Tamron 150-600mm f5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 Field Test

December 01, 2016  •  2 Comments

The New Tamron 150-600mm f5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 Field Test.

Canon 7D Mk2 - Tamron 150-600mm G2 - Settings: 500mm - f8 - ISO1600 - 1/640th sec.

In April you may recall I put the Tamron 150-600mm f5.6-6.3 lens through its paces; fast forward to November and Tamron asked me to do another lens test for them. This time using their brand new 150-600mm f5-6.3 Di VC USD G2. I knew during the month I had a couple of trips planned to the beautiful Isle of Mull to photograph Otters, and for a wildlife photographer there’s no better subject to point a new lens at!

Canon 5D Mk3 - Tamron 150-600mm G2 - Settings: 600mm - f8 - ISO1000 - 1/320th sec.

First of all let’s talk technical - not that I’m a technology freak, I’m more interested in something being functional and being up to the job - but this lens is totally new; everything has been re-designed and upgraded. Three of the glass elements are made from ultra-low dispersal glass, thus reducing the chance of flare when shooting back lit images, something I do a lot.

Canon 1DX - Tamron 150-600mm G2 - Settings: 600mm - f7.1 - ISO2000 - 1/1000th sec.

The focusing is more accurate and a hell of a lot faster. During my test the lens only struggled to lock on to a target once and this was a White-tailed Eagle wheeling around the sky no more than 100m away from me! The rest of the time it was quick and reliable at locking on to the subject.

Minimum focus distance has now been reduced to 2.2m.

There are three modes for the VC (vibration control) that equates to approximately 4.5 stops, and this can be critical when hand-holding the camera or when working in low-light conditions.

Canon 1DX - Tamron 150-600mm G2 - Settings: 600mm - f7.1 - ISO400 - 1/1000th sec.

The barrel for zooming has a very handy ‘zoom lock’ which stiffens the resistance of the twisting motion of the barrel. The lens has seals in it giving you some protection against moisture and dust but I would never recommend being too reliant on weather sealing. It’s best to err on the side of caution and use a rain sleeve.

The buttons are very functional and easy to operate even whilst wearing gloves and the lens hood has also been improved (see my previous blog). For me one of the best new design features has to be the new foot, including a built-in ‘Swiss plate’ which makes mounting the lens on a tripod (or monopod) more sturdy and secure.

To summarise, this lens has a totally different look and feel to its predecessor and all-in-all is a completely new beast. I was pleasantly surprised by the cosmetic improvements and couldn’t wait to get it into the field and give it go.

In-the-field

On my first outing with the new lens I thought I’d pay a visit to my Crested Tit and woodland bird feeding station, as here the lens would need to focus quickly and accurately on the super-fast and agile Cresties. I also hoped the light would allow me the opportunity to shoot some back-lit images. I’m pleased to report I was gifted some decent light and the birds performed well and posed perfectly.

Canon 7D Mk2 - Tamron 150-600mm G2 - Settings: 273mm - f6.3 - ISO800 - 1/640th sec. Canon 7D Mk2 - Tamron 150-600mm G2 - Settings: 552mm - f8 - ISO400 - 1/2000th sec. Canon 7D Mk2 - Tamron 150-600mm G2 - Settings: 500mm - f8 - ISO1600 - 1/2000th sec.

Field trip to Mull

Otters are one of the most difficult species to photograph as they are super sensitive and extremely alert to minor changes in their surroundings, either by smell, sight or sound. The word 'challenging' comes to mind! The good news is I love a challenge, so off to Mull I went in search of Otters.

Canon 1DX - Tamron 150-600mm G2 - Settings: 600mm - f9 - ISO3200 - 1/1000th sec.

For the majority of the time I used this lens, I used either a monopod or hand-held it, making sure I had the vibration control switched on. I’m used to humping around a massive Canon 600mm f4 lens which is an absolute brute to manoeuvre, especially whilst navigating over and around slippery rocks. Saying that it is in my opinion optically unbeatable, but as I said in my previous blog at over £9,000 this lens is beyond most people’s reach, which is why it’s important to look at the more viable options for the keen amateur photographers out there. Anyway, back to the Tamron, at a fraction over 2kg hand-holding this lens is relatively easy.

Canon 5D Mk3 - Tamron 150-600mm G2 - Settings: 600mm - f7.1 - ISO1600 - 1/640th sec.

For the majority of the time I spend photographing Otters I use the same settings on my cameras. I manually set the aperture and shutter speed and put the ISO setting to automatic, this then only leaves me with exposure compensation to worry about, and trust me when you’re photographing a dark brown animal against bright and reflective water, exposure compensation is crucial. One moment the Otter could be in the water, the next walking across dark coloured kelp. I’m constantly checking my histogram and making adjustments.

Canon 1DX - Tamron 150-600mm G2 - Settings: 600mm - f7.1 - ISO1250 - 1/1000th sec.

Canon 1DX - Tamron 150-600mm G2 - Settings: 600mm - f10 - ISO4000 - 1/4000th sec.

Canon 1DX - Tamron 150-600mm G2 - Settings: 600mm - f9 - ISO5000 - 1/1000th sec.

The image below is a tight crop of the image above and shows the optical quality of the lens.

Canon 1DX - Tamron 150-600mm G2 - Settings: 600mm - f9 - ISO5000 - 1/1000th sec.

As with its predecessor the sweet spot on this lens tends to be at f7.1-f8 and this came in rather handy when photographing a mother and cub, at one point I was photographing them at f10 just to insure they were both in the focus plane.

I genuinely wish this lens had been available to me at the beginning of my journey into nature photography; this lens is perfect for a budding photographer looking to improve and advance their wildlife photography. I rate this lens very highly and with its current retail price standing at £1350 I would have no hesitation to give it two thumbs up. 

Canon 1DX - Tamron 150-600mm G2 - Settings: 600mm - f9 - ISO3200 - 1/1000th sec.


Comments

4.stephen thorpe(non-registered)
hi andy are the great photos due to the lens being great, or the 1dx pro bodied camera, or a bit of both. do you think you could get the same results with the 7d mk2
1.Jayne(non-registered)
Great review and fab photo's. A real inspiration.
No comments posted.
Loading...

Subscribe
RSS
Archive
January February March April May June July (1) August (1) September (2) October (1) November December (1)
January (1) February March (2) April May (2) June (1) July August September (1) October (2) November December
January February March (1) April (1) May (2) June July (1) August September October November December (2)
January February March April (1) May June (1) July August September October November December