Tamron has unveiled the 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD for Sony, a zoom lens that promises to pack an extraordinary focal length range, speedy autofocusing, and outstanding optics into an impressively compact body.
The 50-400mm will attract plenty of photographers based on focal length alone; bird, wildlife, and sports shooters will appreciate the lens’s super-telephoto long end and flexible zoom range, while travel and portrait snappers will love the lens’s ability to handle scene-setting images, full-body and group photos, and tighter headshots without skipping a beat. Even landscape photographers may consider switching out several primes or telephoto zooms for the new 50-400mm to simplify their kit.
Impressively, the 50-400mm offers 1:2 magnification at its widest focal length, which allows nature shooters to snap stunning close-ups of flowers, insects, and other macro subjects. And thanks to the lens’s lightweight and compact build, it can be carried anywhere – on mountain treks, deep dives into the wilderness, international travels, and more.
Tamron explains, “[T]his new ultra-telephoto zoom lens for Sony E-mount full-frame mirrorless cameras is the same size as conventional 100-400mm zoom lenses yet offers a wider angle of view on the wide end for excellent versatility.” In other words, you get all the benefits of a superzoom lens without the extra bulk.
Superzoom lenses offer notoriously poor optics, but Tamron guarantees “high image quality” and “unparalleled high performance at all focal lengths.” And such a performance would be in line with other recent zoom lenses from Tamron – like the 150-500mm – which boast excellent sharpness across the board, especially when stopped down.
As for the lens’s autofocusing capabilities: Tamron’s VXD motor has previously proven itself capable of satisfying even bird photographers, where the ability to track moving subjects across complex scenes is essential. Of course, focusing performance also depends heavily on the camera, but paired with a recent mirrorless model like the Sony a7 IV, the 50-400mm should perform well.
While the lens may include high-level optics and quick focusing, the 50-400mm does come with a drawback worth contemplating: Poor low-light capabilities. On the wide end, the lens aperture only opens to f/4.5, which narrows to f/6.3 by 400mm – not ideal for bird and wildlife photography in dark forests, nor nighttime or indoor sports photography. Tamron has added its image stabilization technology (VC, or Vibration Compensation) for sharper shots in tough conditions, but this handy enhancement won’t do much to improve shots of moving subjects such as foraging mammals or flying birds.
That said, the 50-400mm will likely perform exceptionally well in good light, and in tougher conditions, you can always boost your ISO as needed (assuming you’re willing to compromise on image quality).
When will the 50-400mm be released, and how much will it cost?
Tamron notes that the lens will debut sometime in the fall, but the exact release date is still unknown. The price is also under wraps, but going by the $1399 150-500mm, we can perhaps expect a price tag in the $800-$1300 range.
So if you’re looking for a smaller yet powerful telephoto zoom – for sports photography, wildlife photography, bird photography, travel photography, and more – then keep an eye out for further news on the 50-400mm.
Now over to you:
What do you think of Tamron’s latest lens announcement? Are you pleased? Disappointed? Will you consider purchasing the 50-400mm? Share your thoughts in the comments below!