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Upgrading Tamron 150-600 to Canon 200-800; a small wall of text. (1 Viewer)


Few words about switching from Tamron 150-600 G2 to Canon 200-800.

I have both of those right now, so I thought about comparing those two in some aspects.
The camera I use is R6. I photograph birds mostly, adding some other animals which happen not to run away fast enough.

Canon is significantly bigger. This causes two issues, first being storage and hauling. It does not fit into Lowepro 13x32 lens case, it’s also not possible to put it into main chamber of my LowePro Flipside 450 with camera attached without toying with upper chamber floor arrangement, which takes away precious space. You get that 200mm extra for your troubles, but it’s something to consider.

Then, the diameter thing. Tamron’s barrel widens towards the front of the lens, while the Canon maintains it’s hefty size from foot collar to the end. This means that Tamron’s zoom ring is smaller in diameter, but Canon is better balanced. To each it’s own, though – I have hard time adjusting to that zoom ring’s enormous size while ignoring the weight balance, while my wife has exactly opposite experience.

Speaking of rings. Come on Canon, I spent significant part of last twenty years bitching and whining on your endless greed and even though I have not changed the system for some reason, but this time you might have jumped over yourselves.

That smooth-tight thing is a joke. I don’t feel the difference in extreme positions. My wife does not feel it. My six-year old daughter does not sense it. What is it for, then? If it was meant for preventing the barrel to extend under it’s own weight, you missed it, since it extends in „max smooth” position pretty quick and a tad slower in „max tight” position. And we’re talking about brand new lens. Compare it with Tamron’s ability to lock the lens permanently in 150mm position with a switch and in any other with one move of a zoom ring. Really?

Then, the control ring, which you can program to do many fancy things which you are perfectly able to do in nice and easy way with camera buttons and wheels. And among those fancy things literally all of those which you could eventually consider to assign to that ring require you to also press a button above that freaking ring. I tried to do this once, during BIF session hand-held: I carried the camera with right hand, operated the zoom ring with the left hand and changed aperture with control ring using the middle hand. Easy-peasy.

Then, the switches. The lack of VC modes I accept since I can’t count the times when I forgot swtiching to panning mode while using Tamron and struggled to see the difference. But lack of AF range limiter is a cheap shot, really. The AF on this lens is fast, but not that fast to lose precious miliseconds on useless distances.

Now, the tripod foot and collar, which are a mix of good and absurdly bad; the good thing being that it has ears for strap attachment and a strap comes in a box. This might prevent some people for doing bad things to their camera’s lens mounts. The foot on the other hand is the completely opposite story. You can’t remove the collar, you also can’t remove the foot. And the foot is not Arca-Swiss compatible of course. And due to it’s size and the bolt spacing is compatible with 100mm plates only (I’ll buy a beer to first forum user who finds the length of that foot on Canon’s site). This is especially funny since the obvious gimbal choice for that lens would be quite popular Sirui PH-10 gimbal head, which comes with Sirui PH-85 plate which definitely does not like that joke of a foot. And a cherry on top – guess what lens is PH-85 perfectly compatible with? Right, the Tamron 150-1600 G2. Which does not need it, since it’s Arca-Swiss shaped already.

Last thing about the collar – the screw. It had been too loose on Tamron G1, they heard it and on G2 it was about right. Canon surely does not have to listen to anyone, because it’s Canon, so do not forget your pliers if you plan to move the collar around.

Last thing I’d like to mention construction-wise is the hood and this is good, especially in comparison to Tamron. The manouvers with it might not be the most important thing int he world, but it’s a pleasure with Canon for the price of one tiny spring-inducing button. Tamron’s way of handling the hood mount is lousy. There are rumours of people dying of hunger while trying to mount that hood in reverse position.

I won’t tell anything about the difference in picture quality since I don’t have enough material to compare. I also think that with today’s lenses and sensors you can register wonderful photos if only you’re in right place, the light is right and the object cooperates just a bit. The gear just helps doing it a bit more frequently.

(Both lenses are perfectly able to register top-notch pictures, of course).

But I can tell something about AF behaviour of both lenses in BIF applications, since I spent two morning sessions with them hand-held and tripod mounted. I’ve been using Tamron frequently for last four years and expected the most significant upgrade in tracking ability department. I can’t say I’m disappointed, but using Canon definitely does not cause the WOW effect. Is Canon better in holding on to the subject? Not so sure. Does it lock the target more efficiently? I’m under impression that it does, but it’s not otherwordly better. Is Canon better than Tamron when the target flies from clears skies to the background consisting of trees? No, they’re both helpless in those situations.

But there’s also a confession to make – 10 day trip is not enough for getting comfortable with this lens. With Tamron I got used to operate on 600mm, move my feet and lock the flying target as an effect. It seems to be way harder with 800mm which will require me to learn again how to operate with zoom ring in proper manner.

Which leads me to last conclusion – 200-800 is a lens for experienced photographers. Buying it won’t make you better by itself, in fact you will probably need to put significant amount of work to get the results you desire.

Which leads me to one more note– on the last day of the trip we were in the Black-headed gulls colony; my wife took the 200-800 and disappeared in the reed bed , I let the 150-160 rest in the backpack and snatched my daughter’s set of 70D+Tamron 70-300 for last shots of the golden hour; those were probably best shots of the trip, coming from a $250 gear...
Your comments re the Canon 200-800 are spot on. It's not really the quality that I expected, in multiple small ways that lead to an overall "meh" feeling. I switched back to my 100-500mm lens, which is sharper when cropped to the equivalent magnification, and much more ergonomically pleasing--except for the ridiculous position of the focus ring.
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Really appreciate the thorough write up. I have the Tamron 150-600mm as well. One of my frustrations with the lens is the AF tracking you mentioned you were hoping would be vastly improved with the Canon 200-800mm. Lots of interesting points to consider here.

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