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

4.5
March 6, 2014 | Mark Goldstein |

Introduction

The Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD is an affordable ultra-zoom lens for full-frame and APS-C Canon, Nikon and Sony DSLR cameras. Read our in-depth Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD to find out if it's really a bargain or not...

The Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD is a telephoto zoom lens for Canon, Nikon and Sony full-frame and APS-C DSLR cameras. The Tamron 150-600mm lens features Vibration Compensation (VC) technology, an ultrasonic focus motor for quiet AF operation, a moisture-sealed construction, and brand new eBAND (Extended Bandwidth & Angular-Dependency) lens coating to reduce flare and ghosting, in addition to a conventional BBAR (Broad-Band Anti-Reflection) coating. The optical formula comprises 20 lens elements in 13 groups including three low dispersion (LD) elements and an iris diaphragm with nine rounded aperture blades. The Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD lens officially retails for £949 / $1069 in the UK and USA respectively.

Ease of Use

For such a long telephoto zoom lens, the Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD is predictably big and bulky, measuring almost 26cms in length and weighing in at just under 2kg with the detachable tripod mount attached. 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 5D Mark III, where it feels better balanced.

Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USDThe Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5D Mk III

Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USDThe Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5D Mk III

Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USDThe Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5D Mk III

Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USDThe Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5D Mk III

Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USDThe Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5D Mk III

Build quality is very good, despite Tamron traditionally offering lenses at the cheaper end of the market. The Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD feels solid in your hand, even if the outer barrel and the filter thread appear to be made from plastic.

The Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD features a Lock button which fixes the lens at its 150mm setting and prevents it from extending when it's pointed downwards.

Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USDThe Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD lens alongside the Canon EOS 5D Mk III

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

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

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

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 2.7m to infinity, but no depth of field scale.

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

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

The focus limiter switch has 2 settings - full (2.7m-infinity) and 15m-inifinity. An AF/MF switch on the side of the lens makes it easy to switch between the two focusing systems.

The final control is the VC On / Off switch, which turns the lens' built-in Vibration Compensation on and off. This is a big selling point for the Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD. In practice we found it reliably offered around 3 f-stops of compensation, obviously dependant upon your own particular hand-holding technique, making it easier to use the lens in low-light.

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

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

The Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD 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 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 pretty fast - but definitely not instantaneous - with the lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5D Mk III 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 Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD

Focal Range

The Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD 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 USD150mm

Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD600mm

Light Fall-off

With the Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD wide open, you can see some noticeable 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 pincushioning distortion apparent at the 150mm focal length.

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

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

Macro

The Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD is not a macro lens. The close-focus point is at 2.7m from the film/sensor plane. The following example illustrates how close you can get to the subject with the lens set to 600mm to aid magnification, in this case a CompactFlash card.

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

Sharpness

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

Entry Tags

review, photos, samples, lens, sample images, 4x zoom, full frame, sports, portraits, tamron, wildlife, ultra zoom, nature, f6.3, tamron 150-600mm, f5, Tamron SP 150-600mm f5-6.3 DI VC USD, 600mm, 150-600mm, tamron 600mm

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