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Tamron 35mm SP f/1.8 – Initial Review Thoughts

By Wendell Weithers on February 5th 2017

The SP series of lenses from Tamron are the company’s effort to differentiate itself in a highly competitive fast prime market. With a 35mm focal length, Tamron isn’t exactly providing something revolutionary, however, there are three factors working in the company’s favor. These are image stabilization, the state of modern optics, and price. In a forthcoming full review, we will consider these in more depth, but for now, here is my first impression of this lens.Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD Lens – Canon, Nikon, Sony

Out of the box, the Tamron 35mm 1.8 reveals a simple yet, aesthetically pleasing design. It dons a smooth black matte finish accented with a golden ring swathed around its base. The large rubber focusing ring at the top immediately beckons your eyes before they are drawn downward by labeling with a light font that is clean and unobtrusive. The lens feels substantial but not burdensome in the hand. To describe this lens in one phrase, it is minimal with a hint of elegance.

Here is a rundown of some key features.

  • Dimensions (DxL): 3.17 x 3.10″ (80.4 x 78.7 mm)
  • Weight: 15.9 oz (450.77 g)
  • Front: 67 mm
  • Aperture : f/1.8 – f/16
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 7.87″ (20 cm)
  • VC Image Stabilization
  • USD AF Motor, Full-Time Manual Focus
  • Moisture-Resistant Construction
  • Maximum Reproduction Ratio:1:2.5
  • Elements/Groups: 10/9
  • Diaphragm Blades: 9, Rounded

Once mounted on a body, you feel the weight it adds. If you mount it on smaller APS-C body such as a Nikon D7200 or Canon 80D, this weight is exaggerated. Your knuckles may even brush up against it once as you grip it to take a shot. Personally, I believe it adds just the right amount of weight once mounted, and I find it helps me better control any jitters from my hand. This will vary from person to person, but its worth noting. This is no plastic fantastic lens.

Although this lens is more budget friendly, its design clearly demonstrates the intent to find its way into more than just amateur and enthusiast gear bags. It also seems to be aimed at professionals who want something affordable, with newly refined optics, and of course, great light gathering ability. Ultimately, if this lens can find its way into your kit, you may eschew your tried and true 35mm and forgo the new offerings from the competition; at least, that’s my theory. I’ll be back with an in depth look at this lens soon.

[REWIND: DXO Mark Crowns a New King: The Sigma 85mm Art]

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Wendell is based in Atlanta where he shoots events, portraits, and food photography. He also supports his wife Andrea as she runs their cake design business, Sweet Details.

Instagram: Wendellwphoto

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Kyle Stauffer

    Can someone tell me why Nikon, Canon or Tamron can’t make a nifty 35 without VR/IS/VC for under $300?  I just don’t see why a 35mm 1.8  has to be $300 more than the 50mm across the board.  I would think that would pull a pile of sales if one of them did/could and I think Tamron would have been smart to go in that direction here.

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  2. adam sanford

    Tamron’s way too late to the 35mm prime party for Canonites.  The Canon 35mm f/2 IS USM, Canon 35mm f/1.4L II and the legend-in-the-present Sigma 35mm /1.4 Art are already out there. 

    For basically the same money, I’ll take the 35mm f/2 IS USM over the Tamron in a heartbeat.  First party AF routines ftw and it’s delightful small and nondescript. 

    Also, matte finished lenses don’t handle sweaty/wet shooting conditions well.  Matte finishes (on the Tamron and Sigma Art) and glossy finishes (on a portion of the Sigma Art) are not as good as the textured engineering plastic on most native Canon EF glass.  Every square inch of the lens might be the surface you’re holding the whole rig with — why give up any grip at all to *look nicer*?

    All that said, Tamron’s 45mm f/1.8 VC has far less competition and fills a need.  I believe it’s the only 45-55mm FF prime with IS for Canon (and possibly also for Nikon).  *That* one should sell well.

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    • Wendell Weithers

      Hey Adam, I agree that on the Canon side it faces even more of a challenge, but time will tell if they can make any headway in the market. So far, it has performed pretty well for me on my Nikon.

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