Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by rarmstrong, Feb 1, 2014.

  1. Does anyone have any experience yet using this new Tamron zoom? Currently I have a D300 which is still an excellent camera. A few years back I bought the older version of the Nikon 80-400 mm VR zoom, which has very nice glass but frustratingly slow AF.
    I have been waiting for the right time to upgrade to FX and I would very much like to get the Nikon AF-S 600mm f4G ED VR for birds and other wildlife, but the home financial negotiations don't favor that purchase at this point.
    That said, I have been impressed with the reviews of the D7100 and it's reasonable price. I'm just wondering if the D7100 paired with the new Tamron would be a satisfactory financial compromise while still allowing excellent images with a solid AF system in the D7100, better high iso performance and a step up to 24.1 mp from the 12.3 of the D300.
    Also my other DX lenses would be fine on the D7100.
    Any thoughts? Thank you!
    Dick
     
  2. I have a 7100 the auto focus is much improved over a D300 which I did have at one time. Your older Nikon 80-400 might be much faster on the 7100. Maybe someone here can comment on that.
     
  3. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    When the original 80-400mm AF-D VR was introduced in year 2000, I tried it at a camera store a couple of times and found its AF hopelessly slow on an F100, reminding me the AF stone age around 1989 or so. Since that lens have no AF-S motor, it is going to be hopeless on small bodies such as the D7100.
    Additionally, pretty much all reviews point out that it is soft past 300mm. Once you have used better lenses, it is unlikely that, regardless of AF speed, you'll be happy with it at 400mm.
    Hopefully I'll get to test the Tamron 150-600 some day, but I wouldn't set my expectation too high on those super zooms. And f6.3 on the long end is too slow for action photography.
    Its main advantage is affordability and portability. Even though you can afford the Nikon 600mm/f4 AF-S VR, carrying it around is difficult.
     
  4. You might check out the previous Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 HSM OS that was recently replaced by a USB version. And also a 1.4x teleconverter. It's fast and sharp, and with the teleconverter on a Dx camera, it would be equivalent to 630mm f/4. I got it for $2500 a few months ago.
     
  5. C Watson, thank you! I have read that review and other customer reviews that are available on-line. The summary at the end pretty much wraps it up...the advantage is the price and real world conditions will vary from the testing lab.
    One customer reviewed it as a 150-500 mm zoom because he said that beyond 500 he felt the quality of the image dropped off severely. Others have commented that the AF is fast, but has trouble locking on via the center focus point.
    That is why I decided to post this question, just to see if anyone out there browsing this forum has the lens and has some experience using it.
    My Nikon 80-400 is slow, but there are some tricks that make it better, like pre-focusing on a spot near where you expect your subject to be so the lens doesn't have to travel too far to focus.
    The other issue that Shun brings up is the ability to hand hold the camera and the lens. I do a lot of shooting from a kayak and I can easily hand hold the D300 with the 80-400 mounted. From the looks of it, the D7100 would be about 2 pounds and the Tamron lens about 5 pounds so it would work in my kayak the way that I currently shoot. My thought about the D7100 was that I could overcome the "slowness" of the lens a bit by being able to push the iso more on the D7100 than the D300 and still get clean shots. Having the 24.1 mp sensor would also allow for less loss with cropping.
    From what I have read I think that a D800 with the Nikon 600mm would be a beast in the kayak, and I found myself trying to work out some type of monopod support...dreaming:)
    Anyway, thanks for the input so far and I hope someone finds this thread who has the new Tamron lens.
     
  6. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I would never bring a 600mm/f4 onto a kayak. Actually I added a Gitzo 5 series tripod to use with the 600mm/f4; you need a lot of stability to get the most out of such great and heavy optics.
    A few years ago, my wife and I rented a canoe and I took a 200-400mm/f4 onto it, and I was very concerned that I might drop that into water.
    The new 80-400mm AF-S VR should be an ideal lens in a kayak, coupled with the D7100. The optics are great but it is a lot more expensive than the Tamron. If you can sell the old 80-400, the net cost to upgrade should be reasonable. On an unstable kayak, I am not sure you want longer than 400mm, anyway. With that kind of magnification, locating your subject will be difficult and so is keeping it inside the viewfinder when the lens is not on solid ground.
     
  7. Thanks, Shun, I agree about the 600 and the kayak. The resale price on the old 80-400 at least on KEH is pretty low, but I have considered the new model.
    I've been shooting from my kayak for about 6 years and have a system worked out. Actually the boat is very stable. What I hope for are those unexpected moments when Loons surface near the boat or an Osprey dives ahead of me and comes up with a fish.
    With the slow 80-400 those are very difficult to catch.
     
  8. Here is a pretty good user review:
    http://dustinabbott.net/2014/01/tamron-sp-150-600mm-f5-6-3-di-vc-usd-review/
    and a thread discussing the review:
    http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/53016428
     
  9. Dave, thank you very much. Very nice review from Dustin which is what I have been looking for. Seems he is quite impressed. I'm looking forward to hearing from others here.
     
  10. I do photography from my kayak also ,I would never bring my nikon 500f/4 out on the water ,too much of a risk for me to take.Take why I don't sell my tamron 200-500,thats my kayaking lens .
     
  11. Peter,
    I guess that my response would be...if you want to catch the best images, you need to take your equipment to them.
    I understand your concern, but it wouldn't bother me a bit to take my high end equipment in a kayak.
    My hope is that the Tamron is what Dustin says it is...that would make it easier.
     
  12. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I find the 600mm/f4 fairly awkward to use on land, with a sturdy tripod. The 500mm/f4 is a bit smaller and lighter. Either one will be very awkward inside a kayak.
    Not sure I'll get to test the Tamron 150-600. According to Lens Rental, perhaps that should be treated as a 150-500mm and just forget about the longest 100mm.
    IMO, the new Nikon 80-400mm with AF-S should be your answer. That lens is very hand holdable and easy to control on a boat.
     
  13. Shun, I agree with you about the 600 and the 500...handholding is really not practical. However, on the water I'd either use my 18 foot power boat or build a floating blind just for the type of shots I'd like to get. Close to the plane of the surface and relatively close to the subjects.
    In a kayak I can tuck myself into the shore and sit quietly for a time watching for something to happen...it is peaceful, and if you are fortunate enough to be there when there is an interesting shot to capture...well, it is really a great feeling.
    I'm not in a hurry, just exploring options. Looks like Dustin was able to handhold the Tamron fairly easily. I hope you get to give it a try.
     
  14. if you take a look at the images from the tamron on its flickr group you will find some very acceptable images taken at 600mm.
    it certainly seems capable of detailed images at its long end wide open, getting a little better too when stopped down.
    at the end of the day it is real world images that count, not data taken from test charts.
    my only concerns are the af issues some canon users are reporting.
    i think i will hold back a month or so after its release in nikon mount before making a decision but so far things are looking better than i expected.
     
  15. I posted some notes on my experience using this lens a week or so ago (on a Canon 5DIII) -

    http://www.andersonstockphotos.com/blog/tamron-150-600mm-lens-field-test/

    Also, I've just added some additional notes & images on a separate article -

    http://www.andersonstockphotos.com/blog/tamron-150-600mm-f5-6-3-telephoto-zoom-lens-additional-images/
     
  16. Marc,
    Thanks so much for adding to this thread. In the past couple of weeks more customer reviews with this lens have been appearing at B&H and other places. The majority reflect what you have posted here, that Tamron has hit a home run for those of us who really don't want to spend 10 grand or more on a 600 mm prime that is heavier and can't really be used handheld.
    One other critical component that you have addressed is the fact that you need to pair the lens with a camera body that has good to excellent high iso performance and low light responsiveness as per the AF system. Other reviewers have commented on how pleased they were with the Tamron AF in this lens.
    I'm seriously considering the lens and an "upgrade" from my older Nikon D300 to the new D7100 as it would be a step up in high iso performance while moving from 12.3 to 23.5 MP and keeping the excellent AF system which I currently have.
    I'm sure that this would be great with the D800 but I don't think that I "need" such huge files and for the subjects that I'm hoping to shoot with this lens I don't need an FX body...in fact the DX body would give me extra reach.
    Wonderful shots in your post...thanks!
    Dick
     
  17. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Marc Anderson's images show that sharpness from the Tamron 150-600mm lens is still quite good on the long end. However, his camera is the Canon 5D Mark III, which is only 22.3MP on the full 35mm frame, and its pixel density is even lower than 12MP DX (APS-C) DSLRs such as the Nikon D300/D300S.
    It will be more challenging to mount that Tamron onto a D800 or D7100/D5300 with their much higher pixel density and see whether it can satisfy those more-demanding DSLRs. For example, a few years ago I noticed that the 16MP D7000 was far more demanding on optics than the 12 D300.
    Another thing we need to pay attention to is that Marc's subjects are all static birds and kangaroo, etc., and he was already using fairly high ISOs at slow shutter speeds. That is not surprising given that the lens is a slow 600mm @ f6.3. With such slow shutter speeds, I wonder what the keeper rate is, and actions shots such as birds in flight will be very difficult to achieve. Those images are also on the noisy side.
    Recently, I had a bit of a hard time to shoot birds in flight with the 80-400mm AF-S VR under dimmer light, still during day time but overcast or foggy, and that is a faster, shorter, and much more expensive lens. AF on the 80-400 is great under bright sunlight, but when it is dimmer, max f5.6 shows its limitations.
     
  18. All excellent points, Shun. I've read some customer reviews using the D7100 body with this lens in which the reviewers were very pleasantly surprised with the results.
    There is no question that it is difficult to shoot subjects in lower light with any of these lenses, but I would have to say that my older 80-400 is really tough unless the light is excellent.
    Seems like the Tamron would be an acceptable financial compromise as long as the body married well with it.
    Would be nice to see some birds in flight with a DX body and this lens.
     
  19. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Is the Nikon mount version available yet? This is a lens I would like to test, and I will compare it against the 600mm/ f4;
    obviously that will be a highly unfair test. I think the Nikon 80-400 AF-S is a better choice at a much higher cost. Of
    course, that is only available in the F mount.
     
  20. Shun,
    Just a quick note, I went back through the B&H customer reviews and I was mistaken about the Tamron being used on a D7100. It was actually a comment from a customer who has used the lens on a Canon 7D and the 5DMKIII. He said it worked well on both.
    Seems the Nikon mount is on back order currently.
    I'll look forward to your review if you can get a copy with the Nikon mount.
     
  21. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    Last weekend, I was down in La Jolla (near San Diego) to photograph the pelicans, mostly in mating plumage. For the first time I used my 80-400mm AF-S VR in a foggy, mostly overcast situation capturing birds in flight, and it was very noticeable that AF accuracy and my keeper radio was considerly lower than my previous experience with that same lens and the same D7100 body in the San Francisco Bay Area where it has been mostly sunny in the last year (yes, we have a serious drought). Even the heavy 600mm/f4 AF-S provides better AF accuracy than the 80-400, mainly because it is an f4, with more light hitting the AF module.
    I think it is quite predictable that a slow 600mm/f6.3 is going to be a major problem for any action photography such as birds in flight. Those who are really happy with the Tamron 150-600 most likely focus mainly on static, non-flying, non-running wildlife. Once you start using big lenses such as the 500mm/f4, 200-400mm/f4, etc., you would notice the difference from slow lenses such as the 80-400mm AF-S VR and most likely the new Tamron.
    Of course, your back will also notice the difference when you carry those lenses; so does your bank account.
     
  22. The bank account is the most critical issue in my house:)
     
  23. Here are some sample shots with the Tamron mounted on both Canon 6D and 7D bodies...handheld...
    http://jjbird.smugmug.com/Photography/Tamron-150600-Lens/i-MGqzVf3
     
  24. The Nikon mount is now out and the customer reviews at B&H look good....but, I've been watching some postings on Facebook with this lens on the D7100 and I'm not that impressed.
    Any thoughts?
     
  25. I just got mine a week and a half ago. I don't have enough experience with different lenses to have much to really compare it against. (My total experience with lenses: the 18-105mm kit lens, a MF 50mm I use for macro, and an old 70-300mm).
    First impressions using it on a D90:
    - this lens is significantly heavier than my previous lenses, it's a little too heavy for me to handhold and I need a monopod. On the other hand, it's light enough that carrying it around in a backpack isn't too difficult.
    -the autofocus uses up battery power faster than my other lenses, but a backup battery solves that problem and would only be needed if you were planning to be gone all day.
    -given the right conditions it can be quite sharp, even if the subject is in motion. The heron pictures in my portfolio were all shot with the Tamron on a monopod, as was the sparrow. I haven't really tested it in truly dim lighting yet.
    If you have any questions I will try to answer them.
     

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