DxOMark Takes the Tamron 150-600mm for a Spin, Gets Impressive Results


DxOMark has already had a chance to put the exciting new Tamron 150-600mm super telephoto lens through its paces, and the results might surprise you. At a fraction of the cost, it actually OUTPERFORMS pricier (and not as far-reaching) Canon glass when mounted on full-frame systems.

If you’re new to birding or wildlife photography, and you’re in the market for a super telephoto lens, then you’ve probably heard about Tamron’s 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD lens. It’s new, it’s longer than anything Tamron has ever made, and so far samples have people very optimistic about this lens.

Well, that optimism seems to be well-founded. Because while the general rule might be ‘you get what you pay for,’ DxOMark’s tests show Tamron paid no heed to this wisdom when the company created the 150-600. Here’s the comparison chart that shows how the Tamron lens did up against Sigma’s 150-500mm and Canon’s 100-400mm L-lens:


So, what’s DxOMark’s conclusion?

If Tamron built this lens to outperform the Sigma offering then they succeeded with full frame cameras. The gain in performance over their rival’s offering is less noticeable on the APS-C cameras. Despite that, the image quality is a slight improvement over the Sigma. Given the longer range and similar price, it’s a pretty impressive achievement.

The Tamron even outperforms the pricier Canon lens on the full frame Canon EOS 5D Mk III though it’s less convincing when compared with the Canon EOS 7D. There’s likely too little in it to switch but for first-time buyers the new Tamron is an attractive proposition.

The results beg the frequently-begged question: are third party lenses the future? DxOMark doesn’t deign to answer that question (and neither will we, although you can feel free to discuss it in the comments!) but if Sigma, Tamron, Samyang and so on continue to release great lenses at reasonable prices, Nikon and Canon will certainly be giving that query some thought.

(via sonyalpharumors)

  • Zoran

    You didn’t even link back to DxOMark’s review, even though all the content is from them. There are only two links, a sponsor link and one to another PetaPixel page, which makes the purpose of this article pretty clear. Shame on you PetaPixel.

  • Dan Barthel

    Dear Tamron, Sigma, et al: Why do you rip the image stabilization out of your Sony mount lenses. None of the Sony mirrorless lenses have IBIS. I’d buy your products in a heartbeat with IS, even absorbing the cost of the LA-EA4 adapter.

  • DLCade

    That was actually an honest mistake Zoran, somehow managed to leave those links out. Shame on me indeed. Problem should be fixed now though. Thank you for pointing it out!

  • Zoran

    Re-reading what I wrote, it doesn’t sound so nice … sorry about that, didn’t intend to sound so mean. Thanks for adding the link!

    One of the first things I wanted to do was go to the DxO site to look at the details, that’s why I focus on the link.

  • Truelight

    Better AND Cheaper than the name brand? Bring it! The other good thing is stiff competition will force the name brands to keep their prices down. We all win!

  • DLCade

    Totally understandable Zoran! It’s not acceptable for us to summarize someone’s review results and not link to the review itself :) No hard feelings, we really do appreciate when you guys point out our mistakes.

  • Joe Shaffer

    Don’t all the new A mount bodies have built in sensor shift IS systems?

  • Dan Barthel

    True, but my point is that removing IS greatly diminishes the value of using an A mount lens thru the A to E adapter. So why not leave it in. It doesn’t hurt A mount cameras and greatly enhances the value on E mount bodies.

  • Donald Wright

    Sorry if this is a stupid question…

    Why is there the difference between if the lens is used on a 5DIII or a 7D?

    I’m going on a safari in Africa next month and am taking my 7D, 5DIII, this Tamron 150-600, my Canon 70-200 2.8L II (and my 24-70 2.8L II and 16-35 2.8L)… I was planning on using the Tamron 150-600 on my 7D and my 70-200 on my 5DIII when we are out in the wild but now this article has me thinking otherwise…

    Originally I was going to use the 70-200 2.8L II with my TC1.4x III on my 7D and my 24-70 2.8L II on my 5D while out in the wild but happened to catch this lens at a local store last week and picked it up…

    Thoughts or insight? Thanks.


  • Arnold Newman

    Don’t mean to be a negative Nelly here but saying it’s better than the ancient and mediocre Canon 100-400 f/4.5-5.6L zoom is not exactly a ringing endorsement. Hopefully when the Canon lens is replaced this year with a Mk II version it will raise the standard for zoom lenses in this class—even if it is $2,500.

  • Donald Wright

    The problem Canon has on their hands now with the 100-400 MK II is if it “raises the standard for zoom lenses in this class”, it KILLS the market for their high price flagship 200-400 L 1.4x TC lens… Especially even at a price of $2,500…

  • Ron

    Now if only they could make it a stop or two faster!

  • Stephen

    I hope third-party lens offerings will keep expanding. This Tamron lens, the Sigma 35 1.4, and others are great to see. But I wish I could be more optimistic that expanding third-party presence will push Canon and Nikon to innovate. The big two have been historically bad about responding to market dynamics. It’s almost like they can only see each other, no matter how many other runners are zipping by in the pack.

  • Spongebob Nopants

    I was at first entheusiastic, then dismayed and am now back to entheusiastic again. Numerically you can’t get better focal length and F/stop from other options without spending thousands more.

    A Canon 200mm f/1.8 + a 3x extender could give you 600mm f/5.6 for about $3k-$4k (if you can find one), but you still have to stop down from f/5.6 to get sharpish images.

    400 f/2.8 version I is $3.6k used. a 1×4 extender makes it a 560mm f/4 (version II is $10k used)

    600mm f/4 is $5.8k used

    300mm f/2.8 is $3k. + a 2x tele makes it 600mm f/5.6

    Thew new Sigma Sports 120-300mm f/2.8 is $3,599.00. A 2x tele makes it a 240-600 f/5.6.
    There’s nothing comparable at $1k. The other options are far more expensive, larger and heavier.
    But from what I’ve seen, you will have to process every single image. The high iso’s people have been using with this lens has resulted in very high noise even in bright conditions.

  • Spongebob Nopants

    Amen. I’ve seen a lot of noise in shots made with this lens even in bright condtions. People have been having to use very high iso even in daylight.
    Though from the exif data I’ve seen, many of these high noise daylight shots might have been able to use lower iso than what was chosen.
    I don’t think they can make it faster without making it larger and thus more expensive.

  • Spongebob Nopants

    Once it’s larger and more expensive, making choice between this and several other more expensive, larger and (possibly) slightly faster options becomes much more difficult.

  • Kynikos

    Sensor size.

  • Syuaip

    less vignette captured (for the same aperture)

  • JonathonWatkins

    Nah, different market. If you need a 200-400 f/4 with bonus built in 1.4x, a 100-400 f/5.6+ won’t cut it. The 200-400 is a pro sport’s photographers/rich wildlife photographer’s lens. Not the same at all.

  • Donald Wright

    Thanks for the insightful answer…

  • yopyop

    Probably because the IQs at the center of the image are very similar whereas some more interesting differences occurs on the side portions.

  • Donald Wright

    That is what I don’t understand. If the lens falls off near the edges, then I would expect that the 5D3 would have worse results because the sensor “sees” the entire image from the lens all the way to the edge. However, in the 7D, since the sensor is smaller, it only “sees” the center 60%…so I would expect it would only “see” the better part of the image…giving better results on the 7D over the 5D3 actually…

  • yopyop

    I think it’s not about better results between APS-C or FF but about more noticeable differences between two lenses on FF than on APS-C

  • alealeale ale

    Because it was designed for full frame sensors. Just like if you put a 17-55 on a cropped body you’d get better results than with a 24-70 mk2 on a cropped body. However if you compared the 17-55 on crop and the 24-70 on ff the latter combo would get better results. Hope that helps.

  • hmck

    The chart only shows performance at 150 mm. This is least important focal length. How do they perform at 400, 500 and 600 mm?

  • iowapipe

    You need to go to the site and check out all the other information in the review. There are charts aplenty that detail sharpness and other factors at various lengths and f-stops.

  • Donald Wright

    I’m not sure I follow your reasoning, especially your statement that a 17-55 on a crop body would be better than the 24-70 mkII on a crop body.

    The difference between ff lenses and crop lenses is the size of the image projected by the lens at the distance where the sensor is. On ff lenses, the image is about the size of the ff sensor, where crop lenses have images about the size of the crop sensor. So, when you put the ff lens on a crop body, the image the lens projects at the distance of the sensor if the size of the ff sensor…so bigger than the crop sensor…which is where you get the crop factor from.

    I don’t understand why you think this has any effect on the quality of the image that is hitting the sensor.

  • alealeale ale

    I’m not totally sure where I read it but you may be right. I’ll check dxo when I have time

  • Maureen

    Based on the chart,, I’m confused between the 600 and 400 could I please have some help

  • jay

    Opinions needed, I was going to buy a canon 300mm f4 L IS (used) with 1.4x tc for my 550D then this 150-600 Tamron lense comes on the market for the same price, after reading your views im not sure which way to go, canon or tamron. Im an amateur photographer looking to upgrade kit lense with a superior telephoto zoom, I would welcome all advise and opinions, thankyou.

  • Spongebob Nopants

    If you’re an amateur photographer and using a crop sensor camera then get the Tamron 150-600. No question.
    The 300 ef on your crop frame will turn into a 480 f/4, using a 1.4 tc will make it a 672mm f/5.6 or so. Pretty good but you can’t zoom.
    But the 150-600mm tamron will become a 240-840 f/5.6-f/6 on your 1.6 crop sensor camera! That’s greater reach AND has zoom – even without a teleconverter. With a 1.4x (non canon) tc it’s 336-1176 f/7.8-8.

  • Ed

    Why add extra cost so they work better for a system they don’t support? That would be odd.

  • Dan Barthel

    They don’t lower the cost for Sony mounts. They charge as if the IS was still installed. And they kill the market for adapting A mount lenses to E mount cameras. Cutting the cost would be great.