This year I realized with the shoots I had planned I needed to add an “Ultra-Telephoto” to my gear. Like most photographers, I have the standard 70-200mm, and even a 70-300mm, but there are times that it’s just not enough. Being a Canon shooter, I know that Canon makes an excellent 600mm f4L lens, …….but………ummm, …..Yeah, I can’t afford $11,499 for a lens. I’m quite certain it is a spectacular lens, and (hint, hint) if Canon ever wants me to test that lens for them…… I am available!
There are several non OEM lenses on the market that are also good, but up until a couple of years ago, they all started at about $6K. Enter Tamron and their version 1 of the 150-600mm lens. This lens was very successful and developed a strong following. When they released their G2 version photographers were once again impressed. I did a great deal of research and found that almost no one had a negative thing to say about this lens. And the best part was the lens was right at $1,300 and when I bought it Tamron had a $100 mail-in rebate.
So, I had an Ultra-Telephoto and I didn’t break the bank. So, is it any good really?
Oh yeah. This lens exceeded my expectations.
First off, for the ability of the lens, it is smaller than you would expect. Here it is side by side to my 70-200 f2.8L.
It’s just a few inches longer when closed up.
Now let’s talk about weight. The Tamron is 70.9oz, or 4.4 lbs. The canon is only 52.6oz or 3.3lbs. So, for a little over a pound difference, you get 3 times the zoom. Not bad.
Now there are many technical aspects to this lens that make it a great choice, and rather than re-hash information that is already available from oh-so-many sources, let me give you a link to Tamrons page here and get to important aspects; how it performs in color and Infrared.
My observations come from using this lens for 6 months, in two major locations. First, South Padre Island, Texas and second on a Photo Safari in Kenya.
This lens is stout and carrying it in a backpack all day long will bow your back by the end of the day. As I said earlier it’s not that much bigger or heavier than a 70-200, but it will weigh you down. BUT, it is worth the work.
In color, the lens performs perfectly. It easily connects to most tripod heads and works great with a small sandbag. The lens has a good weight balance to it and doesn’t feel like it going to break off your camera.
Once you start shooting with this lens, you are going to wonder how you ever did without it. At 600mm you will be able to capture images that would otherwise impossible.
Here’s an example.
A leopard up a tree.
He’s up there, but there’s a lot of tree around him we really don’t need, and you don’t really connect with the subject in this image.
Here’s the same situation at 600mm with a Canon 5DMKIV.
Now that is the shot we all want, and I didn’t have to climb the tree, and probably die to get it.
Here’s another, this one in South Padre Island close to the water.
At 600mm you have a distance between you and your subject which allows you to capture images without affecting the scene.
Her’s a lily pad in Tower Grove Park in St. Louis, MO.
Once again the shot wouldn’t have been much at 200mm.
So, for Color . . . . it’s great.
Now how about Infrared? Well, it’s great, with one slight exception. I’ll explain that in a minute.
First, with Hyper Color, there are no problems.
It’s sharp and there are no issues with hot-spots.
Now, here’s where the “with a slight exception” comes into play. When shooting this lens with a Super Color converted camera, or at a nanmoeter rating above that, there is a slight hot-spot, but only above f16.
Here’s an example shot f22, in Super Color with a Canon 5DMKIV
Here it’s almost impossible to see, but once you make basic adjustments and swap color channels it becomes apparent.
But it is very slight and with a little post-production work will not be noticeable. I took a simpler approach and just shot at f16 or below and there were no issues.
To sum things up, The Tamron 150-600mm lens is a pretty great lens at a really reasonable price.
– And I noticed if you use that link to their website it still shows a $100 rebate active. That’s even better.