Does Tamron's 35mm f/1.4 Stand Above The Rest?

Back in 2015, Tamron released its 35mm f/1.8 VC lens. It was one of their first SP Primes with VC, and came in at a reasonable price point. In February, Tamron announced the SP 35mm f/1.4 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the SP Series. Tamron said it would deliver uncompromised performance, and ultimate image quality. This new lens goes up against Sigma’s 35mm f/1.4 Art ($899, released 2012), Canon’s 35mm f/1.4L II ($1,800, released 2015), and Nikon’s 35mm f/1.4G  ($1,797, released 2010).


Features & Specs:

  • 14 Elements in 10 Groups
  • 4 LD (Low Dispersion) & 3 GM (Glass Molded Aspherical) elements
  • BBAR-G2 (Broad-Band Anti-Reflection Gen 2) coating.
  • Ultrasonic Silent Drive & Dynamic Rolling-Cam Mechanism
  • Improved Flourine Coating
  • Dust & Moisture Resistant Construction
  • TAP-in Console compatible
  • 9 blade aperture
  • 11.8” minimum focusing distance
  • Locking lens hood
  • 1.78lb
  • $899

The new 35mm f/1.4 follows the design of other Tamron SP lenses, with a satin black finished barrel and a gold ring. With the LD and GM elements, Tamron says the optical design will reduce aberrations greatly. The new BBAR-G2 coating is designed to minimize ghosting and flare, while maintaining contrast. Its Dynamic Rolling-Cam Mechanism is made to minimize the drive load, and along with the USD, should result in fast and reliable autofocus. There is only one switch on the lens, for autofocus, and the focusing ring has a full manual focus override when in AF mode. Like some of its recent lenses, the 35mm f/1.4 features a locking lens hood with a push button release.


We did some testing against Sigma's 35mm f/1.4 Art to see how it performed. Below are some images taken to show corner sharpness, vignetting, and distortion.

Center sharpness is great on both lenses, but in the corners, the Tamron is sharper and has a bit more contrast. Both the Tamron and Sigma 35's have a bit of vignetting wide open, and is essentially gone by f/4. They both also have a bit of distortion present, and while the camera was locked down on a tripod, the Sigma seems to have a slightly wider field of view.


Shooting into the sun wide open and at f/16.


We also hooked up the Sigma and Tamron to a D850 and using our lens calibration software, ran an aperture sharpness profile on both. The Aperture Sharpness Profile shows how the image sharpness changes across the tested aperture range. 3 photos were taken at each f-stop and averaged out to create a point. It was surprisng to see how big of a difference there was between the two lenses wide open, though that gap was closed by f/2.8, and they were pretty similar up to f/16.


We also decided to run the same test using Canon and Nikon's naitive 35mm f/1.4's, which are plotted below. (Note: Canon 35mm f/1.4L II was tested on a 5DIV).


Real World Use

With the 35mm focal length being such a versatile one, we tested it in a few different scenarios - from landscapes to portraits. The focus was consistently fast and accurate, and the only time it struggled was when I was shooting directly into the sun, which most lenses would do the same. The lens felt nicely balanced on both Full frame DSLR's and the Z series cameras, despite being one of the heavier 35mm 1.4's on the market.

Sample photos taken with a Nikon D850/Z6





























Final Thoughts

Tamron didn't hold back when creating this lens - it's sharp, fast, and well priced. At almost half the price of the Canon and Nikon 35mm f/1.4's, and with a release price the same as Sigma's 35mm f/1.4 Art, it's definitley worth a look if you're in the market for a 35mm. Full size photos taken with this lens are located here.

You can order the Nikon mount, now in stock here: Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 for Nikon

You can order the Canon mount, due to be released in late July here: Tamron SP 35mm f/1.4 for Canon