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.
Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD – Performance
Having been impressed with the performance of the Tamron 45mm f/1.8 lens, I was rather hoping for great things from this other model in the series. I was especially looking for good wide aperture performance, as this gives us the creative freedom to use whichever apertures we need to create the effects we want to achieve. Inevitably, the widest apertures are not the best the lens has to offer, but they are still very good and more than usable. There is quite a resolution jump between f/1.8 and f/2.8, from which point the corners begin to catch up with the centre. Sharpness across the frame is most uniform at f/8, but already ultimate resolution has begun to fade slightly at that point. The lens is best at the wider end of the mid-range, so f/4-f/5.6, and is better in the centre at f/1.8 than it is at f/11.
The AF feels pretty quick thanks to the USD motor, but I felt the reactions weren’t quite perfect with very fast-moving subjects, although for most normal shooting occasions it will be more than good enough.
I was pleased with the mostly well-controlled chromatic aberration, with nice clean high-contrast edges and no purple fringing to speak of even close to the corners of the frame. That isn’t to say there is no chromatic colouration, but that which exists comes out in the wash with no after-effects via the automatic correction in most software packages.
Drawing is good enough that architecture can be photographed without buildings appearing to bow at the edges, and while there is a decent amount of darkening in the corners at the widest aperture settings it disappears from obvious view by f/4.
I have been impressed by the flare performance of the lens, so the company’s coating strategy seems to work rather well. Shooting with a patch of sun shining around a corner in one instance, the flare was contained within the small section of the image in which the light appears, and with no obvious impact of the rest of the picture. Contrast in the other areas of the frame looks quite normal, suggesting that internal reflections have been contained and reduced very quickly.
Rendition of out-of-focus areas is very pleasant, with sparkling glass, metal and water forming nice rounded highlights with soft edges. This creates a smooth background that’s free of optical distractions so the attention is allowed to stay more easily on the focused subject.