Hands-on: Tamron 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III RXD for Sony E-mount (pre-production model)
No more hesitating if you should bring a telephoto lens!
As a landscape and travel photographer, I often use an ultra-wide-angle 14mm lens and the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8. Last week I was able to test the latest addition to the Tamron series for full-frame mirrorless cameras. The 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III RXD. This lens has an enormous range and is extremely light and small. This, in combination with the sharpness, makes it a perfect and super fun lens to photograph with.
With a retail price of approximately 699,- euros (about half the price of the Sony version), this is certainly a lens that I am willing to buy.
Light harps in the Speulderbos. This is one of those moments where you have to respond quickly and it is nice to be flexible with focal lengths.
The 545 grams of the 70-300 is extremely light compared to other telephoto zoom lenses. Take the Sony 70-300 f / 4.5-5.6 G of 854 grams, for example, you really notice that difference.
The tamron 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3 Di III RXD next to the 28-75mm f/2.8.
What a compact and light telephoto zoom lens!
If you have used one of the other lenses from the Tamron series, then using this lens feels like coming home. This lens works exactly like the others in the range. The build is plastic but feels professional. There are two rings on the lens, one for focus and one for zooming. Both rings feel good and run smoothly. There are no buttons or switches on the lens. I think it would be nice to have a lock to prevent creeping, which this lens does a little. The lens extends during zooming. As a result, it is no longer the "the world's smallesttelephoto zoom lens" when zooming. The filter size is 67mm, just like with all other lenses from the Sony E-mount series. I find this very useful when I work with filters, it saves a lot of money and hassle! There is also a detachable lens hood, which I really like. The auto-focus is fast and quiet. The lens is also super sharp, especially with an aperture between f / 4.5 and f / 11.
In the field
I had a week to test the lens. In this week I was able to use the lens for:
For landscape photography, macro, and wildlife I prefer extreme focal lengths. For example a 14mm or just an extreme telephoto zoom. During travel and photography, I find flexibility and speed important. At many times I don't have time to keep switching lenses. The size range of the 70-300 is super handy for me. This lens can be used at 70mm, 85mm, 135mm, and 200mm for travel photography, portrait, and also landscape. The range of 200-300 can be used very well for the more intimate landscapes and for macro photography. This alone is already a reason for me to choose this lens instead of a 70-200 mm or 70-180 mm. I find that photos taken with a focal length of 200mm to 300mm look interesting, perhaps because it's not often used to capture landscapes.
I love the range this lens has!
As mentioned above, the fact that you can photograph a wide landscape at 70mm and a more intimate landscape at 300mm gives you a lot of flexibility. This way you will be able to capture a lot of different shots in a short time. And of course without having to switch lenses.
A few fallen trees create extra light in the forest. Focal length: 80mm Exposure: 2.0s, f/10, ISO 100
Focal length: 230mm | Exposure: 2.0s, f/10, ISO 100
A lonely tree on a hill, Amsterdam water supply dunes, sunset. Focal length: 300mm | Exposure: 1/4s, f/10, ISO 100
This lens can also be used for macro photography. The bokeh is nice to look at and you can work well with the depth of field. I could just shoot some macro images by hand, with a shutter speed of about 1 /100s and the IBIS of the Sony.
In the picture below you can see the bokeh of this lens is impressive for an aperture of f/6,3.
Handheld shot. Focal length: 215 mm | Exposure: 1/60s, f/5,6, ISO 800
Focal length: 300mm | Exposure: 1/50, f/6,3, ISO 100
Portraits can certainly also be shot with this lens. With the range from 70mm to approximately 200mm, that is easy to do. If I were to do a really focused shoot for portraits, I would rather opt for the 28-75 mm f / 2.8 mm, so that I can quickly switch between 35 mm, 50 mm, and 75 mm, but that is a personal preference.
To be honest, I have never photographed wildlife before. This was the first time I went out to a national park to photograph foxes and deer. And I have to say, I am really happy with the results! With the 300 mm I could photograph beautiful moments easily, without having to get very close to the animals. The first image was shot at 300mm and then cropped a bit. With a 200mm or 180mm, this could not have been done.
Focal length: 300mm | Exposure: 1/200s, f/6,3 , ISO 1000
Focal length: 280mm | Exposure: 1/160s, f/6,3 ISO 800
Focal length: 200mm | Exposure: 1/800s, f/5,6 , ISO 800
Focal length: 300mm | Exposure: 1/200s, f/6,3 , ISO
If the weather is not going well and there is no nice sky, I prefer to grab the telephoto zoom and start photographing details and abstract images. I can really spend hours on this. Ripples in the water, waves, ice, leaves, everything.
Such a fun lens to photograph with.
Focal length: 300mm | Exposure: 1/320s, f/6,3, ISO 100
The Tamron 70-300 f/4.5-6,3 Di III RXD is a really sharp, fast, and affordable lens which is great for traveling due to the weight and size. I would personally choose this lens over a 70-200 because of the extra range and the reasons mentioned above. The build of the lens might not be as good as the Sony G and G-master lenses but this is something I am willing to give up. Maybe worth mentioning, I have taken the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 to Iceland, Mount Everest in Nepal, and the jungle in the Philippines and it is still working perfectly. Keep in mind that I have been given a pre-production model to test.