Tamron 85mm f/1.8 VC Lens Review: Giving the big lens makers a run for their money


posted Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at 3:12 PM EDT


An 85mm f/1.8 is a classic lens: a solid, longer focal length that's perfect for portraits and a bright f/1.8 aperture for good subject isolation and low light performance (without the increased bulk and expense of going to an f/1.2 or f/1.4). Many of the major manufacturers, including both Canon and Nikon, have long offered a full-frame 85mm f/1.8 lens. However, Tamron's new alternative, the SP 85mm f/1.8 VC, combines not only top-notch performance, but also features and build quality that simply aren't available from the major manufacturers' offerings.

In our Tamron SP 85mm f/1.8 VC lens review, we've put this new high-performance portrait prime to the test on both full-frame and crop-sensor cameras, and the Tamron passed with flying colors. Sharpness is excellent, even wide open, and CA and distortion are of little to no concern. Plus, with the addition of a weather-sealed construction and the very helpful and capable image stabilization built right in, this new SP-series 85mm f/1.8 lens gives the big lens makers a run for their money. And speaking of money, the Tamron is bit more pricey than the alternatives from Canon and Nikon, but it's still less expensive than their brighter, faster 85mm lenses and none of those offer image stabilization.

Nikon D800E: f/4.5, 1/30s, ISO 100

For all the details, including test results and sample lab images as well as  build quality and handling notes, head over to our in-depth Tamron 85mm f/1.8 VC lens review. Also, be sure to check out our Flickr album for a selection of real-world photos take by our senior lens technician Rob Murray using our Nikon D800E test camera.

• Tamron 85mm f/1.8 VC Lens Review

Nikon D800E: f/1.8, 1/60s, ISO 100
Nikon D800E: f/1.8, 1/4000s, ISO 100