Tamron’s SP Series of fixed focal length lenses has been expanding since 2015, with two more models recently added. The SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD lens is ideal for landscape photographers and those who do a lot of wide-angle shooting, while the SP 85mm f/1.8 Di VC USD lens is a great choice for portrait photographers. Both lenses feature a fast f/1.8 maximum aperture and Vibration Compensation (VC) technology to minimize camera shake.
Professional photographer Jonathan Thorpe attests to the quality of these prime lenses, which he uses in his “cinematic portrait” style of imagery. All of his images are highly staged and lit, both in the studio and on location. “These prime lenses are geared for pros or serious hobbyists who want to step up their game at an affordable cost,” Thorpe says.
SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD
As a Tamron Image Master, Thorpe has partnered with Tamron for several years. He depends on both the SP 35mm and SP 85mm for high-end film projects and commercial shoots. “I tend to shoot lots of wide-angle images,” he explains, adding that the SP 35mm is his wide-angle lens of choice because of its sharpness. The first time he used it was for a photo shoot with the New York Jets. He has also used the SP 35mm to photograph a gym in Washington, D.C., a motorcycle club for Washingtonian magazine and a shoot for Coca-Cola. He featured the lens while addressing attendees at a recent WPPI (Wedding and Portrait Photography International) show in Las Vegas.
Thorpe says that in addition to his still photography, he does a lot of video projects, “as well as long shutter speed photography.” He relies on Tamron’s Vibration Compensation feature to ensure tack-sharp images, even when shooting in dim light. “I hand-hold the camera for exposures as slow as half a second and still get really sharp images,” he says. “It’s unbelievable how well VC works in these lenses.” He uses a tripod when doing video but not when shooting still images. “I try to interact with my subject as much as possible, so anything between me and the subject is a barrier,” he observes.
The maximum aperture of f/1.8 delivers more light to the camera sensor, as well as producing a pleasing bokeh (background blur) effect. Thorpe also points out that the color rendition and “film quality” of Tamron’s prime lenses are superior. Photographers can focus quickly and get very close to their subjects thanks to a short minimum focusing distance (minimum object distance, or MOD) of just 7.9 inches.
Thorpe has used the SP 35mm lens for portraiture — for example, a commercial shoot for a moonshine company and his annual Halloween photo shoot, which he describes as “a big production.” The SP 35mm incorporates 10-element, 9-group construction with two molded glass aspherical elements. This lens is designed for use with full-frame sensor DSLRs and has an effective focal length of 54mm when used with APS-C cameras. The SP 35mm is available with mounts for Canon, Nikon and Sony cameras, and retails for $599.
SP 85mm f/1.8 Di VC USD
“Lots of photographers shooting with DSLRs want an 85mm lens with image stabilization, and Tamron was the first to release a fast f/1.8 lens for full-frame,” Thorpe comments. “The first time I used this lens was to photograph a model at WPPI, and I was blown away by its sharpness — Tamron really nails it.” He says that the SP 85mm is a perfect focal length for portraiture when he’s photographing subjects from the waist up. As with the SP 35mm, the SP 85mm offers a fast, f/1.8 maximum aperture, which produces a pleasing bokeh and isolates the subject. “I’ve shot portraits where everything is out of focus except the person’s eyes, so the shallow depth of field I get with the f/1.8 focal length is ideal.”
Tamron’s Moisture-Resistant Construction helps prevent moisture from seeping into the lens, while a durable Fluorine Coating is applied to the top element to repel smudges and resist moisture. Both the SP 85mm and the SP 35mm incorporate two lens coating technologies — Tamron’s eBAND (extended bandwidth and angular-dependency) and BBAR (broad-band anti-reflection), which increase light transmission and reduce lens flare and ghosting.
Ultrasonic Drive technology ensures fast, quiet auto-focusing in the SP 35mm and 85mm, and a Full-Time Manual Focus override allows photographers to shift focusing modes without having to use the AF-MF switch. The SP 85mm is designed for use with full-frame digital SLRs and has an effective focal length of 127.5mm with APS-C digital cameras.
With features like Vibration Compensation and an ultra-fast maximum aperture in a great portrait focal length, Thorpe describes this lens as “a welcome addition to my camera bag.” The SP 85mm f/1.8 Di VC USD is available with mounts for Canon, Nikon and Sony DSLRs, and retails for $749. The Sony mount model in both lenses does not include VC, as the bodies of Sony DSLR cameras include built-in image stabilization.
“I think it’s important that people look at third-party lenses fairly,” Thorpe concludes. “Tamron makes it possible for all photographers to get quality optics at a very affordable price.”
To learn more about Tamron lenses, go to www.tamron-usa.com. To see more of Jonathan Thorpe’s images, visit www.jthorpephoto.com.