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Tamron 35-150mm f/2.8-4 Di VC OSD test: one lens, job done

Tamron designed its 35-150mm f/2.8-4 Di VC OSD specifically as the ultimate portrait lens, so in one optic you can shoot full-length, head and shoulders, and headshot photographs. PN’s editor took the lens – winner of Best Superzoom lens in the Photography News 2019 Awards – out to explore the potential for himself.


One lens for all your people photography needs is a compelling proposition, and that’s exactly what the Tamron 35-150mm f/2.8-4 Di VC OSD is designed for. Teamed up with the 17-35mm f/2.8-4 Di OSD (which we cover here) the combination is capable of tackling most photographic subjects. It’s portable, too, the pair weighing just 1250g in total.

I used the Tamron 35-150mm f/2.8-4 Di VC OSD for a home portrait shoot. My model for the session was Natasha Oliver ( and the idea was to shoot everything by natural light and rely on the lens’s VC (Vibration Compensation) mechanism to help me get sharp shots when the light levels dropped.

I started with some general shots showing Natasha in the environment, and the 35mm setting was ideal for this. The 35mm is such a great focal length and often underestimated for its all-round skills. You can shoot flattering pictures of groups, capture full-length shots without having to retreat too far with a natural perspective, and it has enough coverage to include some of the subject’s surroundings.

Tamron 35-150mm f/2.8-4 Di VC OSD test shot
Going from full length to full face without having to alter shooting distance is a huge benefit of the 35-150mm f/2.8-4 Di VC OSD, and enables a smooth flow to portrait shoots. Optical quality, even at the wide apertures, is also very impressive.

Natasha was perched on a stool, and I started with the 35mm setting and shooting around her, going from full length to head-filling shots without impinging on my subject’s space – and all with a perspective that is totally flattering.

The light was good, with the low sun streaming in through the window, and my camera settings were 1/60sec at f/5.6 and ISO 200 – I had the lens on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV – so comfortable for safe hand-holding. When I zoomed into 85mm and 150mm for head and shoulders and full-face shots, I opened the lens to its widest aperture, firstly to ensure my shutter speed stayed high but also to keep depth-of-field shallow. Select a wide lens aperture, move in close and there’s the chance to exploit the lens’s bokeh potential, which is creamy and round thanks to the lens’s nine-blade diaphragm. In my shots, I was getting Natasha’s eyes pin-sharp and focus fell away quickly, giving a lovely effect.

I had the camera set to its AF point expansion setting that uses five AF points, and this I moved around with the focus lever to be over Natasha’s eye. The Tamron’s OSD AF motor was so smooth and quiet that I didn’t even notice it, but I did see that the AF system dealt with the situation very well indeed.

Tamron 35-150mm f/2.8-4 Di VC OSD test shot

A quick outfit change and I opted to enjoy the now very low and intense sun streaming into the room. I had Natasha sitting on the floor with the sun backlighting her hair, and I shot towards the light, with some much-needed fill-in provided by a fold-up reflector. Tamron’s BBAR coating helped to deliver flare-free shots even in this high-contrast situation.

The third change was Natasha in a black pullover. With her blonde hair and the white walls, I thought this would give a lovely contrast – and so it proved.

By now it was late in the afternoon and the sun was dropping into low cloud so the lighting was changing constantly, with levels being quite low at times. On occasion my shutter speed was dipping as low as 1/15sec, even with the lens wide open. This is when I had to rely on the lens’s VC system to help me get pin-sharp hand-held shots, especially as I was still trying to utilise the lens’s wide range of focal lengths. However, I could see I was getting lovely results even at the telephoto settings.

I thought the Tamron 35-150mm F/2.8-4 Di VC OSD performed really well during this simple daylight shoot. The lens’s wide range enabled me to get a great collection of shots, and its VC skills gave me the freedom to shoot hand-held shots as the light levels fell. It’s a seriously impressive, very capable lens.

For more information, please visit the Tamron website.

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