One of the things that makes photographing birds and animals in nature so difficult is the fact that you just can't get too close to them before they scamper away. I have always enjoyed photographing birds and animals and used to have a decent telephoto lens, a 75-300mm. When I upgraded my camera, that lens would not fit the new camera body so it went with my previous camera toward the upgrade. This made my longest focal length lens 100mm. Not close enough.
In 2013, Tamron announced a lens with an incredible 150-600mm. I was interested. It became available in 2014 and quickly sold out everywhere. All the reviews were coming in very good for this lens.
At a purchase price of $1000, I knew I would have to start saving my pennies if I wanted one so for every birthday/Christmas/Mothers Day/letmedosomethingforyou I requested a gift card to the local photo store or straight cash money.
Finally, I had enough saved for it but was it REALLY what I wanted? That's a lot of moola, I wanted to be sure. Since I was planning a short vacation, I decided to rent it to take. That way I could be sure it was THE ONE. I rented it from Borrow Lenses. It arrived 2 days before our trip. I was good to go.
But first, a little trial run in the backyard. Just a little practice. This is a long (about 10") and heavy (almost 5 lbs) lens. It does have a tripod collar. Good thing. I knew I would not want to carry that monster around.
Tripod out, lens attached I was ready to play. I quickly learned that when the lens is fully extended a remote control is necessary. I grabbed mine and attached it and I was ready to go.
The following are a series of pictures at different focal lengths for comparison. All, except the picture taken with my phone, are F11, ISO 2000. (top picture of the squirrel in the birdbath is Tamron 600mm)
Taken with my phone where I was with my camera and lens on a tripod. See that red dot? That's a bird feeder. There is a squirrel to the left of it on the tree. (yeah, I know, huh? what? where?)
Taken with a 50mm lens. Squirrel still on the tree to the left
Taken with the Tamron at 150mm. Oh THERE'S the bird feeder! Now with a squirrel perched on top!
Taken with the Tamron at 300mm
Taken with the Tamron at 600mm
Well! There really is a squirrel on the birdfeeder! I think the clarity at this focal length is quite good. The main reason I used a high ISO is because squirrels are jittery things and I wanted a very fast shutter.
The Tamron 150-600mm has a max aperture of 5.0-6.3. You can use 5.0 from 150mm to about 400mm then the lens will adjust the aperture. Max aperture at 600mm is 6.3.
The Tamron 150-600mm lens can also be used on full frame as well as APS-C SLRs, on which it offers a huge 225-900mm equivalent range.
This lens has Tamrons VC (vibration control) which is nice but I found using a remote control was helpful especially when the lens is extend to full 600mm, it gains another 4 inches in length and any little movement caused by depressing the shutter button on the camera will result in a blurry picture.
The lens has a "lock" button which is great for transporting the lens especially if it is already attached to a tripod or monopod. This feature keeps the lens from extending during transport.
How about a few more?
Taken with my phone. The mountain in the distance is about 10 miles away. (as the crow flies)
Tamron 300mm (you can see the road to the ski area)
I know I need lots more practice! But I think it will be just what I wanted for some bird and nature shots. (and moon shots!) Bird shots if the squirrels will leave my feeder alone! And yes, it is a "squirrel proof" feeder! I guess the squirrels didn't get the memo!
And good news (for me, anyway!) This lens is on sale! It is currently $989. Still a wad of cash but I see a package coming soon with my name on it!
My experience with Borrow Lenses was excellent. I received the lens when promised and it was packed carefully in a box with material I could reuse to return the lens. A preprinted shipping label was included. Borrow Lenses has sent me several coupons for repeat business. And best of all, the rental price was by far the lowest.
Do you have a lens on your wish list?