Tamron 45mm Review - Portrait of a GIrl B&W

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).

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