Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD review

It’s the closest thing to a stabilised 50mm lens that also manages to be lightweight and high performing

(Image: © Future)

Digital Camera World Verdict

A standard prime that’s lightweight and sharp, with stabilisation and weather seals? Yes please! We love the Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD – easy to carry around but high quality too, with appealing sharpness and gorgeous bokeh. Get close to your subjects or stand back for an expansive view – the Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD handles it all with aplomb, and you’ll find it more than meets a huge number of your photographic wants and needs.


  • +

    Nice and light

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    Weather seals

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    Lovely bokeh


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    Not quite f/1.4

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Not quite a 50mm lens, the Tamron SP 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD gives a more generous viewing angle of 51 degrees rather than the more usual 46 degrees on a full-frame body. Suffice to say, there’s very little in it. Like the Tamron SP 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD, the bigger 45mm combines a fairly fast f/1.8 aperture rating with 4-stop stabilisation. It’s smaller than Sigma and Zeiss’s 50mm lenses and more lightweight; at 540g, it’s two-thirds the weight of the Sigma and a little over half the weight of the Zeiss. It’s still almost twice as heavy as the Canon 50mm f/1.4.

Build quality is considerably better than in either of the Canon 50mm lenses, including the EF 50mm f/1.8 STM, and not far off that of the Sigma. Like the Tamron 35mm, this lens features extensive weather-seals and a fluorine coating on its front element, to repel water and greasy fingerprints and to aid easy cleaning. It has a ring-type ultrasonic autofocus system that’s both fast and consistently accurate, beating that of the Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens on both counts. As usual with this type of system, full-time manual override is available in Single AF mode.

(Image credit: Future)


Centre-sharpness is much better than from the Tamron 35mm lens in the aperture range of f/1.8 to f/2.8, although both lenses perform well towards the edges and corners of the frame. Defocused areas look very soft and the crossover between sharp and blurred areas in images has a nicely smooth transition. Bokeh continues to impress when stopping down a bit from wide-open shooting, helped by a well-rounded aperture based on nine diaphragm blades.

Having a quality lens as lightweight as this really helps when travelling or shooting for an extended day, and handling is also a pleasure thanks to the large, smooth focusing ring and the large AF and VC switches. Minimum focus distance is also shorter than you might expect on a lens like this at 0.2m, further expanding the lens’s versatility.

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Matthew Richards

Matthew Richards is a photographer and journalist who has spent years using and reviewing all manner of photo gear. He is Digital Camera World's principal lens reviewer – and has tested more primes and zooms than most people have had hot dinners! 

His expertise with equipment doesn’t end there, though. He is also an encyclopedia  when it comes to all manner of cameras, camera holsters and bags, flashguns, tripods and heads, printers, papers and inks, and just about anything imaging-related. 

In an earlier life he was a broadcast engineer at the BBC, as well as a former editor of PC Guide.