Excerpt from PHOTONews – Peter K. Burian reviewed the Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 VC USD

We are fortunate to obtain excerpts to Peter. K. Burian’s upcoming review in PHOTONews magazine’s Spring 2014 edition. Widely respected, Peter is a stock photographer whose work is marketed by three stock agencies, and a Contributing Editor with several publications in Canada and Australia. Check out his work and his bio at


Excerpt from PHOTONews Spring 2014

Review: Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 VC USD

by Peter K. Burian

The new 150-600mm zoom offers great versatility in focal lengths plus fast/silent Ultrasonic Silent Drive autofocus and the Vibration Compensation image stabilizer.

The 600mm potential is impressive with a DSLR that uses a huge 24x36mm sensor, like the EOS 6D that I used for testing… And if you own one of the numerous DSLRs with the smaller, more typical size sensor, you’ll get a full 900mm or 960mm effective equivalent with this tele zoom lens.

Lens Construction

Like all high-end Tamron products, the SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 VC USD is a rugged piece of equipment with a solid, moisture-resistant barrel and it’s beautifully finished in satin black with wide, knurled rubber focus and zoom rings.  The rotating (removable) tripod mounting collar is very solid…

There’s a zoom lock (at 150mm) to prevent the internal barrel  from extending while you’re carrying the lens pointing downward. Other amenities include a VC (stabilizer) On/Off switch, a distance scale under glass, an AF/MF switch, and a focus limiting feature. The latter allows for faster focus acquisition in situations where your subjects are always at a great distance (15 m or more) from the camera. Thanks to internal focusing the front element never rotates. The high-torque USD motor allows for manual focus override in AF mode, useful when you want to slightly tweak the point of focus…

With the EOS 6, autofocus was virtually silent and lighting fast, especially in the  150mm to 400mm range. Focus tracking of alpine skiers approaching the camera was very good, with a series of ten frames all sharply rendered. At longer focal lengths, the maximum aperture is a smaller f/6.3, allowing less light to reach the camera’s AF sensor.

Performance Evaluation

The optics of this the Tamron lens proved to be impressive, producing numerous images with  high contrast, clarity and colour accuracy as well as great definition of fine detail.  At maximum aperture in the 150-400mm range, central sharpness is exceptional while edge sharpness is very good. I did not hesitate to shoot at the widest apertures at these focal lengths but stopping down to f/8 produced great sharpness across the frame; my images are suitable for a poster-size print.

At longer focal lengths, images made at f/6.3 exhibit high central sharpness, but with a full-frame DSLR, slightly soft corners.  Since the most important subject elements are rarely very far off-centre in sports and wildlife photography, this was not a drawback during my testing…Thanks to the nine  blades in the diaphragm mechanism, defocused highlights in the distance are circular instead of octagonal for a pleasing bokeh…

Tamron’s proprietary Vibration Control image stabilizer is certainly effective.

Final Assessment

Considering its fine performance, portability and price, this Tamron 150-600mm zoom  would make a fine addition to any budget-conscious outdoor photographer’s arsenal.


Minimum aperture: f/32 to 40
Optical Formula: 20 elements, 3 LD, in 13 groups;
Min. Focus: 2.7 m
Max. magnification: 0.20x
Controls: AF/MF, VC, focus limiter and zoom lock
  • Hood and detachable tripod collar included;
  • Circular diaphragm aperture; moisture resistant;
  • eBand and BBAR coatings
Size/Weight: 105.6×257.8mm; 1951 g
Filter Size: 95mm
Available Mounts: Canon & Nikon with VC; Sony without VC
Price: $1300

Special thanks to Alpine Ontario (skiing photos) and Raymond Barlow (birding photos). All photos by Peter K. Burian.






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