Lens test data (Full frame)

The Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD puts in a very convincing performance on full frame, with test results that are easily a match for other lenses in its class. It's also impressively consistent through the zoom range, dropping off only slightly at 600mm (where it's a little less sharp, and shows quite high chromatic aberration).

Sharpness Sharpness is pretty impressive, especially for such a long zoom. Crucially it's almost as good wide open as it is stopped down; in principle you'll get the very best results shooting at F8-F11, but that probably won't be very practical for such a long lens.
Chromatic Aberration Lateral chromatic aberration is kept reasonably under control. At 150mm you might see a little red-cyan fringing towards the corners of the image, but zoom to 300mm and it's all gone. CA returns at the long end, and is pretty strong at 600mm, where red-cyan fringing will likely be noticeable across much of the edges and corners of the frame. But its linear profile means it should be quite easy to correct in post-processing; Nikon SLRs will remove it in their JPEG processing too.
Vignetting Vignetting is kept pretty low, as we'd hope for what's a pretty slow lens in terms of maximum aperture. It hits a maximum of just 1 stop at each end of the range, and its gradual falloff profile means it's never likely to be very visible.
Distortion The 150-600mm shows visible pincushion distortion at all focal lengths, hovering around the -1.5% mark for most of the range but dropping slightly in the middle. This might occasionally be visible in real-world shots, but for most of this lens's uses it's unlikely to be troublesome.

Again the 150-600mm stands up well in comparison to its closest competitor, the Sigma 150-500mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM. The Sigma looks a little sharper at the shorter end, but the Tamron wins out at full telephoto; crucially it's as sharp at 600mm as the Sigma is at 500mm. The price you pay for this is higher pincushion distortion, though. The Tamron avoids the Sigma's slightly-troublesome vignetting characteristics at 150mm.

Compared to the venerable Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM, the Tamron is simply sharper wide open through the entire shared zoom range, and of course usefully longer. Impressively, it's also a match for Nikon's pricey AF-S Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6G ED VR in terms of sharpness, although the latter shows lower CA. It's a similar story with the Sony 70-400mm F4-5.6 G SSM II; the Tamron's extended range comes with no significant image quality penalty at all.

Summary

From the lab test results, the Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD looks like a very convincing contender in its class. If we limit our comparisons to super-telephoto zooms which reach at least 400mm and weigh in around 2kg, it offers the longest maximum focal length without hugely compromising image quality. If you're planning on shooting distant subjects where you need the longest zoom possible - most obviously sports and wildlife - then it's a very strong contender indeed.

What these laboratory optical tests can never tell you, though, is now well the lens's autofocus and image stabilization systems work for real-world shooting of these kinds of subjects. You can get a feel for this, though, by reading our user reviews and discussions about the lens on our Third Party Lens Talk forum.

Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD specifications

Principal specifications
Lens typeZoom lens
Max Format size35mm FF
Focal length150–600 mm
Image stabilizationYes (VC - Vibration Compensation)
Lens mountCanon EF, Nikon F (FX), Sony/Minolta Alpha
Aperture
Maximum apertureF5–6.3
Minimum apertureF32–40
Aperture ringNo
Number of diaphragm blades9
Optics
Elements20
Groups13
Special elements / coatingseBAND (Extended Bandwidth & Angular Dependency) Coating
Focus
Minimum focus2.70 m (106.3)
Maximum magnification0.2×
AutofocusYes
Motor typeUltrasonic
Full time manualYes
Distance scaleYes
DoF scaleNo
Physical
Weight1951 g (4.30 lb)
Diameter106 mm (4.16)
Length258 mm (10.15)
Filter thread95 mm
Hood suppliedYes
Tripod collarYes