Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VC VXD - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Sony Alpha (Full Format)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published December 2022

Introduction

Third-party vendors have a difficult task when it comes to super-tele zoom lenses in Sony E-mount. There's a behemoth in town - the Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS. For many wildlife photographers, this lens alone is a reason for choosing Sony over other brands. However, competition is a good thing, especially if you can offer a twist. The Sony lens is huge by normal mortal standards and Tamron goes into a battle with a smaller interpretation of the theme - the Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VC VXD. You can immediately notice two things just from the paper specs here. The Tamron ends at 500mm and it is also 1/3rd stop slower here so it's not really surprising that it's a more compact offering. It is also somewhat cheaper than the Sony lens at around $1400 (1200EUR) vs $2000 (1700EUR).

The build quality is pretty good. While it seems that Tamron still relied on compound materials for the lens body, it feels sturdier than most Tamron lenses. The heavy glass with no less than 25 elements may help with the impression that you are holding something very substantial here. Unlike the mentioned Sony lens, it is an extending zoom lens. Thus while the lens is nicely compact at 150mm, it is still very long when used at 500mm - especially with the attached lens hood. However, this doesn't negate the fact that it is a comparatively transport-friendly package. The small focus ring feels a bit like an afterthought. However, most users will probably never use it anyway. The zoom ring operates reasonably smoothly despite all the weight that has to get shifted around. Given its weight, the lens does, of course, feature a detachable tripod mount - and it's very commendable that Tamron used an Arca-Swiss compatible base for it. According to Tamron, the lens is sealed against moisture. However, they don't mention dust here - and extending zoom lenses are prone to sucking in dust over time so it's a bit concerning here. Another nice feature is the Flex Zoom Lock mechanism to hold the zoom position. It's curious to note that the lens switches its max aperture from f/6.3 to f/6.7 exactly at the 500mm setting.

The Tamron lens uses a VXD (Voice-coil eXtreme-torque Drive) for auto-focusing - or in simple words: a linear drive. The AF speed is Ok on an older Sony body but extremely fast on an A7R V, for instance. The AF is also silent. A traditional Tamron specialty is the very short minimum focus distance of just 0.6-1.8m, depending on the focal length. This is good enough for a maximum object magnification of 1:3.1. While this isn't true macro territory yet, it is still pretty useful. The VC image stabilizer comes with three modes: standard, panning, and framing priority (the latter puts the priority on a stabilized viewfinder image). We haven't found an official figure of the potential gain of the VC system but in real life, it should give you about three f-stops.

Specifications
Optical construction25 elements in 16 groups inc. 2x hybrid aspherical, 1x XLD, 4x LD elements
Number of aperture blades7 (rounded)
min. focus distance0.6-1.8m (max magnification 1:3.1-3.7)
Dimensions93x209.6mm
Weight1875g
Filter size82mm
Hoodbarrel-shaped, bayonet mount, supplied
Other featuresmoisture-resistant, image stabilizer, tripod mount (Arca-Swiss compatible), fluorine front element coating