Photographing birds - Choose the right Tamron telephoto zoom
To photograph birds, you need a Telezoom lens that takes sharp pictures even at long distances. A fast autofocus is essential, and many photographers also find image stabilization and a focus limiter useful. There are also a number of requirements that a good Telezoom for bird photography must meet.
What should a good telephoto zoom meet?
First, of course, the image quality of the lens must be fine. Thanks to current optical technologies, such as special lens elements and anti-reflection coatings, you shoot sharp, high-contrast and detailed photographs with every Tamron telephoto zoom.
In addition, the versatility of the zoom is very important. The emphasis is obviously on zooming in, but you also want to pay attention to the minimum focusing distance of the lens. At long range, you can easily zoom in and out and capture every detail without changing your position.
Fast, quiet and accurate autofocus also plays a major role. Birds move quickly, which often makes capturing them a challenge. Because you can rely on the fast and accurate autofocus in Tamron lenses, you'll also be able to capture that Common Tern flying by.
Furthermore, it is nice that your telezoom is a portable size. In general, if you want to photograph a Peregrine Falcon in full flight, or capture a Middle Spotted Woodpecker hiding in the treetops, you need to get out and about. Tamron telephoto zoom lenses are relatively compact and lightweight, making them easy to carry.
Finally, Tamron is known for providing lenses with excellent value for money, and their telephoto zoom lenses for bird photography are no exception. You get a 5-year warranty from Tamron, after registering on the Tamron website. Tamron has Telezooms for Sony E, Fuji X, Nikon F and Canon EF, for both APS-C and Full-Frame cameras.
Photographing birds without a tripod
Sometimes you just don't feel like bringing your tripod. But photographing birds with a telephoto lens without a tripod can be pretty tricky. Because you get the subject so close, even small movements of your hand and camera become larger. To make bird photography without a tripod still possible, Tamron developed the VC image stabilization and added it to its telezooms.
The Tamron VC has three modes:
- Mode 1 stabilizes the shot and the viewfinder image. Especially with a 500-600mm telephoto zoom, this makes for a quiet and stable viewfinder. This allows you to better focus on the bird with the plane of focus.
- Mode 2 is especially for "panning" shots. So where a Grebe swims from left to right or right to left.
- Mode 3 provides the most powerful stabilization where the entire stabilization is completely directed to the shot. Recommending this in low light, if you still want to capture that rare Great Warbler.
Do you use a tripod? Then turn off VC image stabilization!
The differences between VXD and USD Autofocus
Tamron has developed several AF focusing systems over the years, including VXD (Voice-coil eXtreme-torque Drive) and USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive). While both are aimed at delivering fast and accurate autofocus performance, the main difference between these AF systems is in the motors used, their speed and accuracy.
VXD - The latest VXD technology uses a super-fast linear motor with high torque output for very fast focusing. This is excellent for tracking fast subjects such as flying birds, and it is also very accurate and quiet.
USD - This somewhat older technology in DSLR lenses uses ultrasonic motors to drive auto focus. The USD system has been used primarily in earlier Tamron professional light-strength lenses, and telezooms and is known for its reliable performance.
What is a focus limiter?
Focus limiter is a practical feature that allows you to temporarily limit the focus range. This helps prevent the telephoto zoom from focusing completely to a nearby point in autofocus when the camera is pointed just next to the bird. Limiting the AF range allows you to refocus faster with autofocus. There are some Tamron telezooms that have a focus limiter.
Telezoom for Sony E-mount
The Tamron 150-500mm f5-6.7 Di III VC VXD has a limiter of 15 meters to infinity, which is useful for photographing flying birds. In this, the autofocus goes no closer than 15 meters. This also allows the correct focus point to be picked up again more quickly by the camera. With the latest 3.0 firmware (Tamron released major firmware updates for eight lenses). you get a huge improvement in AF detection and Eye-tracking for birds and animals. This telephoto zoom has a full-frame Sony E-mount.
For the Tamron 50-400mm F/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD, you can set the focus limiter using the Tamron Lens Utility software on a computer or an Android phone. Allows you to limit the search range of the autofocus. This feature makes refocusing faster when the subject becomes out of focus and prevents you from focusing on obstacles in front of the subject. The new 2.0 firmware also gives this lens the same boost in AF speed and Eye-tracking as the 150-500mm. This telephoto zoom has a full-frame Sony E-mount.
Telezoom for Full-Frame Canon EF and Nikon F
The popular Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 also has a focus limiter. With this lens, you can choose between three focus ranges: Full (full range), 10 meters to infinity and 2.7 meters to 10 meters. This makes shooting subjects at various distances easier, such as birds in the sky or at medium distances. This telephoto zoom is available for Full-Frame Canon EF and Full-Frame Nikon F DSLR cameras.
Super-telephoto zoom for Fuji X APS-C
The Tamron 150-500mm f5-6.7 Di III VC has the same optical construction and capabilities as the Full-frame Sony E-mount version. So it also has a limiter from 15 meters to infinity. With the APS-C crop factor of 1.5x, you are effectively working with a true supertele of a whopping 225-750mm!
Sample photos and technical information
There is of course much more to tell about the lenses listed here, from the 5-year Tamron warranty to the smallest technical details. You can find more on the Tamron website. To view dozens of Dutch bird photos, we can recommend the Tamron Facebook Photo Group. Here, enthusiastic Tamron users share their photos, passion for photography and knowledge almost daily.