A prime lens with a normal focal length, the Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD was introduced for Canon EF and Nikon F cameras in September 2015. It has a maximum aperture of f/1.8. Because of its large aperture of f/1.8 and built-in image stabilization (at the time of its launch, it was the world’s first image-stabilized standard prime), it is a great lens for low-light photography that is meant for both amateur photographers and pros.

eBAND and fluorine coatings, a high-speed ultrasonic silent drive (USD) autofocus motor, and a weather-sealed design are just some of the features that Tamron incorporated into this lens in order to make it the best standard prime lens currently available on the market. Tamron also designed this lens to be dust- and moisture-resistant.

Even at the most open aperture, the Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD is designed to produce very sharp images thanks to its intricate optical design, which consists of 10 elements in 8 groups (two of which are molded glass aspherical elements and one of which is a low-dispersion element). This design also allows the lens to have a maximum aperture of f/1.8.

Because I have heard so many wonderful things about the Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD lens from my friends and peers, I have had the want to try it out ever since it was first made available for purchase by the company. Let’s take a closer look at it and see what more we can find out.

Specifications for the Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD Lens

  • Canon EF and Nikon F are the types of mounts available.
  • The focal length range is 45 millimeters.
  • Maximum Aperture: f/1.8
  • Minimum Aperture: f/16
  • Perspective is at 52 degrees 21 feet.
  • Lens (Elements): 10
  • Lens (Groups): 8
  • FX and DX are the formats that are compatible.
  • Diaphragm Blades: 9 (rounded)
  • LD Elements: 1
  • Aspherical Elements Made of Molded Glass There are 2 of These
  • Autofocus: You’ve Got It
  • Yes, it uses USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive).
  • Yes, there is compensation for the shake (image stabilization)
  • Coating with eBAND: Yes
  • BBAR Coating: This is True
  • Yes, we use fluorine coating.
  • Protection against the elements:
  • Minimum Focus Distance: 0.29m
  • Focus Mode: AF/MF
  • Filter Size: 67mm
  • Dimensions: 80.4 x 89.2mm
  • Approximately 520 grams in weight

The Build Quality as well as the Handling

Tamron has done an excellent job of ensuring that the SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD has the same level of construction quality as a lens designed for professional use. The only elements of the lens that are made of plastic are the very front of the lens barrel and the plastic switches that are located on the side of the lens. The rest of the lens is made of metal, including the mount and the robust lens barrel. This indicates that it is built to last, and I have no doubt that it would, even with a significant amount of (ab)use out in the field.

There is a white label that says “Designed in Japan” exactly next to the “Made in Japan” stamp that can be seen at the bottom of the lens. This is quite a peculiar combination. It is wonderful to learn that these lenses were conceived in Japan and manufactured there; nevertheless, the white label is not carved; rather, it is just painted white. After having the lens in your eye for a few of weeks, you may have noticed that parts of the letters on the label have worn off. It is not at all important to me, but I wish Tamron had either etched it onto the lens or not included it at all. Either way, I would prefer it.

The ring that adjusts the focus is quite smooth. There is a visible halt when you come to the end of the focusing range on either side, but it is not a hard stop as on some older manual focus lenses — the ring continues to revolve after you reach the end of the focusing range.

Even though there is a glass element on the rear side of the lens, the entire rear set of lenses slides in as you concentrate toward close focus, which exposes the inner portions of the lens. If you are about to change lenses in dusty conditions, you should probably adjust the focus position of the camera to infinity before you do so. This will reduce the likelihood that any dust or debris will enter the lens during the lens change.

On the lens’s side are two switches: one controls the image stabilization (VC On / Off), while the other toggles between autofocus and manual focus (AF / MF). The camera and the lens are both protected from dust and debris by a rubber gasket that is attached to the mount on the back of the lens. This prevents dust and debris from entering either the camera or the lens. Because it is protected from the elements, the Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD is an excellent choice for photographers who work in natural environments.

It should not be too difficult to clean the front element because it is sunken; nevertheless, the depth to which it is recessed is not very great. The 67mm filter thread is made of plastic, which is a material that is used on a wide variety of different enthusiast and professional-grade lenses on the market today, including those made by Nikon. The lens comes with the HF012 petal-shaped hood already attached to it. It secures the lens with a simple click and maintains its position with little to no discernible wiggle room.

In general, the build quality and the way the lens is handled are both excellent, thanks to Tamron’s excellent work. We tested this lens on the Nikon D780 DSLR as well as on the Nikon Z-series cameras with the FTZ adapter, and it performed exceptionally well in all of these configurations, as was to be expected.

Vibration Compensation / Image Stabilization

The Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD is a rather unique product, as I have previously mentioned because it comes with optical image stabilization, which is something that no other F-mount lens has. This is something that sets it apart from the competition. Even when using wide-angle lenses, the advantages of image stabilization have been the subject of a number of articles that have been published on our site in the past. These articles discuss how valuable image stabilization can be in the field.

Because of this, the SP 45mm f/1.8 really stands out, particularly when you’re employing it in conditions with low light. When shooting inside or outside in low light, wedding and event photographers face significant challenges, which is why having a system that is image-stabilized is almost always an advantage.

The Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 is not an exception to the rule, as it appears that every image stabilization has both positives and negatives associated with it. First things first, if you are going to use the lens on a tripod, you must make sure that the vibration compensation switch on the lens is turned off. This switch is labeled “VC.” Because the lens does not have a mechanism for identifying when a tripod is being used, it will continue to attempt to steady the lens, which will result in fuzzy photographs.

Second, it is possible to end up with somewhat fuzzy shots, particularly in the slow shutter speed range, if you do not let the lens settle itself a little bit first and then immediately begin shooting. Last but not least, when utilizing image stabilization on a camera that already has its own built-in image stabilization (such as the Nikon Z6 or Z7), you should remember to switch off image stabilization because the two systems may end up conflicting with one another.

Aside from that, Tamron has done a fantastic job with the SP 45mm f/1.8 lens by successfully putting optical image stabilization into it. Because of this, I found that it was an excellent choice to take along with me as a travel lens.

Performance Regarding Autofocus

The SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD is equipped with Tamron’s Ultrasonic Silent Drive (USD) autofocus motor technology, which enables the lens to perform autofocus operations in a manner that is both swift and silent. The autofocus performance of the Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD is fairly strong in general, however, the lens’s level of consistency and precision fluctuates.

You will need the Tamron Tap-in Console in order to use this lens on a DSLR camera, so make sure you get it before you begin. Although the sample I used on the Nikon D780 DSLR did not require any adjustments, I am aware that other photographers who possess this lens have had varying degrees of success with it on their own cameras. However, after making some adjustments to focus using the Tap-in Console, most of the problems disappeared.

Using Canon DSLR cameras is fraught with additional potential complications. It has come to my attention that Canon users have, on average, a greater number of issues with the autofocus capabilities of Tamron lenses than Nikon users do. I have a feeling that this is because of differences in the ways in which the autofocus systems are implemented; perhaps Tamron did not do as good of a job with the AF on Canon.

Last but not least, although the speed of the focusing is rather satisfactory, I’ve observed that the autofocus precision is inconsistent at times. During my time in the lab evaluating the Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD, I became aware of it. Sometimes, while photographing a well-lit chart that has a lot of high-contrast sections, the lens will suggest that the subject is in good focus, but when you zoom in and look at it more carefully, you will notice that it is not. The issue can be fixed in some cases by forcing the camera to refocus, however, this is not always the case.

It’s bad, but the precision of the focus isn’t particularly constant, especially considering this point of view.

Focusing on the Macro

The minimum focus distance of the Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD is an amazingly close 0.29 meters, which is a wonderful feature since it enables you to go very near to your subjects and truly isolate them from the backdrop.

When compared to the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art, the Nikon 50mm f/1.4G and the Nikon 50mm f/1.8G both have a minimum focusing distance of 0.45 meters, whereas the Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art only has a distance of 0.4 meters. Because of this, the Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 stands out in a noticeable way.

However, does that become an actual advantage in the environment that we live in? In my view, the answer is yes, and it very certainly does. You may successfully increase the amount of background blur by going closer to your subject and shooting at or near the minimum focusing distance, as seen in the shots that follow:

This gives the impression that your pictures were taken with a close-up or macro lens. Take care not to distort the facial and bodily characteristics of the people or animals you picture up close because of the perspective distortion that results from doing so. This is especially important while working at close range.

One thing to take into consideration is that, as is detailed on the next page, the longitudinal chromatic aberration that this lens exhibit is rather severe. Take note of the color change from green to purple that occurs in the whiskers of the cat in the image to the right.

Tamron Model

Tamron SP 45mm F/1.8 Di VC USD Prime Lens Price

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Jeffrey is an experienced photographer and website editor. Photography Blog (dslrcamerasdeal.com), which he owns, manages, and contributes to, features in-depth reviews of cameras, lenses, phones, and accessories as well as breaking news from all over the world. Since 2000, when megapixel counts were still in the single digits, he has been chronicling the evolution of cameras and the photography industry in his writing, so he is well-versed in the latest photographic equipment and how to use it.


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