Epic Portrait Shooting with the New Tamron 100-400mm

(Tamron 100-400mm F4.5-6.3 Di VC)

Back in April, we reviewed the new Tamron 100-400mm F4.5-6.3 Di VC Telephoto Zoom lens (Model A035) and found that it's a pretty great lens that can achieve 95% of the performance of a similar Nikon/Canon lens that costs double the price. It's not as fast as those native lenses, but it has enough qualities that it could make you reconsider shooting portraits with a longer lens than your traditional 500-200 zoom lens. 

Patrick Hall with F-Stoppers just did an extensive four-day shoot with the Tamron 100-400 to see what it's like using it as a portrait lens.

The video is great because it shows how hard it is to try and get a specific shot sometimes. Most photographers have at least one shot in mind when they're going out on a photo shoot that's specific to an event. What I mean by that is in the video Patrick's subject was kiteboarding and he really wanted to use the strength of the Tamron's 400mm length to make both the kite and the man the same size. 

If you've ever studied filmmaking, oftentimes Akira Kurosawa movies get brought up not just for their epic storytelling, but because of his famed use of shooting scenes on long lenses to try and crush the background so that everyone appears as the same size in the frame. But having people stand on a mountaintop is a lot different than trying to follow a man moving around of a wakeboard that's being pulled by a kite. 

Tamron 100-400 action shot.png
(photo by Patrick Hall)

What Patrick discovered is that it was almost impossible to bring the kite down to the same level as the surfer to get the shot that he wanted. He also came across weather difficulty that extended the shoot, but he wasn't willing to give up. 

I think when you get those ideas in your head of a specific shot you want, you need to find a way to shoot them, even if they don't work, because then you'll know why it didn't work or achieve what you were looking for. 

Tamron 100-400 beach lighting.png
(Patrick hall of F-Stoppers demonstrating lighting on a beach)

In the end, Patrick gives a great tutorial on how to shoot on the beach with lights and a long lens, finally getting the kite in the background by extending the lens past 200 and finding the sweet spot on the lens once it was a stationary locked off shot. 

Tamron 100-400 final beach shot.png
(Final images by Patrick Hall)

Photography should be fun, so get out there and explore and use lenses that are not traditionally used for certain things like a 400mm for portraits and see what you get. There are no real limitations or rules to art, except for the ones you set for yourself.