Lens of the Month
Tamron's SP 150-600mm Di VC USD G2 Lens
By Jeff Allen
A super telephoto lens is another of the lenses I rarely venture out without in my camera bag. Because it can be difficult to get close to landscape features and wildlife, a powerful telephoto lens can make a photographer’s life a lot easier when trying to capture elusive or distant subjects.
Tamron’s optical and mechanical engineers have been improving telephoto optical formulas and creating technological advances in the telephoto zoom category for decades. When I started photography back in the days of film SLR cameras, long telephoto lenses were lumped into two categories: huge, bulky and usually not too fast and expensive, or the cheap, slow and optically “fair at best” variety.
Tamron has a great heritage of designing incredible and affordable “super zoom” telephoto lenses since the 200-500 Adaptall models of the 1970’s and ‘80’s through today’s award winning designs of the SP 150-600 f5-6.3 model A011 and the latest SP 150-600mmf5-6.3 G2 model A022 which offers matched 1.4x and 2x teleconverters as optional accessories. Both models have moisture resistant seals and Tamron’s Vibration compensation. Both lenses are currently available.
In addition to the optional teleconverters, the G2 model has many built-in benefits such as improved moisture seals and a tripod foot designed to fit the popular “Arca Swiss” style quick release mount for tripod heads (as well as two traditional ½-20 threads for compatibility with almost all tripod heads and quick release plates.) Additionally, the Tamron Vibration Compensation stabilization has improved capabilities in the G2. The engineers created three Vibration Compensation settings, controlled via a switch on the lens barrel. VC 1 is the traditional Tamron VC, providing hand held benefits of three or more stops of handheld benefit, covering horizontal, vertical AND diagonal motion. VC 2 provides maximum stability for panning with moving subjects like birds in flight or action sports. And, VC 3 gives maximum stabilization when the shutter opens - up to and beyond FOUR stops. The Tamron optional Tap-In Console allows you to do firmware updates and to customize the VC functions and focus limiters allowing ultimate control based on how you shoot. The G2 model’s cutting edge stabilization opens up new arenas for photographers needing to travel light or not wanting to rely on heavy, tripod/head or tripod/gimbal combinations.
The 150-600mm lenses have expanded my opportunities with urban and suburban wildlife. One of them is with me all the time so I can capture those fleeting moments when bald eagles swoop, herons hunt, or sunflowers glisten in the late afternoon.
Out near our neighborhood on a heavily overcast day, I hadn’t expected to spot the local eagles. But this eagle, perched in a tree near my home, was on the lookout. Just after I set up, he spotted a potential meal and took off out of the tree. Luckily, I was able to pan with him briefly to get this image. Shot handheld, panning with the bird, at 600mm 1/500 sec f14.0 at ISO 1600 with VC Mode 1.
Where I live getting shots of birds near or in their nests can be difficult as they pick trees surrounded by water and usually on private property. So instead, I tend to fall back to where they hunt. Many hunting spots I have found are near busy roads so when the birds hear a car stop, they tend to bug out. One afternoon, I was parked and waiting when this great blue heron swooped in to a wetland area they frequent. Coming in for landing. Shot at 600mm panning with the bird, handheld. 1/320 sec at f6.3 ISO 400 with exposure compensation set at +1.3 stops to compensate for the backlight.
Just so you don’t think I only shoot wildlife with the Tamron 150-600, here’s a sunflower captured at approximately the minimum focus distance of 86.6“. I chose this particular subject because it was what I call an overachiever - rising nearly a foot above all the surrounding flowers. By shooting from a high angle and a large aperture at 600mm, I was able to blur the background to create the soft repeating color. Shot late afternoon to take advantage of the warm afternoon light, on a tripod at 600mm 1/160 sec f10.0 ISO 200 Backlight compensation set to +0.7 to compensate for backlight.