Hot on the heels of Tamron’s widely successful f/2.8 zoom lenses comes a trio of f/2.8 prime lenses, specifically a Tamron 20mm, 24mm, and 35mm. I recently tested the Tamron 35mm f/2.8 and found it to be a surprisingly fun little lens.
Why surprising? Well, the 35mm f/2.8 may seem like an odd lens at first glance. There are faster versions of this focal length, such as the 35mm f/1.8 and 35mm f/1.4. And for those who shoot with a 16-35mm f/2.8 or 24-70mm f/2.8, this lens might seem unnecessary. However, there are a few clever tricks that the Tamron 35mm f/2.8 lens has up its sleeve to set it apart from the competition.
The official name of this lens is the Tamron 35mm f/2.8 Di III OSD M 1:2 Lens. It is made for Sony E-mount mirrorless full-frame cameras. Affordably priced at $349 USD, this is among the cheapest 35mm FE E-mount lens options.
Only Samyang makes a cheaper version.
All other FE 35mm options are over double the price of this Tamron. However, most of them have apertures of f/1.8 or faster.
Since it isn’t terribly heavy, the lens does have a mostly plastic feel to it. However, the lens is still weather-sealed and even comes with a gasket in the bayonet to prevent moisture and dust from building up.
Tamron also offers a 5-year warranty with all of its products, which should help put your mind that ease.
Despite its light weight, the Tamron 35mm f/2.8 is a bit chunky – it’s definitely not a pancake lens.
But part of the reason for the lens’ size is its macro capabilities. As noted in the tech specs above, this lens has a minimum focusing distance of 5.9 inches (15 cm) and a macro reproduction ratio of 1:2. This means that you can get really close to your photo subjects for some macro photography fun.
When focusing at a close distance, the bokeh looks amazing, making up for this lens’ f/2.8 aperture.
I paired the Tamron 35mm f/2.8 lens with a Sony A7riii and found the resulting images to be pleasing. The images were sharp with excellent contrast, good bokeh, and just a small amount of vignetting.
The lens also performed well while shooting video. However, there is no image stabilization in the lens, so it is not an optimal choice for video shooters.
After listing several high points of this lens, it’s time to talk about its downfall – autofocus.
Given Sony’s reputation for having fast and accurate autofocus in its cameras, this lens’ autofocus performance was disappointing.
When paired with my Sony A7riii, the Tamron often struggled to focus on both macro and non-macro shots. The autofocus problem worsened in low lighting. As someone with lots of experience with macro photography, I suspect that the slow autofocus is due to the lens’ macro capabilities. So in a way, it’s a trade-off – you can shoot macro with this lens but at the cost of slow autofocus.
Should you get this lens?
If you are a beginner photographer looking for a compact prime lens to experiment with, the Tamron 35mm f/2.8 would be a great choice. It has a great price point and will help you develop an eye for photography, as the 35mm focal length is often recommended as the best lens for beginners.
Even experienced photographers may prefer this compact lens with macro capabilities for travel or street photography. However, if you often shoot fast-paced subjects or in low light environments, save up for the more expensive, faster versions of this lens.
Have you tried the Tamron 35mm f/2.8 lens? Share with us your thought in the comments section.