Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VC VXD (Model A057) lens

      Photo Review 9.0

      In summary

      Owners of Sony full frame cameras looking for a telephoto lens for birding, sports and/or wildlife photography will find a lot to like in this lens. The Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VC VXD offers excellent optical performance and can be used hand-held at surprisingly low shutter speeds.

      Tamron has concentrated on usability, rather than lens speed, which has benefits when it comes to price was well as length and weight.

      Full review

      Announced on 22 April but not released until June, 2021, the Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VC VXD lens is currently only available for Sony E-mount camera, where it provides an affordable super-zoom lens for sports and wildlife shooters. There’s a lot of high-tech engineering packed into its 1725 gram barrel, with a fast voice coil motor driving autofocusing and built-in stabilisation that works with the IBIS in Sony’s full frame cameras. These features enable it to be used hand-held at high magnifications. We conducted our Imatest tests with the lens on the Sony α7 Mark II camera body.

      Angled view of the Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VC VXD (Model A057) lens without the supplied lens hood fitted. (Source: Tamron.)

      The optical design of this lens is complex, consisting of 25 elements in 16 groups. Among them are one XLD (eXtra Low Dispersion), five LD (Low Dispersion), and two Hybrid Aspherical elements that combine to control common aberrations including axial chromatic aberration. The front element is fluorine coated to resist moisture and grease and make it easy to keep clean, while BBAR-G2 (Broad-Band Anti-Reflection Generation 2) coating is applied to minimise ghosting and flare. This lens is also weather-sealed.

      This diagram shows the positions of the weather-resistant seals in the Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VC VXD lens. (Source: Tamron.)

      Autofocusing is driven by Tamron’s proprietary VXD (Voice-coil eXtreme-torque Drive) linear motor, which operates quietly and ensures the agility users would need. At 150mm, the will focus down to 60 cm, which extends to a minimum focus of  1.8 metres at 500mm for dramatic close-ups.

      No claims are made for the capability of Tamron’s VC mechanism, beyond stating it will ‘significantly improve handheld performance by counteracting camera shake’. The system can complement the in-built SteadyShot stabilisation in Sony’s Alpha cameras, while the lens is also compatible with camera-specific functions like Fast Hybrid AF and Eye AF.

      The lens is supplied with front and end caps plus a cylindrical lens hood with a shock-absorbing rubberised tip and a removable tripod collar. No carry bag or pouch is provided and users must provide their own carry strap if they want to use one with the lens.

      Who’s it For?
      Because it’s only available with the Sony E mount so far (although, hopefully, Canon RF and Nikon Z mounts will follow), this lens has a limited – but probably quite large – potential market.  It will suit photo and video enthusiasts who want an affordable super-zoom lens that can be used handheld for photographing sports action and wildlife, including birding. It can also be used for aviation photography, specifically photographing aircraft in flight.

      While designed primarily for Sony’s full frame cameras, it can also be used on cameras with APS-C sized sensors, where the zoom range will cover angles of view equivalent to 225-750mm in 35mm format.

      This lens has some significant advantages over the current alternatives. The effectiveness of the built-in stabilisation, coupled with the nice handling balance makes it ideal for hand-held shooting. This is especially handy since the latest Sony cameras have excellent low-noise performance at relatively high ISO settings, which adds substantially to the versatility of this lens.

      Without the inner barrel extended it’s not much longer than the Sigma and Sony 100-400mm lenses and only a little heavier. The table below ranks the lenses currently available in Sony’s E-mount in order of weight.

      Max. Aperture range Dimensions
      (diameter x length)
      (lens only)
      Max. magnification
      Sigma 100-400mm f/5.0-6.3 86 x 199.2 mm 1,135 g 0.71x
      Sony 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 93.9 x 205 mm 1,395 g 0.35x
      Tamron 150-500mm f/5.0-6.7 93 x 209.6 mm 1,725 g 0.32x
      Sigma 150-600mm f/5.0-6.3 109 x 267 mm 2,100 g 0.34x
      Sony 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 111.5 x 318 mm 2,115 g 0.2x

      Note: This lens is incompatible with teleconverters. It’s also worth noting that Tamron’s 100-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD lens, which was released in 2017, is only available in Nikon F and Canon EF mounts for DSLR cameras so it can’t be compared.

      Build and Ergonomics
      The Tamron 150-500mm lens is solidly built and overall build quality is excellent. Most of the two lens barrels are made from magnesium alloy and industrial-grade plastic to keep weight down, although the complex optics will make it quite heavy.

      Its comprehensive weather- proof sealing includes gaskets around both the mount and the front element of the lens. Without the lens hood and tripod collar the lens weighs 1,725 grams, with the hood adding 95 grams and the tripod collar a further 155 grams, bringing the total weight to 1.975 kilograms, which is comparable with similar super-zoom lenses.

      This lens has a rotary zoom that extends the inner barrel by approximately 74 mm, taking the overall length from 209.6 mm to roughly 284 mm. It has a smart low-gloss black  finish, with ridged zoom and focus rings, a removable Arca-Swiss tripod mount and a raised cluster of controls that include a focus range limiter, AF/MF switch and separate sliders for turning VC stabilisation on and off and selecting VC modes.

      The zoom ring is located at the front of the outer barrel. It’s roughly 65 mm wide and mostly covered in rubberised ridging. A 10 mm wide unridged strip around its trailing edge carried stamped marks denoting the  150mm, 200mm, 250mm, 300mm, 400mm and 500mm focal length positions.

      The focus limiter has three settings: Full (2.2 metres to infinity), 3 metres to infinity and 15 metres to infinity. A nifty ‘Flex Zoom Lock’ mechanism allows the lens to be locked at a selected focal length by pushing the zoom ring forward. This exposes a white strip beneath the ring to remind you the zoom is locked. There’s also a standard zoom lock slider that can lock the lens at 150mm for storage and transportation.

      Moving between 150mm and 500mm requires a turn of only about 75 degrees and the maximum aperture changes in line with the settings below. The table also shows the minimum focus distance and maximum magnification ratios at each setting.

      Focal length 150mm 200mm 250mm 300mm 400mm 500mm
      Max. aperture f/5.0 f/5.0 f/5.6 f/5.6 f/6.3 f/6.7
      Min. focus (metres) 0.6 1.0 1.3 1.6 1.8 1.8
      Max. magnification 0.32x 0.21x 0.19x 0.19x 0.22x 0.27x

      Behind the zoom ring the lens barrel runs straight for 55 mm and includes a 33 mm wide section that carries the control panel, which is raised to make it easy to locate by touch. Working leftwards along this panel the first slider encountered is the distance limiter, which has two settings: 3 m to infinity and infinity to 15 m. However, there’s no depth of field scale.

      The next slider around is the AF/MF switch, which is followed by the VC on/off switch. The final switch is the VC mode selector, which has three modes: Mode 1 for basic vibration compensation, Mode 2 for panning and Mode 3, which prioritises framing and makes it easier to keep moving subjects within the frame in focus. The zoom lock is located around the right hand side of this section of the barrel.

      Embedded into the outer barrel just behind the control panel is the focusing ring, which is just over 10 mm wide and entirely clad in moulded ridging. Since focusing is driven from the camera, this ring turns through 360 degrees when power is off and lacks hard stops. Direct manual focus (DMF) over-ride is supported when the AF/MF control button on the camera is pressed.

      The lens barrel dips in a little behind the focusing ring to allow for the tripod collar, which is shaped to allow easy hand holding and has an Arca-Swiss style plate on its foot plus strap loops on either side. A large knurled knob can be loosened to allow the collar to be rotated for vertical shooting and opened out so it can be completely removed.

      The cylindrical lens hood is 65 mm wide and made from plastic. It feels quite solid and has a 12 mm wide section around its front is made from firm rubber to absorb impact shock. No locking button is provided but the bayonet mount fits easily onto the front of the lens and locks firmly in place.

      Internally, the lens has two micro processors, one for controlling autofocusing and the other for stabilisation processing. All focusing is internal and this lens is compatible with the Eye-AF functions in Sony’s cameras. The front of the lens doesn’t rotate while zooming, making it easy to use angle-critical filters with this lens.

      The lens accepts 82 mm diameter filters. It doesn’t support teleconverters as Tamron prioritised compact size over focal length extensions.

      We were unable to measure resolution across the entire zoom range using our Imatest system due to a lack of space in our testing area, although we obtained test results from three focal lengths: 150mm, 200mm and 250mm.  Subjective evaluation of sharpness at the remaining focal lengths was based on viewing test shots at 100% magnification. Examples are provided in the Samples section below.

      Our Imatest test shots were taken with all in-camera corrections disabled. Analysis showed centre resolution to be above expectations for JPEG files and only a little below expectations for measurements made half-way out from the central zone. ARW.RAW files converted into 16-bit TIFF format with Adobe Camera Raw delivered even high resolution, as expected.

      Some edge softening is to be expected for lenses in this category and it was found in both JPEGs and converted raw files, although it was less than expected. The graph below shows the results of our Imatest tests, based on JPEG files.

      Lateral chromatic aberration remained mainly within the ‘negligible’ zone, with very minor excursions into the ‘low’ zone at the extremities of the aperture range for the 150mm focal length. In the graph of our test results below, the red line marks the boundary between ‘negligible’ and ‘low’ CA. We found no evidence of coloured fringing in test shots.

      Vignetting was present in shots taken with the widest apertures at all focal length settings, although it was a little more pronounced at the two shortest and the longest focal lengths. Rectilinear distortion was relatively low, as expected for a telephoto lens.

      We found slight pincushion distortion across the zoom range. It was most visible in the 150mm to 300mm range but still evident at longer focal lengths. Both vignetting and distortion can be eliminated from JPEGs with in-camera corrections and are easily adjusted out when raw files are converted into editable formats.

      We recorded most of our test shots with the review lens on the new Sony α7 IV camera to take advantage of its autofocusing system, which includes sophisticated subject recognition and tracking.  We found autofocusing to be fast and almost always accurate, with hunting only when the lens was required to span a wide distance range – or if the wrong distance limiter setting was selected.

      Even then, focus would usually be found in less than a second. Focusing was also near silent and we found no evidence of focus breathing, both essential features for lenses that will be used for shooting video. We also found the lens to be virtually parfocal, which means it was possible to change the focal length setting without the lens going out-of-focus.

      Close-up capabilities were impressive and the lens provided a comfortable working distance for photographing usually flighty creatures at the 500mm focal length setting. Bokeh at wide apertures was quite attractive, although highlight outlining was found in some shots, although fortunately, highlights remained mostly circular.

      The combination of the image stabilisation in the lens and the IBIS system in the Sony camera allowed us to shoot with camera and lens hand-held for all of our test shots. Some exposures were at shutter speeds as low as 1/80 second were possible at fixed ISO settings. (With auto ISO, the camera tended to adjust sensitivity rather than enforce slow shutter speeds.)

      Backlighting was generally handled very well and flare only occurred when the lens was pointed directly into the sun. Attractive, 14-pointed sunstars could be produced by stopping down to f/22.

      Bokeh quality depended on background lighting. It was very smooth and attractive when backgrounds were evenly lit but outlined highlights  were common in close-ups with busy, irregularly-lit backgrounds. This is to be expected from a telephoto zoom lens.


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      Picture angle: 16 degrees 25 minutes to 4 degrees 57 minutes
      Minimum aperture:  f/22-32
      Lens construction: 25 elements in 16 groups (including 1 XLD (eXtra Low Dispersion), 5 LD (Low Dispersion), and 2 Hybrid Aspherical elements)
      Lens mounts: Sony E
      Diaphragm Blades: 7 (circular aperture)
      Weather resistance: Moisture-resistant construction plus fluorine coating on front element
      Focus drive: VXD (Voice-coil eXtreme-torque Drive) linear motor
      Stabilisation: Yes, Vibration Compensation mechanism with 3 mode settings, 2.5 stop correction
      Minimum focus: 60 cm at 150mm, 1.8 metres at 500mm
      Maximum magnification: 1:3.1 (at 150mm) / 1:3.7 (at 500mm)
      Filter size: 82 mm
      Dimensions (Diameter x L): 93 x 209.6 mm
      Weight: 1,725 grams (1,975 grams with lens hood and tripod mount included)
      Standard Accessories: Cylindrical lens hood, tripod mount, front and end caps.
      Distributor: Blonde Robot; (03) 9023 9777; Tamron Aust website



      Based on JPEG files recorded with the lens on the Sony α7 II camera.

      Based on ARW.RAW files recorded simultaneously and converted into 16-bit TIFF format with Adobe Camera Raw.



      Vignetting at 150mm f/5.

      Vignetting at 200mm f/5.

      Vignetting at 300mm f/5.6.

      Vignetting at 400mm f/6.3.

      Vignetting at 500mm f/6.7.

      Rectilinear distortion at 150mm.

      Rectilinear distortion at 200mm.

      Rectilinear distortion at 300mm.

      Rectilinear distortion at 400mm.

      Rectilinear distortion at 500mm.

      All the photographs below were taken hand-held with the Sony α7 IV camera, which wwe are currently testing.

      Close-up at 150mm, ISO 100, 1/800 second at f/5.

      Close-up at 200mm, ISO 100, 1/640 second at f/5.

      Close-up at 300mm, ISO 100, 1/500 second at f/5.6.

      Close-up at 400mm, ISO 100, 1/800 second at f/6.3.

      Close-up at 500mm, ISO 100, 1/500 second at f/6.7.

      Bokeh in close-up at 150mm; ISO 100, 1/1000 second at f/5.

      150mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/1250 second at f/5.

      500mm focal length. ISO 100, 1/640 second at f/6.7.

      Close-up at 500mm, ISO 1600, 1/500 second at f/6.7.

      Crop from the above image magnified to 100%.

      300mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/400 second at f/5.6.

      Crop from the above image magnified to 100% to show actual sharpness.

      400mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/250 second at f/6.3.

      Crop from the above image magnified to 100% to show actual sharpness.

      500mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/320 second at f/6.7.

      Crop from the above image magnified to 100% to show actual sharpness.

      Sunstar and flare artefacts at 150mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/160 second at f/22.

      Sunstars at 300mm, ISO 100, 1/1000 second at f/22

      Sunstars with slight veiling flare at 500mm, ISO 100, 1/500 second at f/22.

      500mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/80 second at f/6.7.

      Crop from the above image magnified to 100%.

      500mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/80 second at f/6.7.

      Crop from the above image magnified to 100%.

      500mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/500 second at f/6.7.

      500mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/500 second at f/7.1.

      500mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/200 second at f/6.7.

      500mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/160 second at f/6.7.

      500mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/80 second at f/6.7.

      500mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/125 second at f/6.7.

      500mm focal length, ISO 160, 1/250 second at f/8.

      150mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/320 second at f/7.1.

      251mm focal length, ISO 160, 1/320 second at f/5.6.

      Perspective compression with long focal length; 500mm focal length, ISO 320, 1/250 second at f/8.

      500mm focal length, ISO 640, 1/500 second at f/7.1.

      348mm focal length, ISO 160, 1/400 second at f/5.6.

      500mm focal length, ISO 500, 1/500 second at f/6.7.

      500mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/500 second at f/6.7.

      500mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/800 second at f/8.



      RRP: AU$2099; US$1399

      • Build: 9.0
      • Handling: 9.0
      • Image quality: 9.0
      • Autofocusing: 8.9
      • Versatility: 8.9