The market wasn’t exactly short of 35mm lenses before Tamron introduced the second of its new range of fixed-focal-length optics. Damien Demolder investigates whether we need another.

Product Overview

Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD


Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD review


Price as reviewed:

Behind the standard 50mm, the 35mm lens is probably the second most common fixed focal length for full-frame camera users. Just about every camera brand makes its own, and I suspect that most photographers who want one already have one – or at least have their eye on one. There’s a range of maximum apertures to choose from and optics provided in just about every mount in existence. Tamron’s other new fixed focal length, the SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD, stands out because it offers a slightly alternative angle of view to those available elsewhere, so it naturally finds itself in a unique position and almost without direct competition. This 35mm f/1.8 model, though, sits in an already busy market and will have to rely on other charms to gain the attentions of well-distracted wallets. I suppose that if Tamron wants to make a serious go of having a proper range of general-purpose fixed-focal-length lenses to sit alongside its extensive collection of zooms, the company needs to have a 35mm in its offering. However, the question is whether this is just a lens to tick a box in that range, or if it indeed offers something more we should all pay attention to.

Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD – Features

The Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD is suitable for use on both full-frame and APS-C-sensor cameras, providing a standard-type focal-length appearance for cropped-sensor users and a moderate wideangle for those with full-frame cameras. The lens uses ten elements in nine groups, and includes two glass moulded aspherical lenses, one element made from low dispersion (LD) glass and a further two made with extra low dispersion (XLD) glass. The aspherical elements are there to ensure that focus is maintained across the flat surface of the sensor, and to reduce the blurry rotation effect that sometimes occurs due to sagittal coma aberrations. The aspheric glasses should also help to prevent barrelling and pincushion distortion – so straight lines close to the edges of the frame should remain unbent.

Tamron’s LD and XLD glasses intend to reduce the chromatic faults that see coloured highlights appearing around high-contrast edges. That three of these elements are in use suggests the company wants to produce a lens that can be used effectively at large apertures.

Like the 45mm that we previously reviewed, this 35mm model uses a nine-bladed iris, which will help to create attractive circular out-of-focus highlights that don’t have hard-angled edges to draw attention away from the subject.

The 35mm focal length delivers a slightly wide view that's great for setting the scene

The 35mm focal length delivers a slightly wide view that’s great for setting the scene

It’s quite unusual to have image stabilisation in a wideangle lens, as traditional thinking says that the lower magnification means there’s less impact from camera shake. As sensor resolutions increase, however, the effects of a moving camera become much more obvious, because we can enlarge our images so much more – so all stabilisation help should be 
gladly accepted. I also enjoyed the ability to use the lens at what would otherwise have been ‘dangerous’ shutter speeds, so that I didn’t have to crank up the ISO so much in 
low-light conditions.

Another unusual feature of the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD is its closest focusing distance. Canon and Nikon equivalent lenses can focus to 24-29cm, but this model gets as close as 20cm.

Tamron uses its eBAND (Extended Bandwidth and Angular-Dependency) and BBAR (Broad-Band Anti-Reflection) coatings to reduce flare, while fluorine coatings on the front element are designed to repel water and fingerprints so it can be kept clean. Also of note is the weather proofing of the lens, with seals around the mount and the joins that allow users to carry on shooting in the rain.

  1. 1. Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD - Features
  2. 2. Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD - Handling
  3. 3. Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD - Performance
  4. 4. Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD - Resolution, Shading & Curvilinear Distortion
  5. 5. Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD - Our Verdict
  6. 6. Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD - Full Specification
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