Andy Westlake tests Tamron’s new image stabilised short telephoto prime

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Tamron SP 85mm f/1.8 Di VC USD

Product:

Tamron SP 85mm f/1.8 Di VC USD review

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£749.00

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Our verdict

Tamron's 85mm f/1.8 combines a fast aperture with optical stabilisation

Tamron’s 85mm f/1.8 combines a fast aperture with optical stabilisation

I have to admit I was a little sceptical about the Tamron 85mm f/1.8 when I first started testing it; it’s big, heavy and expensive for its type, and conventional wisdom might have you think that image stabilisation is redundant on this kind of fast prime. But it didn’t take long for me to be converted; just as long as it took to start seeing the images on the back of the camera, in fact. Examining the files in more detail on my computer only confirmed my initial impressions – this lens is really quite special.

Shooting with a fast prime like the 85mm f/1.8 can transform even mundane subjects. Canon EOS 50D, 1/5000sec f/1.8 ISO200

Shooting with a fast prime like the 85mm f/1.8 can transform even mundane subjects. Canon EOS 50D, 1/5000sec f/1.8 ISO200

But is it worth £749? Well that’s a question photographers will have to answer for themselves; clearly not everyone will be able to justify it. But to me this lens is absolutely on a par with Sigma’s Art primes, and lots of photographers are happily shelling out similar amounts of cash for these (while calling loudly for an 85mm version, too).

Personally I also think image stabilisation is worth having on any kind of lens; what’s not to like about the extra shooting flexibility it affords? Overall, it you’re looking for a high quality portrait lens for your DSLR, this should definitely be high on the list.

TESTBENCH GOLD 5

Details

Focal length:85mm
Maximum aperture:f/1.8
Minimum aperture:f/16
Lens construction:13 elements / 9 groups
Aperture blades:9
Minimum focus distance:80cm
Filter size:67mm
Dimensions:84.8 x 91.3mm
Weight:700g
Mounts:Canon, Nikon, Sony A
  1. 1. Tamron SP 85mm f/1.8 Di VC USD review: Introduction
  2. 2. Features
  3. 3. Autofocus
  4. 4. Image quality
  5. 5. Studio tests
  6. 6. Our verdict
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