The Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 VC USD is a specialist optic that doesn't break the bank. Read the Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 VC USD review
Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 VC USD review – Build and handling
Image: Shooting at f/16 and ISO 400, I managed to handhold a shutter speed of 1/250sec with the help of Tamron’s VC system and an elbow resting on my knee
It would be unreasonable to expect a lens that extends from 150mm to 600mm to be anything other than large and heavy, so it should be no surprise that the Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 VC USD is just that. Slightly longer than the Sigma 150-500mm f/5-6.3 lens, the extra 100mm of focal length adds 41g to the weight and 9mm to the diameter of the barrel – the filter size is 95mm instead of 86mm. Some of that weight and additional size comes from the physics of designing this lens to be 100mm longer while maintaining the same f/6.3 maximum aperture opening at that longest focal-length setting. Had Tamron used the same barrel diameter as Sigma’s 150-500mm optic, we would have expected a maximum aperture closer to f/8 – so the size is absolutely necessary for focusing systems to have a chance of seeing the subject.
Tamron has used 20 elements in 13 groups in this construction, and employs three LD (low dispersion) elements to maintain tight focusing of all colours – and to prevent what we see as coloured fringes on high-contrast edges. We are treated to the same excellent VC (Vibration Compensation) system that we have enjoyed in other recent premium Tamron lenses, such as the SP 24-70mm f/2.8, and Tamron’s still-new USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive) motor that aims for both speed and low noise in the AF system.
What is new is what Tamron calls eBand lens coatings – eBand stands for Extended Bandwidth and Angular-Dependency. In short, this new coating is applied on top of Tamron’s standard coating layers to add extra strength to its anti-reflectance efforts. Light approaching from acute angles is encouraged to pass through the glass instead of reflecting off it – thus we should enjoy lower levels of flare, fewer internal reflections, better contrast and be able to suck more of the light from the subject into the barrel.
I’m quite a fan of Tamron’s move back to using wide-ribbed rubber grips on its zoom and focusing rings, and enjoyed the sure feel of the textured surface on this lens. Both rings feel the same, however, and are separated only by about 30mm of barrel; I found that with my eye to the finder I often turned one when I had hoped to turn the other. Time and use, I suppose, would make us all more used to this.
The lens is supplied with a non-removable, and substantial, foot that is used to attach the unit to a tripod – saving the lens from dragging the mount off your camera. The foot is well placed, and makes for a nice balance once there is a camera attached to the mount. A securing ring releases the barrel so that the lens can rotate, though there are no click-stops to let us know when we have reached 90° for a portrait, for example. A little guesswork is required, especially if the top of the lens is above head height.
The build quality of the lens is generally very good, and I suspect the unit will stand up to a good deal of wear. Tamron tells us that a rubber seal where the mount meets the camera forms a moisture-resistant barrier, so we don’t need to worry too much about a bit of rain.