Let’s just say I had a margarita to celebrate!

How I Did It

I’m trying to decide on a new lens for my camera, either a Sigma 150-600 mm or a Tamron 150-600 mm.

Turns out that we have a lens rental place here in San Diego so I rented the Tamron yesterday.

Tamron 150-600 mm lens

San Diego Zoo Safari ParkGet to keep it for 7 days for just $60. Today it made a trip to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

So what does a 150-600 mm lens allow me to do that I can’t do with my 28-300 mm lens?

Notice that the bigger number on the new lens is twice as big as the bigger number on the old lens, 600 to 300. That basically allows me to get twice as close to something without moving my feet. If there’s a fence between me and my subject, moving myself to the other side of the fence without actually going to the other side of the fence can give me the opportunity to take beautiful pictures. In some cases, like if I’m at the zoo where some of the wildlife is in fenced enclosures, getting inside the enclosure without getting subsequently mauled to death lets me come home with a picture like this:

Southern bald eagle at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

There are two southern bald eagles in the fenced enclosure, and the fencing is the mesh stuff with teeny tiny really really small holes, not chain-link with big holes. The smaller the fencing holes, the more difficult it is to get on the other side of it. My 28-300 mm lens doesn’t allow me to get into the enclosure with these eagles, so when I first got it seven years ago, I cheated by going where one is not supposed to go (and that’s all I’m going to say!) to get this picture:

Southern bald eagle at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

In the first picture, the long focal length did a much better job of also blurring the background fence which you can make out in the second picture. And if you look very, very closely at the second picture, you can even see fence shadows on the eagle itself. Look at the two shoulders. I don’t have that problem in the first picture.

So, what’s my initial assessment of the Tamron 150-600 mm lens? Based just on the eagle picture, excellent. Based on that and the other 610 pictures I took this morning: Well, let’s just say that I drank a margarita to celebrate!

Empty margarita glass at On The Border

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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20 thoughts on “Let’s just say I had a margarita to celebrate!

    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      George’s Camera, 7475 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. I was also referred to two places online: lensrental.com and borrowlenses.com. I chose George’s because I could drive right over there and get it now!

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    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      No, and that’s one of the reasons why I was in a margarita mood. I don’t mind doing anything in Photoshop–in fact, I have fun doing it–but the less of something that I “have to do” in Photoshop versus “want to do,” the more time I save, which means getting out & about to take more pictures that don’t have to be sharpened. It’s the sharpness at the long end that I’m actually evaluating because I want 600mm for action photography (car races, baseball, football, etc.) and wildlife.

      I went out to Ramona Grasslands County Preserve this morning before going to Safari Park and was able to take pictures of the wildlife without straying from the path, something that has always frustrated me out there. I’ll have Grasslands pictures coming up soon.

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    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      Life is good! I’m going to rent the Sigma 150-600 next, but I also found out today that there are two Sigma 150-600 lenses, “Contemporary” and “Sport.” Throw “sport” onto anything and I’m there. Imagine if they had a “margarita sport”–LOL. The Sigma Sport, though, is $1,999 whereas the Contemporary is $999. The Tamron is $999. The Sport is a “pro” lens. I’ve already discovered that I don’t need a “pro” lens because I don’t do underwater photography and I don’t go out into the rain, sandstorms, snowstorms, etc. However, the Sigma Sport is supposed to be extraordinarily sharp at the long end, so that has my attention.

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        1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

          I miss the low end, though, and I really dislike changing lenses when I’m out & about. I’m going to try the Sigma 150-600 next unless I can find someone who makes a 50-600. There’s one thing I really don’t like about the Tamron. I can get used to it, but it’s the reason I’m going to go ahead and rent the Sigma.

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            1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

              This is my first. I was always one to read a billion reviews and then, based on my budget, choose what it was I wanted to buy. In this case, though, reviews were pretty spotty, and then a member of the photography club I belong to told me about the local lens rental place. And with that price, it was a no-brainer for me.

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    1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

      A long lens certainly opens up a new realm of photography. These long lenses are heavy, though. The Tamron weighs 1950g/68.8 oz. If my math is correct, 68.8 ounces equals 4.3 pounds. That was always a reason why I didn’t get a long lens like this.

      Along with evaluating sharpness at the 600mm end, I’m evaluating weight—Can I carry it around on a 6-hour hike to the boondocks or a 3-hour trip to the Zoo? Certainly one cannot hang five pounds around one’s neck with the flimsy strap that came with the camera. Most people use a shoulder strap, but I don’t like those. I don’t like the neck strap either for what it’s worth. I always simply carry my camera in my hand, but carrying 5 pounds in one’s hand over a 6-hour hike? Is that reasonable? Can it be done?

      It’s not. But the problem is easily solved with the Tamron. That horizontal piece on the lens that looks like a grip. Well, it’s both a tripod mount and a grip. It rotates 360° so if you rotate the grip to the top, it’s very easy to carry around the camera and long, heavy lens in one’s hand on a 3-hour trip. I did two 3-hour trips yesterday, one right after the other, so basically a 6-hour trip—Ramona Grasslands followed by the Safari Park. Neither of those two places are easy to walk around, so I consider the weight part of the problem a non-factor.

      I do have one significant complaint about the Tamron which is significant enough that I’ll discuss it in a post between now and Tuesday when I have to return it.

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        1. Russel Ray Photos Post author

          My walkaround lens for the last 10 years has been a Tamron 28-300 on a Canon APS-C camera, so that 300 is like a 486. Now put this 600 mm puppy on it, and that 600 is like a 972 mm bad boy. 300/486 is certainly enough to get you through fences as long as you can put your lens all the way up to the fence. With the bald eagles, the fence is about four feet away, making it difficult to get good shots with 300/486.

          What you have to be careful with, though, is that the camera itself is turning the 300 mm into a 600 mm. In actuality it’s not a 600 mm; it’s a 300 mm. You see in the second picture what I got with a 300 mm on a 1.62 APS-C camera four feet away from the fence. The longer the lens, the farther away from the fence you can be and still get through it. But that 300 mm lens will still be a 300 mm lens for that purpose.

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