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One year has pasted since I relocated from Yokohama City in Kanagawa Prefecture to live in Kushiro City, Hokkaido to photograph Red-crowned Cranes. In the language of the Ainu people, the Red-crowned Crane is called Sarurun-kamui ("God of the Marshes"). When you see the bird, its beautiful, mystical appearance makes this name seem very suitable. I had decided to move to Hokkaido in order to be able to record the Red-crowned Crane's life over the course of a whole year, and continue taking photographs of the birds on a daily basis.

While I was making this photographic record of the Cranes' lives, I had the opportunity to try out the Tamron SP 150-600mm (A011) lens. I tend to associate 600mm lenses with big, bulky fixed focal length lenses, but although the A011 has a maximum focal length of 600mm, it is actually very compact, and weighs less than 2kg. I was amazed that a lens this small could provide a 4x zoom lens capability with 150mm – 600mm focal length.

It wasn't just the size that surprised me; it was the quality of the images as well. As it turned out, the lens produced very good photos. Even with the aperture wide open, the quality was good enough, and when taking photos with the aperture at the f/8 stop, the images were so good that to get anything better, you would have needed a big, expensive fixed focal length lens. With my concerns about image quality put at rest, I was soon itching to take more pictures with this lens; I was now able to approach the photo subjects with confidence. As I normally use a 400mm F2.8 lens, the only thing that concerned me slightly about the A011 was the F-number. However, this is the trade-off that you have to accept in return for making the lens smaller, and as far as I was concerned it was worth it to be able to enjoy the benefits of a small, lightweight lens. The high sensitivity of the latest camera models compensates for this, so it shouldn't be much of a problem anyway.

As I was traveling round Eastern Hokkaido, I took some wide-angle landscape shots, and found that the A011's wide-angle imaging performance was very good too. Even when I was taking photos in very cold (−20°C) weather, I had no problems. The autofocus worked very well too. Although it wasn't absolutely perfect, it was still able to track fast-moving subjects with great precision. The vibration compensation function was highly effective as well. I think it is marvelous that a 600mm lens – which in the past has always been very expensive – can be made available at such a reasonable price. I would recommend it to others without hesitation. I expect to continue using this lens in the future; it feels like I have acquired another dependable partner that I can rely on.