Tamron 35mm F/1.8 Di VC USD
Early Look 4

First Look: Tamron Debuts Two SP F/1.8 Prime Lenses

Steve’s Digicams is on location in New York City this week attending the launch of two brand new Tamron SP F/1.8 fix focal length lenses with built-in vibration control (VC) and Ultrasonic Silent Drive (USD) technologies.

Whoa, that was a mouthful. Let’s back up.

Tamron debuted the SP series lenses in 1979 and, wow, they’ve come a long way since the original 90mm F/2.5 Macro. With the transition into digital photography, optics manufacturers such as Tamrom have been racing to evolve ahead of the curve. Since 2012, they have been developing lens elements for higher pixel densities and expanding dynamic range. To put it another way, with DSLRs squeezing more and more pixels onto image sensors, lenses need to be sharper and more accurate than ever.

Enter the SP, or Super Performance, series for professionals and advanced enthusiasts. Basically, anyone who wants to step up from the DSLR kit or all-in-one zoom lenses.

 

Picking up these SP lenses, they feel weighted and well-constructed. The body is a satin black (halfway between matte and shiny) offset with silver ring at the base where the lens mounts to the camera body. There’s also a rubber focus ring and two raised buttons —- one to turn Vibration Compensation (VC) on/off, and another to engage AutoFocus (AF) or Manual Focus. Despite its solid feel, these lenses aren’t front heavy and feel wonderfully balanced in hand and mounted to your DSLR of choice.

In terms of features, both new SP lenses offer a blazing fast F/1.8 aperture, terrific for shooting in low light or embracing shallow depth of field and bokeh. Vibration Compensation (VC) enhances low light shooting even further, with three-axis compensation (or stabilization) that extends exposure by 3-stops for the 35mm model, and 3.5-stops for the 45mm edition. Each lens also boasts a USD (Ultra Sonic Drive) AF system for speedy and quite autofocusing (extra helpful for video).

The lenses inner components are comprised of 10 elements, including one LD (Low Dispersion) and one XLD (eXtra Low Dispersion) element. The lenses outer element has been coated with eBAND (Extended Bandwidth & Angler-Dependency) and BBAR (Broad-Band Anti-Reflection), which suppress ghosting and flair, as well as Fluorine to allow the quick removal of water, dust, and smudges from the external lens surfaces.

Basically, these lenses are designed to shoot fast, even in low light, and capture consistently sharp images, aka images that are, depending on your settings, sharp form frame-center all the way out to the edges. No distortion. No vignetting.

Each new SP series lens is also “weather resistant.” Tamron seems a bit modest in describing what this means —-since the term varies between manufacturers) —- saying misting as well as high humidity shouldn’t be a problem. However, one of Tamron’s PROs took the new 35mm lens to Iceland where it rained for five straight days and the lens performed beautifully (especially with the Fluorine coating).

I suppose, as we’re talking about weather resistance, it’s a good time to mention Tamron’s world-class warranty program. All SP series lenses offer a 6-year warranty with a three-business-day turn around for repairs. That’s not an exaggeration. Simply register any Tamron product online and, if it breaks, contact Tamron, send it in, and they’ll have it back to you in three business days. FYI, though, the 6-years is currently for US buyers; it varies for other markets. However, Tamron is working to build a worldwide network to make three-business-day repairs standard globally.

Oh, and I almost forgot MOD, or Minimum Object Distance. The 35mm model is the world’s first wide-angle lens for Full-Frame DSLR camera to offer a 7.9-inch MOD, while the 45mm version offers an 11.4-inch MOD (it’s also the world’s first high speed prime lens to offer VC for Full-Frame cameras).

So how does it perform?

We’ve only had about a half day to play with the two lenses, so we need a little more time before making any concrete judgements. But so far so good. Each of these lenses is fast, well balanced, light and offers a combination of extremely shallow depth of field or infinite sharpness. More testing coming soon!

Tamron SP 35mm F/1.8 Di VC USD (Model F012) Specifications

  • Focal Length: 35mm (Full Frame); 54mm (APS-C)
  • Maximum Aperture: F/1.8
  • Angle of View (diagonal): 63°26′ (Full Frame); 43°29′ (APS-C)
  • Optical Construction: 10 elements in 9 groupsMinimum Object Distance: 7.9 in
  • Maximum Magnification Ratio: 1:2.5
  • Filter Size: Ø 67mm
  • Maximum Diameter: Ø 80.4mm
  • Length: 3.2 in (Canon); 3.1 in (Nikon)
  • Weight: 16.9 oz (Canon); 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 (available at a later date)

Tamron SP 45mm F/1.8 Di VC USD (Model F013) Specifications

  • Focal Length: 45mm (Full Frame); 70mm (APS-C)
  • Maximum Aperture: F/1.8
  • Angle of View (diagonal): 51°21′ (for full-frame format); 34°28′ (for APS-C format)
  • Optical Construction: 10 elements in 8 groups
  • Minimum Object Distance : 11.4 in
  • Maximum Magnification Ratio: 1:3.4
  • Filter Size: Ø 67mm
  • Maximum Diameter: Ø 80.4mm
  • Length: for Canon 3.6 in (Canon); 3.5 in (Nikon)
  • Weight: 19 oz (Canon); 18.3 oz (Nikon)
  • Aperture Blades: 9 (circular diaphragm)
  • Minimum Aperture: F/16
  • Standard Accessories: Flower-shaped lens hood, Lens caps
  • Compatible Mounts: Canon, Nikon, Sony (Sony available at a later date)

The Tamron SP 35mm & 45mm F/1.8 Di VC USD prime lenses will be available for Canon and Nikon DSLRs on September 29 (2015) for $599 each. This includes a redemption code for SILKYPIX Developer Studio 4.0.

The Sony Alpha-mount compatible version will also cost $599 and should be available sometime within the next three months (no specific date has been announced).

Be on the lookout for more in-depth thoughts and sample images over the next few days, but here are the first few sample images using a Canon 6D:

Tamron 35mm F/18 Di VC USD

Canon EOS 6D Tamron SP 35mm F/1.8 Di VC USD F/4.5 1/125

35mm F/1.8 Di VC USD

Canon EOS 6D Tamron SP 35mm F/1.8 Di VC USD F/9 1/160

Empire State Building

Canon EOS 6D Tamron SP 45mm F/1.8 Di VC USD F/2.8 1/3200

IMG_0150

Canon EOS 6D Tamron 35mm F/1.8 Di VC USD F/1.8 1/160

IMG_0190

Canon EOS 6D Tamron 35mm F/1.8 Di VC USD F/1.8 1/160

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