Review: Tamron 150-500 for Sony E Mount

The Sony E Mount, full frame lens selection past 100mm is a tad thin if you ask me. Sure, you’ve got a trio of ~70-200mms, a couple of 100-400mm’s a 200-600mm lens from Sony, and an eye watering 600mm f/4.0, also from Sony. On one hand it sounds like a lot. But compared to say the 50mm or 85mm range, it’s just not the same. So when Tamron announced a couple of months back or so that they were entering the super tele range for the Sony E mount range of cameras, my ears perked up. Priced right, this could be a fantastic lens for a handful of photographer types. And today, that’s just what we’re taking a look at.


  • Min focus 0.60 m (23.62″)
  • Max magnification 0.32×
  • Aperture Range: f/5-6.7 to f/22-32
  • Image Stabilization: VC Image Stabilization with 3 Modes
  • Auto Focus: VXD eXtreme-Torque Drive Linear AF Motor
  • Front filter size: 82mm
  • Construction: 25 elements in 16 groups
  • Rounded 7-Blade Diaphragm
  • 75-degree, short throw zoom ring
  • Weight 1724 g (3.80 lb)

Initial Impressions

Out of the box, you’ll notice that despite being a super-tele, it’s not too terribly bad. Compare it to say, the Sony 200-600 f/5.6-6.3 and you’ll immediately appreciate the more compact footprint that the Tamron offers — ditto on the weight. In reality, it isn’t too far off of a traditional 70-200mm lens by most measurements, which is simply awesome. That said, for the Tamron fans out there that have gotten accustomed to getting a single set of filters and re-using them up and down their E mount line of lenses (since they shared a 67mm front filter thread), you’re going to want to set aside a few more dollars for another filter or two. At 82mm, the new 150-500mm is quite a bit wider, rendering your 67mm filters useless here. Considering Tamron made it this long utilizing the same filter thread, we can’t be too upset really.

Features and functionality

Moving on from the front of the lens, midway down the body you’ll find several important switches and buttons including an AF lock, physical locking switch for the lens, vibration control modes, and focus selector. So far, all of Tamron’s lenses have taken more of a budget approach on the E mount bodies and as such, have generally lacked these extra features (read: switches). So it is nice to see Tamron classing things up with feature switches here.

Perhaps one of the most important features on a lens this large is that of anti-shake / vibration control. Most lenses often have 3 different modes. On / panning / “just in time”. Tamron’s layout of vibration modes is a tad more…. unique. In reality, the typical (1) mode or “on” mode for all planes is a tad reserved. (2) mode is what you would expect (panning) and (3) mode is basically a much more aggressive always-on that is like the first mode but on steroids. Naturally, this is going to hit battery life hard if you leave it on indefinitely.

Following the theme of “unique”, Tamron has also decided to veer from the path of typical focal length options. Again, typically, your focus mode switch is going to have three options: close, far, and “all” for full range auto focus. Tamron has taken away the closeup mode and instead broken out auto focus modes as such:

  •  Infinity to 3 meters
  • Infinity to 15 meters
  • Full range

Some, more experienced photographers and reviews I’ve seen say this is due to Tamron gearing this lens more to sports photographers vs wildlife. As someone who has been using this exclusively for wildlife thus far, I can’t say I’ve noticed any big difference positively or negatively with these different auto-focus options.

Act III of the unique story is more global to Tamron’s lenses for Sony E mount in general, and pertains to minimum focus distance. While this lens and other Tamron lenses for Sony E mount bodies aren’t technically macro lenses, Tamron has built in some rather close-up focusing features. This 150-500mm lens is no different. At the wide end (150mm) you have a minimum focusing distance of just 23.6 inches while at 500mm a still respectable 70.9 inches. On the wide end, that 23.6″ minimum focusing distance means a macro representation of ~1:3 which again, is quite good and adds to the versatility of this lens.

Switches and build quality aside, an additional item to highlight on the Tamron 150-500 is the clutch-like zoom ring lock. While you can use the normal switch to lock the lens at 150mm and only 150mm, the whole zoom ring itself can be moved forward towards the end of the barrel at any zoom length to lock the zoom in place. It is simple in practice but something I’ve found myself using quite a lot as time has gone on. While we’re on the topic of zooming, it’s worth pointing out that Tamron made this a pretty short throw, 1/4 turn action. The Sigma 100-400 is just a bit longer (ever so lightly) but more pronounced in length than what the physical turn would lead to believe since the sigma rotates counter-clockwise and the Tamron clockwise. Based on how I hold this lens typically, the 1/4 throw plus alternate twist angle vs the Sigma makes it feel faster and smoother to go from 150-500 than the Sigma’s 100-400 range.

Tamron says that this lens is weather resistant and considering the uptick in build quality (and price point), we’d have to wager a guess that the weather sealing is a tad better than your typical lower end Tamron lens. That’s not to say previous lenses weren’t good, however. In my day to day usage, a few of which included some misty / drizzly days, I never had any concern or actual material issues with moisture when shooting out in the elements.

Comparisons to other super tele’s

I will preface this and say I don’t have access to a Sony 200-600mm or the 600mm f/4.0. As such, we’ll be focusing solely on the Sigma 100-400 vs the Tamron 150-500 in this case.

Pros (over Sigma)

  • Further zoom range. 100-400mm vs 150-500mm. While it’s true that at this length, 100mm isn’t as large of a difference as you might think. Nonetheless, extra reach is never a bad thing if you shoot the type of stuff that benefits from more reach / closer subject.
  • Foot included (Sigma makes you buy the tripod collar / foot separately for an MSRP of ~$139 (though you can find perfectly suitable alternatives on Amazon for ~$40-50.
  • A tad sharper
  • Better auto-focus
  • Faster / more light throughout the zoom range.

Cons (favoring Sigma)

  • Price – the Sigma retails for ~$949 whereas the Tamron is $1399.
  • Smaller overall (diameter and weight)

After using both of these lenses off and on for the last couple of weeks, I must say, I find myself reaching for the Tamron more at this focal range. I also was pretty set in my mind that I was going to upgrade to this lens regardless so that I didn’t have as much overlap in my bag. For reference, my go-to lens is my Tamron 70-180mm. Having a 100-400mm isn’t as diverse as what the Tamron’s 150-500mm offers.

Additionally, the auto focus on the Tamron just seems to be more reliable on both my A7iii and A7rIV, with the latter having great synergy for birding, as you can zoom further and crop in quite a lot.

For those of you that care about size and weight however, do note that the Tamron is noticeably heavier coming in at 1724g (~3.80 lb) vs the Sigma’s 1,140g (~2.51 lb.). To my statement earlier about it not being too far off a standard 70-200, the Sony 70-200 f/2.8 is 1480g (3.26 lb) and the Tamron 70-180mm coming in at rather svelte 810g (1.78 lb.). All-in-all, if you’re going to carry this lens around, be prepared for the tree trunk forearms you’re going to build.

One other thing to consider is that while the variable aperture between the Sigma 100-400 (f5-f/6.3) and the Tamron 150-500 (f5-6.7) are very similar, the Tamron’s measurably wider barrel allows it to let in more light throughout the zoom range. At any given point where the Sigma or Tamron are stopping down, the Tamron is still wider open allowing more light in. This matters a TON especially with those faster moving wildlife shots — more light == less ISO that you have to push.

Sigma 100-400 approximate variable aperture ranges:

  • f/5: 100-113mm
  • f/5.6: 113-235mm
  • f/6.3: 235-400mm

Tamron 150-500 approximate variable aperture ranges:

  • f/5: 150mm – 249mm
  • f/5.6: 250mm – 399mm
  • f/6.3: 400mm – 449mm
  • f/6.7: 450mm – 500mm

Image Samples

Sigma 100-400

**Note: These are reduced size images here. If you want the full, unedited RAWS + the settings I used for edited shots –> Link

Tamron 150-500

**Note: These are reduced size images here. If you want the full, unedited RAWS + the settings I used for edited shots –> Link

Final Thoughts

As time goes on, the Sony E mount range of cameras continues to get nice little additions here and there. This latest lens by Tamron may continue the trend of odd focal range choices (why not just make it 150-600mm?!) it still manages to remain intriguing. If you were looking for a super-tele and 100-400 wasn’t cutting it, at this point many are going to keep looking in this overall price range that either the Sigma 100-400 or the Sony 100-400 cater to, or from a size standpoint too, as the Sony 200-600 is both measurably more expensive and bigger. In that context, the Tamron’s further reach and competitive price point paired with the fantastic optical performance certainly makes a strong case. The only con I can really think of is that Tamron doesn’t make teleconverters for this. And while teleconverters will reduce the range of environments (lighting dynamics) that you can shoot in, it’s still a nice to have feature, a feature that still remains a Sony exclusive for E mount lenses as Sigma is void of one as well.

At the end of the day you have to ask yourself the ever important question: What do you like to shoot?

Will this lens help you shoot that better, easier, more confidently, etc? For those into wildlife (especially birds) and those looking for some unique landscape perspectives, I think the answer is a pretty resolute “yes”.

If you’re interested in purchasing this lens, please consider purchasing via my affiliate link: Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VC VXD Lens for Full Frame Sony Mirrorless Camera

Tags: review, tamron, tamron150500

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