The Tamron 150-600 mm f/5.6-6.3 VC USD G2 is a revised version of the 150-600 mm telephoto zoom from Tamron. With a new design, improved optical design and a lot of extras, the Tamron 150-600 mm f/5.6-6.3 VC USD G2 offers much more for a slightly higher price. If you combine this lens with an APS-C camera, you get a range of no less than 225-900mm (equivalent). You can do fun things with that.
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Powerful telephoto: Tamron 150-600mm f/5.6-6.3 VC USD G2
A lens that can zoom up to 600mm telephoto is suitable for serious telephoto work. If you put such a lens on an APS-C body, then you reduce the field of view considerably, and you get an image that corresponds to that of a 900mm on full-frame Nikon or even 960mm on a full-frame Canon. With that, you get closer to the smallest subjects. The new Tamron 150-600 mm f/5.6-6.3 VC USD G2 is already the second generation 4x telephoto zoom from Tamron. The old one came from 2014. The new lens benefits optimally from all the new developments at Tamron. For example, it has BBAR coatings and a fluorine coating on the front lens element, and it can be used with Tamron’s Tap-In Console for making all kinds of adjustments to the lens’s operation. The shortest setting distance has been improved to 2.2 meters, so you can also get small subjects in frame with this lens. The lens has image stabilization so that – despite the enormous magnification – you can still work with it by hand.
The Tamron 150-600 mm f/5.6-6.3 VC USD G2 has a sleek design. The lens looks better than the old version. The new tripod collar is now more nicely integrated into the lens. The ring of the collar is nicely even with the rest of the body and does not protrude anymore. The larger base of the tripod collar can also be used directly on tripod heads with an Arca Swiss-style head. You do not necessarily have to screw a quick-coupling plate under it. The lens is extensively fitted with gaskets, with an additional gasket at the back for a good seal of the connection to the body. The Tamron teleconverters also have such gaskets, so that the weather resistance is also safeguarded if you use the lens with a converter. The lens has a window on which the set distance is visible, and manual adjustment of the autofocus is just a matter of turning the focus ring. The focus ring is also behind the wide zoom ring. This is not the case with all Tamron zoom lenses. The zoom ring can be locked in two ways. It has a lock option to secure it at its shortest setting distance for transport or to prevent it from dropping down while you’re walking. You can, however, also lock it to any desired position simply by clicking the zoom ring backwards. You can make a fixed 400, 500 or 600mm from it.
The Tamron 150-600 mm f/5.6-6.3 VC USD G2 should be a big step forward relative to the old version in optical terms. The Tamron 150-600 mm f/5.6-6.3 VC USD G2 does indeed score quite well in terms of sharpness and especially the center jumps out. The corners do lag somewhat behind the center, especially at full aperture. You will not quickly see that in nature photography, because the depth of field is so small at these very long focal points that your corners will often not be in the same focal plane anyway. For applications where you do need sharpness from corner to corner, you have to remember that it is a good idea to stop down up to two stops.
Color errors are very well suppressed, and that contributes to the impression of good image quality. Distortion is minimal and easy to correct if necessary, and in general, this lens has little trouble with flare, especially if you use the included lens hood.
The Tamron 150-600 mm f/5.6-6.3 VC USD G2 has nine aperture blades, but even if that had been more or fewer, you will surely get a nice bokeh anyway with a lens with such long focal lengths. At full aperture, even if that is f/6.3 at 600mm, you really have only a very small area in which your subject is sharp. And the sharpness then improves very quickly. If you photograph a bird at a distance of 5 meters with the background a few meters behind it, you can count on that background being very soft and out of focus. Highlights are still displayed nicely. Sometimes with a thin edge, but with a nice, soft center.
VIGNETTING AND DISTORTION
The Tamron 150-600 mm f/5.6-6.3 VC USD G2 performs very well in terms of vignetting and distortion. In any case, long lenses with not-too high brightness are not much bothered by either phenomenon and certainly not if you use these kinds of lenses with an APS-C sensor. The areas where you see the most vignetting or distortion in full-frame shots drop off anyway with an APS-C image. A maximum vignetting of 0.6 stops in RAW in the longest zoom position or 0.4 in jpeg is hardly relevant and can be corrected if you want to do that.
The same applies for the distortion. That is reasonably constant and pincushion-shaped over the entire range, but you will not suffer much from 0.5% distortion in practice, and it is very easy to correct if you make such a critical shot that it’s a (small) problem.
The image stabilization of the Tamron 150-600 mm f/5.6-6.3 VC USD G2 works as you would expect and is indispensable for working with a lens like this by hand. Tamron claims 4.5 stops of stabilization, and that matches our test results. Without image stabilization, the sharpness decreases rapidly from 1/500th of a second, making it unusable at 1/125th. With stabilization, the loss of sharpness is much more gradual, and we even achieved a reasonable result at 1/15th. Then it slows down. That is a great result for a long telephoto zoom.
You only really get a good idea of the zoom range of a super-telephoto zoom when you see it. Like in these images.
This is what you get in frame with a 50mm on full frame:
And this is what you get in frame at 150mm, the shortest zoom position on full frame:
This is what you get in frame at 600mm on full frame. Thanks to the stabilization, you can effortlessly shoot by hand:
And this is how far you can zoom in on APS-C at 900mm equivalent:
RELATIVE TO ITS COMPETITORS
In comparison with the Sigma 150-600 mm Contemporary, the Tamron 150-600 mm f/5.6-6.3 VC USD G2 scores higher in our tests in the center and slightly lower in the corners. The Sigma seems to be a bit more even across the entire field of view. The Tamron has a higher peak sharpness in the center of the image. The Sigma is a bit lighter and cheaper; the Tamron has things like an Arca Swiss foot on the tripod collar and a very useful zoom lock.
TAP-IN CONSOLE AND TELECONVERTERS
The Tamron 150-600 mm f/5.6-6.3 VC USD G2 can be fully adapted to your needs with Tamron’s Tap-In Console. With this handy accessory, updating the firmware is very simple, you can fine-tune the sharpness at three distances and multiple zoom positions on the camera, and you can make adjustments to the different focus ranges. Read more about the Tap-In Console here. You can also combine the Tamron 150-600 mm f/5.6-6.3 VC USD G2 with the new TC-X14 1.4x and TC-X20 2.0x teleconverters from Tamron. With these, you can extend the range of the Tamron 150-600 mm f/5.6-6.3 VC USD G2 to a whopping 1200 mm. Keep in mind that the autofocus of most cameras fails because the brightness even at full aperture is no longer sufficient for the AF system.
The importer of Tamron in the Benelux, Transcontinenta, offers the ability to experience the lens through the Transcontinenta Probeerservice (Try-Out Service). Through this service, it is possible to get 100% reimbursement within 14 days after the end of the trial period if the lens is purchased at one of the selected dealers. For more information, see www.probeerservice.nl
CONCLUSION: REVIEW Tamron 150-600mm G2 @ APS-C
- Good sharpness (especially in the center)
- Handy zoom lock
- Adaptable with Tap-In Console
- Corners lag behind the center, especially at full aperture
- More expensive than the old version
The Tamron 150-600 mm f/5.6-6.3 VC USD G2 does indeed score quite well in terms of sharpness and especially the center jumps out.
The new Tamron 150-600 mm f/5.6-6.3 VC USD G2 is an excellent successor to the “old” 150-600 from Tamron. Both the image quality and the build of the new lens are better, and the lens has a number of nice extras. It is not one of the cheapest super-telephotos you can buy (you can now get the old version 1, for example, for much less), but the price is in line with the quality.