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Tamron Announces World’s First* 85mm With Image Stabilization (and More)

By Anthony Thurston on February 22nd 2016

We have heard the rumors and today, it was made official, as Tamron announced a slew of new lenses as well as a connector to upgrade them.

Tamron SP 85mm F1.8 Di VC USD (model F016 Canon mount)

Tamron SP 85mm F/1.8 VC

Tamron has continued their revamp of their SP line of lenses, this time with a new 85mm F/1.8 to go along with their 35mm and 45mm variants. Also, just as with those lenses, this new 85mm features Tamron’s superb VC image stabilization technology (something Tamron was quick to point out in their press release, due to the fact that this is the first fast aperture 85mm to have image stabilization *for DSLR*).

Some other highlights about the new Tamron SP 85mm F/1.8 VC include:

  • Superior resolving power and attractive bokeh
  • Fluorine Coating and Moisture-Resistant Construction
  • Sophisticated eBAND and BBAR coatings plus Advanced Anti-Reflection Technologies
  • USD actuator maximized for fast and accurate focusing
  • Compatibility with Tamron’s newly announced TAP-in Console
  • Compatibility with Adobe and Silkypix software

Pricing and availability for the new 85mm F/1.8 VC have not yet been announced. Stay tuned and we will update you as soon as that information is made available to us.

Tamron SP 90mm F2.8 Di VC USD (model F017 Canon mount)

TAMRON SP 90MM F/2.8 VC 1:1 Macro Lens

In addition to the 85mm SP lens announced above, Tamron also launched an updated version of their popular 90mm macro lens. This 1:1 lens has a constant maximum F/2.8 aperture and – like the 85mm – also includes Tamron’s image stabilization technology.

Unlike the 85mm, pricing and availability for the 90mm macro was announced. If you are interested in picking one up, they will be available starting February 25th in the USA for a killer price tag of just $649. Stay tuned and we will update this post when pre-order links are available.

Tamron Tap-In Console_view 1


Finally, the last of the Tamron announcements for the day is what they call the Tap-In Console. This unit connects to your lens and allows you to update the firmware and make other changes to how your lens functions.

Essentially, this is Tamron’s response to Sigma’s USB dock and basically performs the same functions. It will be compatible with Tamron’s other two announcements from today, as well as the other two SP lenses (the 35mm and 45mm).

Though, it is notable that in order for you to use the Tap-In Console with your SP 35mm or SP 45mm, you will need to send it into Tamron so they can install the firmware to unlock the Tap-In compatibility. (I believe this is only for units currently out in circulation; new units bought after a certain date will likely have this enabled from the get go).

No price was announced for the Tap-In Console yet, but it was announced that it is expected to start shipping sometime in March.

So, Loungers’, What are your thoughts on Tamron’s announcements today? Are you drooling over that 85mm? Do you think that Tap-In Console will be a useful accessory? Leave comment below and let us know what you think!

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Anthony Thurston is a photographer based in the Salem, Oregon area specializing in Boudoir. He recently started a new project, Fiercely Boudoir to help support the growing boudoir community. Find him over on Instagram. You may also connect with him via Email.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Hannes Nitzsche

    Looks like Tamron and Sigma hired the same design team for their lens department. Love that sleek look!

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  2. Paul Nguyen

    Tamron’s lenses are interesting, but I don’t see where they really beat out what Canon and Nikon have to offer. Nikon has an excellent 85mm f/1.8G that’s probably one of the best affordable Nikkors of all time, so Tamron is up against some really, really tough competition. Factor in the fact that the Nikon will almost definitely be a fair bit cheaper and you have a bit of a problem. Sure, VC is worth something, but for a portrait lens that’s not particularly long, it won’t actually help all that much. It’d be more useful in something like a 135, which is longer or a 35, which is more of a general purpose lens.

    Regardless of whatever else, I was just never really a fan of these new Tamron primes. The Tamron 35/1.8 VC is more expensive than the Canon 35/2 IS and not really all that much sharper. The Nikon 35/1.8G is also an excellent lens at a much lower cost, though without VR. I don’t quite understand why Tamron is releasing lenses that are already so well-covered by Canon and Nikon.

    If anything, I think this is just a bad move. What Sigma has done really well is really differentiate themselves. The 35/1.4 ART was half the price of the competition, the 50/1.4 ART is the sharpest 50mm lens ever, the 20/1.4 ART was a world first…etc. They’re actually producing something unique, or at least things which are so much lower cost than the competition.

    Tamron, on the other hand, also did very well. Their 24-70mm f/2.8 VC and their 70-200mm f/2.8 VC are both stellar lenses which performed as well as Canon/Nikon counterparts and were half the cost. Ultimately, I think this strategy was a success, but this new direction they’re going in – I’m concerned that in a few years time, people will start catching on that these aren’t as reliable and dependable as the already cheap f/1.8 Nikkors or f/2 Canons and they’ll just get slashed on the used market.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      “people will start catching on that these aren’t as reliable and dependable as the already cheap f/1.8 Nikkors or f/2 Canons and they’ll just get slashed on the used market”

      That is making a lot of assumptions. I was very happy with the build of the Tamron units that I was able to use and feel like they are built every bit as good as those Canon and Nikon lenses you mentioned. If it turns out that is not the case, then sure it would be bad, but from my experience so far nothing tells me its going to go that way.

      As for creating something unique, Tamron is doing that. They are adding VC to everything, and in the case of these SP lenses, doing that on fairly fast prime lenses. You may not think VC is all that important, but it is a unique feature (to an extent) on some of these focal lengths.

      Tamron is doing exactly what I want to see them doing, giving photographers more options. Not every lens has to be a mass market, wide appeal hit.

      That said, I am very curious to see where this 85mm ends up on the pricing spectrum.

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    • adam sanford

      I’m more with Paul here than Anthony. I think Tamron needs to be either as sharp/amazing at the Sigma Art series *or* it needs to be 50-60% the price of the CaNikon non-pro f/1.8 lenses they are up against. Let’s look at the questionable value proposition of each:
      Tamron 35mm f/1.8 VC. WHY?! Same price as the Canon 35mm f/2 IS with a less reliable AF system. I believe this lens will fail commercially as a result.
      Tamron 45 f/1.8 VC. *This* is the one clever move by Tamron. To my knowledge, no one else offers a mid-grade 45-55mm prime (better than both CaNikon nifty fifty cheaper lenses) that is faster than f/2 with IS. This is a gap that Tamron is filling. I think this lens will sell well.
      Tamron 85mm f/1.8 VC. A fairly crowded field where VC is really the only standout feature, but CaNikon’s comparable mid-grade (albeit non-IS) offering is around $400-500. I just don’t think this will sell well as a result.
      I won’t comment on macro as everyone has devised super specific things they like to do with theirs, so it’s not as apples to apples a comparison market-wise.

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    • Paul Nguyen

      Yeah, this is what I’m really trying to say. You probably phrased it better than me.

      I’m not hating Tamron, in fact, I love what they have done. The 15-30, 24-70 and 70-200mm f/2.8 VC lenses are awesome. They’re all class leading lenses at around half the price of Canon and Nikon lenses. They’re super sharp, super affordable and their build quality is acceptable (though understandably not as good as Canon/Nikon).

      In response to Anthony, it’s just that I don’t think their newer lenses quite add up. There’s a video on Youtube by a guy called Dustin Abbott (who I’m quite a fan of), and he goes through AF performance with the Canon 35/1.4 II, Canon 35/2 IS, Sigma 35/1.4 and the Tamron. The Canon lenses were a step ahead of the Sigma and Tamron versions in terms of AF accuracy.

      That’s actually quite a big deal. Think about it for a second. The Canon 35/2 IS has the same list price as the Tamron’s street price. With regular sales and rebates, the Canon 35/2 IS will be cheaper. It’s a lighter lens, it’s basically the same in sharpness (indistinguishable), it focuses more accurately and it’s a Canon, ensuring proper support and guaranteed compatibility. In that situation, why would you purchase the Tamron?

      I’ve already said before, but third party lenses need to offer something really unique or offer really great prices for people to ditch OEM glass, which has inherent advantages in focus, compatibility, long term resale value…etc. Sigma did that well, Tamron did that well with their f/2.8 zooms. These new lenses just aren’t quite adding up at the moment.

      I suspect that the Tamron 85mm f/1.8 VC will be priced similar to the 35 and 45 lenses, perhaps even a slight bit more, making it more expensive than the stellar Nikon 85/1.8G (one of the best Nikkor lenses ever made, optically) and it’ll be around double the street price of the Canon 85/1.8 USM, not a shabby lens either. Then there’s also the Sigma 85/1.4 EX, which is an excellent lens in itself and has an aperture advantage, so Tamron are up against some super tough competition.

      However, that said, if people buy their lenses and they’re making money, then I guess it’s all a win-win in the end.

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  3. Lauchlan Toal

    The dock comes as a surprise – very cool! Hopefully Nikon, (and I guess Canon), will now jump on the bandwagon to start delivering better customization options. These docks are a massive boon, especially for cameras like the D3300 and D5500 that don’t offer AF fine tune.

    Looking forward to seeing how these perform, and your reviews of them if you find the time.

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    • adam sanford

      Offering a dock for AFMA is less for the ‘feature-locked butt hurt’ Nikon D5500 or Canon Rebel masses. A dock (alongside lens mount conversion services like Sigma is doing) is more about earning the trust/business of professionals.
      Also, someday Canon or Nikon could spike the punch and cause Sigma & Tamron glass to not allow body AF function at all. More serious shooters need to know that a tool exists to overcome this with a fast firmware update they can do themselves without a long shipping/service turnaround.

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  4. Michael None

    The 90mm *prime* has a ‘constant’ aperture, you don’t say :)

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    • adam sanford

      Good catch. I thought only cellphones had “constant maximum aperture” lenses. :-P

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    • Lauchlan Toal

      It’s possible that this means that the lens somehow doesn’t become an effective f5.6 lens at 1:1 like most macro lenses, but I’m not holding my breath on that. Though it would be awesome.

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  5. Kurt Lawson

    Zeiss Batis 85mm 1.8 has been available for months with IS. Your headline is false.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      *For a DSLR*, the Batis is not a DSLR lens. Not enough room in the title for that clarification.

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    • Kurt Lawson

      Really? You can’t add “DSLR ” (5 characters)?
      Tamron Announces World’s First DSLR 85mm With Image Stabilization (and More)

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    • Anthony Thurston

      Yes, really. The title is already too long as it is. The point is clarified in the post. But, I just added an asterisk to the title to denote that there is some clarification in the post.

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    • Peter McWade

      Im not worried that they must pick straws like this. I have been enjoying my Batis 85mm all this time already. I’ll not be going back to DSLR.

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  6. adam sanford

    Meh. An 85mm with IS isn’t *nearly* as sexy as some of their other ‘exclusives’ like the 24-70 f/2.8 IS and the idiotically unfilterable but still super sharp 15-30 f/2.8 IS (which I believe is being retrofit for the new Pentax FF mount).
    The biggest announcement today was probably that new dock, IMHO.

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    • Anthony Thurston

      I agree, but its more than Sigma has given us in the 85mm realm. haha Tamron’s VC tech is some of the best (IMHO) If they produced this lens in an FE mount I would be all over it. Sure, F/1.8 is not as sexy as F/1.4, but I think that this is still a killer option for those who can’t afford an F/1.4 or better 85mm lens.

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  7. Steve Martin

    I have the Canon 85mm f/1.8, but I don’t have a Marco lens so the 90mm is more intriguing to me.

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  8. Scott Wyden Kivowitz

    Whatever happens, it’s nice to see Tamron and Sigma innovating in the lens space… a space that hasn’t seen much change in a very long time.

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