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Guest Blog - Tamron Lens Review by Alex Cearns

Guest Blog #2 Our second guest comes from Australia’s leading animal photographer Alex Cearns who took the time out to review two Tamron lenses; the Tamron 35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD Lens and Tamron 45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD Lens. Alex is the Global Ambassador for Tamron’s Super Performance Series Lenses and uses Tamron Lenses in her work daily.

Tamron Lens Review
By Alex Cearns

Photographing animals outdoors and in a studio setting means I need versatile, fast and sharp lenses that enable me to get in close and capture detail in a split second.  As the Tamron Super Performance Series Ambassador I was very keen to trial their new prime lens models, both with additional new lens features - the 35mm  35mm f/1.8 Di VC USD lens and  45mm f/1.8 Di VC USD lens. My animal subjects are always moving and I need my equipment to respond immediately when I see an action or expression I want to capture. If I miss the shot, the opportunity to take it might not present itself again.

Since I spend most of my time in the studio I decided to do a studio shoot with my dogs Pip and Pixel, to test the 35mm and 45mm lenses. The general rule of pet photography is that your own pets are the hardest to photograph as the photographer doesn’t have a novelty factor and your own expectations of what your pet will and won’t do differs to those placed on a dog you haven’t met before.  So in short, this was going to be a challenge!

My main go to studio lens is the Tamron 24-70mm but I was keen to break out of my comfort zone for this trial and test five main areas of both lenses which play a combined role in my resulting images.

My 5 factors of consideration were;
·                     how close I could get to my subjects (focal distance)
·                     focussing speed
·                     vibration compensation
·                     lens build/weight
·                     lens motor noise

With a depth of field starting at f1.8 for both lenses they are extremely fast in low light. During my test I shot handheld at f13, my usual studio depth of field, and was physically able to get the lens very close to my dog subjects, closer than I expected in fact. The lenses almost have a macro feel to them, given I was around an inch or two from my subject and I was able to capture every minute detail as a result. The image quality was maintained whether I was in close or shooting wide and in my experience; few non-macro lenses have the same up-close capabilities. Being able to move right in on the subject will come in handy when I’m photographing insects and small animals, or when I want to get emphasise part of a larger animal, such as the pattern on their nose, or their eyes.

When using a prime lens, you have to physically move to zoom in. As both dogs were moving for most of their photo session I felt this would be one of the greatest lens tests, pushing them to see if they could focus fast enough for me to capture the shots I wanted. I wasn’t disappointed. Both lenses were able to adapt to focussing through short changes in distance on a subject moving at speed. When working with a live subject, even the slightest movement can cause an image to blur. The 35mm and 45mm both performed exceptionally well at all distances, and the images were pin sharp thanks to the fast locking focus.

The incorporation of vibration compensation (VC) into the Tamron 35mm and 45mm lenses is a game changer. It identifies even the slightest camera shake and adjusts accordingly. Not only can you shoot more images in low light thanks to the aperture of f1.8 the VC adds to the versatility of the lens. You can now shoot at smaller apertures (like f13) or at slower shutter speeds and continue to handhold the lens/camera with VC activated, alleviating the need for a tripod. When I’m constantly chasing a subject around through the viewfinder and moving my hands, VC ensures a crisp result when I press the shutter button.

I shoot handheld, without a tripod and the first thing I noticed was that both lenses are comfortable to hold. They are similar in size and weight, with the 45mm slightly heavier of the lenses. Neither is clunky, yet they have a solid feel to them. Both lenses are built tough, with an all-aluminium metal exterior and weather sealing around the camera mount and focussing ring. This additional sealing his will come in handy when I’m photographing wildlife outdoors, protecting the lenses from moisture. The front lens element has an added fluorine coat to repel water, fingerprints, and smudges, enabling for easier cleaning of the lens surface. This is a great feature given the amount of dog nose smudge marks and drooly licks my lenses have to endure.

My dog clients are very aware of every noise in the studio, from the fan, to the lights, to the lens motor drive. I photograph many nervous dogs, and any sound can be a distraction to them, or cause them to startle. I need lenses with a silent motor, and the Tamron 35mm and 45mm both deliver on this with silent focus, making them super quiet. This helps put my subjects at ease, enabling me to get the shots I need for my clients.

Both lenses were a dream to use. I can see them appealing to all types of photographers – wedding, landscape, portrait and architectural especially. VC is an excellent feature, allowing photographers to really push these lenses in different lighting conditions. The 45mm, being only 5mm off a 50mm, will give the current 50mm lenses a run for their money.

These images were captured handheld, at ISO 100, 1/200th sec and f13 with 35mm and 45mm Tamron lenses on a Canon 1DX camera body.

Alex Cearns of “Houndstooth Studio by Alex Cearns”

Alex Cearns is one of Australia’s leading animal photographers and the Creative Director of Houndstooth Studio. Her images have won numerous awards and have been published widely in Australian and international print and online media, in books, magazines, campaigns, and even in an Australia Post stamp collection. Inspired by the joy of working with animals, Alex’s philanthropy and passionate advocacy for animal rescue has earned her high regard among Australia’s population of animal lovers. She has published three books with Penguin Books Australia and her 4th book will be published with Harper Collins in New York in late 2016. Alex is the Global Ambassador for Tamron’s Super Performance Series Lenses and uses Tamron Lenses in her work daily. 


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