I was incredibly, but incredibly excited about this review. For the vast majority of landscape trips, I take the beloved combo Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD and Tamron 28-200mm f/2,8-5,6 Di III RXD, but as soon as I set off for bigger mountains (Dolomites, Tatras...), now and then I catch myself missing longer focal lengths.
If you enjoy capturing details in the landscape, "hunting" chamois, or are into sports photography, you will love the following lines.
Sony's decision to open the E-mount platform to third parties has definitely paid off. The concept of one bayonet connecting models with full-frame and APS-C sensors, offers unlimited creative potential.
Tamron fully capitalized on this opportunity and one of the newest additions to the Sony E (note: now available also for FUJI) family is the new ultra-telephoto lens Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VC VXD for full-frame cameras (with APS-C, the range is approximately 225-750mm).
Let's say right at the beginning what all those acronyms mean:
Di III (Digitally integrated design) - lenses specifically designed for mirrorless cameras with interchangeable lenses, in this case for Sony Full Frame E-mount, or Sony FE
VC (Vibration Compensation) - this 150-500 is the first lens from Tamron for Sony Full Frame bodies, which offers integrated optical stabilization
VXD (Voice-coil eXtreme-torque Drive) - linear motor focusing mechanism for extremely fast and highly accurate movement (compared to the conventional drive systems, the linear motor significantly reduces noise and drive vibrations)
Tamron prides itself on using high-quality materials (high-grade plastics and resins combined with precisely shaped glasses) and perfect craftsmanship, which is guaranteed by a 5-year factory warranty (products must be registered within 2 months of purchase). The same applies to the 150-500mm lens.
A few basic parameters:
Model designation: A057
Optical construction: 25 elements in 16 groups
Number of aperture blades: 7
Minimum focusing distance: 0.6m (WIDE) / 1.8m (TELE)
Filter diameter: 82mm
Length: 209.6mm (283mm at a focal length of 500mm)
Sealed against moisture and dust
In reviews, I try to stay serious, so I'll leave aside jokes that it's a lens for those who need to compensate for something, haha… and after months of testing, let's get right to the details. The fact that it's a piece of glass that puts a smile on your face right out of the box probably doesn't need emphasizing. Right away, I was pleased that the one-fifty - five hundred comes with an Arca-Swiss compatible tripod mount, including integrated holes for strap attachment, which in translation means that you can easily and securely clamp it into almost any existing tripod head, without any "messing around" (I don't quite understand why everyone doesn't do this nowadays, even the great Sony 200-600mm comes with an incompatible "leg"). The mount is adjustable and allows for easy removal by loosening one screw.
The body is tightly sealed against dust and moisture, and from my own experience, I must say that Tamron does it very well. Both the Tamron 17-28mm f/2.8 Di III RXD and the TAMRON 28-200 mm f/2,8-5,6 Di III RXD have endured many downpours with me (the 17-28mm even went “swimming” with me when I took a tumble into Lake Sorapis...) and I rigorously tested the 150-500mm during a freezing downpour on Großer Osser summit - 1,293 m (Grosser Osser in German, or something like “Big Sharp” in English - in Czech’s Bohemian Forest - one of the worst experiences ever as I was frozen to the bone), and absolutely nothing happened.
If you're a stickler for cleanliness of the front elements, you'll certainly appreciate the fluorine coating which repels water, grease, and dirt. For a better understanding of how good this is, check this out: www.youtube.com. Moreover, it utilises BBAR-G2 technology (Broad Band Anti Reflection) - aka multiple layers of magnesium fluoride to suppress internal reflections causing "ghosts" (secondary images) and reflections (causing low contrast and fading).
Tamron includes a quite robust lens hood with a flexible front part, which is quite handy, especially when you always drop something... uh...
Now onto the main features of the body.
5 different switches:
3 VC modes - standard, panning, and framing priority
Lock - prevents the lens from extending on its own (it locks at 150mm position)
Another feature is the FLEX ZOOM LOCK, which allows you to lock the zoom at any position by extending the zoom ring. Takes bit of time to get used to that, but you will love this feature.
That's all for describing the details, now let's look at how the Tamron 150-500mm shoots in the real world.
It can be summed up in two words... it’s simply great. Thanks to its compact size, it's no problem to pack it into a "smaller" photo backpack, so you'll have no problem carrying it around on longer treks.
When shooting fast-moving objects, sports, or wild animals, you will be thrilled with the autofocus. It works perfectly and I basically had no problems with focusing. The linear VXD motors are very fast and, moreover, they don't make any unpleasant noise. Eye focus is absolutely excellent. The only dilemma might be for owners of Sony A9 and Sony A1 bodies, which allow a burst shooting speed of 20 fps and 30 fps for the A1. Sony limits third parties to a burst shooting speed of 15 fps, which means half speed for the A1, and that's not insignificant.
Image quality is breathtaking. Vignetting and image distortion are almost negligible, and the lens perfectly controls chromatic aberration as well.
In general, images are beautifully sharp and full of contrast. Slight losses of image quality occur in the corners, where contrast and sharpness are reduced, most pronounced at extremes (150mm and 500mm), yet overall, the image quality of this 150-500mm is absolutely fantastic. If you also enjoy a bit of macro photography with flowers and insects, you'll be delighted with the minimum focusing distance of 0.6m (at 150mm) and the beautiful bokeh.
Pros and cons:
great image quality throughout the whole range
perfect autofocus - fast, quiet, and very precise
Minimum focusing distance of 0.6m
FLEX ZOOM LOCK mechanism
VC - optical stabilization
Arca-Swiss compatible tripod holder - this is a must-have
BBAR-G2 and fluorine coating to eliminate reflections and repel dirt
moisture and dust sealing
you can not use teleconverter here
the focusing ring is quite narrow, not really top-notch for video
I would welcome a wider aperture (on the other hand, then I can't imagine the dimensions, weight, and also price…)
The Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VC VXD will stay in my backpack, even though for longer treks, I'll have to choose between it and the drone (due to the overall weight of the equipment). It's a really sharp lens with fast autofocus, great color rendering, excellent flare resistance, which will completely satisfy lovers of sports photography, animals, and landscapes (especially for "highlighting" details - mountains in the mist, summits, details) and all for a "very" friendly price - basically 1/3 less expensive then its direct competitor from Sony (the 200-600mm). However, as I mentioned above, Sony allows shooting at 30fps.
When shooting in difficult lighting conditions (poorly lit stadium, etc.) the lens's aperture hits its limits and you'll need to look for brighter lenses, however, here we are talking about significantly different prices...
Camera: Sony A7 IV
Tripod: 3 Legged Thing Mike Legends Mike
Drone: Mavic Air 2s
Backpack: Shimoda Action x70