Tamron 150-600 VS Nikon 200-500 for surfing photography


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Apr 24, 2012
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Hi Everybody,

I'm a surfing photographer looking to upgrade from a 300mm lens to either the Tamron or the Nikon. accurate and fast focus is very important to me so i was wondering if the F6.3 at the long end of the Tamron doesn't give it a big disadvantage compared to the Nikon at the long end, the Nikon lens has a F5.6 that also as i understood utilizes all the focus point in most cameras. my question is, will i REALLY feel a BIG difference when working with countinues 9 point AF at F6.3 if i acquire focus from the main middle focus point justifing the buy of the Nikon over the Tamron or is it negligible?.

There is quite the difference in price between the two lenses (a 1/3 less on the Tamron here), and the longer range of the Tamron makes it more attractive to me because i'm shooting on a D610 in the meantime (planning to give my brother my D5100)...might upgrade to a D7200 for more reach in the future but first i plan to invest in a new lens.

I greatly appreciate any help\advice.
Thank you.
All I know is that own brand lenses are always better long term option. I've seen fab shots with this Tamron but even though its cheaper and maybe as good as the nikon there is NO guarantee that it will work in 4 yrs on replacement body. For this reason alone I think even the sigma option is better as it can get firmware updates via its dock system.

Reading reviews and looking etc these 3 lenses are close, but the nikon does seem a little better from what I have seen on the interwebz
Do you mean that in 4 years it won't work because of build quality or it won't have lens support for future Nikon F mount? - i never heard anything about lenses going obsolete apart from technical issues of course.

The question is if the Nikon is 500$ better then the Tamron...if its close enough in quality its best to buy the Tamron...but there is a very important issue of focusing accuracy of the tamron compared to the nikon...specially in sports...i'll add that mostly i shoot in good light conditions mostly ISO 100 1/1000...so no problem of light in most cases. I'm guessing (more like hoping), that the Nikon & Tamron are equal on focus speed in good light...Nikon might be faster and\or better in lower light.

I wrote as well about the F5.6 compared to F6.3 at the long end. this matters because of most nikon auto focus systems work best until F5.6...but will it make such a difference in good light? - were talking about a 0.7 difference here.
I mean that third party lenses are reverse engineered. Scour the net and you'll see issues people have when they get a new camera, old third party lenses don't work anymore because new technology in New cameras makes them obsolete.
It doesnt make them obsolete - it makes them incompatible. Thats something very different.

Nikon and Canon have a lot of third party lenses, but they have no incentive to support them. So if something breaks, its broken.

Sigma at least allows to upgrade the firmware so in that event there is hope for a fix. Tamron and Tokina unfortunately do not have this advantage just yet - hopefully they'll do that at some point in the future.

Of course Zeiss, Voigtlander etc only offer manual lenses, so those cant break.
If its not relevant for the next 10 years it shouldn't really matter to me...i mean, i don't expect lenses to last 10 years of almost daily use or lets say twice a week at least...if it was a huge issue i'm sure Tamron and Sigma wouldn't sell as well as they do today.

Anyhow...if anybody knows if there is a big difference in speed of acquiring focus and exact focus between F5.6 and F6.3 it will be great...i could actually test it myself but it will only test my camera body capability not the lenses were talking about.
I had the opportunity to borrow ByronBrant's Nikon 200-500 and drag race it against my Tamzooka.

My main objective was to see if the Nikon, shot at 500 and cropped 20%, outperformed the Tamron at 600mm with no crop. My unscientific results: It's a draw.

My next simple test was to compare the Nikon VR against Tamrons' VC. Winner: Nikon. By a mile.

I also did some quick tests between the AF speed. Winner: Nikon.

Then, on a lark, I tried tossing a Nikon 1.4x VII TC on the Nikon. Results: The Nikon 200-500 suffered unnoticable IQ loss, nor did AF or VR fail. With the 1.4 on the Tamron, the lens would hunt through the full range and rarely lock on focus.

These results have prompted me to add the Nikon 200-500 to my GAS list, selling the Tamron to help fund it.

My suggestion: Get the Nikon.
Thanks Sparky, its a tough choice between price and range vs a bit more quality but less range...i'm looking now at some flickr photos of the 150-600 of birds mainly and its quite impressive..from what i saw, i don't think i'll notice the IQ seriously in real world shooting. i'm leaning towards the tamron yet i know you get more quality generally with nikon...for surfing 600mm is quite the difference then 500mm...and focusing might be a little slower but it shouldn't really be a big difference in good light...tough choice...if only the nikon was 600mm instead of 500mm i wouldn't mind paying the extra 500$ for the nikon.
Might not help much but.. I've seen some shots on my own computer when a friend compared the canon 400mm f/5.6 prime
with that Tamron for his 7D. The Canon was sharper even when cropped to resemble the 600mm of the Tamron, and the 7D
is not really such a great hi-res camera to begin with.

Tony Northrup did the very same comparison and also found the Tamron to be soft at anything over 500mm, and much
preferred the shots from the canon 400 prime even with a 1.4x tele converter. Now, there isn't such a lens on the Nikon
side but I'd probably stay away from that Tamron.

Not sure how the new Sigma 150-600 compares since there's 2 versions.
The great thing is that youll most likely be shooting in good lighting, where the speed difference doesn't matter as much.

I've had no issue with aquiring and maintaining focus, but I know Runnah said he didn't like the way it performed when shooting downhill skiing.

I have a sneaky suspiscion the Nikon would perform better in those regards. I believe the VR is geared a lot more towards sports than the Tamron. I'm toying with the idea of selling mine to accquire the 200-500.

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