The Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VC VXD is a super telephoto lens available for Fujifilm and Sony APS-C cameras, and it has quite a few tricks up its sleeve. In this review, I detail my experience using this lens for sports and nature photography using Fujifilm cameras.
Large and in Charge
The Tamron 150-500mm is an impressive lens to behold and to use. Although it’s not fast, the f/5-6.7 variable aperture is nothing to sneeze at for such a long focal length. On an APS-C camera system, the lens has a full frame focal length equivalent of 225-750mm. The lens weighs in at 3.77 pounds, and at 8.3 inches long, it is relatively compact for such a terrific zoom range. If you need to hand-hold it on the fly, however, it is completely manageable, at least for a short time. The lens boasts excellent build quality and an impressive array of features. It is weather-sealed, utilizes a fast, quiet linear motor for autofocusing, and has them different image stabilization modes (Tamron calls them VC, which stands for Vibration Compensation): Mode 1, standard; Mode 2, exclusively for panning; and Mode 3, framing priority. The lens has a minimum object distance of 23.6 inches 150mm end, an Arca-Swiss compatible tripod mount, and an ingenious “Flex Zoom Lock” mechanism. In addition to a standard lock, you can lock the zoom at any focal length by simply pushing the zoom barrel forward. A small white line appears around the barrel when you use the flex zoom lock, which makes it easy to know that you’ve indeed locked the lens, and I found this to be an extremely practical and well-thought-out feature on the go. The lens has a standard locking button as well. The zoom ring is smooth and oversized, with a 75-degree rotation from 150 to 500mm. This makes zooming in or out to capture an elusive subject much easier. On the barrel of the lens there are oversized buttons for the zoom lock, VC modes, focus limit, and AF/MF control. Everything about this lens feels robust and premium, making it a lot of fun to use for sports and nature.
The linear autofocus motor in the Tamron 150-500mm offers fast, quiet, and reliable focusing. In using the lens for about a month, I had no trouble locking on to birds, bees, or humans, with the fast and accurate autofocus. In challenging situations like photographing a bird in the midst of tree branches, bird priority AF and Vibration Compensation worked well together. I used the lens on VC Mode 3 for most of my shoots and consistently created sharp images, whether handheld or when using a monopod. For a lens with an f/5-6.7 variable aperture, the autofocus speed and accuracy are really quite brilliant. Using a Fujifilm X-H2 and X-T5, there were only a few times where the lens struggled to find focus, and it was always when the scene was dark with minimal contrast.
The image quality of the Tamron 150-500mm is excellent. Using the X-T5 and X-H2, I was able to capture some wonderful images and even crop in closer, as with the bee photos in this review, which were cropped about 100%. At 500mmm the quality is very good, but I found that my favorite images were taken at the wider angle of the zoom. Another pleasant surprise of the Tamron 150-500mm is the very pleasing bokeh and subject separation, as well as the excellent contrast and colors. One thing to keep in mind when using a zoom lens at this range is that some compromises are made in image quality, but for a 500mm lens, the images are stellar.
Best for Outdoor Shoots
The Tamron 150-500mm is good for a variety of applications, but it’s important to note that with a lens that has an f/5-6.7 maximum aperture, it will work best for outdoor shoots with plenty of natural light. For instance, this lens shines when photographing outdoor sports. If you are planning to shoot indoor sports without strobe, however, the ISO required will be so high that results will be mixed. Even outdoors on a bright daym when shooting birds ensconced in a shady tree, I had to bump up the ISO in order to get a fast enough shutter speed to freeze them as they flew. If you are shooting sports, nature, or even portraits, you will be super happy with the performance as long as there is enough ambient light to keep the ISO down and the shutter speed up. I did try to use the lens in a very bright room in the daytime, and even in that situation, I needed ISO 6,400 and 12,800, which really didn’t give great results. This is not a slight against this particular lens, but food for thought when purchasing any telephoto lens with a similar maximum aperture.
Value for Days
As I wrap up this review, the main point I want to highlight is what an excellent value the Tamron 150-500mm is. Right now, it is priced at $1,299. The regular price is $1,399, but Tamron is offering a $100 instant rebate. This is where the Tamron 150-500mm really excels. It’s an amazing value. For instance, when compared to the Fujifilm 150-600mm, which retails for $1,999, or the Fujifilm 100-400mm, which will set you back $1899, the Tamron 150-500mm is an excellent choice for APS-C shooters using Fujifilm Cameras.
- Focal Length: 150 to 500mm (35mm Equivalent: 225 to 750mm)
- Maximum Aperture: f/5 to 6.7
- Minimum Aperture: f/22 to 32
- Angle of View: 16° 25′ to 4° 57′
- Minimum Focus Distance: 23.6″ / 60 cm
- Optical Design: 25 Elements in 16 Groups
- Diaphragm Blades: 7, Rounded
- Focus Type: Autofocus
- Image Stabilization: Yes
- Tripod Collar: Removable and Rotating
- Filter Size: 82 mm (Front)
- Dimensions (ø x L): 3.7 x 8.3″ / 93 x 209.9 mm
- Weight: 3.77 lb / 1.71 kg
What I Like
- Image quality
- Image stabilization
- Large, easy to use zoom ring
- Close focus capability
- Excellent Value
What I Didn’t Like
- Weight after a few hours of shooting handheld
You can purchase a Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VC VXD for Fujifilm cameras here.