Andy Westlake tests the Tamron 14-150mm f/3.5-5.8 Di III
Tamron 14-150mm f/3.5-5.8 Di III review: Build and handling
When I first unboxed the 14-150mm, I was pleased to find that it doesn’t feel cut-price at all. With a metal outer barrel and rear mount it comes across as gratifyingly well made – an impression reinforced by the smooth rotation of the zoom and focus rings. The switch for locking the zoom at its wideangle position is somewhat small and fiddly, but I found it to be superfluous anyway, as the lens isn’t at all susceptible to zoom creep (extending or retracting under its own weight). When you turn on the camera, the lens makes a disconcerting rattling noise, which appears to be the aperture diaphragm going through a start-up cycle.
My sample had an attractive black paint finish with a contrasting silver ring next to the mount; a silver version is also available. The understated white barrel lettering makes the lens look classier than the gold markings used on older Tamron designs. One minor criticism is that both the front and rear lens caps are quite thick, while in contrast both Olympus and Panasonic use slender designs to maximise the size advantage of Micro Four Thirds.
It’s fair to say this lens is much better suited to some Micro Four Thirds cameras than others. Long lenses such as this tend to work better on cameras that have eye-level viewfinders, as this enables a more stable shooting stance. Its maximum aperture in the telephoto range is also decidedly slow (ranging from f/5.2 at 50mm to f/5.8 at 150mm), and this means that if you use it on a Panasonic body without image stabilisation, you’ll need either lots of light or high ISO settings to achieve the high shutter speeds needed to avoid blur from handshake.
The upshot is that while the Tamron works particularly well on Olympus’s OM-D cameras and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 and DMC-GX8, at the other end of the scale it’s poorly suited for use on small bodies without viewfinders, such as Panasonic’s GF series. Indeed, most Panasonic owners would be better served by the company’s optically stabilised Lumix G Vario 14-140mm f/3.5-5.8 OIS instead. Meanwhile, Olympus owners who often shoot in wet conditions should take a look at the weather-sealed M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm f/4-5.6 II.