Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD Review

September 16, 2015 | Mark Goldstein | |

Introduction

The Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD is a fast standard 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 3.5 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 8 groups, including two moulded glass aspherical elements and a low-dispersion element, and an iris diaphragm with nine rounded aperture blades. The minimum focus distance is 0.29m and the maximum reproduction ratio is 1:3.4. Note that the Sony version does not include Vibration Compensation (as it’s already built into the camera body). The Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD lens officially retails for £579 / $599.

Ease of Use

The Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD is quite big and bulky, measuring just over 9cms in length and weighing in at 540g. 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 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USDThe Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5DS R

Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USDThe Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5DS R

Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USDThe Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD lens mounted on a Canon EOS 5DS R

Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USDThe Tamron SP 45mm 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 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD feels very solid in your hand, thanks to the metal outer barrel and filter thread.

Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USDSide of the Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD lens

Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USDFront of the Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD lens

Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USDRear of the Tamron SP 45mm 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 29cm 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 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USDSide of the Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD lens

 

Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USDSide of the Tamron SP 45mm 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 45mm 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 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USDThe Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD lens in-hand

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

Auto-focus

The Tamron SP 45mm 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 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD

Vignetting

With the Tamron SP 45mm 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 very slight barrel distortion apparent.

Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USDLight Fall-off

Macro

With a maximum reproduction ratio is 1:3.4, the Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD is not really a macro lens, but you can usefully focus very closely at 29cm 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 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USDClose-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 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD
   
Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD Tamron SP 45mm 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.

Entry Tags

samples, photos, sample images, lens, jpeg, nikon, jpegs, jpg, dslr, canon, jpgs, tamron, 45mm, sp, Tamron SP 45mm f1.8 Di VC USD

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