Tamron expedition to elves and trolls

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Tamron SP 35 mm and SP 45 mm Practice report by Martin Krolop

Tamron expedition to elves and trolls

When it comes to new photographic techniques, Martin Krolop is not far away. The photo blogger from Cologne was one of the world's first photographers, who could test Tamron’s new SP objectives in practice. For 14 days, he travelled with them in the legendary wilderness of Iceland.

Tamron’s new SP objectives have been developed especially for high-resolution cameras. This is an advantage with the Icelandic landscape panoramic views, which profit from the high resolution and the excellent detail reproduction.

Adventurous gravel roads, short nights and breathtaking photo opportunities in abundance. This unusual expedition on the island of elves and trolls can thus probably be summed up best. "It was a great honour for us, when Tamron asked if we wanted to try the two SP lenses in action before the actual launch", says Martin Krolop. The German blogger was the second professional photographer worldwide, to whom the two brand new SP 35 mm and SP 45 mm were made available. "This is of course a great feeling to have such a unique opportunity", he says, " and we could hardly wait to take photos with the objectives".

To test the first two representatives of the completely revamped SP series, Martin Krolop did not drive into the lab, but to Iceland. He spent 14 days with his team on the island - and had, between geysers and waterfalls more than ample opportunity to put the new lenses through their paces under extreme practice conditions.

Martin Krolop tested the new SP objectives on Iceland.

Practice test in the wilderness

"Iceland was really no mean feat for the two objectives. In contrast to a laboratory, we used the objectives there under really wild conditions”, says Krolop. And almost around the clock during the Icelandic summer. "The sun in Iceland sets exactly about one a.m. and rises again at 3 a.m. We realised quickly that the best time to take pictures is from eight p.m. in the evening to five a.m. in the morning. We had to change our rhythm: sleep during the day, take pictures at night".

When he received the first information about the objectives which were still confidential at that time, he was not quite sure why Tamron had chosen rather unspectacular focal lengths. "I thought, 35 mm and 45 mm, what is the point? And why ‘just' f1.8 "? It would not take long until he had the answers to these questions.

"By now I'm sure that Tamron will have very great success with these two objectives for Canon, Nikon and Sony DSLR", which was Krolop’s first test result during the tour in Iceland. "With a current street price well below the recommended retail price of 1,099 Euros, I am sure that these cool objectives will be an enormous hit".

Perfect balance of weight and performance

In his blog, Krolop reported extensively about his experiences with the new SP objectives. „“Tamron has created the ultimate fixed focal lengths here: the perfect balance of a low weight, high light intensity and current features such as an image stabiliser and excellent imaging quality.“

“The construction of objectives is always a balancing act “, explains Krolop in the test report erläutert Krolop im Testbericht. The larger the aperture opening, the more glass would have to be installed, and the more heavy the objective would become. In addition, the risk of optical image errors would increase with the light intensity, which are difficult to avoid with an extremely large aperture opening.

The photographer lifts off: Martin Krolop in a helicopter above Iceland.

Maximum focus with an open aperture

Here, Martin Krolop exactly indicates the goal that Tamron's engineers had set when redesigning the SP series: They wanted to construct compact, light-intensive fixed focal lengths with best imaging properties, which already achieve maximum focusing performance with a full aperture f1.8. "What will a f1.2 objective bring, that can only really be used from f1.4? Or why should one construct f1.4 when the optical performance is only fully satisfactory, for example, from f2.0? "

Did Tamron reach the self-imposed target according to Martin Krolop? "Definitely, yes," the experienced photo blogger confirms. "In short: the new Tamron SP objectives are incredibly sharp and again beat the optical quality of the already excellent Tamron SP 15-30mm." Weighing in at 450 grams (SP 35 mm Nikon) and 520 grams (SP 45mm Nikon) and a length of less than ten centimetres, they are also pleasantly light and compact for their high performance class.

The shots that Martin Krolop has made on Iceland with the SP 35 mm and SP 45 mm, testify the optical quality and the first class technology of the new SP series. Here are a few examples, by means of which the top features of the objectives can be described well:

High resolution

The optical structure of the new SP objectives reflects the extremely high optical requirements. In both of these, special glasses such as aspherical lenses and low scattering LD elements are used to correct distortion and chromatic aberrations. The optical design of the SP 35 mm consists of 10 elements in 9 groups, including two aspherical lenses and an LD element (Low Dispersion) and an XLD element (Extra Low Dispersion). With SP 45 mm, it is 10 elements in 8 groups, including two aspherical lenses and an LD element. In this aerial view, which was taken during a helicopter flight of about 60 meters in height, the details in the waves and the rocks are still very easy to spot.

Shot details: SP 45 mm, 1/3.200 s, f 5,6, ISO 400

Excellent compensation

The glass elements built into the SP objectives are provided with two different special coatings: eBand (Extended Bandwidth & Angular Dependency) and BBAR (Broadband Anti-Reflection) ensure excellent anti-reflective properties and thus a high brilliance. Thereby, you can for example photograph against the sun, which knowingly never sets in the Icelandic summer - without annoying flare or stray light ruining the image result. The following shots where Martin Krolop virtually photographed into the low-lying midnight sun, impressively demonstrate this feature. Despite the glaring light, the images are crystal clear and rich in contrast.

Shot details: SP 45 mm, 1/400 s, f 3.2, ISO 100

High light intensity

The aircraft wreckage on the beach at Sólheimarsandur is an attraction and is often besieged by tourists during the day. Martin Krolop decided therefore, to photograph there late in the evening. The image of the model was created with the SP 35 mm at night twilight. With maximum aperture f1.8, short shutter speeds and thus sharp shots were possible even with low light. During the shot, there was additional support by the image stabilisation.

Aufnahme-Details: SP 35 mm, 1/100 s, f 1,8, ISO 2.500

EA high light intensity always means a beautiful Bokeh. With the aperture f 1,8, the background has a gentle fuzziness.

Shot details: SP 45 mm, 1/1600 s, f 1.8, ISO 100

Short shooting distance

Both SP lenses offer an extremely short shooting distance. With the SP 35 mm, one can still focus even from only 20 centimetres, with the SP 45 mm it is hardly more with 29 centimetres hardly. The result are stunning close-up shots with a high depth effect. Here, Martin Krolop has focused from close-up on the small flowers in the foreground. By means of the relatively large field of view, the environment and the entire background can be integrated in the image layout.

Shot details: SP 35 mm, 1/60 s, f 4, ISO 400

Image stabilisation

This is a novelty in a standard fixed focal length objective: Both the SP 35 mm and the SP 45 mm have a VC image stabiliser (VC stands for Vibration Control). A movably mounted lens group driven by gyro sensors largely contributes to the fact that the performance of professional DSLRs can be realised fully. Especially high-resolution sensors are highly susceptible to camera shake - with the image stabiliser even finest vibrations can be compensated effectively. Even taking pictures from hand with relatively long shutter speed is possible with the new SP objectives. The following picture was taken with the SP 35 mm at ISO 200, maximum aperture and 1/25 second.

Shot details: SP 35 mm, 1/25 s, f 1,8, ISO 200

Further Features

Both SP objectives include a comprehensive weather protection. The metal housing and the bayonet connection are sealed against the ingress of moisture. Undeterred by the harsh forces of nature, Martin Krolop could carry on working with them in Iceland. "It's a good feeling not having to automatically pack the camera away during a rain shower or splashing. I have missed this in other fixed focal lengths up to now." The front lens is also provided with a resistant flour compensation, which simply lets the water and dirt roll off. The fast and thorough cleaning of the glasses during the shooting is facilitated considerably thereby.

Martin Krolop in the outdoor action in the Icelandic wilderness.

One question remains: why the two focal lengths of 35 mm and 45 mm? “Both are relative close together in practice“ Krolop says. “However, the difference is clear: 35 mm is clearly a wide angle, while 45 mm rather acts like a 50 mm normal focal length”. Additionally, Tamron wanted to offer a comparable experience to full frame and also to APS-C photographers. With the smaller sensor, the effective focal length of the SP 35 mm approximately corresponds to one of a 50 mm standard objective.

Incidentally, Martin Krolop has kept an Online-Tagebuch about his experiences during his 14 day trip .

There, the professional photographer talked about unique natural wonders on every day during the trip and gives tips for your own photo trip to the legendary island. Many of the pictures were already taken with the SP 35 mm and the SP 45 mm. The blogger however still kept quiet about the existence of the two Tamron objectives. At that time, the new SP series was one of the best kept secrets of Tamron ...

All photos: Krolop & Gerst Photography, Cologne

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