Many Photography Life readers already know how much our team likes the Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 lens – we have written a few articles on how amazing the lens is for reach and our detailed review of the Tamron 150-600mm attracted a lot of people, with over 200 comments in the review. Today, Tamron announced a big update to this lens in the form of SP 150-600mm F5-6.3 Di VC USD G2. This second generation (G2) lens went through a number of changes, including improved image stabilization, faster AF speed and a few other mechanical and design tweaks. The biggest changes, however, are in the updated optical formula and weather sealing – the G2 now features better optical design with improved overall sharpness and a fluorine coated front element, while the lens barrel has been reworked in order to reduce both dust and moisture from entering the lens (which is one of the biggest issues of the previous design). Lastly, the new 150-600mm now joins the list of lenses compatible with Tamron’s TAP-in console, for future firmware upgrades and customization. The lens will retail for $1,399 and it is scheduled to start shipping at the end of this month. In addition to this lens, Tamron has also announced two new 1.4x and 2.0x teleconverters, both of which will be compatible with the lens.
With the previous generation lens costing $1069, the new one is obviously noticeably more expensive, with a $330 price increase. However, the new lens looks drastically better compared to its predecessor, so the price increase might be well justified. Let’s take a quick look at the optical changes that Tamron is promising in this G2 optical design:
And here is how it compares to the previous generation 150-600mm:
While contrast levels are supposed to be practically the same, pay attention to the second thinner line, which is what indicates the resolving power of this lens – the first MTF chart clearly shows increased level of sharpness, particularly in the center of the frame. This is true for both 150mm and 600mm focal lengths, which is very promising, considering that the lens is going to be mostly used at the longest end of the zoom range. Because of these improvements, Tamron is now claiming that the lens couples well with their new teleconverters. While I personally would stay away from using teleconverters with a slow f/5-6.3 lens, the 1.4x combo might provide fairly usable results in bright light conditions. Obviously, we will be testing the lens rigorously with both teleconverters to see how practical the combinations could be in outdoor shooting environments.
When it comes to design and exterior changes, there are quite a few of those in place. First of all, you have probably already noticed that the lens looks quite a bit different compared to its predecessor – the exterior design of the lens resembles the new generation Tamron lenses with a gray line close to the lens mount. Second, the lens now features a “flex zoom lock” feature, which allows the focal length of the lens to be easily locked when shooting in the field, so that it does not creep when pointing up or down, which is pretty neat:
Third, the switches on the side of the lens now look sleeker, giving a fresher look to the lens. Last, but not least, is the tripod foot. Check it out:
FINALLY! When I saw the above image, that’s what I shouted in excitement. How many manufacturers and generations of lenses did we have to wait for until we saw a lens announcement with a proper Arca-Swiss compatible foot?! Every super telephoto lens owner knows that their purchase does not stop with the lens – to make the lens usable with most gimbal and ballhead tripod heads, one has to get an Arca-Swiss tripod foot replacement, which is an unnecessary burden and additional cost. Why can’t manufacturers do the same for every lens? Sigma previously announced an Arca-Swiss compatible tripod foot for the 150-600mm Sport, but it is a separate accessory that must be purchased for $250, which makes it no different than purchasing from a third party vendor like RRS and Kirk. Thanks to Tamron, it looks like the company will be featuring Arca-Swiss tripod feet on all of its heavy telephoto lenses in the future, which is something to be excited about. I personally do not like attaching Arca-Swiss plates on the bottom of lens collars, because it is usually a single mount point and it makes the tripod collar bulkier than it should be. For this reason, including a proper lens collar with the lens for me already represents a $250 of additional value. Once you add in all the above-mentioned extras, the pricing on the updated Tamron 150-600mm G2 looks pretty reasonable. If I owned the Tamron 150-600mm, I would certainly want to upgrade to this new lens…
Official Press Release
Here is the official press release from Tamron:
INTRODUCING THE PINNACLE OF ULTRA-TELEPHOTO ZOOMS WITH ADVANCED FEATURES,
ENHANCED PERFORMANCE, AND IMPROVED ERGONOMICS
September 1, 2016, Commack, New York: Tamron, a leading manufacturer of optics for diverse applications, announces the launch of the SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 (Model A022). This second generation “G2” lens builds upon the success of the SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD (Model A011), which launched in December 2013 and continues to successfully meet photographers’ needs in the ultra-telephoto category. The new G2 version was developed to provide superior optical performance with today’s high resolution DSLRs and to add improvements to several features including speed and accuracy of AF and VC (Vibration Compensation). Also, several new features have been added: FLEX ZOOM LOCK mechanism, Fluorine Coating and optional teleconverters. The new lens delivers outstanding performance and a luxurious, upscale appearance, including a metal lens barrel. Delivery of the new lens in Canon and Nikon mounts will start on September 23 in the Japanese market and soon thereafter in the U.S. market (Sony A-mount to be delivered at a later date) at a price of $1399.
- Optical design refreshed to achieve even higher performance: Three LD (Low Dispersion) lens elements completely eliminate axial and transverse chromatic aberrations. The design also features an upgraded optical construction (21 elements in 13 groups) and leverages improvements in manufacturing technology. As a result, the lens delivers high resolution, improved sharpness and overall better performance.
- Tamron’s sophisticated eBAND Coating for eliminating ghosting and flare: eBAND (Extended Bandwidth & Angular-Dependency) Coating is a nano-structured layer deployed on the lens element surface. In addition to regular anti-reflection coatings, eBAND Coating offers higher light transmission and significant improvement in anti-reflection characteristics, especially against angulated incident rays. Combined with BBAR (Broad-Band Anti-Reflection) coatings, flare and ghosting are reduced to imperceptible levels.
- MOD reduced to provide optimum tele-macro photography: Tamron’s advanced manufacturing technology has made it possible to reduce the MOD (Minimum Object Distance) to 86.6 in (2.2m), compared to 106.3 in (2.7m) for Model A011, and has allowed for the wonders of tele-macro photography with its 1:3.9 Maximum Magnification Ratio.
- AF speed is faster and much more responsive with moving subjects: The Model A022 is equipped with a USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive) ring-type motor that delivers excellent responsiveness and control. AF speed is significantly improved from the current model, and it enables accurate high-speed focus even when capturing moving subjects. When shooting with AF, the Full-time Manual Focus override allows you to instantly make fine-focusing adjustments manually, without having to switch between modes.
- VC performance is now 4.5 stops and offers three modes optimized for different situations: The VC (Vibration Compensation) effectiveness is equivalent to 4.5 stops, based on image stabilization performance levels established by CIPA (Camera & Imaging Products Association) when using VC MODE 3. Model A022 now has three types of VC modes, and it is possible to choose the optimum VC mode according to the situation for taking a photograph, such as when panning.
- VC MODE 1 is the standard mode that strikes a great balance between the stability of the viewfinder image and the stabilization effects.
- VC MODE 2 is exclusively used for panning.
- VC MODE 3 prioritizes the stabilization of the captured images and forgoes the stabilization of the viewfinder image.
A new VC Mode can be programmed with the optional TAMRON TAP-in ConsoleTM. You can overwrite VC Mode 1 with a new VC Mode that allows stabilization to be engaged constantly for videography purposes. In this mode, the LCD screen is used.
- New FLEX ZOOM LOCK mechanism enables locking of the zoom ring at any position: The FLEX ZOOM LOCK mechanism quickly locks or unlocks the zoom at any position simply by sliding the zoom ring. Photographers can shoot from any angle without the zoom extending unintentionally. Additionally, the lens features the conventional Zoom Lock switch to prevent unwanted barrel extension during transportation.
- Fluorine Coating and Moisture-Resistant Construction for a more user-friendly lens: The front surface of the lens element is coated with a protective fluorine compound that is water- and oil-repellent. The lens surface is easier to wipe clean and is less vulnerable to the damaging effects of dirt, dust, moisture and fingerprints. For greater protection when shooting outdoors, leak-proof seals throughout the lens barrel help protect your equipment.
- Electromagnetic diaphragm system now used for Nikon-mount lenses: An electromagnetic diaphragm system, which has been a standard feature for Canon-mount lenses, is now employed in Nikon-mount lenses(1). More precise diaphragm and aperture control is possible because the diaphragm blades are driven and controlled by a motor through electronic pulse signals.
- Lightweight and easy-to-hold tripod mount is compatible with an Arca-Swiss style quick release plate: A new textured grip and Arca-Swiss style tripod interface enhances both speed and utility. And because the tripod mount is made of lightweight magnesium, it is much easier to carry.
- Compatible with TAMRON TAP-in ConsoleTM, an optional accessory product: The optional TAP-in Console provides a USB connection to your personal computer, enabling you to easily update your lens’s firmware as well as customize features including fine adjustments to the AF and VC.
- Teleconverters exclusively for the Tamron lens now developed: Two exclusive teleconverters(2), which perfectly match the optics of the new SP 150-600mm G2 (Model A022), offer 1.4x and 2x magnification, and provide a maximum zoom range up to 1200mm. These new teleconverters extend focal length of the master lens, making it possible to take pictures in farther ultra-telephoto ranges.
(1) Available only with cameras compatible with the electromagnetic diaphragm (D3100, D3200, D3300, D5000, D5100, D5200, D5300, D5500, D7000, D7100, D7200, D300, D300s, D600, D610, D700, D750, D800, D800E, D810, D810A, D3x, D3s, D4, D4s, Df, D500, D5). (As of September 1; Tamron)
(2) Additional information will be available on Tamron’s website at a later date.
- Based on the rigorous quality standards worthy of the SP series, this new lens is manufactured with thorough attention to details: For the SP series products in particular, Tamron has established rigorous design and quality standards. These standards apply to the optical design, mechanical design and the cosmetic appearance, as well as to such wide-ranging areas as the product’s robustness and improvements in various individual functions. Tamron thoroughly reviews of all of the design and manufacturing processes in order to offer products to customers with ever-higher precision and quality levels.
For the SP 150-600mm G2 (Model A022), the optical design was refreshed, mechanical parts were improved and a new exterior design was adopted. To maximize the optical performance intrinsic to this product, Tamron improved the accuracy of component parts and increased the precision of the overall zooming mechanism.
The new design adopted for the four SP series lenses already on the market is essentially the fusion of engineering and style, the pursuit of functional beauty and craftsmanship achieved by giving meticulous attention to minute details. Using metal as the exterior material creates a high-grade design based on the concept that emphasizes “Human Touch” characteristics, and significantly improves user-friendliness. The SP models feature a novel design for the switches, easy-to-read characters, an enlarged window over the distance scale and the adoption of organic forms easy for the photographer’s fingers to hold onto.
This design philosophy – the pursuit of functional beauty with a “Human Touch” – is applied even to the most minute details of the new SP 150-600mm G2 (Model A022) ultra-telephoto zoom. By using metal for the exterior material and adding new functions such as the FLEX ZOOM LOCK mechanism, the Model A022 achieves a size and weight that makes comfortable handheld shooting possible, with a slim and stylish appearance design to top it all off.
Looks like Tamron scored another home run with the updated SP 150-600mm G2. Our team at PL is looking forward to testing the new lens – we will be reviewing the lens later this year once it becomes available.