Tamron SP 85mm f/1.8 Di VC USD - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews - Canon EOS (Full Format)

Review by Klaus Schroiff, published September 2018

Introduction

Admittedly we neglected Tamron lenses somewhat lately and it's something that we shall fix now really. As a restart, we'll have a look at the Tamron SP 85mm f/1.8 Di VC USD. Given the fact that f/1.4 prime lenses are all the rage these days, it is a bit strange that Tamron settled for something slower - also because it is a member of Tamron's SP ("Super Performance") league of lenses thus it's targeting prosumers and professionals. The comparatively high pricing of 700EUR/750USD doesn't really help to increase its market visibility either. That being said the "slow" max aperture helps to tame the size and weight and the addition of Tamron's image stabilizer boost its low light capabilities beyond to what is possible with conventional 85mm f/1.4 lenses.

The build quality of the Tamron SP 85mm f/1.8 Di VC USD is very solid. Out of the box, it is certainly an attractive design as well. However, we are not the biggest fans of the smooth finish because it tends to scratch easily and ages faster than -say- Canon's textured variant. It's similar to Zeiss in this respect and we don't like that one either. The size of the lens remains constant throughout the focus range. Tamron implemented some sealing against moisture although they don't mention any dust protection. Fluorine coating on the front element helps to repel dust and fluids. The focus ring operates smoothly but it is prone to collecting dust. A barrel-shaped lens hood is supplied.

The AF of the lens is reasonably fast and silent although Canon lenses are faster still. The AF accuracy has been a bit of a debate in the community as far as we can tell but we didn't spot any issues during our real-world sessions. Tamron's image stabilizer (VC = Vibration Compensation) has a claimed efficiency of 3.5 f-stops which appeared to be realistic during our tests.

Specifications
Optical construction13 elements in 9 groups including 1x XLD and 1x LD element
Number of aperture blades9 (rounded)
min. focus distance0.8m (max. magnification ratio 1:7.2)
Dimensions84.8 x 91.3mm
Weight 700g
Filter size φ67mm
Hoodbarrel-shaped (bayonet mount, supplied)
Other featuresimage stabilizer (3.5 f-stops), moisture-resistent