Lens Review: Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
Updated: Dec 21, 2020
The Tamron SP 150-600 f/5-6.3 VC USD G2 (Model A022) was released in 2016 and it is still standing tall, only rivalled by few lenses in the same category like the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Contemporary / Sports and the Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 zooms. It's predecessor, the Tamron 150-600 f/5-6.3 VC USD G1 (Model A011) took the photography world by surprise, getting 600mm focal length lens available to wildlife enthusiasts all over the world. It gave people, especially wildlife hobbyist access to the longer telephoto focal lengths without having to empty out their bank accounts so to speak. With a wide focal range from 150-600mm, the G2 has become a top favourite in it's category as it is good for landscapes, portraiture, tele-macro, sports, wildlife and birding. This makes it a very versatile lens to have in your kitty.
Black Drongo Image EXIF: D850 - Tamron 150-600 G2 - @600mm - 1/800s - f/7.1 - ISO 640 - WB 5000K
Let's look at what this lens has to offer. Key Features: The G2 has 21 elements in 13 groups, three of the elements are Low Dispersion (LD) glass that reduces flares and chromatic aberrations.
Dual MPU (Dual micro processing unit) enables lens with Improved speed and accuracy of AF and VC.
4.5 stops equivalent vibration reduction – Three different VC modes. (Vibration Compensation)
Minimum Object Distance (MOD) of 2.2m / 7.21ft and 1:3.9 maximum magnification.
eBAND coating (Extended Bandwidth & Angular-Dependency) and BBAR (Broad-Band Anti-Reflection) Coating improve light transmission and suppress internal reflections.
Fluorine coating on the front element repels water and fingerprints, and makes instant removal of smudges possible.
Full weather sealing. Leak-proof seals give extra protection when shooting outdoors.
Electromagnetic diaphragm for precise aperture control.
Arca-Swiss compatible tripod collar.
Flex Zoom Lock system.
Compatible with TAP-in console to customize AF and VC settings and update firmware.
Tamron also have 1.4x TC and 2x TC specially designed to work with 150-600mm G2 lens.
Plain Prinia Image EXIF: D850 - Tamron 150-600 G2 - @600mm - 1/1000s - f/7.1 - ISO 640 - WB 5000K
Weighing in at just over 2kgs (2010g) for Canon mount and 1990g for Nikon mount, the build quality is very good, the matte finished metal lens barrel gives a solid and premium feel to the lens. The rubber on the zoom and focus rings feel good, though a wider focus ring would have been preferred. The tripod collar is made of lightweight magnesium with Arca-Swiss compatible foot is a welcome introduction. There is no need for an additional Arca-Swiss quick release plate to be attached to the foot, this just negates the possibilities of the quick release plate turning loose from the foot. The lens hood is made of matt finish plastic.
Ergonomics: The lens feels well balanced with just the Nikon D850 without the vertical battery grip. With the battery grip is does feel slightly better. The zoom ring has enough friction to avoid lens creep and at the same time smooth enough for it to move through the entire zoom range. It takes about two twists to get to full zoom and back. Doing it in one twist may seem little too much work for your wrist. The lens has two zoom lock mechanisms: 1. This one locks the lens in the widest position. 2. Flex Zoom Lock is enabled by pushing the zoom ring forward. One can lock the lens at any focal length. You have to just remember to unlock the lens when it is not needed. It may cost you a few shots if you're in a hurry and you need to zoom in or zoom out. There are five switches on the lens; four on the left hand side near the zoom ring and one zoom lock switch on the right hand side.
The cluster of four switches on the left comprise of: 1. VC modes 1, 2 and 3 2. VC On-Off 3. AF-MF 4. Focus limiter - (FULL - Infinity to 10m and 10m to 2.2m) The switches are well positioned and operate without much effort. Performance on field: The lens produces sharp images throughout the focal range, the sharpness gets better when you stop down the lens to f/8 at 600mm. It yields very smooth bokeh given the right conditions and subject to background distance.
Red Whiskered Bulbul Image EXIF: D850 - Tamron 150-600 G2 - @600mm - 1/160s - f/6.3 - ISO 800 - WB 5000K
House Sparrow Image EXIF: D850 - Tamron 150-600 G2 - @600mm - 1/125s - f/8 - ISO 640 - WB 5000K
The VC's effectiveness is illustrated in the above hand-held shots. 4.5 stops of vibration reduction – Three different VC modes (Vibration Compensation) that enables you to shoot handheld even at slower shutter speeds. The three VC modes can help you overcome any situation in low light conditions. VC MODE 1 is the standard mode that strikes a great balance between the stability of the viewfinder image and the stabilization effects.
VC MODE 2 is exclusively used for panning.
VC MODE 3 prioritizes the stabilization of the captured images and forgoes the stabilization of the viewfinder image. Dual MPU (Dual micro processing unit) enables the lens with improved speed and accuracy of AF and VC improvement of AF software and electronic circuit. The autofocus is silent and accurate thanks to the ring-type USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive) motor, It's intuitive, fast and latches on to the subject super quick.
Young Sportsman Image EXIF: D850 - Tamron 150-600 G2 - @300mm - 1/2000s - f/5.6 - ISO 1250 - WB 5000K
Up In The Air Image EXIF: D850 - Tamron 150-600 G2 - @460mm - 1/800s - f/6.3 - ISO 1250 - WB 5000K
Due to the reduced MOD to 2.2m, you can shoot tele-macros, capturing good details and sharpness in the image.
Indian Bull Frog Image EXIF: D850 - Tamron 150-600 G2 - @600mm - 1/500s - f/7.1 - ISO 640 - WB 5000K
Wind Dispersed Grass Seeds Image EXIF: D850 - Tamron 150-600 G2 - @600mm - 1/1600s - f/7.1 - ISO 640 - WB 5000K
Glassy Tiger Butterfly sucking up morning dew Image EXIF: D850 - Tamron 150-600 G2 - @600mm - 1/500s - f/7.1 - ISO 640 - WB 5000K
Another huge plus point apart from the pricing and the focal range is maneuverability. This helps in moving about freely while in thick grasslands, or moving on to the next stop to capture a marathon runner. The weight doesn't tire your hands allowing you to shoot longer to get the shots you are looking for.
It is such a delight shooting birds in flight hand held with this lens. I can't imagine shooting birds in flight hand held with my Nikkor 600mm f/4 AF-S VR lens. The lens itself is over 5kgs, hand holding it is tiresome. For those who like to shoot birds in flight hand held on a budget, then this is the lens to go for. The fast autofocus, 4.5 stops vibration control and the reach helps you get the desired shots. There isn't much need to carry a monopod or a tripod. Brown Headed Gull Image EXIF: D850 - Tamron 150-600 G2 - @600mm - 1/640s - f/6.3 - ISO 320 - WB 5000K
Great Egret Image EXIF: D850 - Tamron 150-600 G2 - @600mm - 1/1250s - f/8 - ISO 640 - WB 5000K
Black Headed Gull Image EXIF: D850 - Tamron 150-600 G2 - @240mm - 1/800s - f/13 - ISO 640 - WB 5000K
The corner sharpness increases as you stop down the lens to f/10 and above. Summary: The Tamron 150-600mm SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 is versatile as it can cover different genres of photography as mentioned above. The price doesn't make a hole in your pocket in compared to the more expensive telephoto primes out there. The lens is sharp throughout the focal range, with very fast autofocus and great stability of VC. With advantages like the Arca-Swiss tripod collar foot, good weather sealing, 4.5 stops equivalent VC in compared to the G1 makes it the best bang for the buck! Here are a few more images to showcase it's image quality.
White-throated Kingfisher Image EXIF: D850 - Tamron 150-600 G2 - @600mm - 1/1000s - f/8 - ISO 400 - WB 5000K
Little Cormorant drying it's wings Image EXIF: D850 - Tamron 150-600 G2 - @600mm - 1/1600s - f/8 - ISO 640 - WB 5000K
Blue Throat - 1st winter Image EXIF: D850 - Tamron 150-600 G2 - @240mm - 1/1000s - f/7.1 - ISO 640 - WB 5000K
Black Drongo Image EXIF: D850 - Tamron 150-600 G2 - @600mm - 1/640s - f/7.1 - ISO 640 - WB 5000K
White-Throated Kingfisher Image EXIF: D850 - Tamron 150-600 G2 - @600mm - 1/800s - f/8 - ISO 400 - WB 5000K
Long-Tailed Shrike Image EXIF: D850 - Tamron 150-600 G2 - @600mm - 1/640s - f/7.1 - ISO 640 - WB 5000K
Click here to read the review of Tamron 28-200mm f/2.8-5.6 Di III RXD for Sony FF mirrorless (Model A071)