Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD lens for F mount tested at DxOMark: “tasty prime for Nikon FX“

Tamron-SP-35mm-and-45mm-f1.8-Di-VC-USD-lenses-for-Nikon-F-mount
DxOMark published their test results for the Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD lens for Nikon F mount:

Tamron SP 35mm f:1.8 Di VC USD lens for F mount review 2 Tamron SP 35mm f:1.8 Di VC USD lens for F mount review 3 Tamron SP 35mm f:1.8 Di VC USD lens for F mount review 4
Tamron SP 35mm f:1.8 Di VC USD lens for F mount review 5
DxOMark's conclusion - "Superior performance for sharpness":

Tamron’s range of Superior Performance (SP) third-party lenses for Canon, Nikon, and Sony are really giving the own-brand manufacturers something to think about. Tamron’s latest SP 45mm f/1.8 standard focal length prime is no exception, delivering outstanding results across the board, and specifically for resolution, where its sharpness score of 28 P-Mpix on the Nikon D800E is ahead of the 50mm Nikkor competition.

With an initial price tag of $599, it’s a little bit on the expensive side when you consider you can pick up the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G for less than half the price at $217, or a cheap bargain in the $132 Nikon 50mm f/1.8D. In fact, you can even get both Nikon versions of the 50mm f/1.4 equivalent cheaper at $269 for the 50mm f/1.4D or $447 for the 50mm f/1.4G, and give yourself an extra stop of light to play with.

At 540g, the Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 is on the heavy side, too, tipping the scales at almost twice the weight of the 280g Nikon 50mm f/1.4G. The Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 is the first standard focal length prime to offer image stabilization, though, which could be a useful feature for many full frame shooters (and which goes some way towards explaining the additional weight). What’s more, with outstanding optical performance, and sharpness results that overall are ahead of the own-brand competition on the Nikon D800E, you get an awful lot of lens for your money.

Both the Tamron SP 35mm and 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD lenses are priced at $599 and are currently in stock. Additional coverage on these lenses can be found here.

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  • Noor

    Fix title?

    • Noor

      And image – it’s of the 35mm version.

    • Sorry, what is wrong with the title?

  • spicynujac

    Which Tamron lens is this? The title and images say 35mm but the DXO results are for the 45mm Tamron.

    • I see, fixed now.

      • FountainHead

        Your headline still shows 35?

        • yes, wrong copy and paste

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  • John Mackay

    DXO missed off the sigma 50mm art, which has better scores.

    • akkual

      And sigma missed the AF precision with 50mm ART. So sad to ruin fantastic optics with such a crappy AF.

      • HF

        My Sigma Art lenses focus reliably. No problems so far. And I know many with similar experience. Which body are you using it on?

        • Maji

          Siggy used to be notorious for sample variation regarding AF accuracy. I believe it has been reduced significantly in recent years but like all mass produced items, there will be some outliers.

          • Sakaphoto Graphics

            That’s part of the reason that they introduced the USB Dock so you could update the lenses.

            • Yach

              Which may or may not work. And from times to times. I’ve encountered non systematic focus issues even after tweaking my (ex) 35mm ART with Sigma’s USB dock. You think the thing is OK, but then you shoot real life, and you see that doesn’t work with reliability. That may do it for f/2.8 f/4 apertures, but with f/1.4 you can’t live with it.

            • Sakaphoto Graphics

              You’d think that it would be fine, especially at maximum aperture since you paid for that.

              There was a time when I wouldn’t touch a third party lens, but I wish everyone would work together to make things better for the user, not keep secrets for profitability. We end up frustrated.

            • peevee

              You wish everybody just gave IP away? What is the point of creating IP then if it does not generate profits?

            • Sakaphoto Graphics

              Where did you come up with that from what I said?

            • peevee

              You know what IP is in this context, right? “not keep secrets for profitability” – these “secrets” you are talking about, it is IP – intellectual property. So “not keeping them for themselves”=giving them away. Hard to understand?

            • Sakaphoto Graphics

              Yes, it was difficult when you responded 5 days later and Disqus didn’t show me the whole conversation.

              It’s difficult to believe that anyone would want to make things worse for their customers, especially Japanese companies.

              Canon is especially bad in making third party lenses not work across bodies. Nikon is better but they could both come to an agreement to cooperate with third parties instead of fighting them.

              Consensus is the Japanese way.

      • Fotohaus

        I have D800E body from late production without any AF issues. I bought Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art and I have not any problems with it.

  • JoeFunny30

    I heard the AF on the 35mm was slow, relatively slow but not Fuji slow. Any thoughts?

    • TDL

      I’d say it’s the same as the 50mm 1.8G speedwise: not terribly slow, but not fast either…just…so-so speed wise. I’d never try to shoot moving subjects with it (although technically I’m using it on a D610 so ymmv), but for portraits it’s quite good. Sharpest lens I’ve ever used for Nikon, and looking through the files even sharper than most of the L lenses I used before switching brands. Supposedly sample variation is hit and miss though, I think I got lucky overall.

      • JoeFunny30

        That’s too bad on the speed. So for 35mm which one is faster AF, Nikon 1.8g or sigma art lens?

        • TDL

          Can’t say for sure, but before I made the purchase I read a ton of reviews on all 3 (Sigma, Nikon, and the few Tamron ones available); the general consensus seemed to be:

          Nikon: fastest, most reliable AF…slightly behind the others IQ/sharpness wise
          Sigma: sharpest, but either horrid AF accuracy, or spot on (lots of sample variation apparently). Speed about as fast as the oem
          Tamron: slower than either speed wise, but just as accurate as the Nikon. Depending on review either sharper than the Sigma, or just behind it.

          I decided based on the need for VR (VC) and the coatings that minimize flare for the way I shoot. If I were going for speed for AF I would probably stick with oem Nikon lenses.

          • JoeFunny30

            Sounds like we read the same reviews. At least one reviewer stated his pro photographer friends had both AF and weather sealing issues. Looks like I’ll be picking up the oem 35mm.

  • Steve Perry

    Yeah, but that Otus…

    • doge

      You know how many Tamrons you could buy for the price of that Otus? Like at least 2.

      • Steve Perry

        Doesn’t work that way 🙂 Optically, 1 tamron + 1 tamron 1 Otus.

      • fanboy fagz

        the reason is because the tamron has 10 elements
        the zeiss 16. were missing 6 more elements and well be good. well throw in another 4 for good measure and now well be fine. 20 is better than 16.

        • Thom Hogan

          Excellent. And air-to-glass dispersion is never a factor, right?

          • fanboy fagz

            naaah, no worries, just glue more glass in and itll be a zeiss. in fact mount on top of the other so it even looks it in size.

      • Yach

        And you could buy a hundred of Coolpix S02s.
        At least you can’t say that the Tammy focuses quicker than the Otus… 🙂

  • BrainBeat

    It might be nice and all but I am not sure there will be much of a market for it seeing it is only 5mm away from 50mm lenses which I would think many would already have. I would sooner just use a 50mm and just step back a little to get the same view.

    • spicynujac

      I think the idea is that this competes with the Nikon 50mm, hence the lineup in the compared lenses tested.

  • Mike

    Transmission 2.3 T-stop? That is terrible….

    • Ritvar Krum

      I could not agree more – this is like 1/3 stop worse than worst compettitiors – so in indoor and/or low ligt situations, where your ISO goes 1600 and above – this lens IQ will suffer significantly, but in any review – they test lenses at base iso – so this lens shine with IQ. (only camera bodies everyone test at high iso)

    • El Aura

      I have trouble believing the accuracy of DxO’s T-stop measurements. The Sony/Zeiss FE 55 mm f/1.8 is reported as having a T-stop of 1.8 and the Tamron 45 mm f/1.8 a T-stop of 2.4. The Sony has seven lens elements in five groups, the Tamron ten elements in eight groups.

      Yes, you’d expect the Tamron to have a somewhat worse relative transmission but not a 100% relative transmission on the Sony vs a 56% relative transmission on the Tamron. Rounding could have made this discrepancy look somewhat worse than it actually might be: If the Tamron had scored 2.35 and the Sony 1.84 for their respective T-stops, the relative transmissions would be 96% and 59%, which is still an improbable difference.

      If we add possible rounding to the f-stops (wouldn’t it be nice if DxO also measured f-stops and focal lengths?), where rounding is done to next 1/3 stop, ie, the Sony actually being f/1.73 and the Tamron being f/1.89, the relative transmission would be 88% and 65%, which is just about believable.

      • Thom Hogan

        Yes, both lenses were not actually f/1.8. It’s virtually never the case that a lens is as marked. Camera makers round both focal length and aperture information, and fairly considerably (as much as a 1/3 of stop for aperture, and as much as 10% for focal length). Nobody would understand an 46.2mm f/1.89 lens designation.

        Then we have coatings to deal with. The more we coat surfaces for reflections, the more we alter the light transmission (in both good ways and bad).

        Plus…we have one other thing to contend with if you’re going to measure a lens for transmission: vignetting. A lens that doesn’t vignette is going to transmit more light than one that does.

        I’d believe DxO’s numbers here. T-stop calculation is fairly easy to do, and there are standardized ways of doing it. Moreover, DxO has to do real T-stop calculation coupled with vignetting pattern calculations do make their software work as claimed.

        • El Aura

          One can define it differently, but in my mind the most useful definition of T-stop is the transmission in the centre of the lens (which by definition is not affected by vignetting), not least because vignetting changes with the f-stop. And the two lenses I compared even scored the same in regard to vignetting, -1.6 EV.
          To believe DxO’s values here, I have to believe that out four rounded values the rounding for all four was at the most extreme end possible (or that the rounding for nominal f-stop is more than 1/6 of a stop). I know lens manufacturers are allowed to round by a third of a stop but I don’t see the point in labelling lenses in 1/3 stop increments (most companies do so) if, eg, a f/1.8 lens and a f/2 lens sold by the same manufacturer actually has the same true f-stop of f/2 (or f/1.8).

      • peevee

        If the Sony were f/1.73, they would market it as f/1.7, if not f/1.6.

        • El Aura

          There are two sides to this: One, what are the manufacturers allowed legally, which likely is that that could sell a f/1.7 lens as f/1.5 or f/1.9 or anything in between. Two, what they standard naming schemes are. Some companies might have decided to label the f-stop in their lenses always to the nearest 1/3 stop. Much like cameras can be set up to change shutter speeds and f-stops in 1/3 stop increments. If a camera is set up as such, you cannot choose a shutter speed that is 1/2 stop larger or smaller.

          • peevee

            “Some companies might have decided to label the f-stop in their lenses always to the nearest 1/3 stop. ”

            Any evidence of such decision?

            • El Aura

              For once, almost all lenses tend to either have f-stop ratings that fall into half-stop or third-stop increments. It’s very rare to find a lens that has anything else except at the very extreme end of the range where every decimal that makes your lens better is used in labelling (see all the f/0.95 lenses). And if you go by manufacturer, you’ll find certain patterns: Panasonic only has f/1.7 lens and no f/1.8 lenses. Leica M lenses used to use f/2.5 but all ASPH lenses (which are all newer) are f/2.4. Pentax has a range of f/2.5 lenses but no f/2.4 lenses. You’ll find many f/3.5 lenses but no f/3.3 lenses. Leica has two f/3.4 and two f/3.8 M lenses but no other f/3.x M lenses (those f/3.8 lenses are two of those rare exceptions from the 1/3 or 1/2 stop rule).

              Of course, without measured data on actual f-stops we cannot tell whether these pattern exists because of design choices or because of labelling choices. What we do know is that many people have discovered noticeable differences in actual focus length from the labelled one (merely by comparing two lenses which nominally have the same focal length). It is unrealistic to assume that such deviations only exist in focal length but not in f-stop.

            • peevee

              So, no 1/3 stops, because 1.8 and 1.7 are used in the same system, just as 2.4 and 2.5 etc. It always was this way. I have a Panasonic 1.7 on an Olympus camera, and I can set both 1.7 and 1.8.

              Choice of 1.7 on Panasonic is apparently a marketing target to make their lenses seem better than Olympus competitors. It is not like they CANNOT make a f/1.8 or f/1.9 lens.

            • El Aura

              As you say, they have chosen f/1.7 for marketing purposes and thus if they happened to design a f/1.8 lens, they would still market it as a f/1.7 lens.

            • peevee

              It is possible. Do you think they do not change aperture at all when changing from f/1.7 to f/1.8? Sounds doubtful.

    • Captain Megaton

      If the f-number is based on total light over the whole frame, and the Tamron has far less vignetting than other lenses, we’d expect the reported center transmission to be less than other lenses.

      Otherwise, the’d be falsely advertising the lens max aperture… wouldn’t they?

  • fanboy fagz

    great job tamron. drop the price to $450 and youll sell them well. not at $600 though.

  • Yach

    Any rumour about a counter-attack from Nikon on 50mm ? I mean, Sigma seems to be selling a lot of those new ARTs lenses, Tamron is getting in the market, there is room for Nikon to bump up Nikon’s offering in terms of quality, as their 50mm lenses are cheap compared to 3rd party competition.

    I’ve tested the Sigma 35mm ART and had many issues with focus accuracy (even after twicking it with the USB dock).

    I’ve read that those new Tamrons have a few issues focusing (especially with edge spots).

    Any tip on that ?

    • nicolaie

      Nikon is out of touch, they keep releasing bad lenses recently , worst than the ones they replace. The 14-24 days seem to be long gone, I’m not sure I’ll ever buy another nikkor if things keep moving in this direction. I have the 50 1.4G and 35 f/2D and I’m disappointed by both, and there is no real alternative as it seems that the 35 1.8G FX is not that great either. I have the Sigma 20 and 85 and they are proper nice lenses, especially the 85, with my sigmas focusing better and more consistenly than my Nikons, well, maybe the 35 is ok but not stellar.

      I shot am event with the 24-70, I’m not a zoom guy, and that lens is worth it, but as I said, those days seem gone, Nikon has no innovation left for us.

      • preston

        They’re doing well in the telephoto realm. The 300mm f/4 is an engineering marvel and the 200-500mm seems to be slightly better than the Tamron and Sigma competitors and at a great price.

      • whisky

        there’s certainly enough to criticize Nikon about … but i’m not sure “releasing bad lenses” is one of them. as you’re not into zooms, and unless it’s a matter of semantics, the 24mm f1.8, 85mm 1.8, and 300mm f4 PF are all “good lenses”. there are numerous zooms which are at the top of their class too.

        given the market gestalt, Nikon is currently in a rut, but IMO there are very few really “bad lenses” nikon built — recently or otherwise. JMO.

      • Thom Hogan

        I disagree. Nikon has released lots of great lenses recently. The 24-70mm is the worst of the bunch, yet I’m not sure that overall it’s optically worse than anything else in that range.

        Moreover, Nikon’s design goals on lenses seems to have clearly changed, and represents a difference of opinion from the Zeiss-led central-acuity-above-all-else school. Nikon’s f/1.8 primes are all really quite good in use, with their primary drawbacks being initial focus speed, not anything optical. And the telephotos have all been excellent.

        • catinhat

          Thom — do you know what the actual T-stop of the Nikon 200-500 is at 500mm? Also would love to know what’s the Sigma 150-600S T-stop is at the long end. Tried to find this info but couldn’t, and wondering if there is really a 1/3 of a stop difference between the two or it is all a marketing gimmick.

    • no

  • Michiel953

    There’s a lot I don’t understand about DxoMark ratings.

    Anyway. 45/1.8 could be a nice walkaround lens, but it’s hardly smaller and lighter than my 35/1.4G, and then I’m not even touching on build quality, longevity etc. Lenses are (almost) forever; digital bodies seem to come and go.

    • Thom Hogan

      DxOMark ratings are arbitrary and biased. DxOMark testing is scientific and rigorous. You have to look at the actual test data, not their summaries of it.

      • Michiel953

        What I can’t (and probably don’t want to) understand is how in them self simple to comprehend single data (whatever their merit) translate into a “rating”.

  • Fotohaus

    Nice, but where is comparision with Sigma 50mm f/1.4 ART? It’ll be more usefull than comparison with old Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM. The Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 is soft wide open and has a very big CA. Look at this and zip on her jacket: http://m.fotoblogia.pl/ber-0335-fe9dd341c4a2ce4698e9859.jpg

  • catinhat

    So, 50/1.8D seems a touch better than 50/1.8G, and yet it is scored lower. Oh well…

  • JK

    Mmm-mmm good. An f2.3 with “meh” bokeh and riddle with massive CA? That is sounding DEE-licous. How have I not ordered one already?

    • Michiel953

      F2.3. Classic!

  • Chris

    That’s really troubling. Definitely a deal breaker for me.

  • Neopulse

    I would pair the 45mm f/1.8 with a D750 if I could. I think they’d pair well together.

  • MonkeySpanner

    The Nikon 50/1.8G looks like by far the best price/performance ratio on that list. Any fx body owner would be crazy not to have that lens.

    • Yach

      It’s not crazy sharp wide open though… when you have a 2k € body, you don’t want a 200$ lens to get in the way to nice looking pictures. I own a D610, and I’m in love with my 20mm 1.8 and 85mm 1.8. But I can’t seem to be more than quite happy with the 50mm 1.8.

      When I look what you can do with the 55mm 1.8 on Sony A7 that a friend use, I’d be ready to put 2x or 3x the price of the 50mm 1.8 for a better alternative.

    • peevee

      Actually, price/performance crown goes to 50/1.8D and 50/1.4D. 😉

  • Aldo

    55mm would have been more interesting imo

  • Michiel953

    At f1.8 (well, t2.3) and debatable optical performance, whybis it so big and heavy?

    The Nikkor f1.8G seems a much better alternative. Lighter, smaller, good optical performance.

  • peevee

    Something very wrong with transmission, T2.3 in supposedly f/1.8 lens? And vignetting on top of that?

    I don’t think $600 price will hold for long, $200-300 will come soon enough.

  • peevee

    Is it really from Tamron 45/1.8? Bokeh looks like it is from $10 Canon 50/1.8 FD.

    For CA, Canon and Nikon have to have profiles in the camera and they would never do it for 3rd party lenses. It would be great if profiles were in lenses, like in m43 standard, so cameras would fix it for OOC and all raw processors would read the profiles from RAW, without having the lenses tested themselves. But RAW processors will eventually have the lenses in their databases I guess, probably some already do.

    • Fotohaus

      Yes, it is. This image has full exif info inside file. It was taken with Canon 5D Mk.III camera body. There are more (36) images taken for the test of this lens: http://fotoblogia.pl/7800,tamron-45-mm-f-1-8-recenzja,5 You can click “Więcej zdjęć (36)” on the picture and then “Pełna rozdzielczość” (full resolution) on each image to open and save them with exif info. The autor of this test wrote that he had converted raw files in Lightroom CC 2015 with standard settings to show capabilities of this lens.

  • peevee

    The profiles for these lenses were added in Lightroom 6.2 2.5 months ago, I am not sure is that specific CC was updated by the time of conversion 3 months ago.

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