Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD Review

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn

Introduction

The Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD is a fast wide-angle prime lens for Canon, Nikon and Sony full-frame DSLR cameras. It features a maximum aperture of f/1.8, Vibration Compensation (VC) technology which provides up to 3 stops of of image stabilisation, an ultrasonic focus motor for quiet AF operation, and a moisture-proof construction.

The optical formula comprises 10 elements in 9 groups, including two moulded glass aspherical elements, a low-dispersion and an extra-low-dispersion element, and an iris diaphragm with nine rounded aperture blades. The minimum focus distance is 0.2m and the maximum reproduction ratio is 1:2.5. Note that the Sony version does not include Vibration Compensation (as it’s already built into the camera body). The Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD lens officially retails for £579 / $599.

Ease of Use

The Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD is quite big and bulky, measuring just over 8cms in length and weighing in at 480g. While you can use it on a smaller APS-C body, it won’t balance particularly well (and the focal length will also change) – as demonstrated by the images below, it’s a much better match for a professional-grade, full-frame camera like the Canon EOS 5DS R, where it feels much more well-balanced.

Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD

The Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5DS R

Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USDTamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD

The Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5DS R

Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD

The Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD lens alongside a Canon EOS 5DS R

Build quality is excellent, despite Tamron traditionally offering lenses at the cheaper end of the market. The more premium-priced Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD feels very solid in your hand, thanks to the metal outer barrel and filter thread.

Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD

Side of the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD lens

Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD

Front of the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD lens

Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD

Rear of the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD lens

The focusing ring is generously wide and has a ridged, rubberised grip band. There’s a distance scale that runs from the closest distance of 20cm to infinity with hard stops at either end, but no depth of field scale. An AF/MF switch on the side of the lens makes it easy to switch between the two focusing systems.

Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USDTamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD

Side of the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD lens

The final control is the VC On / Off switch, which turns the lens’ built-in Vibration Compensation on and off. This is a big selling point for the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD, as neither the Canon, Nikon or Sigma equivalents offer image stabilisation. In practice we found it offered around 3 f-stops of compensation, obviously dependent upon your own particular hand-holding technique, making it easier to use the lens in low-light.

Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD

The Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD lens in-hand

Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD

The Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD lens with the supplied lens hood fitted

The lens is supplied with lens caps and a removable flower-shaped lens hood – there’s no bag included. Filter size is 67mm.

Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD

The Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD lens next to the Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD

Auto-focus

The Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD features a ring-type USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive) that allows near-silent auto-focusing. Importantly, this solution allows instant manual override even when the focus mode switch is in the AF position. In use, we found the focusing to be indeed very quiet, and pretty fast – but definitely not instantaneous – with the lens mounted to a Canon EOS 5DS R body.

Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberrations, typically seen as purple or blue fringes along contrasty edges, are more prevalent than we would like with this lens – the examples below show the worst-case scenario.

Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD

Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD

Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD

Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD

Vignetting

With the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD wide open at f/1.8, you can see some noticeable light fall-off in the corners. Stopping down helps, although to completely get rid of this phenomenon, you will need to use an f-stop of f/5.6 or smaller. There’s also some slight barrel distortion apparent.

Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD

Light Fall-off

Macro

With a maximum reproduction ratio is 1:2.5, the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD is not really a macro lens, but you can usefully focus very closely at 20cm from the film/sensor plane. The following example illustrates how close you can get to the subject, in this case a CompactFlash card.

Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD

Close-up performance

Bokeh

Bokeh is a word used for the out-of-focus areas of a photograph, and is usually described in qualitative terms, such as smooth / creamy / harsh etc. One of the reasons to buy a fast lens is to be able to isolate the subject from the background, which is normally very hard to do with a wide-angle lens. Tamron was apparently very much aware of this requirement, as they employed an iris diaphragm with 9 rounded blades for a pleasing rendering of the out-of-focus highlights. Based on what we have seen, we can say that they largely succeeded. Below you’ll find some examples, but you are also encouraged to check out our sample images.

Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD

Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD

Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD

Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD

Sharpness

In order to show you how sharp this lens is, we are providing 100% crops on the following page.

Sharpness at 35mm

The sharpness tests for this review were carried out using a real-world subject rather than a test chart. The Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD lens was attached to a Canon 5DS R body, which in turn was mounted on a sturdy tripod. Self-timer mode was activated. Slight tonal changes are due to slight changes in natural light during the session.

The full frame

The full frame at 35mm

Both center and edge sharpness are outstanding between f/2.8 and f/8. At f/11 and f/16 sharpness is beginning to drop off to diffraction.

Aperture Centre Crop Edge Crop
f/1.8

f/2.8

f/4

f/5.6

f/8

f/11

f/16

Specifications

Model F012
Focal Length 35mm
Maximum Aperture F/1.8
Angle of View (diagonal) 63°26’ for full-frame format
43°29’ for APS-C format
Optical Construction 10 elements in 9 groups
Minimum Object Distance 0.2m (7.9 in)
Maximum Magnification Ratio 1:2.5
Filter Size Φ67mm
Maximum Diameter Φ80.4mm
Length* 80.8mm (3.2 in) Canon
78.3mm (3.1 in) Nikon
Weight 480g (16.9 oz) Canon
450g (15.9 oz) Nikon
Aperture Blades 9 (circular diaphragm**)
Minimum Aperture F/16
Standard Accessories Flower-shaped lens hood, Lens caps
Compatible Mounts Canon, Nikon, Sony***

Conclusion

Having watched one of their main rivals, Sigma, garner all the recent plaudits with their popular range of Art lenses, Tamron have responded with the premium quality 35mm and 45mm f/1.8 SP prime lenses. Both lenses offer built-in vibration compensation and weather-sealing, which the comparable lenses from Sigma, Canon and Nikon do not feature, while the 35mm’s close focusing distance of 20cm is the best in its class, and it’s also lighter than its main rivals too. As you’d expect from Tamron, the price is very appealing despite the excellent build quality, undercutting the competition by several hundred pounds/dollars. The popular Sigma 35mm Art lens is faster at f/1.4, though, and it crucially offers even better image quality than the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD, with the Tamron lens suffering especially from green and purple colour fringing effects.

Image quality is still very good though, with excellent center and edge sharpness throughout almost the entire aperture range. Barrel distortion is quite obvious but to be expected for a wide-angle lens, and flare is only ever an issue when shooting directly into the sun. The notable optical issues are the aforementioned chromatic aberrations, obvious corner shading at the maximum aperture, something that every full-frame shooter has to put up with especially when using wide angles, and a slight lack of sharpness when shooting wide-open at f/1.8 and stopped-down at f/11 and f/16.

The Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD is a more affordable alternative to the OEM offerings from Nikon and Canon and the class-leading Sigma 35mm Art lens, with the added benefits of an effective image stabilisation system and weather-sealing. It can’t quite match the Sigma lens for outright image quality, though, and the f/1.8 maximum aperture isn’t as fast as its main rivals, so you need to decide which features are most important and just how much money you’re prepared to spend on a premium 35mm lens…

(photographyblog.com)

 

Comments

comments

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedIn