Writer’s Favorite Wildlife Lens – Tamron 150-600mm

Writer with Tamron 150-600 on his Nikon D7100 in Le Claire Iowa. Photo by: J. Todd Polling

Writer Bruce Wunderlich with Tamron 150-600mm on his Nikon D7100 in Le Claire, Iowa. Photo by: J. Todd Poling

One of my favorite subjects to photograph is wildlife. In the past, great wildlife images were very difficult for me to shoot because my close presence usually meant disturbing the wild creature I had my eye on. I began looking for a longer lens with plenty of reach that wasn’t going to break my piggy bank. So, after much patient and thorough research, I purchased the Tamron 150-600mm SP F/5-6.3 Di VC USD zoom lens for my Nikon D7100.

The reach of this lens gave me some great results right out of the box, but I will have to admit that it takes some practice to photograph moving subjects, such as birds in flight, with this lens. Tamron 150-600mm does have some limitations, but one thing you will find with any telephoto lens is that no matter how much you have, you will always want more.

Technical Specifications:

  • Focal length: 150-600mm (equivalent to 225-900mm on a cropped sensor)
  • Maximum aperture: f/5- f/6.3
  • Available mounts: Nikon, Canon and Sony
  • Minimum focus distance: 8.86′ (2.7 m)
  • Weight: 4.3 lb (1.95 kg)

Compared to Prime lens

Of course, this lens I purchased doesn’t match the quality of a prime lens like the Nikon 6oomm f/4. But besides costing around $8000 less then the Nikon lens, it has a few other advantages over its prime equivalent. Besides the heftier price tag, the Nikon prime weighs in at over 11 pounds compared to just over 4 pounds  (1.95 kg) for the Tamron. Unless you are a body builder, hand-holding the prime for an extended period of time is nearly impossible. The Tamron 150-600mm can easily be hand-held, though I recommend using a Gimbal head on your tripod for smoother panning. While the Nikon Prime is a fixed 600mm focal length, the Tamron zooms from 150-600mm, great for those opportunities when you unexpectly get very close to the wildlife, and you can quickly adjust and zoom back.

Be Prepared

The best way to get great wildlife images is to always be prepared. This lens is small enough that I leave it on my camera all the time in my camera bag, so if I happen onto a sudden wildlife encounter I don’t lose time switching out my original lens to the Tamron and miss the opportunity to get the image.

Eagle Shoot in Iowa

Recently, I had the opportunity to take a road trip with friends to Le Claire, Iowa, to photograph bald eagles on the Mississippi River. This was the perfect chance for me to put my Tamron 150-600mm to good use. Here are a few of my favorite images captured with the Tamron on the trip.

Flying into the Sunset  Focal Length: 600mm 1/1000 of second, f/6.3 with ISO 400

Flying into the Sunset
Focal length: 600mm, 1/1000th of second, f/6.3, ISO 400

Focal Length 360mm 1/2500 of a second, f/6.3, ISO 1000 im Aperture priority mode.

Focal length 360mm, 1/2500th of a second, f/6.3, ISO 1000 in aperture priority mode.

Sweet Spot

From 150-450 mm, images shot with this lens are really sharp. From 450-600 mm, the results are a little softer, but in most cases it still captures very useable images. In good light the autofocus performs quickly and accurately, while in low light it is some what slower. But for the price, this is a very nice lens.

Image of Eagle on left was captured at 600mm and image on right was captured at 450mm. Image on right has a little more detail in the feathers.

Image of the eagle on left was captured at 600mm and image on right was captured at 450mm. Image on right has a little more detail in the feathers.

Focal Length: 600mm. 1/800th of a second, f/6.3, ISO 320

Focal length: 600mm, 1/800th of a second, f/6.3, ISO 320

This juvenile Bald Eagle was captured in bright mid day light. Focal Length: 450mm, 1/1000th of a second, f/6.3, ISO 320

This juvenile bald eagle was captured in bright midday light. Focal length: 450mm, 1/1000th of a second, f/6.3, ISO 320


In my opinion, if you are in the market for a versatile wildlife lens and are on a budget, the Tamron 150-600mm would be a very good choice. I’ve been pleased with the wildlife images I’ve captured with mine, and am looking forward to getting even better ones with practice. That’s why it’s my favorite wildlife lens.

What is your favorite wildlife lens?

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category

Bruce Wunderlich is a photographer from Marietta, Ohio. He became interested in photography as a teenager in the 1970s, and has been a passionate student of the art ever since. Bruce recently won Photographer’s Choice award at the 2014 Shoot the Hills Photography Competition in the Hocking Hills near Logan, Ohio. He has also instructed local classes in basic digital photography. Check out Bruce’s photos at Flickr

  • Harry Birks

    I to have a Tamron 150-600 and a Nikon D3200 love the camera and the shoots I get . but in reel new to this so am still Learning, but have fun doing so.

  • VertexWolf

    Some people are just insane with their reasoning. The lens is amazing, had it since it came out for the Nikon, use a D7200 now and my copy of the lens is tack sharp, and for any issues post processing does the job. If you’re going to be super pissy with the sharpness, get the Sigma with USB dock and modify any abnormalities to have perfect focus at every range. If you stick with 500mm you’re going to be close to high end Nikon lens.

  • I haven’t tried the Tamron but I did try the Sigma C 150-600 and sent it back, the images I get with the 1Canon 100-400L even after cropping to match the reach is so much sharper and the 100-400 isn’t that much more expensive, I do want the extra reach so I just bought the Canon 1.4 extender, hopefully it won’t disappoint, this was taken with my 100-400 at 400 cropped

  • I totally agree, stay with the manufacturers lens

  • Frank

    Have you experienced
    the focus lock-up that some people mentioned with the D7100?

  • cr io

    “….. 1stop advantage…..”
    NOT….try 1/3 rd stop Mr Pro! What a jerk!

  • Craig Anthony Evans

    Thanks for the article Bruce. I purchased the Tamron 150-600mm lens late year, i was having a blast with it until all of a sudden it started taking constant out of focus pictures. I was worried that somehow I was doing something wrong as I took the lens back to the seller only to have them constantly tell me that there was nothing wrong with it(One employee treated me as if i was dumb and that he was a pro), so I took their review as gospel taking the lens back only to have it shoot out of focus once again. Finally I said enough and insisted that the lens go back to the manufacturer. Since being returned to me from Maxwell i think they are called in Australia and having a few changes implemented im back to taking sharp in focus pictures that im happy with. Im not sure what change fixed the lens, its firmware was updated, had software adjustments, VC adjustments, and a couple of other things. Anyway its back to shooting normal shots although Im considering wether to have it calibrated to my camera?(Canon 70D) Apart from the drama its a solid lens that has so much potential. Fantastic shots of the Eagles Bruce.

  • Todd Wallarab

    I have that combo. You will be happy!

  • Todd Wallarab

    I have that combo. You will be happy!

  • Robin Strand

    The Nikon is NOT very sharp wide open at 400mm, and will therefore not be suited for cropping. I sold mine and bought the Sigma S – version of 150-600mm.

  • RayL

    I got the Tamron 150-600 for the affordability. I’ve always been a fan of zoom lenses for their versatility. These pictures were from my first “test” shots within the first few days of getting the lens. I using on a cropped sensor Canon 70D. The jet ski shot was halfway across the lake at about 150 yards give or take. That was my second day of using this lens.

  • David

    Why is there always some ignorant idiot who, in these perfectly useful discussions, resorts to personal abuse to make their point? It’s so immature and nasty.

  • Veronica Koehne

    Just got this lens for my Canon Rebel EOS T5 and so far I love it-with practice I hope to get the shots I’m looking for. Biggest adjustment for me with this lens is holding the lens and camera at the same time-haven’t had a chance to try it with the tripod yet due to the wet weather here in Ohio (been shooting birds out my bedroom window when they are at the feeders for now)

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