We have talked about the new Tamron 150-600mm f/5-6.3 lens a few times now since its release. The new lens, pricing in at just over $1,000, looks to appeal to hobbyist and semi-professional wildlife photographers who need the extreme reach of 600mm at a reasonable price. But how well does the lens stack up against the competition?


We already linked to one other report by the guys over at LensRentals which seem to conclude that the new Tamron 150-600mm is a great alternative to similar Sigma (150-500mm) and Canon (100-400mm) offerings. But, how does the Tamron compare to the expensive primes lenses?

A review, in Japanese, takes a look at how well it compares to Canon’s range of primes from the 300mm F/2.8L IS II w/ x2 Extender , 500mm F/4L IS II w/ 1.4x Extender, and the 800mm  F/5.6L IS. That is some serious glass that the Tamron is up against, but surprisingly it holds up pretty well for being a variable aperture lens and at a fraction of the price. You can checkout the full google translated review here, but you can continue reading here for some of the highlights that I took from the review.

Tamron 150-600mm Auto Focus

Auto Focus, this is a key question when looking at such a cheap lens and a 3rd party lens as well. But, out of the 4 lenses tested, the fastest AF (averaged out) was the 800mm F/5.6 at .78 seconds to achieve focus, followed by a tie between the 500mm F/5.6 (with the extender) and the Tamron 150-600 at .88 seconds to achieve focus. The 300mm F/2.8 with the x2 extender was the slowest at 1.22 seconds to achieve focus. That was tested on the full frame Canon 6D, a camera not known for the best AF in the world, so that is pretty impressive. All of the lenses, but particularly the Tamron, were much slower at AF when tested on a crop sensor Canon 7D. The Tamron averages 1.25 seconds to achieve focus on the 7D.

Tamron 150-600mm Image Stabilization

This is one area where the Tamron lags behind the expensive prime lenses. While the expensive Canon prime lenses were pretty consistent in their stabilization, it is apparent that the Tamron – in this review at least – ranged from great to pretty bad.


Just for reference here is the is test sheet from the Canon 500mm F/4, as you can see it is much better than the Tamron.


Tamron 150-600mm Overall Image Quality

Still, given the Tamron’s price I would not expect it to keep up with the expensive glass in every regard. So, now that we have looked at some of the technical things, how does it compare in straight up image quality? In a few words, very well.


Take a look at some of the image sample below, shot on a Canon 6D with the Tamron 120-600mm.

12006Dzyoubitaki-1 12006Daozi-1

It is my opinion that while the expensive primes do edge out the Tamron, they do just that – EDGE OUT the Tamron. For me this new Tamron is simply a no brainier for any wildlife photographer who does not simply need the extra 5-10% performance that the primes afford you.

It is also pretty clear that the Tamron equals 500mm F/4 and beats the 300mm F/2.8 with the extenders, so everyone saying that you should just do that can quietly leave the room. Seriously, why would you spend so much extra money on those lenses when you can get 90-95% of the performance for a small fraction of the price (unless you are a pro using that needs the extra performance for a job)? I can’t say that I see a reason to do so.

I am more and more impressed with this new Tamron the more I read about it. The Canon mount was supposed to start shipping out on January 17th, but on the B&H website it is still listed as pre-order only. But, I can tell you this, when I get my tax returns back this new Tamron lens is pretty high on my list of possible purchases.

[review content & images via Trinity Lumberton]

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