Tamron 150-500mm F5-6.7 Di III VC VXD Review
The Tamron 150-500mm F5-6.7 Di III VC VXD is a super-telephoto zoom lens for Sony full-frame and APS-C mirrorless cameras.
It offers an effective focal range of 225-750mm when used on an APS-C camera.
The Tamron 150-500mm for Sony lens features an optical construction comprising of 25 elements in 16 groups, including several special glasses and hybrid aspheres for correcting optical aberrations and a BBAR-G2 coating on the lenses to help minimize reflections inside the lens and suppress ghost images and flare.
It has an iris diaphragm with seven rounded aperture blades, minimum focus distance of 60cm and a moisture-sealed construction.
There is a clever Flex Zoom Lock mechanism which enables the locking of the zoom ring at any position, a Vibration Compensation system with three distinct image stabilisation modes, and a removable rotating tripod collar with an Arca-type compatible foot.
The Tamron 150-500mm F5-6.7 Di III VC VXD lens is priced at £1379 / $1399 in the UK and USA respectively.
Ease of Use
The Tamron 150-500mm F5-6.7 Di III VC VXD is predictably big and bulky given the focal length on offer, measuring 21cms in length with a maximum diameter of 93 mm and weighing in at just under 1.9kg with the detachable tripod mount attached.
While you can use it on a smaller APS-C body, it won't balance very well at all (and the focal length will also change) - as demonstrated by the images below, it's a better match for a professional-grade, full-frame camera like the Sony A7 III, although it still dwarves what is a relatively small body.
Build quality is excellent, despite Tamron traditionally offering lenses at the cheaper end of the market. The Tamron 150-500mm F5-6.7 Di III VC VXD feels very solid in your hand, with the outer barrel made from high-grade plastics as in all of their recent lenses.
The Tamron 150-500mm F5-6.7 Di III VC VXD features a Lock button which fixes the lens at its 150mm setting and prevents it from extending when it's pointed downwards.
It also has a zoom lock mechanism which enables the locking of the zoom ring at any position simply by pulling the zoom ring forwards - very clever - although I did find it to be a little too sensitive and therefore prone to becoming locked when you don't want it to be.
The zoom ring is generously wide and has a ridged, rubberised grip band. The lens extends when you zoom out from 150mm, reaching 29cms in length at the 500mm setting. The filter ring doesn't rotate, good news for filter users.
The focusing ring is much narrower, making it a little more difficult to locate in a rush, but it is well damped. There's no distance scale and no depth of field scale on this lens.
The focus limiter switch has 3 settings - Full (2.2m-infinity), 3m-infinity and 15m-infinity. An AF/MF switch on the side of the lens makes it easy to switch between the two focusing systems.
The Tamron 150-500mm F5-6.7 Di III VC VXD features a VXD (Voice-coil eXtreme-torque Drive) with a linear motor, as previously used in the 70-180mm F/2.8 Di III VXD lens.
It allows for fast and 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 with the lens mounted on a Sony A7 III body. As with most lenses of this type, it can be prone to hunting a little at the long end of the zoom range.
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 3 f-stops of compensation, obviously dependant upon the focal length used and your own particular hand-holding technique, making it easier to use the lens in low-light conditions and still achieve acceptably sharp results.
The Tamron 150-500mm F5-6.7 Di III VC VXD 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 of time.
The lens is supplied with lens caps and a massive plastic, circular lens hood (HA507) with a flexible, shock-absorbing rubberised end that locks into place, but there's no bag included. The filter size is 82mm.
This lens offers a 4x focal range of 150-600mm for full-frame Sony Alpha cameras - the angle of view is 16°25’ at 150mm and 4°57’ at 500mm.
Usually seen as purple or blue fringes along high-contrast edged in a photograph, chromatic aberration can be a problem for some lenses. With the Tamron 150-500mm F5-6.7 Di III VC VXD lens, however, it is extremely well-controlled, to the extent that it's very difficult to find examples of any kind of fringing occurring at all. An extremely impressive performance.
When shooting at the maximum apertures of f/5.6-6.7, you can see some slight vignetting at 150mm. It’s not hugely noticeable when shooting normal subjects, but you can see it when photographing a white wall. The effect is much more minimal when shooting at 500mm. Throughout the focal lengths, the problem almost completely disappears when you close down the aperture to f/8-11.
There is just a small amount of pincushion distortion at 150mm, but overall the effect is well controlled and can be eliminated in editing software without a compromise on final image quality.
The Tamron 150-500mm F5-6.7 Di III VC VXD is capable of producing quite nice sunstars when stopped-down to f/22 or f/32.
The lens is a little susceptible to flare when shooting directly into the sun, though, even with the lens hood that is supplied in the box fitted.
The Tamron 150-500mm F5-6.7 Di III VC VXD is not really a macro lens, but the close-focus point is a useful 60cm from the film/sensor plane at 150mm and 1.8m at 500mm, and Tamron quotes a maximum reproduction ratio of 1:3.1 at 150mm and 1:3.7 at 500mm.
The following examples illustrate how close you can get to the subject with the lens set to 500mm to aid magnification.
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.
One of the reasons to buy a super-zoom lens like this one is to be able to isolate the subject from the background, and the Tamron 150-500mm F5-6.7 Di III VC VXD has an iris diaphragm with 7 rounded blades for a fairly pleasing rendering of the out-of-focus highlights.
Below you'll find some examples, but you are also encouraged to check out our sample images.
In order to show you how sharp the Tamron 150-500mm F5-6.7 Di III VC VXD lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following pages.