If you ask all the photographers, which single prime lens they would choose if they could own only one lens in the world, the majority would say the 35mm, and most of the rest would say a fast 35mm. This is because it is one of the most versatile prime lenses. Although it’s a wide-angle lens, it is sometimes referred to as the alternative normal lens because it is so close to the standard focal length that it does not distort the subject much. With such lenses, you can also get a good background separation with a nice bokeh. They are useful in almost all kinds of photography, especially in everyday photography, street photography, environmental portraits, landscapes, weddings, events, and travel. Additionally, it works well for stitched astrophotography.
Its popularity has led to numerous 35mm lenses being produced by various manufacturers from the early days of photography to the modern era. In this article, I will compare six of them, from vintage to old to new. Let’s have a look together!
Just like the 28-75mm 2.8 before, Tamron now also updated its 70-180mm 2.8 lens. We already reviewed the previous lens here and we liked it. A lot actually – except for some handling unpleasantries. With the addition of a lens button and a customizable switch I expect great improvements here, but that is not all: Tamron also decided to upgrade the lens with an internal optical image stabilizer. Let’s have a closer look!
Tamron made a big impression on the market when they launched their SP 90mm F/2.5 back in 1979. Small, flexible and very sharp. It is originally designed for 35mm cameras (full-frame) but can also be used on APS-C cameras with an equivalent focal length of 135mm. It is a classic dual purpose 90mm macro lens. The lens manages to do a 1:2 magnification, almost macro and many call it for a macro lens although Tamron themselves did not do that and only talked about it as “a medium telephoto portrait lens”. (They called the previous versions, also with 1:2 magnification, “tele-macro” though.) Anyhow, it has long been the general opinion that it has very good close-up capabilities and it can do 1:1 macro with some help as we will see. It is also very suitable for use as a portrait lens at normal distances. The lens has been updated several times since its first release and changed look and optical formula during over 40 years of its existence. Each new version could have an additional feature, improved optical performance, just a cosmetic update, or a combination of them. We are going to look at the first AF version of this lens from 1990.The lens has been made with native mounts for Nikon F, Pentax K and Minolta/Sony A. I test a Nikon mount lens mostly on a FF mirrorless Nikon Z6 and APS-C DSLR Nikon D7200 (F mount) but I also include images taken with FF DSLR Nikon D600 (also F mount).
With the 70-180mm 2.8 Tamron completed its “Reasonable Trinity” in 2020. Before the announcement I expected a 75-150mm 2.8 but we got an even bigger zoom range instead. Will there be more surprises? Let us find out in this review! Update: a new version of this lens has been released in late 2023, you can find its review here.
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