Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Sony A7R2 And Tamron 150-600mm F5-6.3

Dale Matson

Click On Photographs To Enlarge
Sony A7R2 With Tamron 150-600 lens

I am primarily a mountain landscape photographer. This generally does not require a super telephoto lens but I also have been attempting to photograph the endangered Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep for a few years and have gone from the Sony G 70-200mm lens to the Canon 100-400mm lens and to the Sony G SAL 70-400mm lens. I have even carried the Canon lens over Baxter Pass (elevation 12,300’) on the chance that I might see the sheep.

This spring I had an opportunity to go on a field trip co-sponsored by the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Foundation and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The leaders were able to put us directly below the sheep but they were high above us and could only be seen with binoculars or spotting scopes. Needless to say, even a cropped photograph with my Sony lens was too small and unsatisfactory. After two more attempts it became obvious to me that I needed a lens with more reach.

I went with the Canon-Tamron lens adapted to my Sony A7R2 with the Viltrox EF-NEXII adapter. I have taken this lens on day hikes but weighing 5.5 lbs. inside a protective case this lens will never be a part of my backpacking experiences. It weighs more than my tent and sleeping bag combined!

I want to discuss my experiences with the lens on the Sony Camera. The adapter does allow for autofocus and it can be crisp or it can be slow to focus. I set the focus menu to “Phase Detection”. Sometimes, for no reason it will not autofocus and the focus peaking will come on as if the lens was in manual focus mode. I have learned to shut the camera off and turn it on again and this will usually reacquire the autofocus.

I have used it hand held, on a monopod and on a tripod. If you plan on using a tripod, buy one that is sturdy because I found it difficult to lock the camera/lens on what I wanted to photograph. It wanted to drop down some after I had tightened it.

Most of my shots have been hand held or resting on something. The more a shot is magnified, the harder it is to get a sharp shot. For example most 150mm shots tend to be sharp when viewed “actual size”. Such is not the case at 600mm even with a tripod. The auto focus also works better at lower magnification. Some of the problems I blame on bad air. When I am photographing a mountain that is 20 miles away, I am shooting through lots of polluted air. This time of year, there are only occasional afternoon showers in the mountains.

Another quirk is when the lens is mounted on the camera; the camera recognizes it as a cropped lens and shoots photographs that are half the 42 MP file size. I had to turn off the auto crop feature in the menu. Of course if you want more reach than 600mm, you can always crop the photograph in Photoshop. I also set the camera to “auto” mode. Most of the shots are 1/500 second, which is a little slow for 600mm.

I like the lens because of the reach and occasionally get sharp photographs even at 600mm hand held. One individual on a photography blog said that the bokeh was terrible. I am hardly concerned about that when the photograph was perhaps the closest ever taken of a Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep in the wild.

For someone who is a Zeiss fan boy, I must say however that colors don’t exactly “pop” with the Tamron lens. The adapted Canon and Sony Sal lenses had as many problems and the Canon was even worse in terms of sharpness. I think the retail price of about $1,000.00 made this lens my best choice until a native e-mount long-range telephoto lens becomes available. I won’t hold my breath however.

If you are familiar with this lens/camera combination and have tips, I’d be glad to hear from you. If you are considering this combination, I hope this was useful.

 Osprey 500mm
 600mm Sierra Nevada Bighorn Ram
 300mm Banner Peak
 150mm Edison Lake 
 600mm Osprey With Stick For Nest Repair
 600mm Sierra Nevada Bighorn Ewe
 150mm Sierra Nevada From College Rock (Elevation 9,100')

1 comment:

  1. I traded in the Tamron Lens toward the Canon 400 5.6 lens. Until Sony or Zeiss comes up with a native long lens (greater than 300mm) I will be using the Canon lens. The Canon lens has less reach than the Tamron but the images were often not sharp and the color less than desired.