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Tamron’s Fast New Primes

The first two lenses in an upgraded SP series feature close-focusing capability and premium construction
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Tamron’s Fast New Primes

The new SP 35mm exhibits excellent sharpness and color fidelity. This image was shot in RAW format, to which I made only minor adjustments to exposure and sharpness in Adobe Camera Raw. I tried boosting saturation, but reset it—the colors looked better as shot. Nikon D750, Tamron SP 35mm F/1.8 Di VC USD, 1/50 sec., ƒ/16, ISO 2000

Tamron’s premium SP lens line is getting an upgrade, and the first two models featuring the redesign were introduced this fall: a pair of fast prime lenses that are compatible with both full-frame and APS-C-sensor cameras. Both models, the SP 35mm F/1.8 Di VC USD and SP 45mm F/1.8 Di VC USD, are optimized to take advantage of the increasingly massive resolution of modern DSLRs. They’re currently available in Canon and Nikon mounts, with a Sony mount to follow.

Used with a full-frame camera, these lenses offer a slightly wide (35mm) to standard (45mm) angle of view, and a standard (52.5mm) to mild telephoto (67.5mm) perspective with an APS-C-sensor camera. I had the opportunity to shoot with both lenses on both full-frame and APS-C bodies, and overall, I was impressed with their sharpness, clarity and color fidelity.

One of the first details you notice when handling the new lenses is the attention that was paid to ergonomics. They feature metal construction that’s textured to feel almost soft, the result of a guiding design philosophy Tamron calls “Human Touch.” You’ll also notice a prominent new design element, the “Luminous Gold” ring at the base of the lens, another attribute intended to communicate that this is a premium lens.

Practical benefits of this attention to detail are subtleties like the switches on the side of the lens that toggle Autofocus and Vibration Compensation. On many lenses I’ve used, these switches are relatively small and often require a visual check to be sure they’re in the correct position. The switches on the new SP lenses are oblong and substantial, and click into place decisively, leaving no doubt as to their position without the need to take your eye from the viewfinder. The focus ring is also generously sized and smooth in use.

Though not true macro lenses, both feature close-focusing capability. The 35mm can focus as close as 7.9 inches (1:2.5 magnification), and the 45mm can focus as close as 11.4 inches (1:3.4 magnification). Tamron’s Vibration Compensation is especially useful for handheld close-up compositions, where even a small amount of camera shake can obliterate sharpness. CIPA testing wasn’t yet completed for these lenses at the time of this writing, but Tamron expects the VC system will provide between 3 and 4 stops of compensation.

The new SP lenses also feature moisture-resistant construction, and are weather-sealed at the lens mount and control switches for extra protection when paired with a similarly sealed camera body. The front lens elements have a fluorine coating to help repel water, dust and smudges.

Lens Specs

Tamron SP 35mm F/1.8 Di VC USD
Maximum Aperture: ƒ/1.8
Minimum Aperture: ƒ/16
Minimum Focus Distance: 7.9 inches
Filter Size: 67mm
Length: 3.2 inches (Canon); 3.1 inches (Nikon)
Weight: 16.9 ounces (Canon); 15.9 ounces (Nikon)
Tamron SP 45mm F/1.8 Di VC USD
Maximum Aperture: ƒ/1.8
Minimum Aperture: ƒ/16
Minimum Focus Distance: 11.4 inches
Filter Size: 67mm
Length: 3.6 inches (Canon); 3.5 inches (Nikon)
Weight: 19 ounces (Canon); 18.3 ounces (Nikon)

One of the most compelling features of these new primes is their speed. With a maximum aperture of ƒ/1.8, they offer versatility when shooting in low-light conditions or for compositions that benefit from a shallow depth of field. The nine-blade diaphragm produces a pleasing bokeh when shooting wide open.

Tamron’s Fast New Primes

The SP 45mm is equally sharp and color-precise. The fast ƒ/1.8 maximum aperture of these lenses lets you achieve beautiful soft-focus effects and close-up compositions with shallow depth of field. Nikon D750, Tamron SP 35mm F/1.8 Di VC USD, 1/2500 sec., ƒ/1.8, ISO 640

If you’re looking for a fast prime for landscapes and close-ups, Tamron’s SP lenses are solidly built, ergonomically pleasing, and deliver crisp details and accurate color. List Price: $599 (each).

Contact: Tamron,

Wes is the editorial director of Outdoor Photographer.