre shows almost complete correction, with very low measured figures. The edges do have a small amount of CA that becomes more obvious as we zoom in, but even at 600mm the degree of correction is very satisfactory. Any residual CA can be corrected in software if desired.

Flare control is also excellent. It is quite difficult to induce flare, not impossible, but for even demanding shots it is not really a problem.

Distortion is also well held across the zoom range, to levels that are really very moderate. This is especially noteworthy, especially with such a long lens. Pincushion distortion measures at +1.43% (150mm), +1.45% (300mm), +1.47% (450mm) and +1.47% (600mm). In any event, software correction is easily possible.

With such a long lens, the out of focus areas are always likely to look good and this new lens is no exception. The bokeh is pleasant and, at wider apertures quite sublime, throwing isolated subjects forwards into sharp relief. The generally excellent performance at wider apertures adds up to a strong overall quality in the images.

Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 Sample Photos

Value For Money

The Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 lens is priced at £1349, somewhat higher than the first version, which is still available at £829 (1951g). Nonetheless, the new version is better all round in performance so the extra may well be justified. Alternatively, the previous lens might well be considered a bargain.

Sigma offer an alternative in the 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Contemporary OS HSM lens (£739, 1930g) and the more durable Sport version at £1199 (2860g).

Although not quite the same range, Canon users have the Canon EF 100-400mm f/4-5.6L IS II USM lens at £1799 (1640g). Nikon users have the Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR at £1179 (2300g).

Just to complete the perspective across DSLR marques, Pentax users have no version of this lens, but the HD Pentax-D FA 150-450mm f/4.5-5.6 ED DC AW costs £1699 (2000g). Sony users don't currently have anything similar. For more options have a look at the Top 5 Best Tamron lenses.

 

Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 Verdict

This new Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 lens proves to be an excellent performer and that performance is well maintained at all focal lengths. It is heavy, but relatively compact, so carrying over several hours is not too onerous, providing a suitable sling or strap is employed. The VC system works well, the controls operate smoothly, nothing is placed so that it might be accidentally switched on or off. All in all, the Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 is a very soundly designed optic that offers excellent results.

Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 Pros

  • Excellent sharpness
  • Very low CA
  • Low distortion
  • Wide zoom range
  • Close focusing
  • Efficient VC system
  • Well made
  • Fast AF
  • Full Time manual focus
  • Good ergonomics

Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 Cons

  • Pricier than first version
  • Heavy

Features4/5
Handling4.5/5
Performance4.5/5
Value4/5
Overall Verdict

Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 Specifications

ManufacturerTamron
General
Lens Mounts
  • Nikon AF
  • Canon EF
  • Sony A
Lens
Focal Length150mm - 600mm
Angle of View4.8 - 16.25
Max Aperturef/5 - f/6.3
Min Aperturef/32 - f/40
Filter Size95mm
StabilisedYes
35mm equivalent240mm - 960mm
Internal focusingYes
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Focusing
Min Focus220cm
Construction
Blades9
Elements21
Groups13
Box Contents
Box ContentsLens hood, detachable tripod mount, front and rear caps
Dimensions
Weight2010g
Height260.2mm

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Comments


19 Oct 2016 2:25PM
Looks great, albeit maybe a tad pricey (although probably because we have been spoiled by the great prices of the previous Tamron and Sigma 150-600mm C). I'm looking forward to the inevitable optical comparisons between this and the Sigma 150-600mm C, a lens that I own and really like.

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Dukatum 5 5 United Kingdom
19 Oct 2016 8:11PM
why haven't you actually done an obviously needed comparison to the Sigma. It's the only question everyone wants to know the answer to, Sigma vs Tamron. Your gradings are useless to us because you're using nothing as a baseline, you've basically just thrown random numbers at the readers.
ElSid 10 8 United Kingdom
20 Oct 2016 4:22PM

Quote:why haven't you actually done an obviously needed comparison to the Sigma. It's the only question everyone wants to know the answer to, Sigma vs Tamron. Your gradings are useless to us because you're using nothing as a baseline, you've basically just thrown random numbers at the readers.


You could always read the Sigma 150-600mm C review and make up your own mind...Wink
18 Jun 2018 9:55PM
You can get this for 759 from an Internet bidding site, brand new.

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