Lens Sharpness and Contrast
In my two ‘preview’ articles I showcased a number of images taken with the Tamron 150-600 with my D800. If you missed those preview articles or would like to view them again they can be found under the ‘Tamron’ category on this web site.
I found the image quality to be very good for a lens of this type. There is some softness at the 600mm end of the range, but it is quite common for a zoom lens to lose some sharpness at its longest focal length so this is not unexpected. Stopping down to f/8 does help to increase sharpness on the long end of the lens. The vast majority of people shooting with the Tamron SP 150-600 VC will shoot in RAW and apply some sharpening in post.
To give you an idea of jpeg sharpness, here is an out-of-camera jpeg taken at 600mm (EFoV 900mm) with my D800 in DX crop mode at f/8, 1/1600th, ISO-800. No adjustments have been made to this image, or the crop that follows it.
And, here is a crop from the image above. Keep in mind that this level of cropping represents less than 5% of the total image area of my D800’s sensor.
As a comparison here is an image taken at 600mm with my D800 in DX crop mode (EF0V 900mm) at f/8, 1/2000th , ISO-800. This image, as well as the crop that follows, were processed using the RAW file.
Image quality does improve when the lens is used below the 600mm maximum. Here is an image of a black crowned night heron taken in its nest with my D800 in DX crop mode. It was shot at 460mm (EFoV 690mm), f/8, 1/2000th, ISO-800.
Here are two 100% crops from the above image.
Here is a night heron in flight that I captured with my D800 in DX crop mode. It was shot at 240mm (EFoV 360mm) at f/8, 1/1600th, ISO-400. The image was processed from a RAW file using DxOMark OpticsPro 8, CS6 and Nik Suite.
To see more images of black crowned night herons taken with the Tamron SP 150-600 VC you can check out this YouTube video:
For those of you wondering about the image quality when using a cropped sensor body, here is a photo taken with a D7000 at an EFoV of 570mm, f/8, 1/640th , ISO-400.
This is a 100% crop from the above image.
This peacock image was taken with a D7000 at the Metro Toronto Zoo at an EFoV of 900mm, f/6.3, 1/200th , ISO-200.
If you are wondering how well the Tamron SP 150-600 VC can capture fine detail, have a look at this image taken with my D800 in FX mode at 600mm, f/8, 1/1600th , ISO-400, -1 EV. You’ll notice a fly on the white flower.
Now have a look at a 100% crop taken from the image above. The fly was 8.4 meters, or about 27.5 feet, away from me.
This photograph of a dandelion seed head was taken with my D800 in DX crop mode, EFoV of 900mm, f/6.3 1/1250th, ISO-3200.
Here are a few more images of birds taken with the Tamron SP 150-600 VC using my D800 in DX crop mode. This next image was taken at an EFoV of 900mm, f/7.1, 1/2000th, ISO-800.
This cormorant was shot at an EFoV of 450mm, f/8, 1/2500th, ISO-800.
The flying gull photo below was taken at an EFoV of 450mm, f/8, 1/200th, ISO-800.
This stationary gull was shot with an EFoV of 900mm, f/8, 1/6400th, ISO-800.
The majority of users should find the image quality of the Tamron 150-600 VC to be more than acceptable. Obviously having realistic expectations of a lens costing about $1,100 US is needed, and not being an obsessive pixel peeper would also be a plus.
The Tamron 150-600 does incorporate eBAND and BBAR coatings to help reduce lens flare and ghosting. I did shoot the Tamron quite a bit without the lens hood and I did not find any issues with lens flare. Overall, I found the image quality to be quite good in terms of colour rendition and contrast.