Travelling with the Ultra-Telezoom

Share this post

Practical test: TAMRON SP 150-600mm F/5.6-6.3 Di VC USD

Travelling with the Ultra-Telezoom

Photographer Peter van Bohemen would never have imagined that he would one day go travelling with a 600mm telephoto lens. But he has now done just that twice: He flew to America with the new Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5.6-6.3 Di VC USD in the spring – and then managed to even smuggle it along with him on a family holiday in the summer.

Yet just a few years ago Peter van Bohemen would have politely turned down the opportunity. He was absolutely convinced: "A 600mm telephoto lens? I'm certainly not prepared to drag one of those lenses around with me on holiday". However, this was before he discovered the new Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5.6-6.3 Di VC USD and the passionate photographer from Schiefbahn in the Lower Rhine region of Germany simply couldn't resist. "At first I simply couldn't believe it but this ultra-telezoom lens doesn't even weigh two kilograms and with a length of 26cm it is so compact that it fitted perfectly along with my other equipment in my photography backpack. It can be used even without a monopod for taking photos without any problems and can be easily carried around on a camera strap."

2400 Kilometres Across the USA

Peter van Bohemen's first trip took him on a journey from New York to Miami – a 2400 kilometre trip across eight US states in twelve days. A physically challenging itinerary that left the photographer little time to linger in one place. Nevertheless, he managed to take lots of fantastic photographs with the 150-600mm telezoom lens. As a result of the narrow field of view, it is still possible to capture detailed close-up images of even far away subjects.

"I was able to spot many subjects thanks to the long focal length that I would otherwise never have reached with a standard telephoto lens. This enabled me to concentrate on some unusual photographs that are certainly not on every photographer's wish list while travelling", explained Peter van Bohemen enthusiastically.

Depending on the zoom setting, the extremely small field of view of 16 to 4 degrees makes it possible to capture a very tight composition. And as a result of the narrow image section, the foreground and background appear to lie close to one another. "This effect was particularly noticeable when photographing the skyscrapers in New York."

Optical Show of Strength

The journey continued on via Philadelphia to Washington D.C. And the wish list of photographic subjects naturally included the White House in Washington. Yet as Peter van Bohemen took up his position in front of the official residence of the US President with his 600mm lens, he suddenly found himself to be the focus of attention. "I entered into a sort of optical duel with one of the security personnel on the roof, who obviously felt a little uneasy about my black lens fixed to a tripod. Rather than being surrounded by tourists, I was suddenly circled by a number of well-dressed men casting critical glances at my equipment." Initially, the photographer bravely continued to shoot photos but then decided instead to make an orderly retreat. An intensive game of questions and answers with the Men in Black would have endangered the ambitious schedule for the trip. "Anyway, while I was standing there, Barack Obama was nowhere to be seen."

He did, however, manage to take further photos of the Capitol undisturbed. At dusk, he was able to capture atmospheric twilight photos with the ultra-telezoom lens. And Peter van Bohemen continued to take photos of his journey at the other stops on the trip – Richmond, Charleston, Savannah, Jacksonville and Miami – even when there was relatively little light. "In the process, it was often possible to dispense with the need for a stand. Thanks to the image stabiliser on the Tamron 150-600mm, you hardly need to give any thought to the old shutter speed rule when taking hand-held photos."

So Far Away Yet So Near

There was barely time to process all of the photos back in Germany before Peter van Bohemen was soon on his travels again to the French Atlantic coast with his children and all their gear in tow. "Although the aim was first and foremost to enjoy a relaxed family holiday, I nevertheless packed my camera equipment in the boot of the car – including the 150-600mm lens." A decision that the photographer would certainly not regret.

At the Dune of Pilat, Peter van Bohemen photographed the paragliders that set off from the largest shifting sand dune in Europe. In some of the photographs, the paragliders appear to be so near that it is as if the photographer himself was in the air with them. "The ultra-telezoom lens enabled me to focus in on the subjects so closely that it appeared as if I was part of the group", is how, in the same breath, the photographer both raved about and praised the high image quality achieved with the Tamron 150-600mm F/5.6-6.3 Di VC USD. The high quality resolution became apparent when zooming into the photos – making it possible to reproduce even the smallest details.

In order to avoid chromatic aberrations, which typically occur in telezoom photography, the Tamron engineers have built three low-dispersion elements into the lens. In addition, the lenses are protected by Tamron's newly developed eBAND coating, which efficiently reduces undesired flare on the glass surfaces and thus increases the brilliance of the picture.

"All in all, I was thoroughly impressed with the new 150-600 lens from Tamron. This lens offers me the highest optical quality, solid workmanship and optimal handling at a very attractive price. A simply great overall package", was the conclusion reached by Peter van Bohemen following his intensive practical test. "The lens is compact enough to always take with you everywhere. The huge focal length range and the ergonomically designed tripod mount, which can also be practically gripped with your hand, make it easy to photograph lots of different subjects even from one single location."

The Equipment

"I have a comprehensive set of equipment from which I always use what is needed on the particular day in question. Alongside two full-frame DLSRs – Canon EOS 5D III and EOS 6D – my rucksack also contains some fixed focal length lenses, a special tilt-shift lens and the following Tamron lenses: Tamron SP 24-70mm F/2.8 Di VC USD, Tamron SP AF 90mm F/2.8 Di MACRO 1:1,
Tamron SP AF 28-75mm F/2.8 XR Di LD Aspherical [IF] Macro, Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 VC USD.”

5 Tips for Telezoom Photography

  1. Take photographs using a larger aperture in order to achieve especially beautiful background blurring (Bokeh) with the telezoom lens. The longer the focal length, the better the associated cropping effect.
  2. As a result of the long focal length, the spatial depth in the image appears to decrease. Use this effect in a targeted manner to make elements of the picture appear nearer to one another than they are in real life.
  3. Use the long focal length to focus on far-away objects such as timid wild animals in full-format. This enables you to produce photographs that suggest you were right at the centre of the action.
  4. Use a stand to take photographs. This will enable you to better compose your photographs in the ultra-telezoom range. A monopod is practical if you need to hold the telezoom still for a long period of time.
  5. Switch on the image stabiliser when taking hand-held photographs. In the ideal case, you save around four exposure levels, meaning that even at a shutter speed of 1/80 of a second, it is still possible to shoot sharp photos with a 600mm focal length.

About the author: Peter van Bohemen

Peter van Bohemen began taking photos at the age of 14. At the time, he experimented a lot with analogue photography and started enjoying photography more and more. The passionate photographer has worked full-time as a project manager at a software company for 25 years. The fact that his name is familiar to many photographers is due to one reason: He successfully took part in the first "FotoTV Challenge" held by in 2011.

Similar article