Being a fan of Tamron, I jumped at the chance to review the soon-to-be released Tamron 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3 for my Sony. The lens is the smallest, most compact and lightweight telephoto lens currently on the market.
It’s only marginally longer than my Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 workhorse and is actually a fraction lighter — a must as far as I was concerned. I aim to keep all my gear as compact and lightweight as possible.
I am NOT generally a telephoto shooter, so it did take a bit to adjust. My biggest issue was the minimum distance and shutter speed, which should be at least equal to the focal length (for example, 300mm at 1/300s). Sony’s Eye AF is supported, as well as other Sony features. The 70-300mm claims to be a versatile lens for sport, action, wildlife, pets, landscapes and even portraits.
I must confess using the 300mm for nature photography was a BIG plus for me … I recently went for a walk at the aptly named Frog Hollows. Sadly we saw no frogs this day, but I could certainly hear them! However, there were lots of birds; that’s what I was here for the most.
Great for nature photography
While this lens is great for nature photography, the autofocus is not quite as fast as I would have liked. However, it’s super quiet — a positive when it comes to nature photography. It also works well with the Sony AF-C mode.
The zoom turned out to be a brilliant addition for photographing birds, as I couldn’t get very close. I must admit I am not much of a bird photographer normally (especially while they’re in flight), but standing relatively still, it was fabulous to capture up-close details otherwise unavailable in my standard 75mm lens. I wish I could have captured more wildlife, but I’m still stuck with a 15-mile (25km) radius lockdown from home due to COVID-19. The images are just wonderful … strong and detailed.
Portraits & sports
While technically NOT a portrait lens it actually handled some casual shots quite well. But I bet on location the bokeh would be fabulous. Due to COVID-19, I can really only use my dog as a model (who is quite quick), but I must admit I adored the almost Lensbaby-like swirly bokeh I achieved on some of the shots, while still keeping him in perfect focus.
When some distance is placed behind the subject the bokeh softens off considerably and becomes as smooth as silk. Likewise, the only sport I was allowed to capture is some local men fishing, a passing jogger and some not-so-fast horses, but handled it all beautifully. I also used the burst mode on some active birds and the AF-C seemed to perform quite well.
OK, so not so really a still life & macro lens
OK, so the 70-300mm is not really a still life or macro lens … but then again, it’s NOT a macro lens — far from it. I did find that for some still life I had to stand too far away, but that’s not the real point of this lens. All that said, it was wonderful for capturing flowers and blossoms that were too far away for my conventional lens.
I didn’t do so well with the bees, but possibly that’s just me! I found it difficult to focus on them as they kept jumping out of frame at 300mm and the autofocus struggled to pick them up. Being a newbie with the telephoto range, I loved the close-ups this lens gave me with smaller birds and flowers.
It provided such a pretty bokeh. I was really quite impressed with the lens compression and forced focus on macro-style shots.
Handles landscapes well, too
At 70mm, the lens handles landscapes pretty well, presenting a fairly good mid-range shot. Far from a wide-angle, it actually picks up from where my other lens finishes off. I get a lovely bokeh and good dynamic range on a basic landscape. This lens has special elements to correct for most chromatic aberration (which can quite strong in some telephoto lenses apparently), but I did find that there was still a little magenta-green fringing in high contrast areas, but it was easy to correct in post.
- Focal length: 70-300mm
- Aperture range: f/4.5-6.3 to f/22-32
- Aperture blades: 7 circular
- Minimum object distance: 31.5 inches (wide) to 59.1 inches (tele)
- Filter size: 67mm
- Length: 5.8 inches
- Weight: 545 grams (19.2 oz)
- Mount: E-mount; designed for full-frame. Will also work with APS-C.
- Works with Sony AF, Eye AF and DMF
Lightweight and compact, the Tamron 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3 is the smallest, most compact lens of its kind on the market. It features moisture resistance and has fluorine coating for protection against weather and fingerprints.
The manual focus ring is smooth in its transition and zoom ring is ridged for grip (without being too much). Finally, it includes a lens hood and lens cap.
So if you are looking for a great telephoto lens for nature photography I can recommend the Tamron 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3 enough! It has a great range and offers a truly beautiful bokeh. It’s a quiet lens that’s a good performer without breaking the bank. It’s perfect for an early morning (or late afternoon) in the wetlands and nature shots and some basic landscapes too.
If you are after a telephoto with a good range that doesn’t break the bank, this is a great lens to have in your kit. I’m seriously thinking of adding it to mine, too.