Tamron SP 85mm F1.8 Di USD A-mount lens review by QuietOC

reviewer#44411 date: Nov-9-2019
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.7
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Tamron SP 35 F1.8 USD
Tamron SP 45 F1.8 USD (VC and non-VC)
Sigma EX 70 F2.8 DG Macro
Sony FE 85 F1.8
Canon EF 85 F1.8 USM
Minolta MD 85 F2
Sony 85 F2.8 SAM
Tamron SP 90 F2.5 Macro
Canon EF 100 F2 USM
Minolta AF 100 F2.8 Macro D
Minolta AF 100 F2.8 Macro RS
price paid:251 USD (used)
positive:Good contrast
Minimal axial CA
Very little purple fringing
Quiet internal focus
Always available MF
negative:Size and weight
Slow USD AF
Focus shifts
Missing VC
Metal veneer
No Lens Compensation
Pre-2011 AF
comment:This is the last new A-mount lens having been released by Tamron in 2017. I hadn't really considered it as the retail price is $750. For reference the Canon EF 85mm F1.8 USM is now on sale for $270 and the Sony FE 85mm F1.8 is normally $600 with an occasional $50 off sale. This is a nice barely used copy with original box only missing the original rear cap and soft bag. "MADE IN CHINA" "DESIGNED IN JAPAN."

If you discount color fringing the Canon and Sony lenses are sharper in the center wide-open. There is a bit of aberration in center wide-open probably indicating a minor alignment problem with this copy. Purple fringing is pretty much absent wide-open. The reduced resolution is probably worth the lack of purple fringing. This lens produces cleaner images than either the Canon EF 85mm F1.8 USM or the Sony FE 85mm F1.8.

Like the Canon neither the front nor rear element moves. This is unlike their 35/1.8 (both) and 45/1.8 (rear). Unfortunately focusing is even slower than the 45mm F1.8, but it is quiet. The Canon USM primes focus much faster. At least it doesn't hunt much when focusing.

Unfortunately it doesn't support the A-mount updates Sony introduced with A77 in 2011. Of course no other 85 mm lens in the system support them either. Sony cameras did gain Lens Compensation support for the old Sony 85mm lenses.

The optical stabilized versions of this lens makes sense for cameras without in-body stabilization. I am not seeing the benefit of the removed optical stabilization (VC) except for one less switch on the lens. Tamron is also eschewing optical stabilization with their FE offerings. Meanwhile Sigma is offering dual stabilization for their SLR lenses adapted via the MC-11 adapter.

This lens shares the filter thread diameter (67 mm) and hood bayonet with 35/1.8 and 45/1.8 primes though it comes with a larger circular hood (HF016). The HF021 petal hood from those lenses doesn't fit reversed on the larger focus grip diameter of the 85 mm. Many FE lenses use this filter diameter including the Sony and Zeiss 85mm F1.8 primes and all the Tamron FE offerings so far.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 3
  • sharpness: 4.67
  • color: 4.67
  • build: 4.67
  • distortion: 5.00
  • flare control: 5.00
  • overall: 4.80
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