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Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD Lens Review

Gary Wolstenholme reviews the new Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD lens, with a bright f/1.8 aperture and built in image stabilisation.

|  Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD in Interchangeable Lenses
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Handling and Features

Tamron SP 35mm F1 8 VS USD (3)

This wide angle lens from Tamron sports a fast f/1.8 maximum aperture, Vibration Compensation, silent internal focusing with full time manual override, moisture sealed construction with a moisture repellant fluorine optical coating as well as eBAND and BBAR lens coatings to help suppress ghosting and flare.

The lens is available in Canon, Nikon and Sony mounts. The Sony compatible model will lack Vibration compensation, as this functionality is already built into Sony DSLR and SLT bodies. As this lens is a 'Di' optic, it is compatible with both full frame and crop sensor camera bodies. In this review, we'll take a look at how it performs.

Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD Handling and Features

Tamron SP 35mm F1 8 VS USD (8)

Even though this lens is a little bulky for one sporting an f/1.8 maximum aperture, the extra size will be to accommodate the Vibration Compensation system. Even so, it's not heavy, striking a good balance between the use of high quality materials and construction and light weight. Weighing about 450g and being 78.3mm long, it balances well on the Nikon D600 used for testing. The lens sports a moisture resistant design and a rubber gasket has been placed around the metal lens mount to help prevent the ingress of dust and moisture into the camera body.

Tamron SP 35mm F1 8 VS USD (7)

Tamron has included their USD silent focusing motor, which makes autofocus reasonably quick, and manual focus adjustments can be applied at any time. Manual focusing is a pleasure as the wide rubberised focus ring is well damped and very smooth to operate, which makes applying fine adjustment easy. A minimum focus distance of 20cm is perfectly suited for shooting in claustrophobic environments, or even for the occasional close up. The 67mm filter ring does not rotate and the lens doesn't extend, which makes this lens ideal for use  with graduated or polarising filters.

With care, sharp images are possible hand-held at shutter speeds as low as 1/5sec, approximately half the time. This is roughly three stops slower than the usual rule of thumb for sharp hand held images would permit. The VC system also provides a very steady viewfinder image, which can help with accurate composition and focusing.

Tamron SP 35mm F1 8 VS USD (6)

Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD Performance

At maximum aperture, sharpness is already very good in the centre of the frame, although clarity towards the edges of the frame is only fair. Stopping down improves performance across the frame with sharpness in the centre reaching outstanding levels at f/4 and good levels towards the edges by f/5.6.



How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. Averaging them out gives the red weighted column.

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Nikon D600 using Imatest.

Chromatic aberrations are well controlled, thanks to Tamron's use of XLD and LD glass in the optical design. Fringing just exceeds 0.5 pixel widths towards the edges of the frame at all apertures, which is a low enough level to pose few issues, even in large prints or harsh crops from the edges of the frame.



How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Nikon D600 using Imatest.

Falloff of illumination towards the corners is typical for a fast aperture wide angle lens. At f/1.8 the corners are 2.3 stops darker than the image centre and visually uniform illumination is achieved with the aperture closed down to f/5.6 or beyond.

As you might expect from a fixed focal length optic, mild barrel distortion is present. Imatest detected 0.9% barrel distortion, but you'll be hard pressed to spot this low level of distortion under most circumstances.

A petal-shaped hood is provided to help shield the front element from extraneous light that may cause issues with flare and loss of contrast. Although it is good practice to keep a lens hood in place, Tamron's eBAND (Extended Bandwidth & Angular-Dependency) lens coatings do an excellent job of suppressing flare and contrast remains good, even when shooting into the light, so the hood may not always be necessary.

Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD Sample Photos

Value For Money

Tamron has a habit of setting a high RRP at launch, and the launch price of this lens is no exception. A launch price of £580 does seem a little steep, but this may drop in time, as has been the case with other Tamron lenses.

Canon users have the EF 35mm f/2 IS USM as an alternative. This lens may have a slightly slower maximum aperture and lack weather sealing, but it does include image stabilisation and silent focusing and is much less expensive at around £400.

Nikon's AF-S 35mm f/1.8G ED lens is their closest equivalent, which matches the Tamron for spec in almost every way except for image stabilisation and weather sealing but is also much cheaper at around £400.

Sony don't currently produce an equivalent lens. Their closest lens is their premium 35mm f/1.4 G lens, which costs around £1100.

Sigma produce a 35mm f/1.4 lens in their 'Art' collection of premium lenses, which only costs £30 more than this Tamron lens, at around £610, at the moment and sports a faster maximum aperture and silent focusing, although lacks weather sealing and image stabilisation.

For more options have a look at the Top 5 Best Tamron Lenses of 2015.

Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD Verdict

As this lens becomes more readily available and the price drops to a value nearer to its closest equivalents, the value of this lens will increase. As it stands, the price is a little high. Even so, this lens offers premium features, such as weather sealing, silent autofocus and Vibration Compensation, which will make it an interesting alternative to other similar lenses. It is certainly capable of delivering excellent quality images, with high sharpness in the centre of the frame. Whether those extra features are worth the extra expense to you will depend largely on how you use the lens. For example, travellers may find the Vibration Compensation and weather sealing invaluable to them.

Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD Pros

Excellent sharpness in the centre.
Good build quality
Effective Vibration Compensation system
Moisture resistant construction
Low distortion
Resistant to flare
Relatively lightweight

Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD Cons

Seems to be priced a little high at launch when compared to similar lenses (although this may change in time)


The Tamron SP 35mm VC USD offers premum features, excellent sharpness and vibration compensation.



Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD Specifications

Lens Mounts
  • Nikon F
  • Canon EF
  • Sony A
Focal Length35mm
Angle of View63.26
Max Aperturef/1.8
Min Aperturef/16
Filter Size67mm
35mm equivalentNo Data
Internal focusingYes
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Min Focus20cm
Box Contents
Box ContentsFlower-shaped lens hood, Lens caps

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Looks like a real winner. The UK prices are really out of whack compared to elsewhere. In the US, the MSRP is set at just $599, which is the exact same price as the Nikkor 35 f/1.8G. Be sure to read this interview with the lens designers:
Nath85 6 Turkey
24 Dec 2015 8:50PM
How does this lens handle:

1) Wide open or wide chromatic aberrations (between 1.8 to 2.8)

2) Stopped down color aberrations beyond f4 up to f5.6

The sharpness appears to be more than good enough for 16 megapixel FX (and even d800 territory wouldn't be disappointed but definitely not Sigma art level in the center portion of the image). Bokeh is fine too unless you have specular highlights all over the place which will make onion rings.

Sounds like an almost ideal lens but let's first talk about its downsides Smile I plan to make a switch selling my Sigma to gain weather resistance, closer focus, and VR which should allow me for decent nightscapes at f2.8 I hope. Trying to discern what I'm losing in return
23 Dec 2017 5:32PM
The sharpness figures here compared to the sharpness figures from ePhotozine's Tamron 24-70 review suggest that the 24-70 is a lot sharper, especially at the edges. Is this true, in other words is the Excellent line fixed at a certain number of line pairs per mm etc. to give review-to-review consistency. It seems poor that the prime is much less sharp (going from the ePhotozine reviews) than the 24-70 zoom... Thanks for any insight anyone who can answer.

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