Last week, I was lucky enough to test out the Tamron 150-600mm f5.6-6.3 Di VC USD Canon mount lens. Knowing the zoom capability, I was aware this lens would be designed for a specific photographer, one that enjoys capturing action shots, wildlife and/or sporting events. As a lifestyle photographer, it took me a few days to really think of what I wanted to capture with this lens. I’ve never used a telephoto lens past 200mm, so I was really excited and interested to work with this lens!
Initial Tamron 150-600mm Handling:
This certainly isn’t an everyday lens I’d want to be lugging around without a monopod or tripod. Weighing in at over 4lbs. (with tripod mount), it started to hurt after only a few minutes of hand-held use. The lens built was very solid in my hands. The outer barrel and the filter head are made of plastic, which might explain why the lens is a bit more affordable than other telephoto lens’. I also noticed that the rotating rings were smooth when focusing and zooming in and out. Although compact, the only thing that I didn’t like about the lens when I first initially handled it, was that the zoom extends out as opposed to the zoom being internal. Of course, this is just a personal preference when it comes to using a telephoto lens such as the canon 70 – 200mm.
Playing With The Lens:
As mentioned above, this lens is quite heavy! When I first started shooting with the lens, I didn’t have a tripod or monopod. I was shooting hand held for the first few shots and then had to the lean the lens against the window ledge. It really helped to focus on what I was photographing, and it was useful in keeping my photos in focus. You’ll notice that keeping the view finder focused on one spot is definitely a challenge without a tripod.
Test Images 1 – I took these photos Downtown Los Angeles. I was in my photo studio which is on the 7th floor.
Test Images 3 – I’ve always wanted to photograph surfers, but I never had a lens that could really get up close. These photos were captured off the pier in Malibu. The surf was pretty dull that day, but after a quick pit stop for breakfast, I was lucky enough to spot a few surfers in the distance. These were captured using a tripod.
Final Thoughts – Whenever I consider buying a new lens, quality and sharpness play a key role in my decision. Of course, producing a sharp image has a lot to do with the photographer, and knowing how to use his/her camera, but having a lens with a reputation of producing sharp photos is something to seriously consider. I’m happy to report that this lens produces sharp images straight out of the camera. Out of the two shooting situations ( free hand / tripod ) I did see a major difference in sharpness when I leaned the lens on something sturdy or when I used a tripod.
However, one of the surprising things I noticed when I imported the photos onto my computer was that there wasn’t a huge difference in quality from one shooting situation to the other. When I used the lens without a tripod, some photos were a bit blurry, but when my arm and hands were steady, the photos were sharp and in focus. The anti-blur is attributed to Tamron’s VC ( Vibration Compensation) that they’ve added to this lens. One of the other things that I enjoyed about this lens was how fast I found the auto focus to be. This was especially effective when I used the camera free hand.
No matter how shaky my hands were, the lens was able to keep up with me and what I was trying to capture. One more thing to consider when purchasing a lens of this focal length is the price. If a lens of this quality produces really sharp images at both 150mm and 600mm, and it only retails for a bit more than $1000, I’d say it’s a no brainer. If you’re in the market for a telephoto lens, Tamron makes nice ones that won’t break the bank, this lens is a great purchase. Just remember to bring along a monopod!