The Sony world felt a little bit disappointed when Tamron’s recently announced primes turned out to be only f/2.8. Is Tamron about to cheer us all up with some glass that’s a little more up to speed?
A patent taken out by Tamron has revealed the company’s plans for developing a batch of f/2.0 prime lenses for Sony full-frame cameras: 25mm, 40mm, and 85mm. With the number of Sony lenses increasing dramatically in the last couple of years, the list of low-end primes is starting to feel a little crowded, so it’s good know that Tamron might be planning some glass that’s a little more pro and a little less consumer.
Following on the back of the insanely successful 28-75mm f/2.8 zoom and the more than impressive 17-28mm f/2.8, Tamron took us a little bit by surprise with the announcement of three primes that felt somewhat underwhelming: a 20mm, 24mm, and a 35mm — all at f/2.8. Without much fanfare, prices have been revealed, and each lens is available to pre-order for $349.
No doubt these are comparatively lightweight, affordable lenses, but the general consensus seems that f/2.8 primes are not what people wanted. Samyang/Rokinon has already done an excellent job of producing Sony primes with this maximum aperture, offering incredibly light and surprisingly sharp glass for the money. Earlier this year, Sony finally plugged the yawning chasm in its lens lineup, releasing the 35mm f/1.8 that for me is slightly too expensive, especially when you consider that Canon’s RF 35mm f/1.8 is a steal at $449 — a massive one third cheaper than the Sony equivalent.
The enormous 35mm f/1.8 hole in Sony’s lens lineup was there to be filled. Sony pulled its finger out with something overpriced and left an opportunity for third-party manufacturers to take advantage. This felt like prime territory for Tamron to leap in, especially given its recent record for producing affordable, intelligently compromised glass that those on tighter budgets are snapping up eagerly.
When it emerged that Tamron’s brand new 35mm prime was to be f/2.8, my heart sank a little. Regular readers will know that 35mm environmental portraiture is something I’m currently trying to improve, and I’d hoped that Tamron was about to offer me something better suited to murky conditions (forests can be dark, especially in winter) and giving me an extra stop or two of subject separation over my current glass.
I have every confidence that the 35mm f/2.8 from Tamron will be a stunning lens (even if Tamron is strangely obsessed with everything having a 67mm filter thread!), and I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on a version and putting it straight up against its direct competitor, the Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8 FE. That lens is currently an insanely tempting $264, a price drop that's probably come about as a result of the Tamron 35mm f/2.8 being priced at $349. As pancakes and walkaround lenses go, I’m not sure there’s anything better than the Samyang for Sony full-frame shooters right now.
To my delight, Tamron is not sitting still. The patents that have emerged from Japan show some glass that gets me genuinely excited. No doubt, these lenses are a couple of years away from hitting the shelves, and patents should never be taken as a sign that a product will even appear. That said, the range of Sony lenses right now is ripe for the launch of prime lenses that are faster than f/2.8, and a 40mm f/2.0 that’s not $1,300 like the ZEISS Batis would require a lot of Sony shooters to wipe the drool from their chins.
The 85mm is a little more complex. Sure, the ZEISS Batis f/1.8 is over a grand, but Sony has its own 85mm f/1.8 for less than $600. The incentive here might be for Tamron to beat the Sony on price while matching the quality and maybe making something that’s slightly more compact, but it will have to be exceptional if it's to offer a solid alternative to the well-received and very affordable 85mm f/1.4 from Samyang.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Were you hoping that Tamron would make a 35mm f/1.8? Does this batch of new prime f/2.0 lenses get you excited?