Tamron SP 85mm f/1.8 Di VC USD
What’s good: Premium weather-sealed build, great image quality, optical stabilisation. What’s bad: Two-thirds of a stop slower than the competing f/1.4 lenses on test. Our verdict: Superb all-round quality and value, easily manageable for handheld shooting.
It’s almost too close to call: the Sigma and Tamron 85mm lenses both deliver fabulous image quality for portraiture. The Sigma has a slightly wider f/1.4 maximum aperture rating, but the Tamron is smaller and lighter – making it more manageable when shooting handheld – and it features Tamron’s highly effective Vibration Compensation system. It’s also much less expensive.
By comparison with the Tamron and Sigma 85mm lenses, Nikon’s 85mm f/1.4 looks overpriced and outdated, although the Nikon 85mm f/1.8 lens performs very well, and represents outstanding value for money for an 85mm lens.
For portraiture on DX-format cameras, Sigma’s 50mm Art lens delivers the best outright image quality, but it’s only marginally ahead of the smaller, lighter, stabilised Tamron 45mm lens. Again, the Nikon 50mm f/1.8 lens is the best budget option, delivering good image quality and handling at a very reasonable price.