When you’re photographing wildlife, there’s a few things that are important when selecting a lens to shoot with. Most importantly, the lens has to be quick to focus. The new Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 for Sony E-mount screams wildlife like no other lens I’ve tried, featuring quick, accurate autofocus along with sharp images in a fairly compact design.
The Tamron 150-500mm is no lightweight, weighing 4.14 pounds. But compared to similar lenses on DSLRs, the Tamron offering is lighter and much easier to carry. That, coupled with some great picture quality and an affordable price, makes the Tamron certainly worth looking at when you’re looking for a wildlife telephoto lens.
The lens features four switches, controlling focus range, AF/MF and two switches that control vibration compensation. There’s also a lock switch, but you can also lock the lens by just sliding out the zoom ring.
The lens felt very well-balanced with my camera, and was easy to carry around. It also features a removable and rotating tripod collar, with a built-in Arca Swiss mount. This is a great example of the little things that Tamron put in this lens, which makes it a joy to use.
- Aperture range: f/5 to f/6.7 – f/22 to f/32
- Angle of view: 16° 25′ to 4° 57′
- Minimum focus distance: 23.6 inches
- Optical design: 25 elements in 16 groups
- Diaphragm blades: 7, rounded
- Tripod collar: Removable and rotating
- Filter size: 82mm
- Dimensions: 3.7-by-8.3 inches
- Weight: 4.14 pounds
In the field
I took the lens to two areas to photograph wildlife — Blandford Nature Center in Grand Rapids, MI and Boulder Ridge Wild Animal Park in Alto, MI. When I first picked up the lens and started shooting with it, I was pleasantly surprised with what I was able to achieve.
Using the lens with my Sony a7 III, I found that the lens’ performance exceeded my expectations. The built-in vibration compensation system worked marvels for a lens that’s not exactly lightweight, allowing me to capture tack-sharp photos with ease.
While I did struggle capturing fast-moving birds, I’m chalking that up to a few scenarios that were beyond my control. One, the birds were behind a cage. Two, my Sony a7 III doesn’t have Real-Time AF Tracking, like what many of Sony’s higher-level cameras offer. When I was able to use the lens focusing on kangaroos jumping around out in the open, along with a few other animals from afar, the photos turned out very sharp.
The only con here? I tried Sony’s Eye AF for animals, and it didn’t seem to find most of the animal eyes. The only eyes it did work on were monkeys.
Depth of field
I was initially worried about the maximum aperture range, but even at f/6.7, I was able to get a nice blurred background when zoomed in at 500mm. The background separation seemed very smooth and natural, and really helped the subject pop.
The Tamron 150-500mm has very good distortion control. I saw no issues with chromatic aberration or major vignetting.
This was another concern of mine given the lens’ maximum aperture range. But with Sony’s excellent low-light performance across its cameras, I really had no problems. If you plan on shooting in very low light — for instance at night — this is definitely something to keep in mind. The two below photos were shot at ISO 2500.
The perfect wildlife lens for Sony shooters
If you shoot a lot of wildlife, definitely give the Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 a try. I was impressed with its fast, accurate autofocus, sharp images and little to no distortion. Many people will compare this to Sony’s 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 lens, and rightfully so. But with the Tamron option being $600 cheaper, smaller and offering great quality … you can truly embrace the “Hakuna Matata” lifestyle … and put away your worries.
Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VXD Lens for Sony E
The dynamic Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VXD for full-frame-format Sony E-mount mirrorless cameras is a compact and versatile super-telephoto zoom lens well suited to capture a wide array of subjects ranging from landscapes and birds to sports and wildlife photography. The optical construction features 25 elements in 16 groups and utilizes special lens elements and hybrid aspherical lens elements to control chromatic aberrations. The VXD linear motor focus mechanism delivers extreme high-speed and high-precision movement and ensures exceptionally responsive performance and is compatible with Sony Hybrid AF and Eye AF features in enabled cameras.