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

October 10, 2016 | Mark Goldstein | |

Introduction

The Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 is a second-generation super-telephoto zoom lens for Canon, Nikon and Sony full-frame and APS-C DSLR cameras. The Tamron 150-600mm lens features an upgraded optical construction (21 elements in 13 groups, including 3 low-dispersion lens elements), an iris diaphragm with nine rounded aperture blades, a metal lens barrel and a moisture-sealed construction, a shorter minimum focus distance of 2.2m, a new zoom lock mechanism which enables the locking of the zoom ring at any position, a revised Vibration Compensation system offering up to 4.5 stops of compensation with three distinct image stabilisation modes, and a removable rotating tripod collar with an Arca-type compatible foot. Two optional teleconverters offer 1.4x and 2.0x magnification to extend the lens’ reach up to 1,200mm. The Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 lens officially retails for £1349 / $1399 in the UK and USA respectively.

Ease of Use

The Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 is predictably big and bulky given the focal length on offer, measuring 26cms in length and weighing in at just over 2kg with the detachable tripod mount attached, making it slightly bigger and heavier than its predecessor. While you can use it on a smaller APS-C body, it won't balance very well (and the focal length will also change) - as demonstrated by the images below, it's a much better match for a professional-grade, full-frame camera like the Canon EOS 5DS R.

Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2The Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5DS R

Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2The Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5DS R

Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2The Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5DS R, extended to 600mm

Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2The Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5DS R

Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2The Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5DS R, extended to 600mm

Build quality is excellent, despite Tamron traditionally offering lenses at the cheaper end of the market. The Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 feels very solid in your hand, with the outer barrel now made from metal rather than from plastic.

The Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 features a Lock button which fixes the lens at its 150mm setting and prevents it from extending when it's pointed downwards. It also now has a new zoom lock mechanism which enables the locking of the zoom ring at any position simply by pulling the zoom ring forwards - very clever.

Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2The Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 lens alongside the Canon EOS 5DS R

Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2Side of the Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 lens

Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2Side of the Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 lens, extended to 600mm

The zoom ring is generously wide and has a ridged, rubberised grip band. The lens extends when you zoom out from 150mm, reaching 36cms in length at the 600mm setting. The filter ring doesn't rotate, good news for filter users.

The focusing ring is narrower, making it a little more difficult to locate in a rush, but it is well damped. There's a distance scale that runs from the closest distance of 2.2m to infinity, but no depth of field scale.

Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2Front of the Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 lens

Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2Rear of the Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 lens

Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2Front of the Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC lens

The focus limiter switch has 3 settings - full (2.2m-infinity), 10m-infinity, and 2.2m-10m. An AF/MF switch on the side of the lens makes it easy to switch between the two focusing systems.

The final controls are the VC On / Off switch, which turns the lens' built-in Vibration Compensation on and off, and the VC Mode switch, which selects between the 3 different modes. Mode 1 balances between stabilizing the viewfinder image and the capture image, mode 2 is exclusively used for panning, while mode 3 stabilizes the captured image rather than the viewfinder image. In practice we found the system reliably offered around 4 f-stops of compensation, obviously dependant upon your own particular hand-holding technique, making it much easier to use the lens in low-light conditions.

Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2Rear of the Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 lens

Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2The Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 lens in-hand

Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2The Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 lens fitted with the supplied lens hood and the detachable tripod mount

The Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 benefits from a moisture-resistant construction which helps to prevent moisture from penetrating the lens, although we'd hesitate to use it in the rain for a prolonged period.

The lens is supplied with lens caps and a massive lens hood, but there's no bag included. The filter size is a whopping 95mm.

Auto-focus

The Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 features a USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive) that allows near-silent auto-focusing. Importantly, this solution allows instant manual override even when the focus mode switch is in the AF position. In use, we found the focusing to be very quiet, and also very fast - definitely faster than the first-generation version - with the lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5DS R body.

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, are impressively well controlled with this lens - the examples below show the worst-case scenario.

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

Focal Range

The Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 offers a 4x focal range of 150-600mm for full-frame DSLR owners - 16°25’ at 150mm and 4°8’ at 600mm (10°38’ - 2°40’ for APS-C cameras).

Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2150mm

Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2600mm

Light Fall-off

With the Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 wide open, you can see some light fall-off in the corners at both ends of the zoom range. Stopping down helps, although to completely get rid of this phenomenon, you will need to use an f-stop of f/8 or smaller at 150mm and f/11 at 600mm. There's also some slight pincushioning distortion apparent at the 150mm focal length.

Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2Vignetting at 150mm

Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2Vignetting at 600mm

Macro

The Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 is not a macro lens. The close-focus point is at 2.2m from the film/sensor plane and the maximum magnification is 1:3.9. The following example illustrates how close you can get to the subject with the lens set to 600mm to aid magnification.

Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2Close-up performance

Bokeh

Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc. Tamron was apparently very much aware of this requirement, as they employed an iris diaphragm with 9 rounded blades for a pleasing rendering of the out-of-focus highlights. Based on what we have seen, we can say that they definitely succeeded. Below you'll find some examples, but you are also encouraged to check out our sample images.

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

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following pages.

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