By Jemma Wild – Safari-Travel Content Creator 

I like big lenses and I cannot lie. 

As a content creator for the safari-travel industry, I’ve grown into capturing moments from the device in my pocket into a girl that cannot be seen without a big lens. So, when I got the opportunity to try out the new Tamron Sony E-mount camera system with the 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VXD I had a real “gimme gimme” moment. Having recently been launched onto the lens shelves, and now available for sale from Outdoorphoto I was thrilled to take this new mount out into the wild world of safari-travel and test it on my style of capturing wildlife: up close and personal. 

Gemma WIld captures a beautiful wildlife photo of a giraffe on safari with Gemma Wild on safari with the Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 lens
Jemma Wild on safari with the Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 lens

 Truths first

I am not a professional wildlife photographer in any sense. My main game is interiors, fashion and lifestyle photography, which until recently has been featured on numerous pages of luxury safari accommodation, using my iPhone 11 Pro (yes, you may swear at me but check out my content before you do). 

Shooting wildlife in luxury reserves is part of my trade and one in which I’ve grown to love and respect with much adoration. And I can honestly say that when you find the right kit, you’re halfway to making magic. Having recently done the switch from Canon to Sony and having only played with a few lens mounts I still have a lot to learn about the capabilities of what this lens can do (and having read my heart out on reviews, how-tos and streamed the better part of YouTube learning about it, it’s only a matter of time before I qualify to a professional level.)

This is also my first time using a 500mm zoom, and as a natural “tight cropper” I grew heart eyes with every shutter click. 

Gemma Wild on safari with the Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 lens
Gemma Wild on safari with the Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 lens

My 5 favourite features

There are a lot of good things to say about this lens, but I am going to focus on why this lens made an impression on me and why for wildlife it’s an affordable choice for beginner to intermediate photographers to grow their love of shooting this niche. 

  • You don’t need biceps to carry it around. 

First of all, mounting this lens to the already lightweight body of the Sony A6600 camera may feel a tad top-heavy. But in comparison to other zoom lenses, it’s reasonably lighter and feels quite balanced as a handheld system. Even in its full zoom at 28.5cm there’s a great balance that doesn’t feel as if you’re about to topple over – especially if you’re shooting from the back of a game vehicle like me. 

Gemma WIld captures a beautiful wildlife photo of a yawning lion on safari with Gemma Wild on safari with the Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 lens
Gemma WIld captures a beautiful wildlife photo of a rhino on safari with Gemma Wild on safari with the Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 lens
  • A striking design in semi-matt black.

It’s a Sony trait to be seen with a white lens (especially in these focal lengths) so to have a powerhouse like this in matt back definitely increases its appeal. (I am a girl and I like pretty things, ok?) And with the matching tripod ring also sporting its black getup, its slick design complements the Sony A6600 camera perfectly.

  • Built-in stabilisation makes life a breeze on a moving vehicle. 

In all honesty, I tend to hold my breath, brace my elbows and pray for a stable shot. But with the built-in 5-axis in-body optical Image stabilisation of the Sony A6600, it is a perfect marriage for getting that shot on the move. 

Gemma WIld captures a beautiful wildlife photo of an elephant on safari with Gemma Wild on safari with the Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 lens
Gemma Wild on safari with the Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 lens
  • Engage the “Flex Zoom Lock” and thank me later. 

Starting at the outer end of the lens, there’s a large, rubberised zoom ring that can move from 150mm to 500mm in a 75-degree twist. While there is a zoom lock switch on the side for 150mm, what you may not notice is the “Flex Zoom Lock.” By pulling out the zoom ring, you’re able to lock it at any focal length. On moving wildlife, this is a serious treat! 

  • Get in super close without losing (a lot) of your image quality. 

I shot a lot on 500mm, as I love a tightly cropped shot (and knowing what my wildlife is thinking) and was pleasantly surprised to see how the sharpness fared. Especially on my birding shots which are a stressful shot at the best of times. (Have wings, will fly.)  Although the sharpness and bokeh aren’t as impressive as a brighter prime lens, the distortion managed well, and at 500mm there was still a good blur. 

Playing around with the macro shots I thought that the 150-500mm performed similarly at both the widest and longest focal lengths. Both centres were nice and sharp, even though the corners and edges had a bit of an obvious softness. While the sharpness is good at the centre (and is perhaps where I am most focussed on at this level of my photography game), I did learn that this lens requires higher ISOs. All in all, I battled to see the faults in my shots. 

Gemma Wild on safari with the Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 lens

 As an overall review I enjoyed this lens a lot, I found it easy to use, and most of all enjoyed learning its capabilities which I feel there was just not enough time (or wildlife presence) on a game drive to fully test out all its features… but luckily there’s always another trip to take it back into the wild where it belongs.

Jemma Wild

Having been dubbed “the most stylish woman on safari” Jemma has made a name for herself amongst the top luxury lodges in South Africa as well as many local fashion designers in the content she creates and the safari moments she captures. As a professional travel writer and recently turned content creator (aka influencer) you’ll find her either sipping a gnt in the latest safari-approved local designer outfit or exploring the wild bush with her husband in their Jimny.

Follow her here on Instagram: @styledbyjemmawild

Gemma Wild on safari with the Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 lens