The Tamron 150-500mm f5-6.7 Di III VC is one of the few telephoto zoom lenses that reach beyond 400mm focal length. It is designed for mirrorless cameras with full-frame sensors and currently only available in Sony E-mount (although we hope RF and Z versions will follow). At 1499 EUR / 1399 USD / 1379 GBP the lens is not exactly cheap but I assume that street prices will eventually drop below that.
The new Tamron has a lot going for it: It is barely longer than Sony’s FE 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 GM OSS although offering 25% more reach, achieves a magnification of around 1:3 at very comfortable working distances, and is weather-sealed including a fluorine coating against moisture and dust on the front element. It offers optical image stabilization with a 2-3 stop effect and has a reliable and pretty fast autofocus. Focus breathing is minimal and the lens is practically parfocal, keeping its focus while zooming. But most importantly its optical performance is very convincing: The lens has good resolution across the full frame and over the complete zoom-range, shows almost no longitudinal colour aberrations and has low vignetting and distortions (through lens profile).
What’s not to like? Well, the wide end starts only at 150mm which restricts the widest angle of view to 16 degrees compared to the 24 degrees rivals starting at 100mm focal length offer. And 500mm is the longest focal length you can achieve while the alternatives from Sony can use teleconverters and multiply their focal length by 1.4x or even 2x. Then there is focus shift when stopping down to f8.0 which might or might not be an issue depending on how you prefer to focus. You should also be extra careful when the sun or another strong light-source is inside the frame: The Tamron 150-500mm f5-6.7 Di III VC is prone to veiling glare which reduces contrast considerably under adverse contra-light situations. And finally I find the lens a bit heavy: It’s almost as heavy as Tamron’s own SP AF 150-600mm f5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 which has the benefit of reaching 600mm focal length. Mount a Sony Alpha body and you’ll be schlepping 2.6kg (5.7 lb.) around (incl. tripod mount). Shooting such a heavy combo hand-held certainly taxes the limits of the VC image stabilization at the long end.
Tamron 150-500mm f5-6.7 Di III VC final verdict
Tamron has added an interesting choice for Sony Alpha mirrorless owners looking for a super-telephoto zoom: Their new 150-500mm f5-6.7 Di III VC is almost as compact as Sony’s FE 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 GM OSS but offers 25% more reach and is much cheaper to boot. And compared to the Sony FE 200-600mm f5.6-6.3 G OSS the new Tamron is much smaller and lighter although you give up 100mm reach on the long end. And Tamron didn’t skimp on features or image quality. There’re only two thing to be aware of: The lens cannot be used with teleconverters and veiling glare from strong contra-light can reduce contrast considerably. But other than that Tamron has designed a compelling super-telephoto zoom which clearly earns a Recommended!
- Good resolution across the full frame and over the complete zoom-range.
- Relatively short build.
- Almost no longitudinal colour aberrations.
- Good close-up performance at 500mm focal length at a very comfortable working distance.
- Optical image stabilization.
- Reliable and pretty fast autofocus.
- Flex zoom lock works at any focal length.
- Extensive weather sealing plus fluorine coating against moist and dust.
- Low vignetting and minimal distortions (through lens profile).
- Starts only at 150mm focal length.
- Does not work with teleconverters.
- Focus shift when stopped down to f8.
- Veiling glare reduces contrast considerably in challenging contra-light situations.
- Relatively heavy.