The best 150-600mm lenses in 2023: super-telephoto zooms to get close to the action

The best 150-600mm lenses: the Fujifilm XF 150-600mm f/5.6-8 R LM OIS WR
(Image credit: Lauren Scott)

The best 150-600mm lenses have such a versatile zoom range, that they allow you to get up close to your subjects without even having to move your feet. Beloved by sports and motorsports photographers, these high-quality zooms provide a broad range of telephoto perspectives. For subjects you just can't get close to, from wildlife to aircraft, a 150-600mm lens is the ideal lens. 

Many professional photographers will choose the best 70-200mm lenses (opens in new tab) or the best 100-400mm lenses (opens in new tab) as their favorite working distance, but the 150-600mm outstrips them both in terms of sheer distance, and in terms of the difference between the wide end and the telephoto end. They're simply one of the best camera lenses to buy (opens in new tab) if you're a sports or wildlife photographer.

One thing to note about 150-600mm lenses is that they're all third-party, and camera manufacturers aren't currently making their own. While this means that you may need to get used to different handling, and some features like optical image stabilization may not function as well, the advantage is that they tend to be cheaper than buying native lenses. Given how expensive telephotos can get at longer focal lengths, this is extremely welcome news. 

This shot was taken at the 150mm end of a 150-600mm lens’ zoom range (Image credit: Matthew Richards/Digital Camera World)
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Up close: taken from the 600mm end of a 150-600mm lens’ zoom range (Image credit: Matthew Richards/Digital Camera World)
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The main manufacturers of 150-600mm lenses are Sigma and Tamron, and they have been producing them for Canon EF and Nikon F full-frame mounts for quite some time. Canon RF and Nikon Z mirrorless users can mount them via adapters, and functions like autofocus should still work well enough. Canon RF users may also want to consider the excellent Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM (opens in new tab), which is a reasonably close alternative.

For other mirrorless users, 150-600mm pickings used to be thin on the ground, however, Sigma has finally let loose its 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS | Sports lens (opens in new tab) for Sony E and Leica L-mount (the latter of which includes Panasonic's full-frame mirrorless cameras like the Lumix S5). This has given a few more options for full-frame mirrorless shooters - and Tamron is offering the slightly shorter 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VC VXD (opens in new tab) as an option for Sony shooters.. There is also now the Fujifilm Fujinon XF150-600mm F5.6-8 R LM OIS WR (opens in new tab) lens for the X-series.

When we're looking at a 150-600mm lens, the number on the body refers to the focal length the lens will give you when mounted on a full-frame / 35mm camera; mount one on an APS-C format body and the 1.5x crop factor gives an even greater ‘effective’ zoom range of 225-900mm. On Canon APS-C bodies, the larger 1.6x crop factor delivers an even mightier 240-960mm zoom range. 

There's a decent amount of choice out there, then. So let's look at the lenses, weigh up the pros and cons, find the best deals, and make our picks for the best 150-600mm lenses you can buy right now!

Best 150-600mm lenses in 2023

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Editor's Choice

(Image credit: Future)
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The heavyweight, heavy-duty Sigma Sport comes out on top

Specifications

Mount: Canon EF, Nikon FX, Sigma SA
Elements/groups: 24/16
Diaphragm blades: 9
Autofocus: Ultrasonic (ring-type)
Stabilizer: 4-stops
Minimum focus distance: 2.6m
Maximum magnification: 0.2x
Filter thread: 105mm
Dimensions: : 121x290mm
Weight: 2,860g

Reasons to buy

+
Great image quality
+
Solid build with advanced features

Reasons to avoid

-
Comparatively big and heavy
-
Typically 'slow' aperture at 600mm

As one of the ‘Sport’ lenses in Sigma’s Global Vision line-up, the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM | S is built for speed and optimum performance. The whole of the front section of the lens is a lot larger than in Sigma’s Contemporary class lens, and contains two rather than one top-grade FLD elements. The aim is to boost image quality but it comes at the price of size and weight, this lens being nearly a kilogram heavier than any other 150-600mm lenses, at 2,860g. 

Advanced features include a manual override focus option, in which you can swap to manual focusing simply by twisting the focus ring, without waiting for AF to initially lock onto an object. Dual-mode stabilisation has switchable static and panning modes, and the zoom lock switch works at any focal length setting that’s marked on the barrel. Customization of autofocus and stabilization are available, along with the application of firmware upgrades, via Sigma’s optional USB Dock. 

Up-market build quality includes metal barrel sections and lens hood, and a full set of weather-seals. Image quality is excellent and the Sport lens retains better sharpness at the long end of the zoom range, compared with Sigma’s 150-600mm Contemporary edition. Distortions are also reduced a little, and autofocus speed is fractionally faster. This is a top performer, and is great value considering its pro-grade build quality. See our full Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports review (opens in new tab).

(Image credit: Future)
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Tamron’s ‘Generation 2’ edition of its 150-600mm lens is seriously revamped

Specifications

Mount: Canon EF, Nikon FX, Sony A
Elements/groups: 21/13
Diaphragm blades: 9
Autofocus: Ultrasonic (ring-type)
Stabilizer: 4.5-stops
Minimum focus distance: 2.2m
Maximum magnification: 0.16x
Filter thread: 95mm
Dimensions: 108 x 260mm
Weight: 2,010g

Reasons to buy

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Improved autofocus and stabilisation systems
+
Good sharpness in the long section of the zoom range

Reasons to avoid

-
No optical stabilization in the Sony-fit edition
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Sharpness is a bit lacking at shorter zoom settings

This G2 (Generation 2) edition of Tamron’s 150-600mm lens is upgraded in pretty much every facet of its features, handling and performance. The LD (Low Dispersion) element count goes from one to three, and BBAR (Broad-Band Anti-Reflection) coatings add to the older lens’s eBAND (Extended Bandwidth and Angular-Dependency) coatings, to further suppress internal reflections. The uprated autofocus system delivers faster performance, better able to track moving subjects and the redesigned VC (Vibration Compensation) system gives class-leading 4.5-stop effectiveness, plus two additional switchable modes. The second mode is for panning and the third applies stabilisation only during exposures, making it easier to track erratically moving objects. However, the optical stabilizer is only featured in the Canon and Nikon mount editions of the lens. 

With the Sony A-fit edition, you’ll need to rely on in-camera stabilization (note that for Sony mirrorless cameras using the Sony E-mount, you should check out the Tamron 150-500mm f/5-6.7 Di III VC VXD (opens in new tab)). 

Going one better than the Sigma 150-600mm lenses, a new flex zoom lock enables you to lock the zoom at any position, rather than just at settings for which a focal length is marked on the barrel. It also matches the Sigma lenses with compatibility for an optional USB dock, which Tamron calls a ‘TAP-in Console’, for applying customization and firmware upgrades. There’s only a marginal Increase in size and weight over the original Tamron (see below), but the G2 gets superior weather-seals and a fluorine coating on the front element. Overall build quality feels superior. 

Living up to Tamron’s claims, the G2’s autofocus speed and the effectiveness of its image stabilization are excellent. Image quality is very good overall, but sharpness is a bit of a mixed bag. In our tests, it proved slightly less sharp than the original Tamron lens at short to medium zoom settings, but rather sharper in the 400-600mm sector. It’s a good trade-off, as you’ll usually find yourself using the lens towards the long end of its zoom range. See our full Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2 review (opens in new tab).

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Take a load off with Sigma’s Contemporary class lens

Specifications

Mount: Canon EF, Nikon FX, Sigma SA
Elements/groups: 20/14
Diaphragm blades: 9
Autofocus: Ultrasonic (ring-type)
Stabilizer: 4-stops
Minimum focus distance: 2.8m
Maximum magnification: 0.2x
Filter thread: 95mm
Dimensions: 105 x 260mm
Weight: 1,930g

Reasons to buy

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Most of the best bits of the Sport edition Sigma
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Much lighter than the Sport lens

Reasons to avoid

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Sharpness a little less impressive at long zoom settings
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Lacks a full set of weather seals

Nearly a whole kilogram lighter than Sigma’s 150-600mm Sport zoom, this Contemporary edition is the most lightweight 150-600mm lens on the market. That said, the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM | C is only marginally lighter than the original Tamron 150-600mm (below) and almost exactly the same size and price. Despite its comparatively budget price tag, the Sigma Contemporary lens packs plenty of trick features. These include three focus modes including MO (Manual Override), which switches the lens to manual focusing as soon as you twist the focus ring, a dual-mode optical stabilizer for static and panning shots, a three-pole autofocus limiter switch that can lock out either the short or long end of the range, and two custom modes that you can set up via Sigma’s optional USB Dock. 

As with the Sport line lens, the zoom lock switch can be engaged at any marked zoom length. Optical finery includes a top-grade FLD (Fluorite Low Dispersion) element and fluorine coatings on the front and rear elements, which repel moisture and ease cleaning. The lens lacks a full set of weather-seals but does at least feature a weather-sealed mount. This avoids the ingress of dust and moisture in the joint between the lens and camera body. 

The Sigma Contemporary lens has good sharpness throughout the zoom range but loses out slightly to the Sigma Sport edition and the new Tamron G2 for sharpness at 600mm. Color fringing and distortions are fairly low, and autofocus performance is fast and accurate. All things considered, its features and performance make it unbeatable value for its price. See our full Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary review (opens in new tab).

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)
The Sports lens finally comes to E-mount and L-mount!

Specifications

Mount: Sony E, Leica L
Elements/groups: 25/15
Diaphragm blades: 9
Autofocus: Stepper motor
Stabilizer: 4-stops
Minimum focus distance: 0.58-2.8m
Maximum magnification: 0.34x
Filter thread: 95mm
Dimensions: 109.4 x 265.6mm
Weight: 2,100g

Reasons to buy

+
Superb sharpness
+
One of few mirrorless options

Reasons to avoid

-
Chunky and heavy
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Non-removable tripod collar

A retooling of the already excellent DSLR lens, the Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Sports is the complete package for Sony and Leica L shooters. Pairing superb internal optics with an all-around excellent, weather-sealed build, this heavy-duty zoom lens is a big customer, but is really the only game in town for 150-600mm as far as users of the aforementioned mounts are concerned. 

Of course, that wouldn't matter if the lens itself was no good. Fortunately, it's excellent. The optical path is a little different from the DSLR version, including 25 elements arranged in 15 groups, and it produces impressive sharpness throughout the entirety of the zoom range. There's some inevitable fall-off in the corners, but not enough to worry about, and it's the sort of thing that will be hidden anyway when you're shooting with a shallow depth of field. 

The autofocus is excellent, though you'll need to make sure your camera is set up in the optimal way to take advantage of it. The build quality of the lens is also impressive – while no one is going to pretend this is a lightweight lens, it handles well, with tactile zoom and focus rings and a series of on-body controls for functions like AF speed, stabilization intensity, and in a new addition for the mirrorless version, Zoom Torque control to adjust the resistance of the zoom ring.

This is an all-around excellent lens that's absolutely worth the money for E-mount and L-mount users.  See our full Sigma 150-600mm f/5-6.3 DG DN OS Sports review (opens in new tab).

150-600mm lens alternatives

There are a few lenses that give a similar, but slightly different, focal length range to a 150-600mm - and below are some of those which are worth considering:

(Image credit: Future)
Not a 150-600mm - but a great option for Canon full-frame mirrorless

Specifications

Mount: Canon RF
Elements/groups: 20/14
Diaphragm blades: 9
Autofocus: Dual Nano USM
Stabilizer: Yes
Min focus distance: 0.9-1.2m
Max magnification: 0.33x
Filter thread: 77mm
Dimensions (WxL): 93.8x207.6mm
Weight: 1530g

Reasons to buy

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Lacks the reach of a true 150-600mm
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Brilliant image quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Disappointing AF speed on older EOS R bodies
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Narrow maximum aperture

The Canon RF 100-500mm f/4.5-7.1L IS USM is the first super-telephoto zoom lens for EOS R-system mirrorless cameras. This is a high-quality lens with its L-series build, and even has a heat shield coating for coping with shooting in challenging weather conditions, whether it’s hot or cold. Plus its 5-stop image stabilization will help you deliver sharp shots when shooting handheld with slower shutter speeds and in low light. It lacks the reach of a 150-600mm at its telephoto lens - but compensates for this with its widest tele setting. See our full Canon RF 100-500mm review (opens in new tab).

(Image credit: Sony)
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Not a 150-600mm - but this is a good choice for Sony shooters

Specifications

Mount: Sony FE
Elements/groups: 24/17
Diaphragm blades: 11
Autofocus: DDSSM
Stabilizer: Yes
Min focus distance: 2.4m
Max magnification: 0.2x
Filter thread: 95mm
Dimensions (WxL): 111.5x318mm
Weight: 2,115g

Reasons to buy

+
3x supertelephoto zoom range
+
Optical stabilization

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy
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Not quite 150-600

This used to be the nearest Sony users could get to a 150-600mm, but even though the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG DN OS | Sports (opens in new tab) has now stolen its thunder, it's still a good choice. The Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS comes pretty close to offering the same sort of reach for what is actually a pretty reasonable price for a Sony lens.

It doesn't boast Sony's G Master badge of optical excellence, and it does have a relatively restricted maximum aperture of f/5.6-6.3, but it has built-in optical stabilization, so pairs well with any Sony Alpha model, including those without IBIS. See our full Sony FE 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 G OSS review (opens in new tab).

(Image credit: Matthew Richards)
Only reaches 500mm, but this Sony-fit option has lightweight appeal

Specifications

Mount: Sony FE
Elements/groups: 25 elements in 16 groups
Diaphragm blades: 7
Autofocus: Linear stepping monitor
Stabilizer: Yes
Min focus distance: 0.6-1.8m
Max magnification: 0.32-0.27x
Filter thread: 82mm
Dimensions (WxL): 93x210mm
Weight: 1,725g

Reasons to buy

+
High-speed autofocus
+
3-mode optical stabilization
+
Arca-Swiss compatible foot

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy
-
Not quite 150-600mm

The Tamron 150-500mm F/5-6.7 Di III VC VXD is the company’s first super-telephoto zoom for full-frame Sony mirrorless cameras. It’s up against stiff opposition from the excellent own-brand Sony FE 200-600mm f/5.6-6.3 G OSS (above), which gives even greater telephoto reach. However, the Sony lens is physically nearly 50 per cent longer, somewhat heavier and more expensive to buy. Despite not having quite the reach of a 150-600mm, the range is still attractive enough  for action, sports and wildlife photography. It is backed up by super-fast autofocus and highly effective optical stabilization. It’s sufficiently compact and lightweight for prolonged periods of handheld shooting, and the removable Arca-Swiss compatible tripod mount collar is a further handling bonus. All in all, it’s a high-performance lens with a strong set of features and a very good buy at the price. Read our full Tamron 150-500mm F/5-6.7 Di III VC VXD review (opens in new tab).

(Image credit: Sigma)
10x superzoom beast of a lens offers ultimate versatility for shooting wildlife

Specifications

Mount: Canon EF, Nikon FX, Sigma SA
Elements/groups: 25/19
Diaphragm blades: 9
Autofocus: Ultrasonic (ring-type)
Stabilizer: 4-stops
Minimum focus distance: 2.6m
Maximum magnification: 0.3x
Filter thread: 105mm
Dimensions: 120x269mm
Weight: 2,700g

Reasons to buy

+
Huge focal length versatility
+
Impressive sharpness

Reasons to avoid

-
Noticeable distortion at 60mm
-
More expensive the 150-600mm

Though also technically not 150-600mm, we thought this lens was worthy of inclusion in this guide. The Sigma 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM | S looks like the company’s popular 150–600mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM | S lens (our top pick), but this lens sports a shorter minimum focal length that makes it really unique. With a staggering 10x zoom, it doesn't look so very different from the 150-600mm lens but inside features a sophisticated optical construction consisting of no fewer than 25 elements in 19 groups.

The lens feels sturdy and well made, with a construction that is part magnesium alloy and part composite material. We found the AF to be very quick and effective in the vast majority of cases we tested it in, while the image stabilizer is highly effective for both static and panning shots. Optically and contrast and sharpness are impressive at all zoom settings, particularly when shooting wide-open.

This is an incredibly versatile lens that should be a tempting proposition for those looking to shoot wildlife. See our full Sigma 60-600mm f/4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM S review (opens in new tab).

Fujifilm XF150-600mm f/5.6-8

(Image credit: Fujifilm)
The only 150-600mm lens for Fujifilm X-series cameras

Specifications

Angle of view: 10.8°-2.7°
Minimum focus distance: 2.4m
Max. magnification: 0.24x
Dimensions: 99mm×314.5mm
Weight: 1605g (lens only)
Filter size: 82mm

Reasons to buy

+
Amazing range on APS-C sensor
+
5-stop image stabilization mechanism
+
Lightweight design

Reasons to avoid

-
Slow maximum aperture
-
Long barrel dimensions

This astounding lens covers focal lengths of 229mm – 914mm in equivalent 35mm film terms, and it even supports teleconverters. This means that if you fitted it with the XF2X TC WR, the range would extend to up to 1200mm (equivalent to 1828mm). Not bad for a lens that weighs just 1605g (albeit without the lens hood, lens cap, and tripod collar foot) and costs under $2k! 

The Fujinon XF150-600mm F5.6-8 R LM OIS WR lens has opened up the Fujifilm X-mount to wildlife and sports photographers who don't just want a long lens – they want an easy-to-carry, affordable, and fast-focusing long lens. The performance of the Fujinon XF150-600mm F5.6-8 R LM OIS WR is all of these things, and great for the price point. If you're a Fujifilm user, you can now get even closer to subjects that are small, speedy, or elusive. See our full Fujifilm XF150-600 F5.6-8 R LM OIS WR review (opens in new tab).

How we test lenses

We test lenses using both real world sample images and lab tests. Our lab tests are carried out scientifically in controlled conditions using the Imatest testing suite, which consists of custom charts and analysis software that measures resolution in line widths/picture height, a measurement widely used in lens and camera testing. We find the combination of lab and real-word testing works best, as each reveals different qualities and characteristics.

You might also like to read about the best telephoto lenses (opens in new tab), as well as the best budget telephoto-zoom lenses (opens in new tab) and the best lenses for bird photography (opens in new tab).

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Matthew Richards is a photographer and journalist who has spent years using and reviewing all manner of photo gear. He is Digital Camera World's principal lens reviewer – and has tested more primes and zooms than most people have had hot dinners! 


His expertise with equipment doesn’t end there, though. He is also an encyclopedia  when it comes to all manner of cameras, camera holsters and bags, flashguns, tripods and heads, printers, papers and inks, and just about anything imaging-related. 


In an earlier life he was a broadcast engineer at the BBC, as well as a former editor of PC Guide.

With contributions from