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Summary

On paper the Tamron 50-400mm f4.5-6.3 Di III VC looks like a well featured and optically competent 8x zoom lens. As soon as it becomes available for testing I'll have a go at how it performs in real life. You should check back then for my full review!

Buy it now!

Check prices on the Tamron 50-400mm f4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD at B&H, AdoramaWEX UK or Calumet.de. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book, an official Cameralabs T-shirt or mug, or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!

Tamron 50-400mm f4.5-6.3 Di III VC review-so-far
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The Tamron 50-400mm f4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD (model A067) is a 8x zoom lens designed for Sony’s Alpha mirrorless cameras and corrected for full-frame sensors. Announced in September 2022, it complements Tamron’s other telephoto zoom lenses for those who need more flexibility: It covers a huge 8x zoom-range from a “standard” 50mm angle-of-view up to a long telephoto reach of 400mm.

Unlike its shorter siblings Tamron’s new 50-400mm zoom lens features optical image stabilization (VC) – an essential feature for long telephoto lenses. It also is fully weather-sealed including fluorine coating on the front lens and Tamron offers a removable tripod-collar with Arca-Swiss style tripod interface as optional accessory. The lens is pretty lightweight at 1155g (without tripod-collar or lens hood) and only 183mm long (without lens hood) but – like many other long telephoto designs – extends when zoomed in. Tamron has equipped the lens with a zoom lock, but missed out on the “flex zoom lock” of their 150-500mm f5-6.7 Di III VC. And for those who like to capture small objects the 50-400mm f4.5-6.3 Di III VC allows for a maximum magnification of 1:2 at the wide end and 1:4 at the long end with a good working distance.

The lens is made in Vietnam, should become available end of September, and is priced at 1449 EUR / 1299 USD / 1249 GBP. So far it’s only available for Sony E-mount. PS – if you’re interested in Tamron’s other full-frame telephoto zoom lenses for E-mount I’ve tested so far check out my in-depth reviews of the Tamron 70-180mm f2.8 Di III VXD and Tamron 150-500mm f5-6.7 Di III VC.

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Facts and features

Let’s compare the new Tamron 50-400mm f4.5-6.3 Di III VC (“Tamron 50-400” for short) to the Sigma 100-400mm f5-6.3 DG DN OS (“Sigma 100-400”), Sony FE 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 GM OSS (“Sony 100-400”), and Tamron 150-500mm f5-6.7 Di III VC (“Tamron 150-500”). As usual I’ve rated the features with a [+] (or [++]), when it’s better than average or even state of the art, a [0] if it’s standard or just average, and [-] if there’s a disadvantage.

Size (diameter x length): 89 x 183mm (3.5 x 7.2in.) plus an estimated 40mm for the lens hood. The Sigma 100-400 is 86 x 199mm, the Sony 100-400 is 94 x 205mm (both without lens hood), and the Tamron 150-500 is 93 x 209mm + 55mm lens hood. All four lenses in this comparison extend when zoomed to their longest focal length: The Tamron 50-400 extends to around 257mm, the Tamron 150-500 to 283mm (without lens hood). [+]

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Weight: At 1155g (2.5 lb.) plus an estimated 50g for the lens hood the Tamron 50-400 is much lighter than the Tamron 150-500 at 1725g + 95g lens hood. The tripod collar adds another 155g. The Sigma 100-400 is the lightest by a small margin at 1140g, the Sony 100-400 is 1395g (without tripod collar or lens hood). [+]

Optics: The Tamron 50-400mm f4.5-6.3 Di III VC is a pretty complex design with 24 elements in 18 groups including 5 special dispersion elements and 2 aspherical elements. The other lenses in this comparison are of a similarly complex construction. Both Tamrons and the Sony have fluorine coating at the front lens to repel water, dust, and dirt and make cleaning easier. [+]

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Closest focus distance is 0.25m (0.8ft.) with a magnification of 1:2 and a working distance of 5cm (2in.) at 50mm focal length. At 400mm focal length maximum magnification is 1:4 which is still quite good and results in a much longer working distance of around 1.2m (3.9ft.). For details see table below. The Tamron 150-500 achieves 1:3.1 at 150mm focal length and 1:3.7 at 500mm. The Sigma and Sony achieve their maximum magnification at their longest focal length: This is 1:4.1 at 1.3m working distance for the Sigma 100-400 and 1:2.9 at 0.7m working distance for the Sony 100-400. [+]

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Use with teleconverters: No, neither the Tamrons nor the Sigma can be used with Sony’s teleconverters. [0]

Filter-thread: 67mm which a lot of other Tamron zoom lenses (and the Sigma 100-400) use. The Sony 100-400 has a 77mm thread, the Tamron 150-500 needs even larger 82mm filters. [+]

Image stabilization: All lenses in this comparison have optical image stabilization built in. This works together with the sensor-based image stabilization of the Sony Alpha mirrorless cameras. The Tamron 50-400 has a switch to activate two VC modes or turn stabilization off. [+]

Autofocus: All lenses in this comparison offer autofocus with built-in focus drive. Manual-focus override is by simply turning the dedicated focus ring. As Tamron has implemented this before the action of the focus ring on the Tamron 50-400 probably can be switched via Tamron’s lens Utility (TLU) between the usual variable gearing or linear gearing and the direction of the ring can be reversed. This makes smooth focus pulling for videographers much easier. The other lenses do not offer such a functionality. [+]

All lenses in this comparison cover full frame sensors or can equally be used on a cropped APS-C camera body. [+]

Price: The Tamron 50-400 comes at a recommended retail price of 1449 EUR (incl. 19% VAT) / 1299 USD / 1249 GBP. The Sigma 100-400 currently sells much lower for 990 EUR / 899 USD / 900 GBP, the Sony 100-400 is 2350 EUR / 2500 USD / 2150 GBP, the Tamron 150-500 is 1200 EUR / 1399 USD / 1100 GBP. [0]

Similar to the Sigma 100-400 the Tamron 50-400 comes without a pouch and the Arca-Swiss compatible tripod mount is an optional extra and does not have strap attachment holes like the (included) tripod mount of the Tamron 150-500. The reversible lens hood is included but does not feature a rubberized front end which prevent dinks and scratches when the lens is set down on it. The Sony 100-400 comes with a pouch and has the detachable tripod foot included. Its lens hood has a sliding window through which a polarizing or variable ND filter can be adjusted and also has a lock to prevent it from accidentally falling off. [0]

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Aperture ring and other control elements: None of the lenses in this comparison have an aperture ring. But with Tamron’s Lens Utility (TLU) you can connect a computer to the lens and assign the focus set button to switch the focus ring to operate the aperture. For connecting computer and lens only a USB-C cable is required – no need to buy the TAP-in Console/USB docking station which older Tamron DSLR lenses needed. As Tamron has implemented this before you can probably assign other functions to the focus set button apart from the usual focus preset e. g. make the focus automatically shift between two focus positions A and B or assign a function from the camera body. The additional custom switch should allow for three different settings for the focus set buttons and focus ring and you can also define a focus limiter function. The Tamron 150-500 has a direct focus limiter switch instead of the custom switch of the Tamron 50-400 and it offers a nice “Flex Zoom Lock” feature in addition to a standard zoom lock at 150mm: simply push the zoom ring forward to lock the zoom at any position. [+]

Sealing: All lenses in this comparison have a rubber grommet at the lens-mount. Plus further weather-sealing throughout the construction except for the Sigma 100-400. [+]

At a score of 0[-]/3[0]/10[+] the Tamron 50-400mm f4.5-6.3 Di III VC looks like a well featured design with no real downsides except for the price which seems a bit on the high side. It’s relatively small and light for a lens reaching 400mm focal length and has a full range of customizable functions. The lens is thoroughly sealed against the elements and its tripod mount has an Arca-Swiss style interface – I only wish it were included. Plus it can reach magnifications of 1:4 at very usable working distances or 1:2 if you get real close.


Coverage

With its 8x zoom-range the Tamron 50-400 covers a much larger range than the 3.3x of the Tamron 150-500. At the short end the Tamron 50-400mm has an angle of view of 47 degrees, compared to the 24 degrees of zooms starting at 100mm and the 16.4 degrees of the Tamron 150-500mm. At the long end the Tamron 150-500 offers 25% more reach/magnification than the Tamron 50-400. So to reach the same angle-of-view of 500mm focal length you need to crop 1.25x into an image shot at 400mm. This would result in a reduction of resolution from e.g. 42MP to around 27MP – which might still be enough for the intended purpose.

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Sharpness and contrast

Let’s have a look at the theoretical performance of the new Tamron 50-400mm f4.5-6.3 Di III VC and compare it to the Tamron 150-500mm f5-6.7 Di III VC:

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Above: Tamron 50-400mm f4.5-6.3 Di III VC, 50mm f4.5 (left), 400mm f6.3 (right)

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Above: Sigma 100-400mm f5-6.3 DG DN OS, 100mm f5.0 (left), 400mm f6.3 (right)

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Above: Sony FE 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 GM OSS, 100mm f4.5 (left), 400mm f5.6 (right)

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Above: Tamron 150-500mm f5-6.7 Di III VC, 150mm f5.0 (left), 500mm f6.7 (right)

These MTF charts show the computed lens-performance of lenses wide open without influence of diffraction at 10 line-pairs/mm (red) and 30 lp/mm (gray/green). Higher values are better (more contrast) and the closer the dotted and solid lines are together the less contrast dependents on the orientation of the test-pattern (less astigmatism). The x-axis displays the distance from the optical axis (=center of the sensor) in mm.

At the long end the Tamron 50-400mm f4.5-6.3 Di III VC looks similar to the Sigma 100-400, even not much behind the Sony 100-400. At the short end the Tamron 50-400mm starts with a very sharp center but quickly develops stronger astigmatism than the other lenses – but then the Tamron has to cover an 8x zoom range which is double that of the other lenses.

So at least on paper the Tamron 50-400mm f4.5-6.3 Di III VC looks like a well featured and optically competent 8x zoom lens. And as soon as it becomes available for testing I’ll have a go at how this theoretical performance translates into real life results. You should check back then for my full review!

Check prices on the Tamron 50-400mm f4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD at B&H, AdoramaWEX UK or Calumet.de. Alternatively get yourself a copy of my In Camera book, an official Cameralabs T-shirt or mug, or treat me to a coffee! Thanks!
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