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.
If you’re like most people who are considering this lens you likely have three basic questions:
- How easily can this lens be hand-held?
- How sharp is the Tamron 150-600mm at the long end of the range?
- How well does continuous auto focus work when photographing birds in flight?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sometimes when we are out photographing a particular subject, we stumble on a nice surprise as seen in the next image.
Here are a few more images of birds in flight taken with the Tamron.
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.
Your photos are wonderful.
I hold Canon 90D with the Tamron 150-600 SP G2.
When I shoot birds I get the picture in focus but in zoom in I can see it is not focused well like a soft focus, actually the bird looks blurry even if my ISO is low. When taking pictures of still images for example car number plate in a higher distance than the bird with the same settings (1/3200, f/5.6 / f/8.0 ISO 1200 to 3200 600mm) I get a very sharp image.
What can be done to get a bird image sharp without this kind of blurry or grainy image.
I must add that some times the bird is in sharp focus, but that happens once in a while and usually. It make me frustrating.
I will appreciate your answer.
thank you in advance
Wanting to couple a Nikon 750 to the Tamron 150 to 600. Any issues that i should know about? Thank you.
I haven’t used any full frame camera gear for over 5 years so I’m far from being current on compatibility issues. I wouldn’t think there would be any issues…
great help with information
Kindly advise me, Can we use Tamron 150-600 mm for Nikon on D5600 ?
I don’t see any reason why a Nikon D5600 would not work with the Tamron 150-600.
Nice pictures in your article.
I have read several reviews on the Tamron 150-600, Sigma 150-600 contemporary, and the Sigma Sport.
I’m not sure why most of the reviews continue to compare the Tamron to the Sport, when the Sport is about twice the price of the Tamron.
To me the fairer comparison would be between the Tamron and the Contemporary. With this said have you tested the Contemporary?
According to your review of the Tamron at 600mm the focus was a little soft. I wonder if a person would have an advantage of getting the Tamron SP AF300 IF f2.8 (for about the price of the Tamron 150-600) and add a 1.4 teleconverter for possibly a sharper image.
I have never used the Sigma Contemporary 150-600 and since I no longer own any full frame gear I won’t be doing any testing on these types of lenses in the future. I’d suggest you read the various reviews that Nasim has written on the Sigma lenses as well as the Nikon 200-500 if you use that brand of gear. Here is a link that you may find interesting: photographylife.com/revie…ntemporary
Thomas, I love my Tamron 150-600 coupled with the D750; it’s an awesome lens.
However, I would love to get a teleconverter (1.7 to 2X) for wildlife photography. I don’t even care if it doesn’t AF, as long as the manually focused shots were sharp. Do you know of any converter out there or coming along that will work with my combination?
Thanks man…your article was great and your example shots were even better.
Great to hear that you are enjoying your Tamron 150-600! I’m not aware of any teleconverters, but I’ll send my contacts at Amplis a note to see if they can provide any assistance.
I got word back today from Amplis, the Canadian distributor for Tamron. Here is the reply: “Tamron does have teleconverters that will work with the Tamron 150-600mm lens, however, there are several issues. First, Tamron recommends that they are used only on APS-C sensor cameras. Secondly, they have autofocus issues where both the 1.4x and 2x teleconverters will only manual focus only at approximately 300mm or greater. Most importantly, these teleconverters are old technology and will actually degrade image quality.”
While Amplis has requested the development of a new digital teleconverter that can be used with all sensors there is no word at all if a product like that will be forthcoming.
i am a growing photographer ,. i like wildlife photography.i heard that tamron 150-600mm lens is better for wild life.so i would like to join with for the photography.and also i want to inform that my parents doesn’t encourage my photography .
The Tamron 150-600 is a very nice lens for wildlife and is one of many, newer lenses of this type that provide a lot more choice for photographers. Parents and children often have differences of opinion, that’s just a part of life.
Thank you Sir .
You’re welcome sid!
Can we use Tamron 150-600 mm for canon on canon 1200D ?
I’ve never shot with any Canon gear so I’m not the best person to ask about the performance of the Tamron 150-600 on a Canon 1200D. I did check and DxO has tested that camera with the Tamron lens which indicates to me that there are no compatibility issues. I looked up the specs on the Canon 1200D and it shoots at 3fps. Many photographers would buy a lens like the Tamron for wildlife and would be planning on shooting birds in flight. You may find that 3fps is a tad slow if you are planning to use continuous auto-focus. Having said that, the 1200D is an affordable body and combining it with the Tamron would be a very cost effective birding/nature set up, especially if you will be taking mainly shots of static subjects. I’d suggest visiting a local camera store to see if you can try out the Tamron or perhaps rent it for a day to see how much you like it. Anther option would be to join a local camera club or visit a Canon-specific online chat room to get more first hand experience than I can offer.
I have the above said lens and it works well with a basic crop body like 500 d and 550 d as well..but the low light focusing as well as focusing above f8 will be a problem.. also the slow shutter speed will be a problem for shooting action as well. But you can ugrade to a 7d mark 2 down the lane..many pros use the body..its like a mini 1dx mark 2. So i guess this should work well with your above model as well. But it is always recommended to invest in good glass..so even if you buy the lens it is of good use to you in the time coming. go for the Latest edition if you can. But if you prefer a cheap prime with excellent performance, Fo got 400mm F 5.6..Is a great performer as well..
happy clicking :)
I would like to have an advice on which lens to choose from .
Currently I have a Tamaron 28-105 F/2.8 for my 5d Mk 2. I was wondering whether the low light performance and Bokeh for the Canon 24-105 F/4 and f/3.5-4.5 will be better. I would not want to carry 2 lenses of the similar range at a time.
Also I would like to know the best zoom wide lens with good wide( near 10 mm) and zoo near 20mm or more) that I can use for the camera.
Really appreciate your time for and efforts put forward…
Unfortunately you have me at a serious disadvantage as I have never shot with Canon gear and I have no experience at all with camera bodies and lenses from that brand. As a result I really can’t provide any meaningful insights.