Review: Tamron 35mm F2.8 Di III OSD (Sony FE Mount)

The Tamron 35mm f2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 is an excellent, cost-effective prime lens for Sony Full Frame Mirrorless shooters.

The Tamron 35mm f2.8 Di III OSD was introduced last year, and it’s part of a trio of compact, affordably priced prime lenses designed for Sony Full Frame Mirrorless cameras. It’s a lightweight and compact prime that’s said to be weather sealed, and focuses as close as 5.9 in (15 cm) and a reproduction ratio of 1:2. It lets you get up close and personal with your subjects, and for the past month, we’ve been putting the final production version of the Tamron 35mm f2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 (Model F053) through its paces. Find out how it fared under real-world conditions in our full review.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Compact (although the Sony 35mm f2.8 Zeiss is still smaller)
  • Lightweight
  • Class-leading weather sealing
  • Excellent image quality overall
  • Very affordable (only $349)

Cons

  • Plasticky build quality
  • Low light autofocus can be a tad slow

Gear Used

We tested the Tamron 35mm f2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 (Model F053) with the Sony A7R III, Sony A7R IV, Haida M10 Filter System, and MeFOTO Roadtrip Leather Edition Tripod.

Tech Specs

Tech specs for the Tamron 35mm f2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 (Model F053) taken from the official Tamron press release.

ModelF053
Focal Length35mm
Maximum Aperturef2.8
Angle of View (diagonal)*63°26′
Optical Construction9 elements in 8 groups
Minimum Object Distance5.9 in (0.15m)
Maximum Magnification Ratio1:2
Filter SizeØ67mm
Maximum DiameterØ73mm
Length**64mm (2.5 in.)
Weight7.4 oz (210g)
Aperture Blades7 (circular diaphragm)**
Minimum Aperturef22
Standard AccessoriesLens hood (Cap-type), Lens caps
Compatible MountsSony E-mount
* for full-frame mirrorless format
** Length is the distance from the front tip of the lens to the lens mount face.
*** The circular diaphragm stays almost perfectly circular up to two stops down from maximum aperture.

Ergonomics

Ergonomics section for the Tamron 35mm f2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 (Model F053) taken from our First Impressions article:

Here’s the Tamron 35mm f2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 (Model F053) mounted onto a Sony A7R III. A cap type lens hood is attached towards the front of the lens. It features the same 67mm filter thread found in the other two Tamron E Mount f2.8 primes along with the 17-28mm f2.8 Di III RXD and 28-75mm f2.8 Di III RXD zooms. This means that all lens caps for the Tamron E Mount lenses can be used interchangeably, and the same goes for filters as well; fewer filters means more money in your pocket.

The exterior of the lens is a minimalist affair. Aside from the Focusing Ring, there aren’t any other controls to be found on the lens barrel.

As you can see, this lens has an incredibly small footprint and feels well balanced when mounted onto a Full Frame E Mount camera body.

Build Quality

The Tamron 35mm f2.8 Di III OSD is incredibly well built despite feeling plasticky. Tamron’s weather-sealing claims did not disappoint; we subjected it to torrential downpours and freezing temperatures. No matter the weather, the Tamron 35mm f2.8 worked without fail. One thing Tamron can improve is the focusing ring: it’s too loose. Making this ring smoother would help with manual focus when shooting long exposures.

Ease of Use

Shooting with the Tamron 35mm f2.8 Di III OSD is very straightforward. Mount it onto your Sony camera, turn your camera on, dial in your settings, and you’re off to the races. Thanks to the 7.4oz/210g weight, it won’t feel front-heavy when attached to Sony a7/a9 series camera. The only form of manual control the lens offers is the focusing ring. As mentioned earlier, the focusing ring could use more tension. It comes in handy when shooting long exposures and manually focusing to infinity or other distances. On the other hand, Team Autofocus will have nothing to worry about.

Autofocus

You’ll get occasional hunting when shooting in low light and low contrast scenarios. This lens also isn’t the most silent.

Autofocus performance is perhaps the one area that the Tamron 35mm f2.8 Di III OSD suffers slightly. It’s no slouch, but it’s not as responsive as Sony’s native lenses. For day to day shooting, the Tamron 35mm f2.8’s autofocus is totally up to the task. You’ll get occasional hunting when shooting in low light and low contrast scenarios. This lens also isn’t the most silent. Wedding and event photographers will be able to hear the motor focusing when shooting.

Image Quality

Under certain lighting conditions, the colors produced by the Tamron 35mm f2.8 can be downright painterly.

Images produced by the Tamron 35mm f2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 (Model F053) are outstanding overall. Like most of their other Sony FE Mount lenses, you’re getting quality optics at an affordable price point.

Bokeh

While bokeh fanatics tend to reach for brighter lenses, the Tamron 35mm f2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 (Model F053) is proof that even f2.8 lenses can hold their own when it comes to creamy bokeh. The close minimum focusing distance of the lens comes in handy in situations where you want to separate your subject from its surroundings. Focus on your subject up close and watch the background fall away into a dreamy haze.

Chromatic Aberration

Unless you’re pixel peeper (shame on you!), there’s not much in terms of chromatic aberration that you will lose sleep over with the Tamron 35mm f2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 (Model F053). The BBAR (Broad-Band Anti-Reflection) coating helps minimize flares, although they can still be visible if the sun is within your frame. We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the slight vignetting when shooting wide open. Minimal fringing can also occur when photographing brightly lit objects or backlit scenes. Both are honestly negligible, and can be easily mitigated during post-production.

Color Rendition

The colors rendered by the Tamron 35mm f2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 (Model F053) are accurate and vivid without being overly saturated. Under certain lighting conditions, the colors produced by the Tamron 35mm f2.8 can be downright painterly. Landscape and portrait photographers alike will appreciate the Tamron 35mm f2.8’s ability to accurately capture their subjects.

Sharpness

Sharpness is perhaps the one area where the Tamron 35mm f2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 (Model F053) truly punches above its weight. In-focus areas appear razor-sharp throughout almost the entire frame, even when shooting wide open. There is some slight corner softness when shooting wide open, but it’s far from distracting and goes away when stopped down one or two stops. We’ve used much more expensive lenses that don’t come anywhere close to being as sharp as the Tamron 35mm f2.8 is. If your images don’t turn out to be tack sharp, then your focus was probably off.

Extra Image Samples

Here are some additional sample images shot using the Tamron 35mm f2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 lens. These images were processed using Capture One 20, ranging from color grading, cropping, levels adjustment, and/or perspective correction. As a matter of ethics, however, none of the sample images seen within this review have been retouched so that you can judge the quality of the images produced using this lens for yourself.

Conclusions

Likes

  • Impressive weather sealing
  • Razor sharpness
  • Creamy bokeh (for an f2.8)
  • Close focusing distance
  • Competitively priced

Dislikes

  • Occasional autofocus hiccups in low light and low contrast scenes

Tamron has been introducing affordably priced Sony Full Frame Mirrorless lenses that are robustly built and deliver excellent image quality, and the Tamron 35mm f2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 (Model F053) is no exception. It can easily hold its own against pricier competing offerings. At press time, it’s cheaper than any of Sony’s native Full Frame E Mount lenses, other than the native 50mm f1.8. By comparison, it’s also less than half the price of Sony’s own 35mm f2.8 Zeiss. Although the Tamron 35 f2.8 may feel plasticky in hand, it’s weather-sealed just like the Zeiss. We put the Tamron’s weather sealing to the test, and it passed with flying colors.

While the Tamron’s autofocus lags behind native offerings slightly, its superb overall image quality more than makes up for it. The Tamron 35mm f2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 (Model F053) renders colors accurately with buttery smooth bokeh and negligible chromatic aberrations. When it comes to sharpness, the Tamron 35mm f2.8 wins against the pricier Sony 35mm f2.8 Zeiss hands down. If the Tamron was any sharper, you’d have to handle it with gloves on.

The Tamron 35mm f2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 lens for Sony FE Mount earns four out of five stars. While not perfect, it’s an all-around solid performer that’s also a great value. Only time will tell, but perhaps autofocus performance can be improved with future firmware updates. You’d be hard-pressed to find a weather-sealed 35mm prime for Sony Full Frame Mirrorless cameras that can deliver the same level of performance and image quality for only $349. You can pick one up at Amazon.