Disappointed by Tamron's f/2.8 Primes for Sony? Don't Worry: There's f/2.0 Glass in the Pipeline

Disappointed by Tamron's f/2.8 Primes for Sony? Don't Worry: There's f/2.0 Glass in the Pipeline

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.

Holiday snaps with the Samyang 35mm f/2.8 AF for Sony.

Holiday snaps with the Samyang 35mm f/2.8 AF for Sony.

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.

Samyang 35mm f/2.8 AF for Sony

At home, the Samyang 35mm f/2.8 stays attached to my Sony a7 III because it's tiny, unexpectedly sharp, and relatively fast.

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.

Tamron patent

Admittedly, I'm taking it on faith that someone else has translated this correctly. Let's hope they're not playing a trick on us.

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?

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12 Comments

The problem is the size not the f-stop. I wouldn't mind a slower Tamron 24 or 35/2.8 but these lenses are wayyyyy toooooo big. I can't imagine what filter size a f2 Tamron prime will offer. If it is 67mm I will be suprised and might consider it. When it comes to lenses I do not care so much about price but performance, size and weight.

Spy Black's picture

Apparently lens manufacturers are trying to save money by using a one-size-fits-all approach to building lenses. Look at the actual glass in the lens pictured above and look at the shell it's in. It almost looks like you can stick an f/1.4 lens in the same shell, and certainly an f/2. So you have all this extra mass in an f/2.8 lens that isn't needed, but adds unnecessary weight. Granted, it will be lighter by nature of less glass, but still.

This is one of the problems with the Z-mount. WAY TO LARGE. Makes small lenses tough to build due to the massive lens mount. The Sony mount is good size for pancake 35/2.8mm lens as well as f1.4 glass.

Spy Black's picture

Well, that a lens for Sony right there, look at it. It's way larger than it needs to be.

It's got nothing to do with a mount, it's just standardization on the lens manufacturer's parts to save money and simplify production.

Spy Black's picture

People's obsession with fast lenses today is comical.

Like you. the person who told me shoot everything in weddings 1.4, remember?
I dont have any issue with size or weight. But a 2.8 prime.. Cmon tamron. Whos the idiot that said "everyone is making 1.8 and 1.4 primes, lets think out of the box and mke a 2.8..oh wait that doesnt work

Spy Black's picture

I believe it was why shoot at f/1.8 if you have an f/1.4.

If you're in need of a fast lens in low light for whatever you do, then sure you're not gonna use one of these. Is there a shortage of f/1.4s and faster? Doesn't seem like it. These slower and less expensive lenses have their own place.

That wasnt the chat we had on nr but leave it

I would never even use a 2.8 prime if I got it for free. I dont see the point of it. 1.8 is fine for anyone. Love my 1.4 zooms though I hardly shoot open but stopped down just a tad.

Matthias Dengler's picture

I really don't get it. Why would you offer so many different apertures to the same focal length?
Okay, Fuji has it too, for two of their lenses. Still, I much prefer their approach of just producing quality in every lens instead of throwing out cheapo lenses first.

Someone said the 25/2 looks identical to the Batis which Tamron designed. Tamron is probably behind all the Batis lenses.

Jacques Cornell's picture

Thrilled to have Sony's 35/1.8 alongside my 85/1.8, even though the former is more expensive than the latter. Now I just need a 24/2 or 24/1.8 to complete my prime troika.

Adil Alsuhaim's picture

Hopefully we'll see Tamron make these lenses for Canon & Nikon mirrorless systems.