The new Tamron 100-400mm F4.5-6.3 Di VC USD is a lightweight telezoom aimed at enthusiast full-frame and APS-C DSLR users. The lightest zoom in its class (minus the optional tripod foot) the 100-400mm trades brightness for portability, weighing in at 40 ounces (roughly 1.1 kilograms).
Optical construction comprises 17 elements in 11 groups, including extraordinary LD (low dispersion) elements. Minimum focus is a respectable 59 inches (1.5m) which works out at a a maximum magnification ratio of 1:3.6.
The optical Vibration Correction system offers the equivalent of 4 stops of correction, which should make a big difference to usability for telephoto shots, at and around 400mm. We’ve been impressed by the performance of Tamron’s stabilization in the past, and in theory, the new 100-400mm should be hand-holdable down to 1/60sec at 400mm.
Despite being a full-frame zoom, the 100-400mm feels relatively light, and very well-balanced. In the 100mm zoom position, the lens is 7.8 inches long.
Zoomed out to 400mm, the 100-400mm gets longer by roughly 50%, but still feels well-balanced. The large zoom ring moves smoothly throughout the zoom range. A smaller focus ring is positioned behind it, but separated by enough space that you probably won’t grab the wrong ring by mistake.
Automatic focusing is powered by twin processors, and judging from a very quick test on the show floor (with a Nikon D500) AF seems fast and positive, at least in single-shot mode.
Although the sample we tried out didn’t display any ‘zoom creep’ there is a lock on the barrel to prevent the lens extending when carried.
The tripod ring is optional, but recommended. Although it makes the 100-400mm slightly heavier, it offers a very solid platform for tripod use. Although you can’t tell from this image, the base of the foot is Arca-SWISS compatible.
The Tamron 100-400mm F4.5-6.3 Di VC USD is fully compatible with Canon and Nikon DSLRs, both full-frame and APS-C. We had the chance to use it (briefly) on a Nikon D500 and it balances well, both at 100 and 400mm positions. This view gives a sense of the relatively small size of the lens. Despite its telephoto reach, it’s about the same size and weight as a typical 70-200mm F4.
As we’d expect, the Tamron 100-400mm F4.5-6.3 Di VC USD is compatible with Tamron’s TAP-in Console and 1.4X and 2X teleconverters (although don’t expect stellar AF performance at the long end of the zoom with either!). It will be available starting November 16th for $800.