Updated: Aug 19, 2021
Some say this is the best autofocusing 35mm lens in the market, so let’s get right into our review of the Tamron 35mm F/1.4 lens. We’ll be using the lens with the Nikon D850, and also pitting this lens against the Nikkor 35mm F/1.4 since we’re using the Nikon mount.
Tamron themselves pretty much calls the 35mm F/1.4 the finest lens they’ve ever made, and in our opinion, there’s some truth to that. When we reviewed the Tamron 17-28mm F/2.8 E-mount lens, we mentioned that it felt quite basic and not as premium as the Sony G-Master lenses. This, however, has phenomenal build quality.
It’s slightly heavier than the Nikkor lens at around 800g, depending on whether you go for the Canon or Nikon mount. There’s weather sealing, it’s made of metal and feels super solid in the hand.
There are 14 elements in 10 groups, with 3 aspherical elements and 4 low dispersion (LD) elements. The filter diameter is 72mm, and the close focusing distance is 0.3 meters so you can get pretty upclose to subjects with this lens.
For the Nikkor 35mm F/1.4, there are 10 elements in 7 groups, and just one aspherical element in nano-coated crystal. The lens is lighter than the Tamron, at just 600g, however. There’s no image stabilisation on either lens which is a shame because it would definitely be useful if you’re shooting wide open at F/1.4 since the D850 doesn’t have in-body image stabilisation.
The Nikkor costs US$1,546 while the Tamron is slightly more than half the price at US$899, so you are paying a premium for the Nikkor name, but sometimes that doesn’t mean it’s better.
Overall, the images from the Nikkor lens suffer from quite a bit of purple fringing because of the lens’ age. Images are sharp, but not the sharpest you can get. Skin tones with this lens are a bit warmer, and the overall image is not as sharp as those produced by the Tamron lens. This could be good for portraiture with subjects if you’re worried about skin imperfections showing.
The Tamron also has a bit of purple fringing, but resolves better because it’s a newer lens. There’s also a bit of chromatic aberration on metallic elements in photos, but it’s slight and easily corrected in post-processing. Images are sharp and modern with plenty of detail.
For the price difference, it’s really interesting how the Tamron performs. The images from this lens definitely has a more modern look, while images from the Nikkor has a softer look to them.
The Tamron has really impressed us, for just US$899. The Nikkor lens performs better at an aperture range of around F/2 to F/2.8, to get rid of the purple fringing, chromatic aberration and softer images. But why get a F/1.4 lens if you’re just going to stop it down and lose the bokeh?
As for whether the Tamron is the best 35mm F/1.4 lens on the market, we haven’t seen one better than this yet, so for now, we’d say yes.