Since the majority of users of this lens will be photographing wildlife and nature with the Tamron 150-600 mm VC super telephoto lens, I thought I would use this opportunity to show some images of birds in flight taken in Southern Ontario, Canada. While this is not a full review of the Tamron 150-600 VC super telephoto lens, it does serve to answer a few initial questions that potential buyers may have about it:
(NOTE: click on images to enlarge them)
How easily can this lens be hand-held?
How sharp is the Tamron 150-600 mm 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 150-600 mm 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 600 mm 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 600 mm 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.
Below 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 150-600 mm. The image taken at f/8, 1/3200, -1 EV, 600 mm.
Overall, the focusing of the Tamron 150-600 mm 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.
Above 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.
If the Tamron 150-600 VC super telephoto lens is of interest to you, be sure to read my full review.
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Article and all images Copyright 2014, Thomas Stirr. All rights reserved. No use, reproduction or duplication including electronic is allowed without written consent.