45mm might seem like an odd focal length, but Tamron claims it’s the closest angle of view you can get to how a human actually sees the world (on a full-frame sensor). And I agree that it does feel a little bit more “natural” than either 35mm or 50mm focal lengths. It’s not dramatically different, but it’s pretty good marketing on Tamron’s part.
Overall, this is a solid lens. It’s very well built (it’s comfortably heavy), has weather sealing, offers vibration compensation (image stabilization), and has a respectably fast f/1.8 maximum aperture. It just feels robust and has a great look. Image quality is very nice as you will see in the sample photos (available at http://tightcamera.com/tamron-sp-45mm-review/).
Okay, so f/1.8 isn’t the widest aperture you can get in a “normal” perspective lens, but it’s definitely on the fast side of things. Sure, the Canon 50mm f/1.2 is super-fast, but it’s also more than 3x the cost of this Tamron, and it doesn’t have built-in image stabilization.
Including image stabilization in a normal-perspective lens was an industry first for Tamron with the SP 45mm. And it’s a robust system, offering 3.5 stops of stabilization performance (according to Tamron). In my tests, it works quite well and is very quiet.
The moderately fast f/1.8 aperture plus the effective image stabilization make the Tamron SP 45mm a perfect lens for hand-held shooting in low-light situations. It’s also ideal for street photography, in my opinion.
This isn’t a macro lens, but it can focus as close as 11.4″ (0.29m). It won’t replace a dedicated macro lens, but it can get the job done for certain macro needs. Compare this performance to the Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM, which has a minimum focus distance of nearly 14″ (0.35m). Doesn’t sound like much, but it makes a big difference.
Because of the 9 aperture blades, bokeh is round and smooth at all f stops. Some would say that it lacks character because of this, but I find that unremarkable bokeh is less distracting (especially for portraits). Whether you find round/smooth bokeh to be a good thing or not, you can rest assured the Tamron SP 45mm does not produce harsh or ugly bokeh “balls” or highlights.
More details: http://tightcamera.com/tamron-sp-45mm-review/
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