Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Review

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens

Everyone loves having a telephoto zoom lens in their kits because this lens gets used frequently and captures valued images.

Most lens manufacturers, including Tamron, produce 100-400mm telephoto zoom lenses, and these models are extremely useful. Usually, I carry an ultra-wide-angle zoom lens, a standard zoom lens, and a telephoto zoom lens covering the 100-400mm range.

With the 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens, Tamron breaks out of the mold by starting the focal length range at 50mm, taking in an angle of view twice as wide as the 100-400mm alternatives provide. That angle of view range is sufficient to often eliminate the need to carry the standard zoom lens, with only a small gap between the ultra-wide-angle zoom lens's coverage and the 50mm angle of view. Would you rather carry two or three lenses? That question has an easy answer.

Lenses featuring an extended focal length range typically include sacrifices, and image quality is a common shortcoming of such lenses. In that regard, the Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens far exceeds expectations, and this lens's overall physical construction and performance do not disappoint.

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Angle View

Focal Length Range

The focal length range is the first consideration for zoom lens selection, and this lens's 8x zoom range is a huge asset. Focal length drives subject distance choices, which determine perspective, and when getting closer to the subject is not an option, this lens's long focal lengths become especially important.

Starting at 50mm, the highly-valued, hugely-popular standard focal length, and extending through the 400mm focal length range, this lens has many applications, including people, sports, wildlife, and landscapes.

The complete classic portraiture focal length range, the 85-135mm full-frame angle of view, is present, including for 1.5x APS-C cameras. With enough working distance, the wide end handles full-body portraits, and the long end invites tight headshots with good perspective.

This zoom range can capture the team photo and, moments later, reach deep into a sports field to capture the play.

Most of us reach for long focal lengths for wildlife photography, and this lens has those. Some of the best wildlife photos include the animal's surroundings, showing the environment. For that use, wider angles are often called for, and this lens covers that need yet can capture a tight wildlife portrait with a quick turn of the zoom ring.

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Fall Foliage Sample Picture

I love using telephoto lenses for landscape photography and usually have such a lens with me when pursuing these images. This lens's range is perfect for such use, and I'm likely to leave the standard zoom lens at home if this lens is in my bag.

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Mushrooms Sample Picture

The 50-400mm range is ideal for airshows, zoos, walks at the park or beach, along with a host of other uses. Detail subjects abound for this lens.

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Leaves Sample Picture

The following images illustrate the 50-400mm focal length range:

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Focal Length Range Example

Consider the angle of view your current lens has relative to what the Tamron 50-400 offers.

APS-C sensor format cameras utilize a smaller image circle than full-frame models, framing a scene more tightly (1.5x is the Sony angle of view equivalence multiplier). As a results, the full-frame 75-600mm angle of view lacks some of the wide-angle advantages, but the 600mm angle of view is outstanding for wildlife photography.

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Front View

Max Aperture

The f/4.5-6.3 in the name refers to the maximum aperture, the ratio of the focal length to the entrance pupil diameter, available in this lens.

The lower the aperture number, the wider the opening, and the more light the lens can deliver to the imaging sensor. Each "stop" in aperture change (full stop examples: f/4.0, f/5.6, f/8.0) increases or decreases the amount of light by a factor of 2x (a substantial amount).

Want a long focal length range that includes long telephoto focal lengths in a zoom lens without a large size, heavy weight, and high price? Expect that lens to have a variable max aperture.

Because aperture is measured as a ratio of lens opening to focal length and because this lens's maximum opening does not increase sufficiently with focal length increase to maintain the same ratio, there is a variable max aperture, ranging from f/4.5 to f/6.3 as the focal length range is increasingly traversed.

While the aperture change is continuous, narrowing as the focal length increases, the camera rounds the EXIF-reported aperture to the nearest 1/3 or 1/2 stop. Here are the focal length ranges for the Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens's reported 1/3 stop apertures.

50-60mm = f/4.5
61-83mm = f/5.0
84-150mm = f/5.6
151-400mm = f/6.3

While the f/4.5 range seems short, it is longer than the range for the widest advertised aperture range on many variable aperture lenses. The max aperture gradually narrows to a rather dark f/6.3 by 151mm.

A downside to the variable max aperture is that, by definition, the same max aperture cannot be used over the entire focal length selected. The camera automatically accounts for the changes in auto exposure modes (including M mode with Auto ISO), but using the widest-available aperture in manual exposure mode is somewhat complicated by the changing setting (an in-camera function may also accommodate the changes).

The additional light provided by wider aperture lenses permits sharp images of subjects in motion, with the camera handheld in lower light levels, and with lower (less noisy) ISO settings. In addition, increasing the aperture opening provides a shallower DOF (Depth of Field) that creates a stronger, better subject-isolating background blur (at equivalent focal lengths). Often critical is the improved low-light AF performance availed by a wide-aperture lens.

A narrow aperture's advantages are related to (often significantly) reduced lens element size, including smaller overall size, lighter weight, and lower cost.

With relatively narrow max apertures, this lens is not a good choice for photographing low light motion, such as indoor sports or outdoor sports on heavily cloudy days or in the shade, including after sunset. Setting the ISO to a very high number is the narrow aperture option for sharp low light, in-motion images, and noise then becomes is an image quality factor.

A big advantage of close focusing and long focal lengths is a strongly blurred background. This lens has a big close-focusing advantage at 50mm, and 400mm strongly magnifies the background blur.

These examples illustrate the maximum blur this lens can create:

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Maximum Blur Example

Only a 1/60 second shutter speed (twice the framerate) is needed for 30 fps video capture, and wide apertures are not often required to get 1/60 in normally encountered ambient lighting.

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Top View with Hood

Image Stabilization

The longer the focal length, the larger subject details (captured at the same distance) are rendered, and the more still the camera must be held to avoid subject details crossing imaging sensor pixels, the source of image blur. Image stabilization, VC (Vibration Compensation) in this case, is an extremely valuable feature in any lens and especially valuable in a telephoto lens.

One image stabilization benefit is its aid to AF precision. The camera's AF system can improve focus precision if the image it sees is stabilized.

Tamron does not provide an assistance rating in stops for the 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens.

Image stabilization is useful for stabilizing the viewfinder, aiding in optimal composition, and it significantly improves handheld movie recording quality.

"Using AI technologies, the lens chooses the appropriate compensation characteristics for videography at focal lengths of 100mm or less." [Tamron]

This VC implementation is extremely quiet, with a faint whir heard only by an ear nearly against the lens. While OSS is active, drifting of framing is not an issue, and the viewfinder view is well-controlled, not jumping at startup/shutdown and permitting easy reframing.

Mode I, Mode II (panning mode, stabilization in one direction only), and Off are featured via the switch.

When you need/want to leave the tripod behind, IS/OS/OSS is there for you, helping to ensure sharp images and adding significant versatility to this lens.

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Side Extended View with Hood

Image Quality

Whenever I see a focal length range significantly exceeding the commonly available range for a lens class, I fear that image quality has been sacrificed, and 8x is a long focal length range. Fortunately, as I shared at the beginning of the review, this lens's performance exceeded my expectations.

With a wide-open aperture, from 50mm through at least 380mm, this lens is very sharp in the center of the frame. At 400mm, f/8 is needed to get from slightly soft to the very sharp definition. F/8 brings modest improvement to 50mm image quality, but aside from 400mm, it creates little difference throughout the balance of the range.

Often, subjects are not placed in the center of a composition. In the periphery of the image circle, where light rays are refracted to a stronger angle than in the center, lenses typically show decreased sharpness. However, this one shows minimal image degradation in the corners at wide-open apertures, and f/8 produces even better results.

Taking the testing outdoors, we next look at a series of 100% resolution crop examples from the center of the frame. These images were captured in RAW format using a Sony Alpha 1 and processed in Capture One using the Natural Clarity method. The sharpening amount was set to only "30" on a 0-1000 scale. Note that images from most cameras require some level of sharpening, but too-high sharpness settings are destructive to image details and hide the deficiencies of a lens.

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Sharpness Comparison Example

50mm: f/4.5 | f/5.6   f/4.5 | f/5.6
100mm: f/5.6 | f/8.0   f/5.6 | f/8.0
200mm: f/6.3 | f/8.0   f/6.3 | f/8.0
400mm: f/6.3 | f/8.0   f/6.3 | f/8.0

These results look very nice.

Next, we'll look at a series of comparisons showing 100% resolution extreme bottom right corner crops captured and processed identically to the above center-of-the-frame images. The lens was manually focused in the corner of the frame to capture these images.

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Corner Sharpness Comparison Example

50mm: f/4.5 | f/5.6 | f/8.0
100mm: f/5.6 | f/8.0 | f/11.0
200mm: f/6.3 | f/8.0 | f/11.0
400mm: f/6.3 | f/8.0 | f/11.0

The wide results look great and the long results, more impacted by peripheral shading, are nice.

This lens does not exhibit focus shift, the plane of sharp focus moving forward or backward as the aperture is narrowed (residual spherical aberration or RSA). Many modern lenses automatically correct for focus shift, though focus breathing (more later) can create slight angle of view changes.

A lens is expected to show peripheral shading at the widest aperture settings when used on a camera that utilizes its entire image circle. The just-over 2 stops of corner shading at the focal length extremes is rather mild, and the mid focal lengths show even less. Stopping down to f/8 reduces the worst-case 400mm shading to about 1.5 stops, and f/11 cuts that amount in half.

APS-C format cameras using lenses projecting a full-frame-sized image circle avoid most vignetting problems. In this case, the about one-stop of corner shading showing at 400mm f/6.3 may be visible in select images, primarily those with a solid color (such as a blue sky) in the corners. Otherwise, shading will seldom be seen with this lens APS-C-mounted.

One-stop of shading is often used as the visibility number, though subject details provide a widely varying amount of vignetting discernibility. Vignetting is correctable during post-processing, with increased noise in the brightened areas the penalty, or it can be embraced, using the effect to draw the viewer's eye to the center of the frame. Study the pattern shown in our vignetting test tool to determine how your images will be affected.

Lateral (or transverse) CA (Chromatic Aberration) refers to the unequal magnification of all colors in the spectrum. Lateral CA shows as color fringing along lines of strong contrast running tangential (meridional, right angles to radii), with the mid and especially the periphery of the image circle showing the most significant amount as this is where the most significant difference in the magnification of wavelengths typically exists.

With the right lens profile and software, lateral CA is often easily correctable (often in the camera) by radially shifting the colors to coincide. However, it is always better to avoid this aberration in the first place.

Color misalignment can be seen in the site's image quality tool, but let's also look at a set of worst-case examples. The images below are 100% crops from the extreme top left corner of Sony a1 frames showing diagonal black and white lines.

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Lateral Chromatic Aberration Example

Only black and white colors should be present in these images, with the additional colors indicating the presence of lateral CA. The color separation is modest at the ends, transitioning to minor in the 200mm test.

A relatively common lens aberration is axial (longitudinal, bokeh) CA, which causes non-coinciding focal planes of the various wavelengths of light. More simply, different colors of light are focused to different depths. Spherical aberration, along with spherochromatism, or a change in the amount of spherical aberration with respect to color (looks quite similar to axial chromatic aberration but is hazier) are other common lens aberrations to observe. Axial CA remains somewhat persistent when stopping down, with the color misalignment effect increasing with defocusing. The spherical aberration color halo shows little size change as the lens is defocused, and stopping down one to two stops generally removes this aberration.

In the real world, lens defects do not exist in isolation, with spherical aberration and spherochromatism generally found, at least to some degree, along with axial CA. These combine to create a less sharp, hazy-appearing image quality at the widest apertures.

The examples below look at the defocused specular highlights' fringing colors in the foreground vs. the background. The lens has introduced any fringing color differences from the neutrally-colored subjects.

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Spherical and Axial Aberration Example

While modest color differences show at 50mm, the longer focal lengths show little differences.

Bright light reflecting off lens elements' surfaces may cause flare and ghosting, resulting in reduced contrast and sometimes interesting, usually destructive visual artifacts. The shape, intensity, and position of the flare and ghosting effects in an image are variable, dependent on the position and nature of the light source (or sources), selected aperture, shape of the aperture blades, and quantity and quality of the lens elements and their coatings. Additionally, flare and ghosting can impact AF performance.

"The 50-400mm also features BBAR-G2 (Broad-Band Anti-Reflection Generation 2) Coating that minimizes ghosting and flares and expresses the minute details of subjects even under backlit conditions." [Tamron]

Working in flare's favor is the relatively high 24-element count providing more surfaces. In our standard sun in the corner of the frame flare test, this lens shows modest flare effects but not an unusual amount.

Flare effects can be embraced or avoided, or removal can be attempted. Unfortunately, removal is sometimes very challenging, and in some cases, flare effects can destroy image quality.

Two lens aberrations are particularly evident in images of stars, mainly because bright points of light against a dark background make them easier to see. Coma occurs when light rays from a point of light spread out from that point instead of being refocused as a point on the sensor. Coma is absent in the center of the frame, gets worse toward the edges/corners, and generally appears as a comet-like or triangular tail of light which can be oriented either away from the center of the frame (external coma) or toward the center of the frame (internal coma). Coma clears as the aperture is narrowed. Astigmatism is seen as points of light spreading into a line, either sagittal (radiating from the center of the image) or meridional (tangential, perpendicular to sagittal). This aberration can produce stars appearing to have wings. Remember that Lateral CA is another aberration apparent in the corners.

The images below are 100% crops taken from the top-left corner of Sony a1 images captured at the widest available aperture.

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Coma Example

A lens specced as this one is not my first choice for photographing the night sky, but these results are, overall, decent.

With few outliers, zoom lenses show geometric distortion over most of their range. This one has modest pincushion distortion at 50mm that gradually increases to moderately strong pincushion distortion at 400mm

Most modern lenses have correction profiles available (including in-camera), and distortion can easily be removed using these. Still, distortion correction is destructive at the pixel level as some portion of the image must be stretched or the overall dimensions reduced.

As seen earlier in the review, it is easy to illustrate the strongest blur a lens can create, and telephoto lenses are inherently advantaged in this regard. Due to the infinite number of variables present among all available scenes, assessing the bokeh quality is considerably more challenging. Here are some f/11 (for diaphragm blade interaction) examples.

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Bokeh Example

The first set of examples shows defocused highlights appearing normal, with a relatively smooth fill. As expected for a lens with a narrow aperture, the f/11 highlight shapes are impacted little by the rounded diaphragm blades and remain nicely rounded.

The second set of examples shows full images reduced in size and looking very nice.

Do you ever intentionally photograph a scene out of focus? I find these images attractive and great for use as backgrounds to words.

Except for a small number of specialty lenses, the wide aperture bokeh in the frame's corner does not produce round defocused highlights, with these effects taking on a cat's eye shape due to a form of mechanical vignetting. If you look through a tube at an angle, similar to the light reaching the frame's corner, the shape is not round. That is the shape we're looking at here.

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Cat's Eye Bokeh Example

These results are not unusual, but the truncations are strong at 400mm. As the aperture narrows, the entrance pupil size is reduced, and the mechanical vignetting diminishes, making the corner shapes rounder.

A 9-blade count diaphragm will create 18-point sunstars (diffraction spikes) from point light sources captured with a narrow aperture. Generally, the more a lens diaphragm is stopped down, the larger and better shaped the sunstars tend to be. Unfortunately, a narrow max aperture lens does not afford much stopping down before reaching apertures where diffraction causes noticeable softening of details, and these lenses typically do not produce the biggest or best-shaped sunstars.

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Sunstar Effect Example

The 50mm example above shows the best f/16 star this lens produces.

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Design

"The generous and effective use of special lens elements, including two XLD (eXtra Low Dispersion), three LD (Low Dispersion), one GM (Glass Molded Aspherical) and one Hybrid Aspherical lens elements, thoroughly controls aberrations including axial chromatic aberrations." [Tamron]

Overall, this lens produces excellent image quality, especially for the focal length range and mid-level price.

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens on Tripod

Focusing

The Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens utilizes a VXD (Voice-coil eXtreme-torque Drive) linear motor focus mechanism. This lens quietly and accurately focuses very fast.

A narrow aperture lens will not be the best low-light performer, but I'm impressed at how well the Sony a1 focuses this lens in dim lighting.

Non-cinema lenses usually require refocusing after a focal length change. As illustrated in the 100% crops below, the reviewed lens exhibits close to parfocal characteristics. When focused at 400mm, zooming to wider focal lengths results in a relatively sharp subject. Electronic focus adjustments may create this positive effect as subjects appear to go out of focus momentarily during a very fast focal length change.

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Parfocal Example

These examples provide another look at the wide-open image quality this lens produces.

The Tamron 50-400 focus ring is just forward of the typical balance point of the lens. If full-time manual focus is active, inadvertent focus changes become a possibility.

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Side View

The textured, ribbed focus ring is somewhat small relative to the lens size but quite usable, and this ring provides a good manual focus ring experience.

Out of the box, this lens features a non-linear manual focus ring. The rotation amount for a full extent change seemed difficult to ascertain, but let's go with 130° when turned slowly at 50mm, 110° fast, and 50° medium fast (it seemed that some rotation sensing was skipped when the ring was turned fast). At 400mm, 350° slow and 90° fast were the angles.

The Tamron 50-400 features an unusual amount of customization.

Using the Tamron Lens Utility app (free) on a laptop (or mobile device using the mobile app), connected via the lens's USB Type-C port (a USB cable is not included in the box), linear MF is selectable, with 90, 180, 270, and 360° rotation angles optional. Reversing the focus ring direction is another available feature via the software.

This lens has an AF hold button (the button's historical function) and a 3-position custom switch.

Tamron Lens Utility

Using Tamron Lens Utility, the 3-position custom mode switch setting controls the active button function. Available functions are:

  • Assign function from the camera
  • Select AF/MF (immediate or 1-sec button hold)
  • Focus limiter (Near, 5m, 7m, and 10m to ∞)
  • Focus Preset (focus speed selectable for movie)
  • A-B focus (focus speed selectable for movie)
  • Ring function (Focus/Aperture) (immediate or 1-sec button hold)
  • Clear settings

While a native AF/MF switch is not provided, that feature can be enabled on the button via a custom mode setting.

It is normal for the scene to change size in the frame (sometimes significantly) as the focus is pulled from one extent to the other. This effect is focus breathing, a change in focal length resulting from a change in focus distance. Focus breathing impacts photographers intending to use focus stacking techniques, videographers pulling focus, and anyone critically framing while adjusting focus.

This lens produces only a minor change in subject size through a full-extent focus distance adjustment.

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Focus Magnification Example

50mm: Far | Close   200mm: Far | Close 400mm: Far | Close

Few non-cinema lenses show such little change.

FTM (Full Time Manual) focusing is supported via Sony's DMF (Direct Manual Focus) AF mode.

With a minimum focus distance of 9.8" (250mm) at 50mm, this lens has an impressive 0.50x maximum magnification spec.

ModelMFDMM
Canon RF 100-400mm F5.6-8 IS USM Lens34.6"(880mm)0.41x
Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens35.4"(900mm)0.33x
Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS C Lens63.0"(1600mm)0.24x
Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Sports Lens22.8"(580mm)0.34x
Sony FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS Lens38.6"(980mm)0.35x
Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS Lens94.5"(2400mm)0.20x
Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens9.8"(250mm)0.50x
Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VC VXD Lens23.6"(600mm)0.32x

At 50mm, a subject measuring approximately 2.5 x 1.7" (63.5 x 42.3mm) fills a full-frame imaging sensor at this lens's minimum MF distance. At 400mm, a 5.4 x 3.6" (137.2 x 91.5mm) subject does the same (0.25x is the 400mm maximum magnification).

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Maximum Magnification Example

The USPS love stamps shared above have an image area that measures 1.05 x 0.77" (26.67 x 19.558mm), and the overall individual stamp size is 1.19 x 0.91" (30.226 x 23.114mm).

The minimum focus distance is measured from the imaging sensor plane with the balance of the camera, lens, and lens hood length taking their space out of the number to create the working distance. At the 50mm minimum focus, there is only 1.4" (35.6mm) of working distance without the 2.25" (57.2mm) hood installed. At that distance, subject lighting must be considered.

While this lens produces sharp center of the frame details at minimum focus distance with a wide-open aperture, the image periphery is soft due to field curvature. F/16 brings on increased depth of field that provides significant improvement in corner image quality, but the corners are still modestly blurred even at this narrow aperture setting.

This lens is not compatible with Tamron teleconverters.

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Angle View Extended with Hood

Build Quality & Features

The 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens sports a new Tamron design:

"Every individual part of the lens has been reexamined, right down to the fine details, resulting in a new design that updates both operability and the ergonomic considerations. The surface of the lens exterior is shiny black, much glossier than previous models. Improved abrasion resistance makes the lens harder to scratch and resists fingerprints. In addition, grip performance has been improved by increasing the number of protrusions in the striped pattern of the rubber ring. The smoothly curved, glossy surface of the brand ring creates a dignified appearance with a design that signifies functional beauty and high quality." [Tamron]

The new design is very nice.

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Product Images

MFD |    MFD |    w/ Hood:  MFD |    MFD |    Rotated   Compare »

Turning the nicely-sized, short-rotation rubber-ribbed zoom ring smoothly extends the lens 2.94" (74.7mm) at 400mm, with the extended inner barrel having only slight flex. A lock switch holds the lens in the fully-retracted position.

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Extended Top View with Hood

The lock, VC, and custom switches are low profile yet easy to use. As always, selecting the middle position on a 3-position switch (the custom switch) requires slightly more care.

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Weather Sealing

This lens features weather sealing and fluorine coating to repel dirt and moisture and to make cleaning easy.

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Mount

While the Tamron 50-400 is not a small lens, it is compact for the focal length range and aperture combination provided. It is also relatively lightweight.

ModelWeight oz(g)Dimensions w/o Hood "(mm)FilterYear 
Canon RF 100-400mm F5.6-8 IS USM Lens22.4(635)3.1 x 6.5(79.5 x 164.7)672021
Canon RF 100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USM Lens48.2(1365)3.7 x 8.2(93.8 x 207.6)772020
Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS C Lens40.9(1160)3.4 x 7.8(86 x 197.2)672020
Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Sports Lens74.1(2100)4.3 x 10.4(109.4 x 263.6)952021
Sony FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS Lens49.2(1395)3.7 x 8.1(93.9 x 205)772017
Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS Lens74.8(2120)4.5 x 12.5(115.5 x 318)952019
Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens40.8(1155)3.5 x 7.2(88.5 x 183.4)672022
Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VC VXD Lens60.9(1725)3.7 x 8.3(93 x 209.6)822021

For many more comparisons, review the complete Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Specifications using the site's lens specifications tool.

Which lens would you prefer to carry? Here is a visual comparison to drive home the small size of this lens:

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Compared to Similar Lenses

Positioned above from left to right are the following lenses:

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens
Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Contemporary Lens
Sony FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS Lens
Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VC VXD Lens

The same lenses are shown below with their hoods in place.

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Compared to Similar Lenses with Hoods

Use the site's product image comparison tool to visually compare the Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens to other lenses.

Like many of Tamron's other mirrorless camera lenses, the 50-150 uses 67mm filters. This size commonality makes sharing effects filters such as circular polarizer filters easy.

The Tamron 50-400mm lens does not ship with a tripod ring. Even when using a solid ball head (Really Right Stuff BH-55), there is a frustratingly-significant amount of sag after lockdown. Guessing the locked-down composition is quite challenging and a needless skill to develop.

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Tripod Mount

Fortunately, the optional Tamron A035TM Tripod Mount, including a built-in Arca dovetail, solves this problem. If planning to use this lens on a tripod, get the tripod mount.

The Tamron HA067 Lens Hood is included in the box. The slightly flexible plastic hood's petal shape is optimized to block as much light outside the utilized image circle as possible. As zoom lens hoods must be tuned for the wide end of the zoom range, less than optimal protection is afforded at the long end. Still, this hood offers reasonable front element protection.

The petal shape also looks cool, and an advantage of this hood shape is easier installation alignment (simply align the small petal to the top), though a round-shaped hood enables the lens to stand on its hood better. The ribbed interior avoids internal reflections. A release button is not featured on this hood.

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Cap

A lens case is not included in the box.

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Side View with Hood

Price, Value, Wrap Up

The Tamron brand is synonymous with good value, and the Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens reinforces that reputation. This lens is not inexpensive, but what it delivers for the price is great. If it serves the purpose of two lenses, the Tamron 50-400's price is low.

Tamron's Di III lenses are designed for use on mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. The Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens is compatible with all Sony E-mount cameras, including full-frame and APS-C sensor format models.

"This product is developed, manufactured and sold based on the specifications of E-mount which was disclosed by Sony Corporation under the license agreement with Sony Corporation." [Tamron] I can't say how the license agreement impacts Sony Corporation, but we have some really nice third-party E-mount lenses available.

Tamron USA provides an impressively-long 6-year limited warranty.

The reviewed Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens was online-retail sourced.

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Front View on Camera

Alternatives to the Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens

At review time, there are no other 50-400mm lenses to compare against this Tamron lens. The next-closest alternatives are the 100-400mm lenses. Let's start with the Sony FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS Lens.

In the image quality comparison, these two lenses perform similarly except at 400mm, where the Sony lens shows a sharpness advantage. The Sony lens has less geometric distortion.

The Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens vs. Sony FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 GM OSS Lens comparison shows the Tamron lens modestly smaller and noticeably lighter. The Tamron lens has 67mm filter threads vs. 77mm and has a 0.50x maximum magnification vs. 0.35x (at 50mm vs. 400mm — the Tamron is 0.25x at 400mm). The Sony lens has more switches, is compatible with teleconverters, and has a 1/3 stop max aperture advantage over a significant portion of the range. The Tamron lens is more customizable, has the 50-99mm focal length range, and costs just over half as much (but the tripod ring is not included).

Next, let's compare the Tamron 50-150 to the Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Contemporary Lens.

The image quality comparison shows the two lenses performing similarly, with the Sigma lens sharper in the center of the frame at 400mm. The Sigma lens has less geometric distortion.

The Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens vs. Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Contemporary Lens comparison shows the two lenses weighing about the same, with the Tamron lens measuring slightly wider and slightly shorter. The Tamron lens has a 0.50x maximum magnification vs. 0.24x (at 50mm vs. 400mm — the two are similar at 400mm). The Tamron lens is more customizable and has the 50-99mm focal length range. The Sigma lens has more switches and costs significantly less.

Will Tamron introduce a 100-400mm mirrorless lens? A lower price and an even smaller size and weight seem to be the only reasons for doing so.

Use the site's tools to create additional comparisons.

Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Top View

Summary

The Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens provides an outstanding focal length range in a relatively compact and lightweight package. Despite its 8x focal length range, this lens delivers overall great image quality. Autofocusing is fast and accurate, Vibration Compensation tames the shake, and this lens's physical design is excellent.

It is no surprise that, as I complete this review, the Tamron 50-400 is ranked 21st among the best-selling mirrorless lenses at B&H — out of 1204 lenses.

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My Recommended Tamron 50-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD Lens Retailers
B&H Photo
Amazon.com
Adorama
Check the used inventory at MPB | KEH | B&H
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