Wednesday, January 20th, 2021 was a good day for me.
I watched the presidential inauguration, pleased to realize that bad things don’t last forever. I was also anxious to take my newly acquired used Tamron 100-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD out of the house for the first time to test drive on my Nikon D500.
I have been assembling a second photography kit, what I’ve previously referred to as my “light” kit and this Tamron lens was the final piece of the puzzle. The basic kit consists of two Nikon DSLR camera bodies, the D750 and the D500. Not state of the art, but I don’t go by state of the art, I go by functionality and results. These bodies still get the job done so I’m building that kit around them. I have a wide selection of lenses to include in this kit, but the primary objective was to put a lens on two different bodies, with perhaps a third lens for special situations. The lenses I now have in the kit are the Nikon 24-120mm VR and the Tamron 100-400mm VC. There’s a Sigma 50mm f/2.8 EX DG Macro lens in the kit as well.
I purchased a very good condition used Tamron 100-400mm to fill the hole in the super-telephoto range. I needed a second super-telephoto lens to do that, and I wasn’t going to throw thousands of dollars at what is essentially a backup/loaner kit. Price $455 including the tripod ring. Brand new it sells for $800 and that’s without the tripod mount, which adds another $150 to the price.
My first outing with the lens was with it mounted to the D500, which is a crop sensor body and gives me a 150mm – 600mm effective focal length. Couple that with the D750 and the 24-120mm, and I’ve pretty much covered an extremely diverse focal range of 24-600mm. Everything a person could need for wildlife and landscape photography in a small and capable kit.
My primary goal on this first test drive was to see how the lens performed on the D500 at all focal ranges. I was fortunate enough to find deer both near and far, so I was able to test it across the gamut. Performance wise, the lens worked quite well on the D500. It focused quickly and silently. It’s not at all cumbersome, so I was able to shoot hand-held with no problems. The build quality is good and solid with weather sealing. For a used copy, I’d say it was in very good condition, with only a small scuff or two to be found. Looks almost new, so it was well taken care of by the previous owner.
I found the lens to be quite suitable from 100mm to about 350mm. From 350-400mm the images were getting progressively softer, to the point that I would not really want to rely on it for anything critical for the far end of the zoom range. Typical of consumer grade zoom lenses, but I accounted for this with my selecting this lens to begin with. I can get out to about 525mm on the D500 and still have good quality images and I did it for a fraction of the cost of buying a more exotic and expensive super-telephoto lens. Paying only $455 for it means I got an almost new condition lens at half price and if I determine later that I don’t want to keep it, I can probably sell it and make at least $100 on the deal. It’s a win-win.
I’m looking forward to this summer when I can really put the “light” kit to work. If someone is with me and they need a camera, I’ve got a complete kit for them to use. If something in my “heavy” kit bites the dust, I’ve got a perfectly usable backup kit that didn’t cost me an arm and a leg to assemble.
The detail on the deer is good. Sharpness and contrast is good. No complaints. I could sell these photos with no problems.
As for a landscape view, we have a group of deer in the woods. While the photo is a little busy, the image quality is quite suitable at 100mm.
My next task is to test the new lens on the other camera bodies. I have the D500 calibrated and ready to go. I’ve also calibrated it to the D850. I’ll probably run it through the paces on the D850 next. I’m curious to see how well it performs on the higher resolution body.