Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD Review

September 16, 2015 | Mark Goldstein |


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...

4.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 4.5
Features 5
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image quality 4
Value for money 5