The first two lenses from the revamped Tamron SP line, 35mm and 45mm f/1.8 primes, have several distinctive features—the first of which is their brand-new body design.
The matte coating, white-gold SP badges and rings give the lenses a premium look. They feel less plastic and more solid compared to Tamron’s previous offerings, with both lenses being larger and heavier than I expected. While not the size or weight of the Sigma Art series, they’re heftier than the average f/1.8 prime lens.
The SP series are equipped with cutting-edge lens technology. Molded glass aspherical elements compensate for spherical and comatic aberrations, while low-dispersion (LD) and extra low-dispersion (XLD) glass corrects colour fringing. Various nano lens coatings prevent reflection, ghosting and flare, and repel dust and moisture.
But how does this technology perform in the field?
One really neat feature of these two new lenses is their close-focusing ability. The 35mm can focus down to 20mm, which gives you a maximum magnification of 1:2.5. This is good enough for most non-macro close-up work. The 45mm’s maximum magnification ratio is slightly lower, but still very good at 1:3.4.
Both the 35mm and 45mm lenses have a built-in optical image stabiliser, or vibration compensation (VC). My real-world tests show that VC is effective to two or three stops. Some people argue that fast standard lenses don’t require image stabilisation, but the truth is that you can’t always shoot at maximum aperture; sometimes you may wish to shoot at a slow shutter speed without a tripod. In my opinion, having image stabilisation is always useful.
The lenses’ optical performance is decent, even when wide open. There’s a little bit of chromatic aberration near high-contrast areas, but this is comparable to most fast prime lenses. Bokeh is round and not too ‘nervous’—when jagged, angular patterns are created rather than soft blur. While the 35mm lens does exhibit onion-ring bokeh—slightly distracting circular bokeh patterns—this is only visible in some photos, and doesn’t occur at all in the 45mm lens.
Tamron has stepped up its game with its revamped SP series. With these lenses’ good optical quality, built-in image stabilisers, excellent close-focusing ability and more stylish body design, they are no longer just a cost-effective alternative. Rather, they are the most versatile, high-quality standard lenses on the market.
See more at: tamronlenses.co.nz