Lens review

Tamron SP 35 mm f/1.8 Di VC USD

16 October 2015
Arkadiusz Olech

10. Autofocus

The autofocus mechanism of the Tamron 1.8/35 is practically noiseless; unfortunately it cannot be called very fast. Running through the whole distance scale and finding the proper focus position takes around 0.9 of a second. It is a result a bit better than that of the 1.8/45 model. Still you have to remember that the minimum focusing distance of this lens amounts to 0.20 of a meter so its scale is wider than that of its rivals. For example the Sigma A 1.4/35 focuses from 0.3 of a meter and if you set such a value on the scale of the Tamron and try to focus on an object positioned further away from the camera the time needed to find the focus will shorten to about 0.5-0.6 of a second – very similar to values obtained by the Sigma focusing mechanism. You should also mention the fact that the Tamron’s mechanism performed equally on both bodies used in our test (the D3x and the D7000).

When we took sample shots and tested the lens in studio conditions we didn’t notice any serious problem with the autofocus accuracy. Most of photos were sharp, with more significant misses happening once every several dozen expositions.

Still, as we deal here with a new construction from an independent producer we also decided to test the autofocus in a more thorough way. First we took 30 photos of our resolution testing chart by f/1.8, setting the focus each time anew. For the vertical limit, measured in JPEG files, the results ranged from 1228 to 1523 LWPH – the dispersion was noticeable but there was a problem only with three shots, which provided values of 1228, 1300 and 1329 LPWH. The rest fitted the 1400 - 1523 LPWH range.

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In the next step we repeated that procedure but employing the f/2.8 aperture. Most of the results we got was comprised in a range from 1613 to 1705 LWPH but there were also two results of 1541 and 1566 LPWH. These could hardly be called big mistakes because, after all, they are only about 10% worse than the maximum results you get for a given aperture.

To sum up the autofocus performance doesn’t give you a lot of reasons to complain. In fact only the speed, worse than that of its Canon and Nikon rivals, could be considered a flaw.

We didn’t experience any problems with front or back focus tendencies but a minimal back-focus could be noticed; still it disappeared after employing three units of microcalibration. It should be also noticed that even without that microcalibration you were able to take good, sharp photos from ordinary distances.

Nikon D7000, f/1.8
Tamron SP 35 mm f/1.8 Di VC USD - Autofocus
Nikon D3x, f/1.8
Tamron SP 35 mm f/1.8 Di VC USD - Autofocus