Birds in Flight with the Tamron 150-600mm Lens

Many Nikon owners have been chomping at the bit waiting for the F-Mount version of the new Tamron 150-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VC zoom lens to be available. I recently borrowed a review sample from Tamron’s Canadian distributor. In advance of my full review, I thought that Photography Life readers would like to see some sample images of birds in flight. My full review of this lens will appear later in June or early July.

Tamron 150-600mm on D800

If you’re like most people who are considering this lens you likely have three basic questions:

  1. How easily can this lens be hand-held?
  2. How sharp is the Tamron 150-600mm at the long end of the range?
  3. How well does continuous auto focus work when photographing birds in flight?

Bird in Flight #1

Here are some quick answers to the questions above:

Q1: Yes, the Tamron 150-600mm VC can absolutely be hand held. I went out twice this past weekend to do some initial shots of birds in flight. The first day I was out for about 3.5 hours and the second day I lugged this baby around for 5 hours. So, yes…it is possible to hand hold this lens and carry it around for a few hours. Was my arm sore? Yes…shoulder, elbow and wrist were all sore on the first day. The second day wasn’t quite as bad after I figured out a good ‘resting position’ with which to cradle the lens when I wasn’t shooting with it.

Bird in Flight #2

Q2: The Tamron 150-600mm isn’t absolutely tack sharp on the long end, but for the majority of users it should be quite satisfactory provided you are not a ‘pixel peeper’. Applying some sharpness in post will help. All of the shots in this article were initially processed using DxOMark OpticsPro 8. I used the ‘sharpen fine details’ preset on all of the images. Obviously, no one should expect a zoom lens of this focal range to be as sharp as a dedicated telephoto lens such as the Nikkor 600mm f/4G VR. After-all, we’d be comparing a lens that costs in the $1,000 to $1,200 range with pro grade glass costing over $10,000. Sharpness does increase if you stop the lens down to f/8. All of the images in this article were shot at 600mm between f/6.3 and f/8.

Bird in Flight #3

Q3: Continuous auto focus worked very well with my D800. It was both fast and accurate. The lens held continuous auto focus well with most of my bursts. A had a couple of bursts that were a bit off, but keep in mind that I am not a professional nature photographer, so it could have been my fault more than the lens. The focus on individual shots was consistently fast and accurate. I used a single focus point for most of my birds-in-flight images, as this made it much easier to try and get the eye/head of the bird in focus.

Here are a few images from a 15 frame burst I took of some gulls competing over a fish.

Fish Fight #1 Fish Fight #2

Fish Fight #3 Fish Fight #4

Fish Fight #5 Fish Fight #6

This is an image of a gull’s wing taken as the bird was exiting the last frame at the end of a burst of images. This will give you a good idea on the image sharpness with the Tamron 150-600mm. The image taken at f/8, 1/3200, -1 EV, 600mm.

Wing Crop

Overall, the focusing of the Tamron 150-600mm is very good. I tried it on some small, fast-moving birds in the distance and found that the lens could lock on quickly, provided I could get my focus point actually on the subject. Here is an image showing how small the bird was in the original frame and an inset blow-up of the subject (1.6% crop of original frame). While the image quality of the subject is not great, I included this to give you an idea of the focusing ability of the Tamron with my D800. I used a single focus point with my D800 to get this shot. I was also able to capture a red winged blackbird in flight that was even further away.

Bird Crop

You can click on this YouTube video to see more images of birds in flight taken with the Tamron 150-600mm VC lens and Nikon D800:

Sometimes when we are out photographing a particular subject, we stumble on a nice surprise as seen in the next image.

Heron

Here are a few more images of birds in flight taken with the Tamron.

Bird in Flight #4

Bird in Flight #5

Bird in Flight #6

Bird in Flight #7

Stay tuned for my full review of the Tamron 150-600mm VC lens here on Photography Life.

Article and all images Copyright 2014, Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, reproduction or duplication including electronic is allowed without written consent.

  • zeeshan tayyab

    Hello,

    Can i fix this lenz on pentex K-01.waiting for your reply.

    • https://photographylife.com Nasim Mansurov

      I don’t think Tamron will make this for the Pentax mount…

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hi zeeshan,

      To the best of my knowledge Tamron is planning Canon, Nikon and Sony mount versions of this lens. I have sent an email to my distributor contact to double check for you. I’ll let you know when I get some word back.

      Tom

  • SVRK Prabhakar

    Thank you so much for this timely review as I am contemplating getting a bird lens. Can you tell how the autofocus speed on this lens is, does it hunt or snap on? Also, what is the success rate of shots, the ones you have shown are very good even if they are one in 10 bursts….

    Thanks a lot in advance.

    • SVRK Prabhakar

      I have noticed that you have already addressed the autofocus aspect, thank you.

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hi SVRK,

      I did this initial testing in good light conditions and the lens performed quite well. It does have a focus limit switch you can use if the subject is more than 15 metres away. This does help the focus speed for distant subjects. I have not done any testing yet in lower light conditions.

      Tom

      • SVRK Prabhakar

        Thank you very much, I will visit the shop and test some shots before I buy.

  • vijithvj

    Hi,

    I am looking forward to buy one. I am using the Tamron Non VC 70-300 now. I could get some BIF which are nor very outstanding, but not very bad either. What I have learned from my lens was to use single point focus and sticking on to the eyes to avoid focus hunting. Your article and the detailed pictures are really a motivation for me now. When the lens released, most of the reviews were about the negative sides than positive. I remember in one camaparison video ( by Canon fan), he was complaining about the softness of the image shot from the Canon Lens at f/8 to that of f/6.3 of Tamron !!!! LOL. In India we dont have much oppurtunities for trying it before owning a lens. Thank you very much for the article, a real eye opener…

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hi vijithvj,

      Thanks for your comment. I think when doing a practical, hands on review it is important to keep things in context and consider the price of a piece of gear in relation to the performance it generates. To me it is rather pointless to compare a lens that sells for approximately $1,200 to one that is 10x more expensive.

      Given the Tamron 150-600’s overall reach and its price….I think it really does represent very good value for the majority of people. If it is like most zoom lenses it will likely be sharper when backed down from its maximum focal length…for example at 500mm it will likely be sharper than at 600mm. I haven’t tried that yet to find out for sure.

      My thought was that most people who are going to consider this lens really want to know how it performs at 600mm…not 500mm or 400mm, so that’s why I concentrated this preview shooting at the long end of the focal length only.

      Tom

  • Sherb Sherb

    Thanks for the lovely samples and a quick review of this lens. I had ordered the lens last month from B&H. Still waiting. Hope it comes soon. I’ll be using it with my Nikon D610, wanted a lens for wild life photography and to my budget this was the best option. Initially I opted for 150-500mm Sigma. But I thought why not be patient and spend a little more for the extra 100mm. How would you compare this Tamron to the Sigma? Apart from the 100mm extra.

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hi Sherb Sherb,

      I’ve never shot with the Sigma 150-500 so I can’t comment on that. There are other reviews and comparisons on the internet that look specifically at this match up using Canon versions of the lenses. It may be an idea to reference one of these other reviews. Since the lens mount would be the only physical change between the lenses a Canon specific comparison will still give you some relevant information.

      Tom

  • Kristofer Rowe

    I don’t know if you noticed or not, but the lens has a lock around 400mm.. This is very handy as I’ve found it sharpens up quite a bit at 400mm and performs quite well on the D7100. I also noticed focus speed is a little slower on the D600. I’ve found it very easy to handhold also! Thanks for posting an early article on the Nikon version..

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hi Kristofer,

      Yes, I did notice that there is a lock at 400mm and this does come in very handy. I shot a few frames with a D7100 and it did perform quite well with that camera. I will be doing more testing with a D7000 later this week, as well as more shots with my D800.

      Tom

  • Mike B

    I will look forward to the full review when it comes online later, no wonder we are all such faithful followers of this brilliant website (thanks Nasim and all your contributors) with great reviews like this and the wildlife update by Robert Anderson, the two articles marry up wonderfully well.

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hi Mike,

      Thanks very much for your comment…. :-)
      With any luck I will have the full review done by the end of June.

      Tom

  • Anoop Varghese

    Is it compatible with canon 60 d?

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hello Anoop,

      I do not own any Canon bodies and cannot comment on compatibility with the Canon 60D. I’d suggest you check out some reviews of the Canon version of this lens.

      Tom

  • Marsha Henderson

    Thanks for the article as I am also considering lens options for bird photography. I was curious as to the one bird including that was a “surprise” to find – is this a small heron? I am living on Lake Erie not too far from you and have heard there are some small green herons in the area.

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hi Marsha,

      I haven’t had time to research the exact species……but I do belief it is a heron of some type. I was going up the side of a wide and fairly deep creek to try and get some images of some terns that were fishing…and the heron was on the other side of the creek about 80-100 feet away. He was on a low hanging branch just above the water mainly in shade. I took the hand held shot at 600mm, f/6.3, 1/160th, ISO-1600.

      Tom

      • Dave Blinder

        It’s a Black-crowned Night Heron… and nice flight shots Thomas!

        My photos from the Canon mount are here – https://www.flickr.com/photos/davidraymond/sets/72157642268568645/

        • Thomas Stirr

          Hi Dave,

          Thanks for the information re: black-crowned night heron…very much appreciated.

          Tom

          • Marsha Henderson

            Thanks for identifying the bird as we have had some different herons in the area of Lake Erie where I am located and within an hour of Grimsby. Tom, I’m sorry to miss your workshop but would appreciate hearing of other photography related events in the area.

        • Marsha Henderson

          Your photos are terrific – taken with this same lens?

          • Dave Blinder

            Marsha – All photos in that particular album are with the Tamron 150-600mm VC for Canon, yes. My more recent uploads like the macro videos are mostly with the Tamron 180mm F/3.5 macro lens.

  • Keith Roe

    Will this work on the D7000?

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hi Keith,

      Yes, it does. I actually did a few shots last evening with a D7000 and the lens was able to focus without any problems at all. I will be doing a more extensive test on Thursday and the results will be a part of my full review.

      Tom

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hi Keith,

      I was out with a friend today and had a chance to use his D7000 a bit more with the Tamron 150-600. The camera struggled a bit trying to capture birds in flight and was somewhat inconsistent with focusing and had some trouble locking on quickly….and that was in bright conditions. Single shots of static birds etc. seemed ok.

      Since it was not my camera I’m not sure if it had anything to do with the settings or not. It was set for single point auto focus. You may want to test your camera out on a sample lens if you can….or buy it with the condition that it will focus to an acceptable level with your D7000.

      My D800 has been operating without any issues whatsoever thus far. I have four more days of shooting planned…then I’ll be putting my review together.

      Tom

      • Kent Newton

        Mounted to my Nikon D80, I used my new Tamron 150-600 today on birds in flight. Not good results. Seems to struggle focusing. Of course, I need to learn more about it use and nuances, I suppose. Good results on static objects. So, I’m excited, but not overjoyed – yet!

        • Thomas Stirr

          Hi Kent,

          As noted in my full review of the Tamron 150-600 VC lens…older Nikon bodies do suffer from focus lag when using this lens. To try and mitigate the focus lag try shooting with as many cross-type focusing points engaged as possible.

          I did notice a good level of improvement when shooting with a new copy of the Tamron with a D7000…so it may just be a matter of timing. Check to see if there is a firmware update available for your lens and camera body.

          Tom

  • Sammi

    David Guy Maynard and I went out an excercized the 150-600, the lense is amazing!

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hi Sammi,

      I’ve been quite impressed with the lens after shooting with it for a couple of days. When one considers the cost it is quite a good value.

      Tom

  • Debbie

    Dear Thomas,

    Thank you very much for this article. I too have been considering this lens and am very interested in your full review. I would also be interested to know how this lens stacks up to the Sigma 50-500mm and the Nikon 80-400mm. A full review on the Sigma 50-500mm is also appreciated :-).

    Many thanks for all of the information provided by you and the Photography Life team!

    Best,
    Debbie

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hi Debbie,

      There are some comparisons of the Canon version of the lens with the Sigma you mentioned. From what I remember the sharpness was pretty similar.

      As far as the 80-400 I’m not sure how the Tamron would compare with the new version of that Nikkor lens. I did meet another Nikon owner when I was doing some initial shooting this past weekend and he owns the old version of the Nikkor 80-400 and he was very impressed with how much faster the Tamron focused than the 80-400. In fact, after shooting some frames with the Tamron he told me he was going to order one.

      By the way….I’m not sure about delivery on new orders…but in Canada any new orders for the Tamron 150-600 Nikon version will likely not be filled until at least November because demand has been so strong.

      Tom

      • Debbie

        Hi Tom,

        Thank you very much for your response and additional information. I’ll check the cannon comparisons of the Tamron and Sigma lenses. I am aware of the backlog of orders for this lens but am in no hurry to purchase anything :-). I also want to explore the possibility of using my current Nikon D800E/Nikon 70-200mm f/4 combo with the new Nikon TC14 converter that was announced a few months ago. I love my Nikon 70-200mm f/4 and how clear and sharp the pictures are, but the reach is a bit short and as such I miss a lot of good shots if I’m physically unable to get closer. I am still weighting all of my options and am very much looking forward to your full review of the Tamron 150-600mm :-)

        Best,
        Debbie

        • Thomas Stirr

          Hi Debbie,

          I also have the Nikkor 70-200 f/4…and like you I feel it is a superb lens. I use mine with a Nikkor TC-17E II teleconverter. Sharpness does suffer a bit but it was a sacrifice I was willing to make for the additional reach.

          Tom

          • Debbie

            Hi Tom,

            I’ll rent the TC-17E II converter and take some pictures. I do like sharp and clear pictures, but maybe I can live with the results from this combination. Thanks a lot!

            Best,
            Debbie

  • Mark Dickinson

    Please could you advise me. I want do photography and not sure what camera to start off with. I was shot in a house-robbery and on a disabilty grant and in a wheelchair so I cant afford much, and I cannot go back to my trade,hairdtessing. Any suggestions ? Thankyou. Mark Dickinson.
    markdickinson39@gmail.com
    0768182371

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hi Mark,

      I’ll contact you outside of this forum.

      Tom

  • ZEESHAN MITRA

    Another wonderful and informative article. The Tamron SP 150-600 VC is no doubt the best lens for wildlife or bird photographer on a budget, considering its price it provides a lot more, it will be unfair to compare sharpness at the long end to a prime, and the VC is really good, I can say that as I have the Tamron SP 70-300 VC USD, the VC is excellent making it possible to take handheld shots at 300mm. The VC is superior to the VR. Thus the Tamron 150-600 is a wonderful lens. Thank you for the informative article and the images are wonderful.

    • Steve

      I’d be interested in how it does against a 300mm f4 AF-s with 1.4tc after crop before calling it the best. I have seen some good results with this lens and some bad results. I have never seen great results.

      • Thomas Stirr

        Hi Steve,

        The 300 f/4 is a very good lens. I’m hoping that Nikon brings out the updated version soon! It will likely be extremely sharp and the patent on the lens indicates VR….so it could be a great birding/nature lens.

        Tom

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hi Zeeshan,

      Thanks very much for your comment and kind words. The Tamron 150-600 is a very capable lens, especially for the money involved. Since I haven’t shot with other lenses in the 500-600 focal range before I can’t make a statement about it being ‘the best’…but it certainly is very good for the price and represents solid value.

      Tom

  • Hugo Rupf

    Nice review! Congratulations!
    Does anyone know if it’ll work on a D3200?
    Thanks

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hello Hugo,

      I have sent your question to my contact at the Tamron distributor in Canada.

      Tom

      • Hugo Rupf

        Hi Tom!
        Thanks a lot!
        Here in Portugal we don’t have the nikon mount yet but I can’t wait for it to arrive.

        Best regards,

        Hugo

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hello again Hugo,

      I had a chance this morning to try the Tamron 150-600 VC with a Nikon D3200 body. The lens does focus with the D3200, but there is a very noticeable lag with focus speed. This will likely not be a serious issue with static subjects but it will impact the ability to capture birds in flight successfully.

      Tom

      • Hugo Rupf

        Hi again!
        That’s a serious problem for me… I have to try it myself and compare with my Tamron 70-300 Di VC USD.
        Maybe I’ll have to use the AF-S instead of the continuous auto-focusing (AF-C).

        Thanks a lot, Tom!

        Hugo

        • Thomas Stirr

          Hi Hugo,

          Given the very short supply of the Tamron 150-600 you may find it difficult to try out your D3200 on that lens for a while. The focus lag with the Tamron is similar to what I was experiencing when using the Nikon 70-200 f/4 when coupled with the TC-17E II….so you may be able to try that combination as an alternate focus test.

          Tom

          • Hugo Rupf

            Hi Tom,

            Actually, I’ve been using my Tamron 70-300 with a 1.4x TC (Kenko teleplus DGX PRO 300). I noticed some little lag in the AF but what I noticed most was the AF going left to right, struggling a bit to lock on the subject if light conditions are not ideal…

            Thanks again!

            Hugo

            • Hugo Rupf

              PS: I read somewhere the Tamron 150-600 with the Canon mount wouldn’t focus as fast as on Nikon’s. Now the problem has been solved with a firmware update for Canon cameras. Maybe a firmware update for the Nikon D3200 would fix it? Who knows…let’s wait a bit more.

              • Michelle

                Hi Hugo,
                Did you ever buy the Tamron 150-600? I’ve been looking at it but hesitating because I also have a Nikon D3200 and was concerned about the focus lag since I’m interested in taking pictures of birds, both flying and perched. Could you let me know if this combo of body and lens works well? Thanks.

                • Hugo Rupf

                  Hi!
                  Yes, I bought it back in July and it’s a very good lens. I really love it.
                  I’ve been using it with the D3200. You have to use it in the AF-S mode. The AF-C or AF-auto won’t work very well. You will focus faster with this setting (AF-S).

                  Hugo

                  • http://tomstirrphotography.com/ Thomas Stirr

                    Hi Hugo,
                    I’m not familiar with the D3200 so I have a question for you. Have you found that the Tamron focuses any better if you use dynamic area AF versus single point AF?
                    Tom

                    • Hugo Rupf

                      Hi Tom,

                      To be honest I can’t really answer your question because I always use the single point AF… I find it fast this way. Remember I was using the Tamron 70-300 Di VC USD.

                      Hugo

  • rajesh

    Loved pictures !!

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hi rajesh,

      Glad you enjoyed the preview!

      Tom

  • Jeff M.

    I’m curious. Your examples seem to have been shot in tons and tons of bright light (F/8 .3200 sec) Given that the long end of this lens is 6.3, did you try your testing at any lower light? Did the auto focus, tracking, hand-held ability, and sharpness retain or fall off?

    • Kristofer rowe

      I’ve had this lens for a month now and have many samples on my flickr/FB pages in low light, bright light, flying/stationary with D7100 and D600. I won’t post links here, but Google my name and you will find me..

      • Thomas Stirr

        Hi Kristofer,

        I encourage Photography Life readers to visit your flicker/FB pages….many great images to view!

        Tom

        • Kristofer rowe

          Thank you kindly Tom! For others that may have looked all my shots are handheld and yes that is a wild 2nd year Red Tail Hawk..

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hi Jeff,

      Yes….all of these initial shots were done during the day in quite good lighting conditions. I did take a few shots yesterday evening with the lens mounted on a D7000 as the light was fading…and the lens performed well in terms of focus. I’ll be checking the low light performance out in more detail with my full review.

      Tom

  • hval

    Do you know that the biggest problem I have with lens tests like this is that they are not tested in the West coast of Scotland, where it is generally dark, wet, grey, pouring with rain and blowing a gale 876 days a year.

    I have major problems with the Nikkor 80-400mm as it is (with D800 and D300).

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hi hval,

      I will be trying some shots in lower light conditions to see how the lens performs. Do you have the old or newer version of the 80-400?

      Tom

      • hval

        ~Guten Abend Thomas,

        I have the new lens, along with the 300mm f2.8, the 2 times teleconverter, 70mm – 200mm f2.8, unserweiter

        Seriously, all these lens tested, are tested in bright sunlight. Most are crap here. Totally crap. Ditto cameras. they seem t be designed for sunlight. not miserable places.

        • Thomas Stirr

          Hi hval,

          What camera body are you using?

          Tom

          • Hval

            Thomas,

            I was somewhat joking about the cameras. I use Nikon D800, 300, 200. Also Panasonic GH-1 And 2. Also film cameras Canon T90 for example.

            No, the problem I have is the generally very dull and over cast skies. I have tried numerous settings and find that there is no great solution. I have ended up using a single focus point to overcome this. In better weather (blue skies and sunshine) things are much better. I shoot with a number of lenses including the Nikkor 300mm f2.8’with the TC20-e III.

            • Thomas Stirr

              Hi Hval,

              I have also been using a single point focus….especially in low light and that does help quite a bit. It is always a challenge shooting birds in dull, overcast conditions. I’ve found that DxOMark OpticsPro 8 (or 9) does a good job with RAW files taken in dull, overcast conditions. Not sure what you’re using for your post processing, but if you haven’t tried DxOMark Optics Pro you may want to try a free trial download to see if that helps.

              Tom

            • Hval

              Thanks for all your responses. Much appreciated.

              My workflow is:-
              1/Transfer files to hard disk drive (Mac Pro). Review in Finder and delete any obvious rubbish
              2/ Use Renamer to rename the Files
              3/ Use Aperture to open the files and to edit the files (exposure, light levels and crop)
              4/ Use Google Nik plugins for sharpening and then other effects if desired

            • Hval

              Morning Thomas,

              Well that did not go at all well.

              Downloaded DXO Optics Pro 9, purchased, downloaded and installed Catapult to allow integration with Aperture.

              Then I tried DCO Optics Pro as a stand alone package. Some things I like, some I don’t. I really do not like the export options. I do like the way I can see and change things though.

              Next step was to try DXO Optics Pro via Aperture. Nope. Very frustrating. I follow the instructions on DXO Optics website (which are partially incorrect and reflect an older version of Aperture). Catapult starts up, follow the instructions on DXO web site and DXO Optics Pro starts up – but does not bring the RAW photo across. That is so irritating.

              No idea what I am doing wrong

  • Gert Thomsen

    Hi Thomas
    Thanks for the preview. This certainly looks interesting. I’ll be looking for the full review – while I count the buttons for a possible by. Happy to see, that the autofocus works that well with the D800!

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hi Gert,

      I was very pleased with the speed and accuracy of the 150-600 when used with the D800. I also shot in DX crop mode and found it very good.

      Tom

  • Vern

    Looks like a nice birding lens. The images seem a bit less sharp than I wanted to see. Were they shot handheld?

    • Ernie

      It amazes me, read the article….

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hi Vern,

      Yes….all shots were done hand held at 600 mm. The lens is likely sharper at 500mm…but I wanted to give readers a preview at the longest focal length since most people will probably be shooting at the maximum.

      Tom

  • AP

    Hi Thomas,

    Would you – if not reviewing this lens – opt for this Tamron/DSLR combo or a Nikon 1/70-300 native lens combo?

    I’d certainly opt for the latter, with much faster and reliable AF and wider aperture on the tele-end.

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hello AP,

      That is a very interesting question….since I have not shot with the 1 Nikon 70-300 I really can’t make that comparison from first hand experience. I’m still waiting to see if Nikon Canada is going to loan me a review sample of the Nikon 1 V3 and the 70-300 1 Nikon lens. If they do….I’ll be able to write a comparison review. Hopefully I will find out in the next week or so.

      I think it will come down to the type of shooting you will be doing most of the time as both of the combinations have their strengths. For fast continuous shooting the Nikon 1 would have the advantage and it would be slightly faster on the long end, as well as give you an efov of 810mm. On the down side the Nikon 1 cameras are limited in terms of low light capability and for best results are best kept at ISO-800 or lower….ISO-1600 in a pinch. Shooting with a DSLR, especially a cropped sensor camera like the D7100 would give you probably 2 stops better low light performance and would more than make up for the f/5.6 vs f/6.3 difference at the long end of the two lenses. Colour depth and dynamic range would also be much better with the D7100 and you’d have an efov of 900mm with a cropped sensor body.

      If weight and size are your primary factors than the Nikon 1 combination is a no brainer.

      Right now I am in a holding pattern in terms of a telephoto lens purchase. I am certainly considering both the Tamron 150-600 and the 1 Nikon 70-300….as well as another Nikkor lens that has been rumored to be ‘coming soon’ for quite some time….an updated Nikkor 300mm f/4 VR.

      Out of these three potential options I would choose the 300mm f/4 prime. With a TC-17E II teleconverter it would be 510mm f/6.7 on an FX body and have an efov of 765mm on a cropped sensor body. Paired up with a Nikon 1 it would provide an efov of 810mm at f/4…and with the 1.7 teleconverter would have an efov of 1377 at f/6.7. Since I own a D800 and some Nikon 1 bodies the 300mm f/4 VR (if it ever comes out) would give me the best combination of image quality and overall flexibility.

      I’m not sure what the delivery situation is in other countries but here in Canada a new order for a Tamron 150-600 would likely not be filled until November and a 1 Nikon 79-300 until late August.

      Tom

      • AP

        Appreciate your insightful reply, Thomas!

        • Thomas Stirr

          Hi AP,

          Glad it was helpful…it us always a pleasure to chat with Photography Life readers!

          Tom

  • Chuckf

    Tom: great article! I shoot with a d800 and a Nikon 200-400. What is your experience using
    The tc 2x as compared to the 1.4 . Should I trade in the 2x and get the Nikon 1.7? Thanks
    Chuck field

  • Luis

    Nikon, wake up, be worried: First for the mirrorlerss market(poor sales for System 1 in USA and Europe) and second to Sigma and Tamron for quality and price. They are pull you to the corner……
    and you are not the first DSLR seller.

    Sorry for my bad english.

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hi Luis,

      Thanks for you comment. The camera/lens market is certainly heating up in terms of product offerings, quality and price….which is great for consumers.

      Tom

  • James

    I had pretty much forgotten about this lens. My longest reaching lens right now is a 70-200 f/4 Nikkor. For birding, I use single point focus and then crop the heck out of it. Some might harp on sharpness, but I think the price point might make this lens one that suits my needs. After all, I can’t get to 400, 500, or 600mm at all now.

    I might get to do some traveling this Fall. If so, this may be a renter for the trip to test it out…if I don’t just pull the trigger and buy. Looking forward to the full review.

    Thank you for the preview.

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hi James,

      I’ve also been using the Nikkor 70-200 f/4 along with the TC-17E II teleconverter for birding. You may find this lens to be a great balance of reach/quality/price.

      Tom

  • Parag

    Hi Thomas,
    I own a Nikon D5000,will this lens be compatible in terms of Auto focus with my camera.

    Regards

    Parag

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hello Parag,

      I do not have sufficient information to comment on specific Nikon camera bodies. The Canadian Tamron distributor did advise me that if a camera has been released within the past 18 to 24 months it would usually have the ability to focus with a large lens like the 150-600 VC. They have also told me that the more cross-hair focus points that a camera has, the better it will be able to focus on an object, especially birds in flight.

      Tom

  • Muhammad Omer

    Are you a regular tamron user Mr Stirr? How are they Quality Control wise?

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hi Muhammad Omer,

      No….to this point all of the glass I own is Nikkor. The build quality on the 150-600 Tamron seems to be pretty solid….perhaps not ‘pro’ grade but better than ‘consumer’ from what I can tell.

      Tom

  • Thomas Stirr

    Hi Hval,

    I never use DxOMark OpticsPro to do batch processing….in fact I never use any software to do batch processing of any kind so I don’t have any experience with how this software would integrate with other applications. Perhaps other Photography LIfe readers who use Aperture and OpticsPro can shed some light on things.

    Tom

  • L. L

    I have been using the tamron 150-600mm on Canon mount the last 6 months. Well, I got it from Hong Kong. I’d agree with Thomas that the sharpness and speed is quite good but probably not on the level of professional super telephoto lens. Most of the time I hand held it to shoot birds and after a while you do get tired. But it is definitely hand holdable. I used to shoot bird with 28-3000mm lens and the reach of this Tamron have made it possible to shoot distant birds that previously was impossible. Overalll I really like this lens and look forward to taking it to Australia to shoot next week.
    L.L

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hello L. L

      Thanks for sharing your experience with the Tamron 150-600 VC. It certainly helps to have some comments from real-life users.

      I anticipate that my full review will be finished by the end of June….

      Tom

  • canvaschamp

    I would say good photographs.
    My question is :
    Do you think these taken photos can be printed on canvas as sharp as it looks in your blog? Actually its for our internal office use, we would like to pursue outdoor photography where we can take capture various wild life objects whether is birds, tree or anything. So we can print those on canvas and use for our promotional activity. So does it remain sharp when extend to its maximum zoom with D7000? We would like to pursue night photography as well. Hows its performance in low light?

    Thanks in Advance!

    Jainam

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hi canvaschamp,

      There is a bit of softening at the long end of the zoom…which does improve if you stop the lens down to f/8. A zoom is not going to be as sharp as a pro-grade prime so I’m not sure what may be your frame of reference.

      If you look at my cormorant article that was recently posted you’ll find those images will be sharper as they were taken in the 240-300mm range of the lens….shot in DX mode on my D800 so the efov is 360-450mm.

      Tom

  • Ingemar Olsson

    Hi Tomas,

    I saw in in the first comment that Tamron 150-600mm lens was not seen with Nikon V2.

    I bought a Nikon V2 at 23 june in Gothenburg this year and it functions with the Tamron lens.
    I looked at the firmware in the camera and it was Firmware V2 1.00, that only support AF-S.
    The Firmware V2 1.10 support AF-C and probably Tamron lens dosn´t support AF-C from Nikon 1 serie.

    I also have own two Nikon V1 with Firmware V1 1.20 and they also function fine.
    The newer Firmware V1 1.30 support AF-C and it seems to me that it is the same problem Tamron lens dosn´t support AF-C.

    I am lucky to be able to use Tamron lens with all my three Nikon 1 cameras in AF-S.

    For the moment if you can revert firmware to version for AF-S the old V1 can be used with Tamron lens with this restriction.

    I have checked old Firmware at Nikon.ca and Firmware V1 1.20 is available.
    Firmware V2 1.00 is not available.
    Nikon V3 is probably only sold with firmware for AF-C and for the moment not usable for Tamron lens.

    My conclusion for the moment is this:
    Nikon V1 is revertable on Firmware V1 1.20 for use with AF-S
    Nikon V2 is only usable if you own an old Firmware V2 1.00 for use with AF-S. Revert is not possible if you own Firmware V2 1.10 or newer.
    Nikon V3 is not usable at all for AF-S as it probably is sold for AF-C.

    For your information my Nikon FT1 has Firmware FT1 1.10 and that support AF-S and AF-C.
    The problem to use Nikon 1 cameras are not lying in firmware FT1 as I see it.
    The problem is to be found in Nikon 1 cameras firmware for AF-C, which not for the moment is supported in Tamron 150-600mm lens.

    I hope that my observations can be of some value for you.

    I don´t knew how to get Tamron to solve the problem.
    Probably Nikon 1 serie is to small to be interesting for Tamron.
    I use my Nikon V1 for digiscoping and thought it could be interesting to reach 1620mm via Tamron 150-600mm and get AF. So far I am lucky to have that possibility with Nikon V1.
    I bought Nikon V2 to test if the images can be cropped a little more.
    I can live with the restriction to only have AF-S for the moment.
    The only problem is that a have a startup window information that shows the lens is not seen for 1-2 seconds.
    The window disappeer and I can use my Tamron lens very nice.
    It focus relativly rapid.

    I also have bought a Nikon D7100 and use it with crop 1.33X for photography with 1200mm.
    Nikon D7100 has no start up window problems and is i little quicker at AF.
    Both AF-S and AF-C functions.

    Regards
    Ingemar

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hello Ingmar,

      Thank you very much for your comment and information. I’m sure that a lot of V-series Nikon 1 owners will find this very useful indeed.

      I have forwarded your comment on to my contact at the Canadian distributor for Tamron to see if there is any potential fix planned for the future. If there is I would imagine that a lot of Nikon 1 owners would love to get their hands on the 150-600.

      Tom

  • Kent Newton

    Love what I’m reading… One question: WHEN CAN WE GET IT???

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hi Kent,

      Not sure where you are located. I know in Canada that the Tamron 150-600 is shipping now for pre-orders. Delivery for new orders in Canada are estimated for November.

      Tom

      • Kent Newton

        Got mine (for Nikon) Friday in Virginia

  • gregsz

    Hello Thomas,

    Thank you for your post.
    Could you describe your good ‘resting position’ please ?

  • Thomas Stirr

    Hi Gregsz,

    I will have a photo in my upcoming review….basically wrap your camera strap around your wrist a couple of times for securing…extend your arm down fully….hold the base of your camera in the palm of your hand (camera back resting on your fingers) with the lens pointing up towards your shoulder….also can be done with your arm slightly bent and the lens resting in the crook of your elbow.

    Also….rotate the tripod mount 180-degrees so it is on the top of the camera…and hold it like the handle of a suitcase as an alternate position when hiking.

    Tom

  • metldr

    Any experience with a D600? Have you done a review based on a D7000?

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hi metldr,

      I have experience shooting with a D600 but not with this lens. The vast majority of shots were taken with a D800 in DX crop mode. I did take some shots with a D7000 and the Tamron 150-600 VC…..there was focus lag when shooting in single point auto-focus. It improved when more cross-type focus points were used…but still was noticeably slower than with the D800.

      Tom

      • Steve Lathrop

        Thomas, what was the reason for using DX crop mode on your D800? What benefits?

        • http://tomstirr.com Thomas Stirr

          Hi Steve,
          Using DX crop mode gives me smaller file sizes and a slight increase in frame rate. I like shooting bif in this mode from an image framing standpoint. With the D800 in DX mode I have the advantage of seeing the overall scene in full frame which often allows me more time to track the subject and get it exactly where I want it in the DX window. When possible I always like to shoot a subject and not have to crop in post if at all possible. I seldom, if ever, enlarge bif images beyond 16×24, so a 15mp file size works fine for me.
          Tom

  • Albert

    Nice work with your bird in flight shots using Tamron 150-600mm lens. Would this lens auto focus work on my Nikon D800E when shooting movie? My Tamron SP70-200mm F2.8 USD Di lens on this camera cannot auto focus while in movie shooting mode, can you help? Thanks.

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hello Albert,

      Sorry…but I did not test the video capability with the Tamron 150-600 VC lens. I should be receiving my copy of this lens within the next 3-4 weeks and I’ll see if the AF works in video mode. The majority of my client work is shooting video with a DSLR and I always focus manually.

      Tom

  • Chamara

    Hi,

    I have seen several good reviews on this lens mounted on D800. But I could not any reliable source to find out its performance on D610. Basically, I am interested in wildlife photography, so would like to know the auto focus capabilities on D610 compared to D800.

    Thanks,

    Chamara

  • Thomas Stirr

    Hi Chamara,

    Here is a link to an article Nasim did about the D610: https://photographylife.com/reviews/nikon-d610/7

    You may find this helpful.

    Tom

  • Shiv Kumar M

    Hi Tom,
    Is there any Possibility that i can add an Extender/teleconvertor for Tamron 150 – 600mm. Please suggest if any converter is compatible.

    Thanks in advance….

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hi Shiv Kumar,

      I checked with my contact at the Canadian Tamron distributor and they do not recommend the use of any teleconverters with the Tamron 150-600 VC lens. Tamron does not currently make a teleconverter for this lens but there is some thought that something may be introduced next year.

      Apparently there are a couple of teleconverters that will fit the 150-600 lens but they are not recommended for use for a few reasons:
      1) They should only be used with APS-C sensor bodies
      2) There are auto-focus issues and the 1.4x and 2.0x teleconverters will only manual focus only at approximately 300mm and greater
      3) They degrade image quality

      Tom

      • Cyberjo

        Wow… all you need is a screw driver and a lil plastic part removal to fit your extender in…

        https://www.flickr.com/photos/116743473@N04/16568698096/in/album-72157650431848270/

        Don’t believe everything you hear ! :-)

        JG

        • http://tomstirr.com Thomas Stirr

          Hi Cyberjo,
          Thanks for sharing the image of the Canon teleconverter set-up. Whether something like this actually can fit and whether it potentially degrades image quality beyond acceptable levels are separate issues of course.
          Tom

  • naveen

    hi Thomas great pics , i am planning to buy this lens in few months , currently i am using Nikon D3200 cam..does this lens supports my camera?

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hi Naveen,

      You may experience some focus lag with a D3200…I know the D7000 performs much better on newer copies of the Tamron 150-600 VC than it did with the initial copies of this lens. I haven’t shot with a D3200 and a newer copy of the Tamron so I can’t comment from the perspective of personal experience.

      Tom

  • Kapusňák Štefan

    Hi Thomas. I have a Nikon D90, and I want to buy a telephoto lens. I’m thinking two lens
    Nikkor AF-S 300mm f / 4D IF-ED & TC 1.4 or Tamron 150-600mm F / 5-6.3 Di VC USD which you think is the better choice wildlife, bird photography?

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hi Stephan,

      Either lens would be a good choice depending what is most important to you.

      The Tamron zoom will give you more flexibility and double the reach of the 300mm, and about 30% more reach when the 300mm is used with the 1.4 teleconverter. The VC on the Tamron works well and helps quite a bit in lower light conditions when shooting static subjects.

      The Nikkor 300mm will be a sharper and faster lens. You should also be able to use a Nikon 1 camera body with the Nikkor 300mm which would give you an equivalent field-of-view of 810mm at f/4. Used with a 1.4 teleconverter the efov would be 1134mm at f/5.6. The 300mm does not have VR so you’ll need to keep your shutter speeds up or use a tripod.

      Tom

      • Kapusňák Štefan

        Thanks for your response Thomas.Tamron and Nikon lens also has its pros and cons. The Tamronak the zoom, the benefits of Nikon brightness. My question is which would be more resistant lens time when publishers have been so much money in the long term I want you to work. Nikon 300mm f / 4 draw more attractive as well.

        • Bernd Stoeckl aka Balgenbruder

          I’d say with a Nikon D90 body you will hardly notice the difference between both lenses due to the sensor resolution being much less than recent models.
          The Vibration reduction is something that I would not want to miss on ANY telephoto lens.
          Without it you have a hard time even when looking through the viewfinder @300mm not to speak about shutter speeds in a range of at least 1/500 better 1/1000.
          Considering the ISO abilities of a D90 you will be very compromised using a lens without VR.
          My five cents…….

          • http://tomstirr.com Thomas Stirr

            Hi Bernd,
            Thanks for your comment and adding to the discussion!
            Tom

  • John & Sue Ewan

    Thomas,
    Thanks for the info – just bought the Tamron 150-600 and have been thrilled. Our question was about transport in our car. With shorter lens, we just put the lens + body into the camera bag, which gave great support in the car. However, the Tamron is way too long for that. Any ideas besides just putting it on a seat? Thanks for your help.

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hi John and Sue,

      You may want to look at something like the Lowepro Lens Case 13x32cm. I believe you can get it at B&H for under $45.

      Tom

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hi John and Sue,

      Just a quick follow up to let you know that I’ve been using the Ruggard Legion 45 bag for my Tamron 150-600 and find it works very well indeed. There is enough room for my D800 and my 70-200 f/4 or my Nikon 1 V2 with CX 70-300.

      Tom

  • Joao Martires

    Thomas,
    I appreciate very much your analyses on this lens. I know it even won a big commercial award this year so it should be pretty good. I’ve a Nikon d5300 and don’t know if the lag focus issue could apply to this camera. I’ve see the lens on a 3200 and the focus was a problem with interior light. The other lens I could choose is the nikon 300mm f/4 on the same budget level (Is a prime lens always better than a zoom?). I would like your help/comments on that if possible.
    Regards,Joao

    • Thomas Stirr

      Hi Joao,

      There is no easy answer to your question as it really depends on your shooting style and requirements. A prime lens like the Nikkor 300mm F4 will be sharper than the Tamron but it does not have VR so you still be limited in terms of shooting hand-held under lower light conditions. The Tamron will give you more flexibility with its zoom range and will provide double the reach of the Nikkor 300mm f/4. If you shoot with a DSLR as well as a Nikon 1 camera you’ll be able to use the Nikkor 300mm with either camera. I have a Tamron 150-600 and my Nikon 1 V2s (I have two of these cameras) will not work with the Tamron. From what Nasim has written the Nikkor 300mm works well with the Nikkor 1.4 teleconverter which increases its reach to 420mm @ f/5.6.

      I guess it really comes down to what is more important to you. If absolute sharpness is the most important factor then the Nikkor 300mm f/4 would have the advantage. On the other hand if absolute reach and flexibility are most important than the Tamron 150-600 is likely a better choice.

      I don’t think focus lag will be an issue with your D5300. The review sample of the Tamron did have focus lag issues when using a D7000 but my copy of the lens which is from more recent production does not. I think Tamron has been updating the software on this lens from when it was first launched.

      Hope this has helped.

      Tom

  • Marcin

    Tamron 150-600 with Nikon D610 running hopelessly autofocus and sometimes pale to light stops working you have to restart the camera. I admit with on a Canon I had no problems

    • http://tomstirr.com Thomas Stirr

      Hi Marcin,
      That sounds very strange indeed. Are you having any trouble with your Nikon D610 with other lenses or only with the Tamron 150-600? Are you using a Nikon F-Mount version of the Tamron or trying to use it on your D610 with an adapter?
      Tom

      • Guest

        I was thinking the camera. I have used the lens on a 7100

        • Amy B. DeStefanis

          I think something like this happened with this lens on my (brand new) Nikon 810. I was shooting a subject in a lighter, more contrasted case – at a greater distance. Then I changed to focus on something a little closer and in perhaps a bit darker situation (but still quite light – it was shade on a sunny day). The lens simply did not focus. Back to the longer distance, and nope – it was confused. I turned the camera off, then on, and all was fine again.

          • http://tomstirr.com Thomas Stirr

            Hi Amy,
            This can happen on occasion with the Tamron 150-600, especially if you have been panning with the lens doing birds-in-flight with the VC engaged, then tried to take an image of a static subject immediately afterwards.
            The VC on the Tamron is really only designed to be used with static subjects. Also if the lens was focusing at a great distance, then you tried to focus on something much closer it may take quite a bit of time for the lens to refocus. Using the manual focusing ring can help. When I’m out with my D800 and Tamron 150-600 I will regularly turn my D800 off/on to help avoid these occasional lock-ups as I typically leave the VC on as I switch back and forth between BIF and static subjects.
            Tom

            • Amy B. DeStefanis

              Thanks for the response, Tom. So far, I am quite happy with this lens/camera combo. I did just realize, though, that my Nikon 1.4x teleconverter is not compatible. Oh well…

  • pam

    I just bought the 800e and this lens at Christmas. My main focus is on eagles. My photos have all been real soft. I took it to the camera store yesterday to see if it was me or the combo, autofocus, or anything. They took lots of photos on a tripod at signs at distances using eyeview and live view. It was backfocusing. Even with an adjustment (+7,+4)the best they could get was at 500 f11. They put it on an 810 and at 600mm f8 it was just a little soft hand held. I have seen photos on the 800 at 600 of animals and they are very sharp. My question is is this a camera-lens combo? I need some advice. I will have to adjust the fine tuning every time if I use autofocus.

    • http://tomstirr.com Thomas Stirr

      Hi Pam,
      I haven’t had any issues with AF when using my D800 and Tamron 150-600. Perhaps this is an issue with the specific Tamron sample you have. Perhaps you can have Tamron check this out under warranty.
      Tom

      • Pamela

        I was thinking the camera. I have not had an issue with it on my 7100

        • http://tomstirrphotography.com/ Thomas Stirr

          Sounds like it would be worth checking it out with Nikon.

          • Pamela

            I am going to ask the store and Nikon to about trading up to the 810, since there was not any issues with it
            Thank you

  • Kathy

    I was reading your review of the Tamaron 150-600. I Just received mine today. I followed the link to this page from your article on the Tamaron 150-600 review. My primary purpose for buying this lens is for birding and I can’t afford the Nikon 200-400 or the 600mm lens. I was wondering if you could give me a few quick pointers. I have never had any true photography lessons and have had to learn trial and error. I am leaving in 2 weeks for a trip to Seattle where I hope to see some whales and have the opportunity to shoot sea birds. Your shots of the the seagulls fighting over the fish are beautiful. I would like to attain similar quality shots. I will be shooting the Tamaron lens on my D800. What settings would you recommend to start? I learned to shoot using shutter priority and from what I have read this probably isn’t the best way to shoot. Can you help me? I will be taking my travel tripod/monopod me on the boat ride and would love any direction you might be able to provide. I would love to be able to attain such nice images. Thanks

  • Thomas Stirr

    Hi Kathy,

    There’s nothing wrong with shooting in shutter priority mode – it is just a personal decision. As far as using your D800 and Tamron 150-600 I’d suggest you use AF-C with 9-point AF. This should work very well for your planned images of birds in flight. Try to get the focus point on the eye/head of the bird if possible. If you want to capture a series of images you can set you D800 for Ch mode which will allow you to capture about 4 frames per second.

    For improve sharpness a bit when shot fully extended it is a good idea to use f/8 with your Tamron 150-600. For birds in flight try to keep your shutter speed at 1/1250 or higher. You will get good dynamic range results with your D800 so you can always adjust your ISO to get the aperture/shutter speed combination just outlined. Some folks shoot in manual and set their shutter and aperture, then use auto ISO to get their required exposure. I always shoot in aperture priority as I like to control depth of field with my images. With the D800/Tamron combo I shoot at either f/6.3 or f/8. For stationary birds you can switch to AF-S and use a slower shutter speed if needed.

    The best looking bird images are when birds are approaching you or at right angles. Try to avoid taking images as birds are flying away from you. Also, look for interesting wing or head positions as they can add some nice drama to images. Always make sure you can see the eye of the bird in your images. If you can’t there’s not much point in even capturing the image…other than for practice.

    I’d recommend going out in advance of your trip and practice your panning technique on other birds in flight, pets running, or even cars in motion, just to get the feeling of doing it smoothly. I never shoot birds with a tripod or monopod so I can’t give you any tips on that…I always shoot hand-held.

    Tom