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Tamron 50-400mm F/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD (Model A067)

The week before this year’s final leg of the Triple Crown, I headed over to Belmont Park, a world-class thoroughbred horse racing venue in Elmont, New York. This was my first time behind the camera for an event like this, but the new Tamron 50-400mm Di III VC VXD ultra-telephoto zoom lens (Model A067) made it exciting and fun.

With an 8x zoom ratio, this lens covers the standard 50mm and reaches all the way to 400mm, which was ideal for this type of sporting event. The 50mm end of the lens was great when I was inside the paddock area and the jockey was posing on the horse, or the handler was guiding the horse to the track. If I didn’t have that wider angle, my images would’ve just been closeups of the jockey’s head. Meanwhile, the telephoto end of the lens allowed me to zoom in on details, and also get closer to the action when the horses were racing around the track.

The 50-400mm’s VXD linear motor focus mechanism offers fast and accurate focusing from MOD to infinity, as well as stellar focus tracking performance. I used continuous focusing (AI Servo mode for Canon cameras), where the focusing locked in on the horse and, as the horse moved, the focus changed accordingly. It hit the mark every time.

The optical construction of this lens features 24 elements in 18 groups, including XLD (eXtra Low Dispersion), LD (Low Dispersion), and Hybrid Aspherical lens elements to control aberrations. That, combined with the BBAR-G2 (Broad-Band Anti-Reflection Generation 2) Coating to minimize ghosting and flare, helped me achieve clear, unbelievably sharp images that highlighted every detail. I took a few photos after the race of the trainers hosing down the horse, and you could see the veins of the horse under its skin and muscle. The detail I’m able to get with this lens is incredible.

At 40.7 ounces and just 7.2 inches in length, the 50-400mm is the perfect lightweight lens for travel, nature, wildlife, and sports photographers. You can use this all day and not get tired. If you’ve got a particularly long day ahead of you, you can also purchase a tripod mount for the lens to alleviate some of that extra stress.