Going Ultra Long with the Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 on Fuji X Mount


Versatile, robust, great for sports, wildlife and even plane spotting.

Pro

  • Very versatile optical range — full frame equivalent of 225-750mm
  • Reasonably priced for what it is
  • Very good image quality — not awesome, but very good
  • Solid weather sealed construction
  • Zoom ring has a unique locking mechanism
  • 3 Modes of Image stabilization
  • Fast, silent and reasonably accurate autofocus
  • Arca Swiss mount tripod collar included

Cons

  • Great focal range comes with compromises
  • Widest aperture is f/5
  • Variable aperture can be problematic on the long end unless you’re shooting in good light
  • Not for low light shooting without massively upping ISO to get a fast enough shutter speed for a sharp image
  • It’s really heavy!
  • Though built well and with good optics, the price tag may be too steep for some

Tamron 150-500mm for Fujifilm X — Technical specifications

  • Focal length: 150-500mm (225-750mm full frame field of view)
  • Aperture range: f/5 to 6.7-f/22-f/32
  • Aperture blades: 7, rounded
  • Elements / groups: 25 / 16
  • Dimensions: 3.7 x 8.3″ / 93 x 209.9 mm
  • Weight: 3.77 lb / 1.71 kg
  • Angle of view: 16° ​​25′ to 4° 57′

Tamron 150-500mm for Fujifilm X — Build quality

The first thing that struck me about the 150-500mm is that this is a big, imposing lens. I haven’t felt this impressed by a physicality lenses since the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 “S.” That lens was simply a behemoth! The Tamron is like it’s little brother. Big, heavy, weather sealed and ready to do battle in the elements. Coming in at nearly 4lbs, I know the Tamron has great stability, but I highly recommend a tripod or monopod to insure stability when shooting. Your mileage may vary, but as I’m getting older, I’m finding it more difficult to hand hold a lens like this and expect a sharp image.

Build and big and robust, built for the elements. The included Arca Swiss tripod collar and plate are a nice perk.

The barrel is made out of a solid, metal-like material and hard plastics. The quality of the materials feels good in the hands. The zoom ring is large, tactile and easy to find if your eyes are glued to the view finder. It’s very firm to rotate and Tamron has included a sliding locking machinist that’ll lock the zoom ring in place. The included Arca Swiss tripod collar is great if you’re like me and you use Really Right Stuff ball heads. There’s no need to buy another accessory. Right out of the box, the Tamron snaps right into my personal photography ecosystem.

The switches for vibration compensation, focus limiting and vibration compensation modes are built well and click into position securely. The lens hood and caps are built to a very high standard as well.

Switches are big and tactile — like everything about the 150-500mm — and have a nice, quality feel

All in, build quality doesn’t get much better than this.

Tamron 150-500mm for Fujifilm X — Autofocus speed and accuracy

Tamron has outfitted the lens with their VXD Voice-coil eXtreme-torque Drive linear motor, which I must say does deliver fast, silent and mostly accurate autofocus performance.

As a side note, I was testing the 150-500mm on a Fuji XH-1, which admittedly is not Fuji’s latest and greatest camera body. But in spite of that fact, I found AF speed to be remarkably quick, silent, and as accurate as promised in Tamron’s literature. Not perfect, but certainly not lacking. Many of the missed shots could be chalked up to photographer error.

Tracking

Autofocus tracking of a subject coming straight at you, is very good with the Tamon. But speaking for myself, panning and managing to keep my subject contained in such a small field of view is a challenge with any ultra telephoto lens, the 150-500mm is no exception. I was doing some plane spotting and the best position I could get was perpendicular to the flight path, meaning I was panning to capture the planes. These are not erratic flying objects like birds. Planes, by and large, fly in a straight line and I was still having difficulty capturing the planes in the frame at 150mm and at a fair distance. In spite of this inherent challenge, I still managed to capture a fair number of sharp images.

Static Subjects

Next, I walked through a nature trail in north Naples, FL and amazingly, the only birds I saw were similar to the ones I often see in my backyard — very few, ok, no exotics on my nature walk. But the few birds I did see, I was able to capture them, quickly, silently and accurately with the Tamron.

The 150-500mm range allows you the photographer to keep your distance and not scare your subjects away. I’ve seen birds bolt when they hear the autofocus confirm beep. I was grateful for the silence of the overall operation of this lens.

Bottom line, AF speed is silent, quick and very accurate. A great performance that’s essential in this focal range.

Tamron 150-500mm for Fujifilm X — In the field

It’s big and heavy, so a stable tripod or monopod is simply a must! I found that slinging the camera and the lens over my shoulder mounted to a tripod worked pretty well on long hikes or walks on nature trails. You could walk with the camera attached to a nice strap, but I suspect it’ll wear you down fairly quickly. Less back ache is achieved when I’m using a tripod.

When using a big heavy lens like this, I’ll only hand hold when necessary, to me, a tripod is a must for much sharper shots. Not to mention less muscles aches.

The fast, silent focusing ability of the lens allows me to capture wildlife without stirring up the animals as its possible to be discrete. They barely notice me. The uber long focal lengths allow me to capture subjects at a far distance. At times, I felt like I was photographing with a telescope.

Focal Range

The lens extends outward quite a bit at 500mm, making the already imposing beast, that much more formidable. I found that when I was walking through crowded areas, people would literally clear a path for me like I was parting the Red Sea. It’s a serious piece of kit that garners a lot of gawkers and lens envy.

The versatility of having the option to zoom that far out is nice, here’s an example of a billboard from 150mm then again at 500mm to demonstrate how much this lens can zoom.

150mm
500mm
One of the advantages of having 750mm equivalent at your disposal is the lens essentially becomes a telescope — nice to have in case the moon happens to be full.

Tamron 150-500mm for Fujifilm X — Optical quality

Given the short period of time we get with these lenses and the limited number of opportunities to capture a bird flying directly in the direction of your lens. Given that we’re not always going to luck out like that, a short time with the lens can make it difficult to pull off every situation you’d like to encounter. As reviewers, we go out into the wild and see what we can get. Sometimes we get lucky, most of the time we end up taking fairly pedestrian images to show off a lenses optical quality. I was able to capture some birds in the woods and some landing planes. In addition to some other static subjects that show how the lens performs wide-open at 150mm and 500mm.

Overall, I’m impressed. Given the lens’s widest apertures aren’t all that wide (f/5), shooting in good light is a necessity. I found that in even moderately low light, I was amping up the ISO just to get a fast enough shutter speed to freeze motion and offset camera shake. More often than not, hand-holding with such a lens can be taxing, I highly recommend a stable, sturdy tripod and solid tripod head to avoid shake — and fatigue!

Sharpness

Center sharpness is simply excellent, so long as focus is nailed the shutter speed is fast enough to offset any potential shake. Edge performance doesn’t fall off that much — which makes sense given that this lens was originally designed for full frame cameras. The image circle of the APS-C sized sensor is covered over by lots of glass! One of the big advantages of using full frame lenses on smaller sensor camera bodies is better image edge quality.

Center sharpness wide-open at middle focal lengths (247mm) is very good

Image sharpness and contrast fall off a bit at longer focal lengths and stopped down. This is to be expected as diffraction will kick in. I got my best results wide-open and stopped down 1 stop from there — depending on the focal length as this is a variable aperture lens.

Bokeh

One of the great things about long tele foto lenses is that we don’t necessarily have to have a wide aperture to get decent bokeh. Even at great distances, the 150-500mm does a great job separating the subject from the background. Background details are smooth and not too busy. Bokeh quality is highly subjective stuff, but the 150-500mm does a great job of smoothing out backgrounds.

This is a good example of both bokeh (upper left of the frame) and center sharpness wide-open at 150mm

Sample Images



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