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Nikon 200-500mm vs Tamron 150-600mm G2 Lens Comparison

The Nikon 200-500mm lens and the Tamron 150-600mm lens are two of the most popular super telephoto lenses available for Nikon DSLR cameras and frequently compared to each other. As with most comparisons each lens has advantages over the other, but now with the new G2 version of the lens selling for the same retail price as the Nikon 200-500mm lens the comparison is even more interesting.

The general consensus of these two lenses is that the Nikon may be slightly sharper and the Tamron has slightly faster autofocus. Most photographers would seem to gravitate towards the sharper lens, however, my experience is that these two lenses seem to be very close, with differences changing from shot to shot. Personally, I believe that these two lenses are equally as sharp. Lenses over 300mm are very difficult to use due to the massive amounts of magnification and from possible atmospheric distortion.

Even comparing the lenses side by side I noticed that in one set of test shots one lens was sharper, but in the very next set the other lens was the better of the two.

Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR Pricing*

  • Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR Lens - $1400

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Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 Pricing*

  • Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 - $1399.95

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*Pricing from Manufacturer's website - Current selling price may be different. Be sure to visit the links below for current pricing.

Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR Advantages

Constant f/5.6 aperture

Genuine Nikon Brand

Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 Advantages

Weatherproof

150mm on the wide end

600mm on the telephoto end

Integrated Arca Swiss mount in tripod foot

Smaller (especially the diameter where the lens is held)

Lighter

Conclusion

This is a really hard call. For many the Nikon will be their choice simply because it is a Nikon lens. This means they don’t have to worry about the potential for the lens to not work on future bodies since third party manufacturers have to reverse engineer their lenses to get them to work.

On the flip side the Tamron seems to be the better built of the two lenses, offering weatherproofing, the integrated Arca-Swiss mount in the tripod foot, and the smaller size and weight. Additionally the Tamron does provide more zoom range.

Looking at the user reviews the Nikon has more 5-star ratings than the Tamron, but if you combine the 4 and 5-star totals the lenses are both very close at 97% for the Nikon and 96% for the Tamron. This just further goes to show these two lenses are indeed very comparable.

No matter which lens you choose, I think you will be happy. If you need more zoom range, then absolutely get the Tamron. If you must have “Nikon Glass” for your Nikon DSLR, then get the Nikon. Otherwise, flip a coin. Regardless of which lens your u get, be sure to devote a fair amount of time to learning how to use a super telephoto lens and practice a lot.

Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR Overall User Rating

4.81 out of 5

based on 980 user reviews online.

: 85% (833.06)
: 13% (122.8)
: 2% (14.76)
: 1% (6.38)
: 0% (3)

Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 Overall User Rating

4.61 out of 5

based on 229 user reviews online.

: 75% (171.76)
: 20% (45.25)
: 1% (2.07)
: 2% (4.07)
: 1% (2.07)

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Specs

Spec Nikon AF-S 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
Focal Length 200 150
Max Aperture f/5.6 f/5
Minimum Aperture f/ f/
Minimum Focus distance 86.4 inches 86.64 inches
Maximum Magnification 0.22x 0.26x
Number of Elements 19 21
Number of Groups 12 13
Aperture Blade Design Rounded Rounded
Number of Aperture Blades 9 9
Filter Size 95 mm 95 mm
Diameter 4.25 in. 4.27 in.
Length 10.53 in. 10.24 in.
Weight 4.6 lbs. 4.42 lbs.
Lens Mount Construction Metal Metal
Tripod Collar Included Included
Weather Sealed No Yes
Distance Scale Yes - No Hyper Focal Markings Yes - No Hyper Focal Markings
Image Stabilization Yes Yes
Lens Shade Included Included