Tamron’s original SP 150-600mm Di VC USD was a hit with wildlife photographers, thanks to the compact size, compact price and excellent build quality. The newly-announced successor, the Tamron SP 150-600mm Di VC USD G2 has the potential to become a classic piece of glass—redesigned optics and multiple Vibration Compensation modes could make this a must-have lens for the wildlife shooter.
I sat with Tamon’s US media representatives at the 2016 Photokina show and had a chance to look over the new lens. A full review of the lens will come as soon as our samples arrive in a few weeks.
The Tamron SP 150-600mm Di VC USD G2 (which I’ll also refer to as simply the “G2”) has a pretty compelling feature set. Recently I took the competing Sigma 100-600mm Sport lens out to test at an air show and thoroughly enjoyed it, though several design choices left me occasionally frustrated. The Tarmon G2 has coincidentally addressed some of these issues. The G2 is smaller than the Sigma Sport, always welcome when handholding the glass, but it also has a removable tripod mount, while the Sigma does not. This makes the G2 a much more hand-holdable choice.
The Sigma 100-600mm Sport could lock the lens barrel in only the 100mm or 600mm settings, but I’d often dial in a focal length between the two extremes and wanted the lens to stay at that focal length. When the Sigma is pointed down while it’s unlocked, the lens extends to the full 600mm position. The Tamron G2, however can lock the zoom at any position by sliding the zoom ring. This alone makes the Tamron SP 150-600mm Di VC USD G2 a worthy contender to the Sigma.
The G2 also has multiple Vibration Compensation settings, three of which are directly selectable on the camera and one that’s programmable when using Tamron’s TAP-In Console, an accessory that allows photographers to change the programming of their lens and to install firmware updates. The image stabilization gives the lenses about 4.5 stops of compensation. One of the built-in VC settings prevents the image stabilization from activating until the shutter is fully released. Tamron claims this creates more precise images and doesn’t result in a viewfinder with images jumping around. The secret fourth VC mode keeps stabilization constantly engaged for video use, making the SP 150-600mm Di VC G2 an interesting choice for wildlife and adventure sports videographers.
The internals of the lens have been overhauled as well, with nine moisture and dust seals, a dedicated AF processor and a dedicated VC processor (previously the same processor handled both AF and VC), fluorine coating and better edge-to-edge sharpness. Edge sharpness is something the Sigma lens truly excels at, so this will be a point we will focus on in testing.
As a macro photographer, I’m looking forward to playing with the 1:3.9 ration at the 600mm setting and the reduced minimum focus distance of 7.2 feet (a foot and a half closer) will allow the lens to double-duty as a portrait lens.
In the meeting, I was able to test the focus and of the lens while connected to a Nikon D750 (the lens will be available in both Nikon and Canon mounts) and it felt smooth and easy to operate, and much lighter in the hands than the Sigma Sport lens.
The proof though will be in the overall image quality, something we can’t evaluate from playing with a lens at a trade show. We are looking forward to putting the lens through its paces.