Tamron, like the rest of the third-party lens brigade, produces a whole wealth of quality prime lenses that are not just affordable, but also come with top quality optics. In today’s roundup, we will be looking at the best Tamron prime lenses under $500, which can still buy you a good lens for professional applications or even for occasional use.
However, just like a dangling carrot, there will always be examples of lenses just out of budget range to tempt you in. But Tamron just so happens to have a good selection of high-quality optics that provide all the sharp characteristics you need from a high-quality prime in this price range. In other words, when a budget seems restrictive, the lens choices don’t have to be.
This lens may not be the latest iteration of the Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro, but it does mean it comes within our budget with still very capable optics.
The SP AF 90mm f/2.8 Di Macro features a total optical design of 10 elements arranged in nine groups, with the macro side of things offering a true life 1:1 reproduction ratio and a close focusing distance of 28.96cm. The f/2.8 aperture works great in low light and goes a long way to provide quality bokeh for punching out the subject from the background.
As a macro lens, the SP 90mm provides plenty of detail where it counts but will need a sturdy tripod for the sharpest of images. The lens works in regular mode, is extremely sharp for the price, and provides just the right amount of compression for half-body portraits.
This is a type of lens you would buy into if you want a nice mix between a good portrait lens and a macro solution.
Unfortunately, Tamron has shoved its standard 50mm lenses into a higher price bracket. But if you actually prefer a 35mm focal length, then the 35mm f/2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 has loads of optical quality, with the added ability to capture very small subject matter.
The internal lens arrangement of nine elements in eight groups benefits from one LD and one molded glass aspherical element. Plus, it has BBAR coatings on all lens elements to suppress reflections, lens flare, and ghosting. As a macro shooter, the lens offers a 1:2 magnification and a 14.99cm close focusing distance. The whole package is wrapped around a moisture-resistant lens barrel, with a fluorine coating on the front element to repel dust and dirt.
Although the autofocus system may be slow at times, the lens excels in every other department, providing tack sharpness from f/2.8 with very neutral colors and plenty of contrast. Considering its price point, the Tamron 35mm f/2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 gives other 35mm primes a good run for their money.
If you’re lucky enough to be on the Sony platform, the Tamron 24mm f/2.8 Di III OSD M1:2 provides relatively wide-angle views, with a very useful macro mode. Just like the 35mm lens above, it features a 1:2 maximum magnification, which is half life-size, with a very close focusing distance of 11.94cm.
The 24mm follows largely the same optical make-up as the Tamron 35mm, with the sharpest results coming in from f/5.6 and above. The main takeaway with this lens is that it’s an excellent 24mm prime for the money. And while it’s aperture may not go as wide as other 24mm primes, it delivers wonderful optical quality in this budget range.
5. Tamron 20mm f/2.8 Di III OSD M 1:2 (Budget Winner)
Sony users seem to have all the fun in this price bracket. So, if you’ve already landed a Sony camera or want to jump ship, the 20mm f/2.8 Di III OSD M 1:2 is an impressive wide-angle lens for the money.
This lens features three LD and one molded glass aspherical elements, with a BBAR coating applied to each to improve overall image clarity. The lens also doubles up as a macro shooter offering a half life-size 1:2 reproduction and a very close focusing distance of 10.92cm. The lens is also extremely lightweight at only 221g, which makes it a good travel solution.
While this lens is a good macro shooter, it’s by no means a low-quality option. It’s a good, cheap lens, more worthwhile as a wide-angle prime, with plenty of sharpness in the center of the frame at f/2.8 and excellent sharpness across the frame from f/4-f/11. The focusing ring is also large and smooth to turn, which will benefit those who need manual focusing.
Tamron Prime Lenses Under $500 to Up Your Game
Each of the options here falls under our budget of $500 and the list covers some very useful focal lengths. As with any lens choice, the ultimate decision will come down to your own personal needs and your favorite subject matter.
The SP 45mm is an almost a one-stop shop for rounded facilities. But the 90mm provides a longer reach, tipping into the short telephoto zone and offers a good focal length for portrait shots.