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Tamron 200-500MM F/5-6.3 Di LD (IF)

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26 176100 Jun 6, 2009
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62% of reviewers $811.17
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This is a new zoom lens from Tamron that lets you bring your far away subjects up close while compressing the distance between the main subject and the background for professional-looking results. Even while covering up to a 500mm that enables you to take ultra telephoto shots of subjects further than the eye can see, its design is extremely lightweight and compact. When mounted on an APS-C size digital SLR camera, it provides a focal length equivalent to a 760mm for super ultra telephoto imaging.

Model A08
Lens Construction (Groups/Elements) 10/13
Angle of View 12°-5°
Type of Zooming --
Diaphragm Blade Number 9
Minimum Aperture F/32
Minimum Focus 2.5m (98.4") (entire zoom range)
Macro Mag. Ratio 1:5.0
Filter Diameter ø86
Weight 1237g (43.6oz)
Diameter x Length ø3.7 x 8.9in.
(ø93.5 x 227.0mm)
Accessory Lens hood, Detachable Filter Effect Control
Mount Canon, Minolta-D, Nikon-D


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Mike Ganz
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Registered: Sep 5, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 2186
Review Date: Nov 12, 2006 Recommend? no | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 5 

Pros: Build quality, balance, range, bokeh

Maybe I have a bad copy, I don't know. I tried many shots at various apertures and focal lengths, but neither seemed very sharp (all were taken at ISO 100). Most of my neighbors have metal horse barns, so I figured shooting the barns would be a good indicator of sharpness due to all of the vertical lines in the barn siding. I wasn't very impressed with the results. The pictures looked good when sized for the screen, but at 100% the lens limitations became obvious. No amount of USM seemed to make them acceptable. Looks like I'll probably send the lens back in exchange for the Canon 100-400 IS zoom. Its a bigger dent to the wallet, but if I keep exchanging the Tamron in order to find a decent copy, I'll probably spend the balance in shipping fees. Too bad...the Tamron is built and balanced really well. If the picture quality had been better, this would definitely be a keeper.

Nov 12, 2006
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Registered: Oct 30, 2004
Location: Canada
Posts: 318
Review Date: Oct 31, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $750.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Surprisingly very sharp, great zoom range, good AF lightweight, nice close tolerances on manufacturing.
Lens hood a little long, vibrates in wind. The actual bayonet mount on the hood is quite weak.

I was a little leery when I bought this lens, my first "super-zoom", after having used high quality Nikon and Canon prime telephotos for the past 20 years. I wanted something a little more versatile than those, so I bought this Tamron. I can now say that I have no regrets, at all. Maybe I got a particularly sharp copy, but this lens is as sharp wide open at 500mm as my Canon 400mm 5.6L lens. I know there are those of you who are thinking that I don't know what I'm talking about, but I've been photographing wildlife for 20 years now (professionally for much of it) and checking the images between the two lenses, the Tamron is virtually the same. I've also checked it against a Sigma 400mm tele-macro (which is well known as a sharp lens) and the Tamron is definitely superior when shot wide open. Of course the 200-500mm performs even better at f8 or f9. At shorter focal lengths the lens is superb, as well. After spending all those years hefting around big, fast glass, the advent of great high ISO performance in the newest digital SLR's means that the speed advantage is all but gone, and the 200-500mm is a viable alternative for the work I do, mostly editorial work for books and magazines, etc.

Oct 31, 2006
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Registered: Jul 17, 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 929
Review Date: Sep 21, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Compact, cover good range. Sharper than some older digital primes. sharpness is good as the Canon 400mm 5.6L with extra range to 500mm.

I have been shooting this lens with Canon 20D 1D MKII and 5D bodies. Works great with all formats.

After owning quite a few Canon L and non-L lens, this Tamron lens is quite impressive. It out sharps some of my old manual focus prime lens with great clarity and crisp image.

Focus speed is average, fast enough for wild life like tracking birds.

A good weight balance for handheld. Great lens for outdoor.

CA control is very good. It is noticeable only in extreme situation. But so as Canon L lens in the same situation.

It has good contrast but not as high contrast as Canon or Nikon. Good enough for manual focusing.

Manual focusing ring is good. Easy access.

According to
Sharpness outperforms the Sigma 50-500mm.
The weight is also much lighter than sigma.

The average new retail price is $839. It is hard to beat considering that you can use it as a good 500mm prime lens.
It is much better than the low end 500mm prime lens like the sigma series.
There is nothing I can really complain about this lens.
It is definitely a keeper if you don't plan to carry many prime lens.

Sep 21, 2006
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Registered: Feb 24, 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 106
Review Date: Jun 7, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $789.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Light weight, good sharpness, good value.
Tripod collar.

I prefer this lens over the "Bigma" (I have owned both) because of the weight issue. The Tamron is much lighter without being "cheap" quality-the overall build is excellent. Autofocus is good, the speed being about the same as the "Bigma" although the "Bigma" is quieter. Image quality is at least as good with the Tamron and may be slightly better.

The only issue I have with this lens is the tripod mount which will not tighten down as it should. The design has a pin which should go into a small hole but instead goes into a "depression" about a quarter inch wide. This creates "play" in the mount and it is possible to move the collar while it is susposed to be tight. I have a piece of sponge in there now that stops this but it stays in horizontal position all the time-if I want vertice I have to crop later. If anyone knows of another mount that will fit this lens or has another solution please let me know!

The tripod collar aside, I would recommend this lens over the "Bigma" and any other third party "superzoom".

Here is a sample-many others in my bird gallery:

Jun 7, 2006
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Registered: Jan 21, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 4165
Review Date: Mar 8, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $850.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Light weight - easy to handhold, 500mm focal range, sharp images throughout the zoom range,
86mm filters can get expensive, No IS or HSM/USM (but fast enough for birding)

I have previously owned the Sigma 50-500mm EX HSM and more recently the Canon 100-400mm L zoom. Both are excellent lenses – the canon being the better of the lot. I am not even bothering to compare the Tamron or the other two zooms to the Canon 200mm f2.8 L, 300mm F4.0L, 400mm f5.6 L, or the 500mm f4.0L. The primes are in a league of their own with no room for cheaper zooms such as these.

The Sigma 50-500mm was too heavy to carry around and not very easy to handhold. A tripod/monopod was a must with this lens. Images from the Sigma were sharp, but somehow always appeared duller than those from the Canon 100-400L. As far as I could tell, Sigma’s HSM was about as fast as the Canon USM speed. I never bought the Sigma for focal ranges under 200mm and seldom used the 50mm-200mm range. So that ruled out my keeping the Sigma. Plus the HSM motor got noisy after a while.

The Canon 100-400L I owned was a very sharp copy and was the fastest telephoto (AF speed) zoom among the 3 lenses. It was more portable than the Sigma, but was limited to 400mm. The IS and the push pull design were it’s positives to me.

Sigma 50-500mm: 8.6” long x 3.7” dia - 4.1Lbs (1.8 Kg)
Canon 100-400mm : 7.4” long x 3.6” dia – 3.1 lbs (1.4kg)
Tamron 200-500mm: 8.9” long x 3.7” dia – 2.7lbs (1.2Kg)

The good:
· The most important factor was the lower weight of the Tamron and the size – it does extend out to about 19” at the 500mm focal range (yes.. it is a big lens), but it is extremely well balanced on most SLR bodies. I have yet to use a tripod for any of the shots I have made with this lens - high percentage of keepers. I removed the tripod mount collar for hand held shots to lessen the weight even more.
· Images are very sharp at the 500mm zoom end and “wicked” sharp at the 200-350mm focal range with the lens wide open. Images from the Sigma were not as good at the 500mm focal length in comparison to the Tamron. Images taken with Canon L @ 400mm and the Tamron @ 400mm are not easily distinguishable – image quality is more than acceptable on both.
· The contrast is better than the Sigma and as good as the 100-400L.
· Comes with a hood and a tripod mount collar(so do the other two in the comparison)
· Comes with a practical soft case that is easy to carry around using the shoulder compared to the sigma case which is not so easy to tote around
· The finish is very good and this is a sturdy lens
· The lowest priced alternative of the three lenses available in this zoom range. Over $140 lower than the Sigma and $500-$600 less than the Canon.
· Love the Tamron Lens cap styles (similar to nikon) which allow their removal even with the hood on.
· The filter ring attachment is a very good idea. The CP-L filter screws on to the adapter which then screws on to the lens on one side and the hood on the other side. It permits the photographer to adjust a C-Pl filter easily even with the hood on as it provides a bigger rotating ring than the CP-L filter does – a minor convenience.

The Bad (not really all that bad):
· The focus ring (located near the mount) moves as the lens achieves focus – not a big deal as your left hand is at the zoom ring anyways and far enough away from the focus ring. In fact, I have to hold it at the zoom ring to facilitate zooming as well as for the proper balance with the SLR.
· AF speed is quite good to catch small birds in flight, but the lack of an AF limiter sometimes causes the lens to complete a focus turn before it can return to achieve focus for the required subject distance. This can take almost 1 second – which is an eternity when shooting fast moving subjects.
· The Tamron does not have FTM like the 100-400L. Then again, when shooting fast moving subjects, I have seldom used the FTM feature on any canon tele’s as most of my shots need AF anyways.
· Going from the 200mm focal length to the 500mm focal length takes more than a single turn of the zoom ring – takes about 1.5 turns for me to get the in-camera crop just right. I am nitpicking now as I have been spoilt with the push-pull zoom of the Canon 100-400L.
· As with the Sigma 50-500mm, the Tamron uses 86mm filters which start out at $80 (Hoya) (and can go as high as $242 for a circular polarizer). I am using a Heliopan 86mm UV filter on my lens and It works great. The Canon L with it's 77mm filter threads get the advantage here

For the price and portability it offers for a lens in it's class, this lens deserves a 10.

It does not offer a high speed or ultrasonic motor like the Sigma or Canon or Image Stabilization like the L. But the weight, focal range, and price make up for it. If I had to rate only 3 lenses - the Sigma, Canon, and the Tamron, I would rate the canon L at 9.8, the Tamron at 9.6, and the Sigma at 8.5.

I can now say I have a tele zoom lens I am finally contend with…. the 500mm focal range, lighter weight, and the sharp images with a high rate of keepers has made this one of my more used lenses for birding.

Actually who am I kidding… a 200-500mm f4.0, with IS and push pull zoom would be perfect, but until such a lens comes along, I am more than happy with the Tamron 200-500mm f5-6.3 XR Di zoom.
Highly recommend.

Mar 8, 2006
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Registered: Dec 22, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 617
Review Date: Jan 22, 2006 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $879.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Lightweight. Includes Nice Case, Shade, and Tripod Ring. Warranty!
Autofocus Hunts In Low Light. A Little Soft at 500mm Wide Open

In my hunt for telephoto range I decided on this lens over the Sigma for two reasons. It is lightweight and easy to hold! Tamron has one of the best warranties in the industry! I have seen photos from both lenses and for the money the Tamron is a really sweet lens. Handheld shots are easy as long as you keep the ISO and shutter speed up to prevent shake. The autofocus is pretty fast for a non-HSM lens and equally as quiet in the field. The only issue I have seen with focus is in lower light such as late afternoon when the sun is going down it tends to hunt. This is not really a problem and you can easily switch to manual focus and get the shot if it is a problem. As far as image quality is concerned, most of my images are sharp and clean at all focal lengths. It does appear to be slightly soft above 450mm but a little sharpening in Photoshop will usually fix things up. The color accuracy really amazes me considering the low price you pay for this lens. I have taken duck photos with this lens and color and saturation are pretty close to both of my L lenses. The construction of this lens seems to be pretty good overall. The barrel is made from plastic which at first worried me but it does have a metal lens mount. The shade is huge and attaches easily to the front. One thing that Tamron has done is add a rotating filter ring assembly to the front of the lens in order to mount a circular polarizer filter. Simply turning the ring allows you to adjust the filter without worrying about removing the shade. Tamron includes a zippered case that is actually made from wetsuit type material and provides excellent protection when not in use. A removable carrying strap is also included. Some have commented about the focus ring. In autofocus mode it actually turns when in use. This has not been an issue for me since I usually hold the zoom ring when shooting. For the money this is a good lens. It's advantages are it's weight in the field, sharpness, and color accuracy as well as the included 6 year warranty. I considered selling this lens, only because I have the 100-400L which covers pretty close to the same focal range but then again I may just wait until I have a few primes before giving it up. Anyone considering an inexpensive telephoto lens should give this lens careful consideration.

Jan 22, 2006
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Registered: Mar 8, 2005
Location: United States
Posts: 394
Review Date: Apr 17, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $850.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Lightweight, solid build, accurate AF, hood, sharp at f/8 and smaller
Bit soft wide, minor CA at 450+, Bokah fair IMO

For my 20D, I debated long and hard between this lens, the EF 100-400 IS, and the EF 400 5.6. In the end I decided based on the Tamron's lightness and range: 200-500 best fit my needs. I've been happy with it's quick and accurate AF, though it struggles a bit in backlighting (i.e.: ducks on bright, backlit waters), and it's not quite quick enough for, say, Hummingbirds, but that's a tall order for any AF system. The biggest and best surprise for me is that the AF still works quite well with a Tamron 1.4x TC, giving me autofocus at 700mm and f/9 (which is not supposed to work on a 20D). The lens is light and easy to handle, I can take sharp handheld shots at 500mm no problem, even as slow as 1/320s when I've stayed off coffee. Not as slow as the shutter speeds you could get with 100-400IS perhaps, but it's also a much easier lens to hold in the first place.

One thing I don't like is that the focus ring needs to be avoided while spinning on AF, but it's placed right where I habitually put my left hand, so I'm having to retrain myself a bit.

The pictures are bright & sharp at all f-stops except wide open (6.3 at 500mm) and even that cleans up nicely with a little USM. There is a little CA when pixel peeping for 450+mm shots, but it's minor.

This lens is fun to use, has nice contrast and sharpness, produces lots of "keepers," and is easy to carry: it'll make it into my bag a lot, which is the most important characteristic for me. Excellent lens for the price.

Some examples:

Apr 17, 2005
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Registered: Mar 15, 2004
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 1
Review Date: Apr 12, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Size, weight, reach, quality, lens hood
Filter size, AF speed a little slow, MF ring rotates during AF

First impressions: Well built, easy to hold, very nice carry bag.

In use - image quality really impresses at all focal lengths, especially when stopped down to F8.

It is light enough to hand hold for flight shots but I prefer to use a tripod for stationary subjects.

The AF is OK - not as fast as a USM lens, but it's quiet and keeps track fairly well - this is on a 300D, whoch hasn't got the best AF system in the world.

I was surprised to find that I also get decent shots with this with the Kenko 1.4 pro TC, and the AF remains usable in good light.

All in all, this is the best affordable 500MM lens around at the moment, IMHO.

Apr 12, 2005
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Registered: Feb 4, 2005
Location: France
Posts: 10
Review Date: Feb 4, 2005 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: Easy to handle Well build quality Sharp even wide open
CA at the longer end No hypersonic motorisation

Only some months ago, people in quest of a zoom able to reach 500 mm had only one real option : the Bigma.

Tamron just released this new zoom, and by hazard in entered in a shop who was selling some. I tried it, and was surprised by it's sharpness. So I bought it.

This zoom is well built (typical Tamron construction). The focus ring is sweet, and the zoom ring is OK. This zoom is easy to handle. The AF speed is good, but slower than the hypersonic motorised lenses.

Optically wise, this lens is tight sharp at 200 mm, and quite sharp at 500 even wide open. The overall contrast and the color rendition are good. There is some amount of CA at 500 mm, but practically none at 200.

Conclusion : this lens is sharp, light, easy to handle and well build. Of course it's only 6,3 at the wide end, but for 900 $, this lens will allow you to take some nice shots. I don't know how it compare with the Bigma, but this lens should merit your consideration. I love it.

Feb 4, 2005
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Registered: Feb 4, 2005
Location: France
Posts: 10
Review Date: Feb 4, 2005 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Easy to handle, good sharpness
Chromatic abberation at 500 mm

There is not so much good zoom that reach 500 mm on the market. The tamron definitevely is a choice to consider.

The lens is well built, with a smooth focus ring. The zooming ring is a bit harder than the focus one, but is good.
This lens is easy to handle for a zoom with such a reach.
The AF speed is average, but good for a non USM zoom (my sigma 100-300 EX F4 is faster).

Optically this lens is sharp wide open, but give the best of itself stopped down at F8. At 200 mm this lens is tight sharp. At 500 it's softer, but still good enough for decents results.
There is some amount of CA at 500 mm, with purple fringing in very high contrasted situations.

Conclusion : there is now an another choice than the heavy bigma when you are in quest of a zoom who reach 500 mm.
You can make your own opinion with the samples displayed here :

Feb 4, 2005
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Tamron 200-500MM F/5-6.3 Di LD (IF)

Buy from B&H Photo
Reviews Views Date of last review
26 176100 Jun 6, 2009
Recommended By Average Price
62% of reviewers $811.17
Build Quality Rating Price Rating Overall Rating

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