Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di USD VC ( Canon EOS ) - Review / Test
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (Full Format)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published February 2016


It is no news anymore but Sigma is highly successful with their new "Art" and "Sports" lens series. Traditionally they have been regarded as a "cheap" mass manufacturer but they were able to improve their reputation quite dramatically. Sigma can now even ask a certain premium price for their high end product lines. Obviously this didn't go unnoticed neither by the original manufacturers nor by Tamron. Tamron, the 2nd biggest third-party manufacturer, had a period where they were seen as slightly ahead of Sigma in terms of quality but today this is no longer true (if it ever was really). In any case they seem to feel the heat and they had to do something about it. Among the first steps to reinvent themselves is the introduction of relatively fast prime lenses - namely the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di USD VC and SP 45mm f/1.8 USD VC. This follows the recent trend of pushing this lens segment to new limits with the Zeiss Otus lineup at the very top of the food chain. Honestly, our first reaction upon the Tamron announcement was less than being thrilled. A max aperture of f/1.8 is by no means overly ambitious after all and the pricing is comparatively steep at 700EUR/600US$. This is also close to their Sigma rivals (35mm f/1.4 Art and 50mm f/1.4 Art) and the Sigmas are faster options albeit without image stabilization. In this review we'll have a look at the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di USD VC. Other than the Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art, this lens has to competing against the high quality Canon EF 35mm f/2 USM IS. So spec-wise it is an "in-betweener" here.

Tamron's new ambition in following Sigma's push is most obvious in terms of build quality. Traditionally Tamron emphasized small size and weight which also meant that many of their products used an extensive amount of plastics. Consequently many lenses felt a bit "hollow" and didn't really leave the best quality perception - although technically there's nothing wrong with plastics really. This has changed now. The Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD uses a metal body based on a metal mount and everything is tightly assembled. The lens is also moisture-resistant. A fluorine coating on the front elements also repels dust and waterdrops. A petal shaped lens hood is also part of the package.

Note: You may spot some tape on the focus window in the product image. We bought this lens for testing purposes and obviously we are going to sell it again thus we didn't remove the tape.

Tamron's USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive) is both very fast and silent. Interestingly the lens can focus down to 0.2m providing a max. object magnification of 1:2.5 - this is impressive. We'd rate the AF accuracy as "Ok". A floating system is used to optimize the positioning of the focus groups at such focus distances. As mentioned Tamron included image stabilization or to use Tamron's wording "Vibration Control" (VC). It is good enough for a gain of 3 f-stops - for comparison: Canon claims a 4-stop advantage for the Canon EF 35mm f/2 USM IS. That being said - in the real world Tamron's VC efficiency felt closer to 2 f-stops really.

The lens is compatible with Tamron's TAP-in USB Console (even thought at least for early production models a firmware update of lens might be required to make it compatible). Just like Sigma's USB Dock, the Tamron Console allows to adjust autofocus accuracy at three distance regions, set the priority of VC to stabilize viewfinder image or the actually shot image and update the lens' firmware.

Optical construction10 elements in 9 groups including 2x aspherical, 1x XLD & 1x LD elements
Number of aperture blades9 (rounded)
min. focus distance0.2m (max. magnification ratio 1:2.5)
Filter size67mm (non-rotating)
Hoodpetal-shaped (bayonet mount, supplied)
Special featuresMoisture-resistant, Vibration Control, Fluorine, floating system

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