Upgrade your firmware from home with Tamron's two new fast primes

Adding to its new line of fast lenses, Tamron introduces an 85mm f1.8 and an updated 90mm f2.8 macro, as well as a Sigma-like adapter for configuring them.

Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
Expertise Photography, PCs and laptops, gaming and gaming accessories
Lori Grunin
3 min read

Tamron launched its new-generation SP series lenses in September 2015 with a pair of fast, fixed-focal-length models designed for full-frame camera mounts. Their fast apertures, better build quality and new coatings improved on past designs but were still relatively affordable for photographers with smaller APS-C sensors in their dSLRs.

Now Tamron is offering a follow-up pair of affordable primes. It's updating its old 90mm f2.8 macro for 1:1 photos of somewhat distant subjects, and it's introducing a new 85mm f1.8, which is a nice length for portrait and urban wildlife photography. Tamron has also created the TAP-in Console, an accessory for upgrading firmware and configuration lenses. It's essentially Tamron's answer to ""="" rel="nofollow" class="c-regularLink" target="_blank">Sigma's USB Dock.

The 90mm lens will be available for Canon and Nikon mounts in March for $650, which is just a little more than the older model. That converts to roughly £450 or AU$910.

Tamron hasn't set the price for the 85mm lens, but it's slated to be available in April for Canon and Nikon. Sony A-mount versions of both lenses will be available later. The TAP-in Console accessory will also ship in March, but pricing hasn't been confirmed yet.

The brand-new SP 85mm F/1.8 Di VC USD incorporates all the technologies of the SP series:

  • Moisture resistance
  • Image stabilization for Canon and Nikon mounts (Sony uses in-body IS)
  • A protective fluorine coating on the front element along with Tamron's eBAND (extended bandwidth and angular-dependency) and BBAR (broad-band anti-reflection) coatings to reduce ghost and flare and improve light transmission
  • An ultrasonic silent drive for fast, quiet autofocus
  • Full-time manual-focus override

Tamron has also added an electromagnetic diaphragm system for its Nikon-mount lens. This is a relatively new tech for Nikon, which introduced it last year in its supertelephoto lenses. It makes aperture adjustment faster during continuous shooting. Rival manufacturer Canon has had it for a while.

Tamron's peachy primes (pictures)

See all photos

Updates to the SP 90mm f2.8 Di VC USD 1:1 Macro are less pronounced. Optically, it looks like it has similar detail resolvability to the original model: the MTF charts for both look almost identical. It gets the cosmetic updates to the SP series, plus added XY-shift compensation for more stable photos.

The 90mm lens also sees tweaks to the the control software for better performance, improvements to its dust-and-moisture resistance, and a protective fluorine coating on the front element. And its new design looks more modern and elegant than its predecessor.

Like the Sigma USB dock, the TAP-in Console attaches to the lens mount and connects to a computer over USB for firmware updates, focus adjustments (close, intermediate and far for up to either focal lenths), focus limiter settings (set near and far limits for each switch location except the full range), full-time MF override customization (can optimize sensitivity of focus ring and set the option to globally on or off), vibration-correction adjustment (priorize for viewfinder or shot) and save customized settings.

The TAP-in is a big deal, since it's the first time users will be able to update firmware on their own. The dock will only work with SP lenses. If you already have a 35mm or 45mm lens, you'll have to send it in for a firmware upgrade before you can use it.


Tamron SP 85mm f1.8 Di VC USD
(Model F016)
SP 90mm f2.8 Di VC USD 1:1 Macro
(Model F017)
Mount Nikon FX, Canon EF, Sony A Nikon FX, Canon EF, Sony A
Focal range 85mm 90mm
Aperture range f1.8 - f16 f2.8 - f32
Minimum focus distance 80 cm, 31.5 in 30 cm,11.8 in
Angle of view 28°33' 27°2'
Aperture blades 9 9
Elements 13 elements
1 XLD (extra low dispersion), 1 LD
14 elements
2 XLD, 1 LD
Filter diameter 67mm 62mm
Length 3.6 in/91 mm (Canon); 3.5/89 mm (Nikon) 4.6 in/117 mm (Canon); 4.5/114 mm (Nikon)
Weight 24.7 oz/700 g (Canon); 23.3 oz/661 g (Nikon) 21.5 oz/610 g (Canon); 21.2 oz/601 g (Nikon
Manufacturer's price TBA $650
Availablity April 2016 (Canon and Nikon); Sony TBD March 2016 (Canon and Nikon); Sony TBD