Tamron 45mm Review (f1.8 Nikon Mount)

Tamron 45mm review – Better alternative to a Nikon 50mm lens – sharp, fast and focuses close. Great portrait lens!

Tamron 45mm Review (f1.8 Nikon Mount)

I was never impressed with the fast Nikkor 50mm AF lenses and they don’t focus as close as dedicated macro lenses. It would be great if there was a super sharp fast lens that would focus close too! Meet the Tamron 45mm f1.8 AF lens and here is a quick Tamron 45mm review including sample portrait film photos.

Tamron 45mm f1.8 Di VC USD for Nikon

Much better than the Nikkor 50mm AF lenses

In my Nikon days (pre-Leica) I owned the Nikkor 50mm f1.8 D lens and later replaced it with the Nikkor 50mm f1.4 D lens. At the time I thought they were OK lenses with nice bokeh but I didn’t use them wide open for paying client work as they were not sharp enough. I did have the Nikkor 35mm f1.4 G lens for a year or so and that was notably better than the 50s. (For completeness I also had the Nikkor 85mm f1.8 D which was replaced with the Nikkor 85mm f1.4 D lens. Neither was as sharp as the manual focus Samyang 85mm f1.4 lens wide open). (Awesome lens!)

Tamron 45mm Review

Moving from digital Nikon to digital Leica

After moving from my Nikon D800 to the Leica M9 (at the time) I also developed a taste for film photography. I bought my first Nikon SLR 35mm film camera which was a Nikon FM. After the Nikon FM camera followed a Nikon F4 and then a Nikon F5. Both newer Nikon film bodies accept auto-focus lenses but the old Nikon FM gives me the most portable setup. I still had/ have most of Nikon glass so was able to give it all a new life using it on the Nikon film cameras.

35mm 6x6 Crop

Need sharper Nikon mount lenses

After getting used to the Leica lens performance on the Leica M9 and then on various Leica film cameras (Leica M2 and M3 to start with) my appetite for using great lens grew. Macro lenses tend to be the sharpest of any camera lens line-up so I bought 2 macro lenses to use on the Nikon film cameras. The first was the Nikkor 60mm f2.8 Micro AF. Next was the Tokina 100mm f2.8 Macro AF. These lenses are both excellent but being used to the Leica Summilux 50mm f1.4 ASPH lens I wanted something faster yet still sharp (*faster than f2.8).

Eye sight issues

One reason I love rangefinder cameras like Leica cameras is I can use them without the need for glasses even though I am a little short sighted. If I use SLR type cameras such as the Nikon bodies or say a Hasselblad 500CM I am fine working up close but mis-focus when photographing more distance subjects. I bought a split screen for the Hassy so now I can use that accurately which is awesome. For the Nikon cameras however I now tend to reply on autofocus lenses for distant subjects. This is a little annoying as some of my best Nikon mount lenses are manual focus (Nikkor 200mm f2 for example!)

Nikon F5 B&W Portrait

Tamron lenses for Nikon

After much research for an alternative to a Nikkor 50mm autofocus lens I discovered the seemingly not well known Tamron 45mm prime lens. I had owned these ‘cheaper’ Tamron lenses in the past and the performance always surpassed their lower price tags. I had Tamron short zoom lenses for the Nikon D90 DX body (Tamron 17-50mm f2.8) and Nikon D700/D800 FX bodies (Tamron 28-75mm f2.8) both which were sharp if just a little plastic feeling. I also had the Tamron 90mm f2.8 macro lens at this time.

Tamron 45mm Nikon F5

Tamron 45mm f1.8 AF lens

The Tamon 45mm f1.8 lens ticks all the boxes for me. Here is a summary:


5 Reasons to buy a Tamron 45mm f1.8 lens

  • Does the lens have autofocus ? – Yes
  • Is the Tamron 45mm sharp wide open? – Yes to my eyes
  • Tamron 45mm f1.8 minimum focus distance? – 29cm! (close!)
  • Fast aperture? – Yes f1.8 is bright enough for most photos
  • Does the Tamron 45mm work on Nikon film cameras? Yes (but not all*)

Tamron 45mm Portraits

Rather than me keep writing it might be easier just to show you what the Tamron 45mm f1.8 lens can do. Below are a series of photos shot with my Nikon F5 film cameras. (It got to the point at the end of 2018 that I was using this camera-lens setup almost too much considering i’m supposed to be MrLeica! I just like trying new gear whatever the make even if I then revert back to Leica eventually).

Tamron 45mm Portraits (35mm Film Portraits)

Most of these photos were shot during a trip to Poland (linked below if interested)

Tamron 45mm Portrait

Tamron 45mm Portrait

Tamron 45mm f1.8 Portrait

Tamron 45mm + Nikon F5

35mm Ilford Delta 100 Portrait

35mm Kodak TMax 400 Portrait

Fomapan 100 bulk roll

Vintage look film


If you are looking for an alternative to the standard Nikkor fast 50mm lenses you might want to consider the Tamron 45mm f1.8. I have both lenses and I know which lens I will be using on on the Nikon F5 (especially). (My Nikkor 50mm f1.4D has no been used for many years).

How much is the Tamron 45mm f1.8 (Nikon mount?)

The prices online are constantly changing so click here to see the latest deals on Amazon – (UK) / (US)

Tamron 45mm vs 35mm?

It is probably worth noting that the Tamron 45mm f1.8 lens has a sibling, the Tamron 35mm f1.8 lens. If I had to choose between the Tamron 45mm vs 35mm I would pick the 45mm. Why? It is a focal length I felt I would use more for my portraits. 35mm at close range can add a lot of distortion to an image/ portrait. I use 35mm lenses on my Leica cameras but they don’t focus close (0.7m vs 0.29m!). (One reason why I shoot with SLR cameras sometimes – they let me do what I can’t do with a Leica).

Tamron related posts


Tokina 100mm Macro – Best Nikon Lens!?

Tokina 100mm Macro – Best Nikon Lens!?

Tokina 100mm Macro f2.8 AF lens

Tokina 100mm macro

Qu. Is the Tokina 100/f2.8 Macro the Best Nikon Lens?
>>  Here I explain why I use the Tokina 100mm Macro lens more than any other lens on my Nikon cameras (Portraits)


Best Nikon lenses

When I used a digital Nikon D800 DSLR I enjoyed using the typical dreamy lenses like everyone else, giving that super shallow depth of field.  Some of my best Nikon lenses / favourites were the Nikkor 50mm f1.2, Nikkor 200mm f2 and Samyang 85mm f1.4 (I prefer it to the Nikkor 85mm f1.4 D that I also have).  All these lenses were manual focus but that was fine as most of my Nikon D800 photography was done with manual focus only.  I just preferred having full control.

Nikon film cameras

One of my earliest film cameras was a Nikon FM.  I then bought a newer Nikon F4 camera and more recently a Nikon F5.  35mm film to my eyes renders much softer than the 36MP Nikon D800 digital files.  As such lenses like the Nikkor 50mm f1.2 wide open was now too soft for my taste on film.  Perhaps it was because I had got used to the sharp Leica lens look now that I had moved to Leica.  Regardless, I needed “better” lenses for the Nikon SLR film cameras if I was to use them.  Macro lenses are usually regarded as some of the sharpest in a lens lineup so that is where I looked first.  My first Nikon camera macro lens was a Nikkor 60mm f2.8 Micro and I was really impressed.

Tokina 100mm Macro f2.8

The Nikkor 60mm is nice but I liked the idea of a longer focal length to use for portraits.  I settled on a Tokina 100mm macro f2.8 AF lens.  It has been one of my most used Nikon lenses ever since.  I love it and I highly recommend it to any Nikon (& Canon) users.  Rather than try to praise the Tokina 100mm macro lens in words I think it is easier to show it with real photos.  See below.


Grab yourself one before the price goes up!

I guess what I can do with the Tokina 100mm Macro lens, being a current product (unlike nearly everything else I review!) is give you a direct link so you can go and treat yourself to one.  An absolute bargain when you consider that this lens seems to out perform nearly every other Nikon mount lens I use and seems easily on a par with my best Leica lenses.  Get one before they put the price up!  Amazon UK / Amazon US 🙂

Tokina 100mm Portrait Photos

Sorry if you have seen some of the images before, perhaps in film reviews.  I use the Tokina 100mm lens a lot!  Click any photo to see more details.


Tokina 100mm Portraits – 35mm Film Photos


Kodak Double-X Portrait

35mm Kodak T-Max 100

Nikon F4 + Kentmere 100

Nikon F5 Fashion

Ilford Pan 100 Portrait

Nikon F4 Portrait

Tokina 100mm Macro Bokeh

35mm Kodak T-Max 100

35mm Kodak T-Max 400

Fuji Acros 100 + Nikon F4

Nikon F4 Studio

Nikon F5 Camera Review

Tokina 100mm f2.8 Portraits – Digital

Nikon D800 Fashion

Tokina 100mm Macro

Tokina 100mm f2.8 Macro

Summer Fun

Tokina 100mm Wedding Film Photography

Kodak Ektar Film Wedding

Film Wedding Photography

Related Nikon Posts

More Nikon Lens / Film Camera Reviews!


Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 (Best Nikon Pancake Lens!)

Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 SL II + YouTube

Here is a review of my favourite Nikon pancake lens + 40mm portraits.  Ihis is the Voigtlander Ultron 40mm SL lens for Nikon cameras.

Nikon mount Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2

Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 SL II lens photos - Nikon mount - pancake lens

Qu.  Looking for the ultimate small lens for your Nikon camera?
>>  Here I recommend my Voiglander 40mm f/2 pancake lens & share some 40mm portraits

My Favourite Nikon Pancake Lens

As “Mr Leica” I use Leica cameras for my photography but I also enjoy other film camera brands too.  For each camera I try to discover the best lenses I can and here I cover my favourite Nikon pancake lens.  The Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 SL II that I bought to use on my Nikon film cameras.

Small Lenses for Nikon Cameras

Are you looking for a small lens for your Nikon camera?  Previously I used Nikon cameras before moving to Leica so I have collected quite a few nice Nikon F mount lenses, both Nikkor brand and other from other manufacturers.  After getting used to the often very compact Leica M mount lenses, when I came to packing lightweight for a Nikon camera it was not so easy.  My smallest Nikon F mount lens at the time was the Nikkor 50mm f1.4D. When I bought this Nikkor lens in my Nikon D800 period I liked the lens and used it a lot for wedding photography.

Leica M Mount Lens Effect

A few years later I bought my first Leica camera, a Leica M9. Having got accustomed to using various Leica M mount lenses and at the time none of the lenses were actually Leica brand I as couldn’t afford Leica glass!  Instead I opted for Voigtlander and Zeiss Leica M lenses and loved the results. Coming from these lenses back to the Nikkor 50/1.4D lens, the 50mm Nikon lens on the D800 suddenly seemed too soft to use at f1.4.

The Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 Pancake Lens

After wanting to find a replacement for my 50mm f1.4 Nikkor I started my online research.  I was looking for a small form decent optics Nikon mount lens in the ‘normal’ focal length range (usually around 50mm).  After much reading I discovered the Nikon mount Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 SL II prime lens. It is a pancake lens so makes a Nikon DSLR / SLR look very compact when compared to standard lenses. I had a Nikkor 35mm f1.4 G lens which I had bought for wedding photography but it was huge in comparison.  From day one I loved the super sharp results of the Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 lens, even at f2.  The poor 50mm f1.4D has never been used since!  Please note that Voigtlander lenses like the Zeiss lenses for Nikon are manual focus.  Don’t buy a Voigtlander 40f2 Ultron if you are hoping to use autofocus mode.

Nikon Film Cameras

Although I rarely use the digital Nikon D800 camera now I do enjoy the Nikon film cameras. My oldest is a Nikon FM SLR followed by the more automated Nikon F4. My most recent purchase is the later Nikon F5 model (see F5 review posted yesterday).  Owning these cameras means I still get to enjoy the Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 pancake lens.  It is great if I want to pack light or perhaps want that slightly wider 40mm focal length.

Voigtlander Ultron 40mm Portraits

Digital Photos – Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2

Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 SL

Voigtlander 40mm f/2 SLII

Voigtlander 40mm f/2.0 Ultron SL II

Nikon D800 + Voigtlander 40mm

Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 SL Flare

Film Photos – Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2

Kodak Vision3 50D Fashion

BMA Models

Kodak Vision3 50D / Cinestill 50D

Nikon FM Portrait

Dusty Film Scan

Voigtlander Ultron 40mm F2 SL II

Film Scan Portrait

Nikon F4 Portrait

Nikon F5 Fashion


If you are a Nikon photographer happy with manual focus and are on the market for a compact sharp lens, look no further!  I rate the Voigtlander Ultron 40mm f2 SL II lens (and I use nice lenses from the likes of Leica APO/ ASPH, Zeiss, Fujion and others)

Voigtlander Lenses for Nikon

If you are looking for Voigtlander lenses for Nikon or Canon cameras you might like some of the other Voigtlander SL lenses.  I enjoy the 20mm, 28mm, 40mm and 58mm.  The 58mm is fantastic for portraits!

Related Posts

Nikon F5 Review (Best Nikon Film Camera?)

Nikon F5 Review (Best Nikon Film Camera?)

Qu. Nikon F5: The Best Nikon Film camera? + YouTube Video
>>  In this review I explain why I bought the Nikon F5 & why it is the Best Nikon Film Camera for me

Nikon F5 Photographer

Nikon F5 SLR Camera

I bought the Nikon F5 35mm film camera last (2017) year but I didn’t get a chance to write about it. I won’t write a detailed Nikon F5 review here as I will only be duplicting the work of others before me.  (Check Ken Rockwell’s website if you want camera specifications).  Instead I will focus on a few key facts, some of my thoughts so far and finish off with a few of my Nikon F5 Flickr photos to show what the Nikon F5 can do.

1996 Nikon F5 – Brief History

The Nikon F5 SLR (“Single lens reflex”) camera was released in 1996 and replaced my Nikon F4 that was first released 8 years earlier.  The Nikon F5 was one of the last professional spec Nikon film bodies (the last was the Nikon F6 I believe) before they switched to digital. When I look at the Nikon F5 it always reminds me of a Nikon D4 or something of a similar pro level today.

Nikon F5 Pro Level SLR

The Nikon F5 oozes quality and is a fine-looking camera I think, even coming from the Leica camp (where people think we can only appreciate other Leica cameras)(Not me). The Nikon F5 is very different to a Leica but still built well build.  I would say a Leica is more of a precision tool, which is built to last but needs more care.  I think the Nikon F5 could survive a drop down a flight of stairs and still work (my Nikon F4 survived this and it is less rugged than the F5).

Nikon before Leica (My history with Nikon)

I used digital Nikon cameras before I discovered Leica cameras and owned first a crop sensor Nikon D90, then a full frame Nikon D700 camera and finally a Nikon D800 that I bought on pre-release. It was not until a few years later that I bought my  first Leica, a Leica M9.  Having come from having digital Nikon cameras I still own some very nice Nikon F mount lenses.  I can now use all of these lenses on the Nikon F5 so I’m glad I kept them. I also own two other Nikon film bodies, a Nikon FM and the aforementioned Nikon F4.  I will compare my three Nikon film cameras in a separate article.


Nikon F5 Camera Review

Nikon F5 Review – Top 3 features (for me)

1. Nikon F5 – Well built

As mentioned above it feels like the Nikon F5 is built to last and feels less fragile than a Leica.  (By this I mean the Leica  rangefinder calibration can be knocked out of alignment if easily if the camera is knocked). The Nikon F5 is not a light camera with the camera body alone weighing 1.2kg (without the 8 AA batteries) A Leica M3 bodies weighs less than half that of the F5 at 580g (and it still feels quiet weighty for it’s compact size). The added weight of the Nikon F5 gives a good solid sturdy feel but doesn’t suit packing light for overseas trips and model shoots!

2. Nikon F5 – Fast autofocus

I bought the Nikon F5 specifically as the Nikon F4 auto focus is unusable for moving subjects (for me). The F4 is so slow I missed almost every photo. I can focus a manual focus Leica much faster than the F4 autofocus. In addition to this, I wanted to enjoy using telephoto autofocus lenses on the F5.  One example lens is the Nikkor 180mm f2.8 AFD which I bought in my Leica ‘era’.  Using an SLR camera and long lenses is a different photography experience to using a Leica camera. With a Leica I tend to use shorter focal length lenses, often 21mm-90mm.  My eyesight is not good enough to use a long lens without AF at a distance on an SLR camera so I appreciate the fast auto focusing of the Nikon F5.

3. Nikon F5 – Bright viewfinder

Lastly I enjoy the modern looking big bright viewfinder with focus confirmation. I use manual focus lenses on the Nikon F5 too so it is great to confirm if I have a subject in focus and can see accurately enough with just my eyesight.

So.. Is the Nikon F5 the Best Nikon Film Camera?

The answer is it depends on what camera features are most important to you when you think of the best Nikon film camera.  If for you the smallest lightest Nikon SLR is best then you would prefer the Nikon FM (from the cameras I use).  Perhaps you want your Nikon SLR camera to have autofocus and you mostly photograph static subjects then the Nikon F4 SLR offers autofocus in a smaller lighter camera body (vs the F5).  If however you need a film camera to photograph fast action photography such as motorsport then the Nikon F5 could well be the best Nikon film camera for you.   It is not small nor lightwight but it the Nikon F5 shoots 8fps vs only 4fps for my Nikon F4.  Not only that the Nikon F5 focus seems much advanced that the Nikon F4, focusing faster, hunting less and seems to nail focus regularly.  So for me yes the Nikon F5 is the best Nikon film camera when size is not an issue (even though I shoot portraits, fashion and weddings and not motorsport!).

Nikon vs Leica

I wrote a lot more for this review (over double the length) but it was going off topic comparing Nikon to Leica rather than the F5.  Instead I have cut this post here and will share the less Nikon F5 specific part another time. On to the Nikon F5 photos!

Nikon F5 Flickr photos

*(Click any photo to see the lens/ film used)

B&W Portraits

B&W Film Developing

Nikon F5 Studio Shoot

Nikon F5 Portrait

Voigtlander Ultron 40mm F2 SL II

Kodak Eastman 5222 Double-X

Nikon F5 Camera Review

Tenerife Photoshoot

Nikon F5 B&W Fashion

End of the film

Nikon F5 Colour film

Nikon F5 Camera

Kodak Portra 400 Portrait

Nikon F5 Camera Review – Note

I appreciate you probably didn’t learn anything new from this mini Nikon F5 camera review and I only cover perhaps 1% of the Nikon F5 features. Hopefully the sample images will give a taster of what the Nikon F5 can do using the most basic F5 camera setting.  For me the final image is the reason I buy a camera.

The 2 comparison posts to follow will help cover more of the specifics and will help when deciding between buying a Leica or a Nikon and a Nikon F4 vs Nikon F5 (for example).

Wait! Do you have film?

After reading this article hopefully you are now ready to get out and start shooting!  Have you got film ready to load?  Here are some of my favourite / the best films that I use in the Nikon F5 camera for portraits.

Colour film
Black and white film

More Nikon Blog Posts!

Nikon mount lens reviews

Petzval 85 Art lens (Petzval 85mm Nikon Portraits)

Petzval 85 Art lens (Petzval 85mm Nikon Portraits)


Petzval 85 Art lens review and sample photos/ portraits using a Nikon D800 DSLR camera


Petzval 85 Art Lens – Nikon F Mount

The lovely people at Lomography.com kindly got in touch and lent me their Nikon mount brass Petzval 85 Art lens to try.  Below is a link describing how I got on and here are some example images with Sophie and Charlotte (also included in link).  All photos taken with my old Nikon D800.

..I have to say, the Petzval 85 Art makes Nikon D800 photos interesting so it’s good! (I say that as I struggled to get excited with my Nikon D800 photos on the whole hence my move to film and Leicas).

Petzval 85 Art

Nikon D800 + Petzval 85
Petzval 85 Art
Nikon D800 + Petzval 85 Art Lens Brass
Petzval Bokeh
Nikon D800 + Petzval 85
Nikon D800 + Petzval 85 Art

Petzval 85
Petzval 85 Art Lens
Nikon D800 + Petzval 85
New Petzval 85 Art Lens Brass

Lomography.com Magazine – MrLeica.com

Link – https://www.lomography.com/magazine/323494-matt-osbourne-portraits-with-the-petzval-85

Petzval 85 vs. Other Nikon Mount Fast Lenses

When using the Petzval 85 lens it reminded me of the overly soft photos captured from my Nikkor 50mm f1.2 Ai-s lens when shooting at f1.2. Here are a few examples as a comparison. I think the Petzval 85 is sharper wide open at f2.2 and has ‘better’ bokeh (meaning more character).

Nikkor 50mm f1.2 Ai-s

Nikon D800 Headshot
Alice with Nikkor 50/1.2 AIS
Katie SOOC with 50/1.2 AIS @f1.2

I then thought perhaps the Samyang 85mm f1.4 would be more comparable so here are a few samples. The Samyang 85 is pretty sharp wide open at f1.4 and a great lens but I think again the Petzval 85 lens bokeh has more character.

Samyang 85mm f1.4

2012 REPOST: Nikon D800 + Samyang 85mm f1.4 Fashion
Nikon FM

Petzval 85 vs Leica M Fast Lenses

Finally, as a Leica photographer it seems only right to include a few example photos with fast Leica lenses that are also soft(ish) focus shot wide open.  The obvious lenses that spring to mind that I own are the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1 and Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5.

Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.0 v2

Leica M9 Skin Tones
Leica M9 + Noctilux
Leica M9 + Noctilux
Leica M Typ 240 + Noctilux
Leica Noctilux Bokeh

Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5

Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5
Street Portrait
Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5
Retro Leica