Tamron is a leading optics manufacturer whose lenses are compatible with major camera brands. Their recently updated lineup of SP series lenses includes the SP 70-200mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 (Model A025), a telephoto zoom; and the SP 85mm f/1.8 Di VC USD (Model F016), a prime telephoto lens.
Tamron Image Master Hernan Rodriguez uses these as his primary lenses to shoot his high-end portraiture and fashion photography. He began his career as an illustrator/graphic designer and portrait painter before adding photography to his resume. “My photography stems from years of art,” he says. “I look at the structure of someone’s face and isolate the best angles.” He infuses his images with color for energy and mood while making his subjects feel comfortable in front of the camera. “There’s always some sort of communication between the person and myself,” he explains.
Rodriguez has photographed notable subjects in music and entertainment, such as Mario Reyes from the Gipsy Kings, as well as sports figures like Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali. His artistic approach to photography has earned him numerous awards, and he has art-directed and photographed advertising campaigns for Guess, Corona and American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) Pro Racing. His photography was featured in the book 75 Portraits by Hernan Rodriguez (Amherst Media, 2012).
Rodriguez has observed an evolution in the Tamron product line over the past 10 years that he’s used their lenses. “They have really risen to a professional quality. With the type of work I do, I can’t compromise,” he remarks. “Tamron is also the best company to deal with in terms of customer service.”
SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 (Model A025)
Tamron 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 (Model A025)
“What I like best about this lens is that it gives me many options,” Rodriguez says. “The 70mm focal length allows me to get a full-body shot and a little of the environment. If I see a great expression on the person’s face, I will zoom in to 200mm, and I can do this with just one lens.”
He also appreciates the lens’s extremely sharp resolution. Because he’s working with such important clientele, he can’t risk capturing out-of-focus images. The SP 70-200mm F/2.8 lens incorporates Tamron’s exclusive triaxial image stabilization called Vibration Compensation (VC). “With a heavy zoom lens, you run the risk of getting images that aren’t sharp,” he notes. “This VC feature allows me to shoot at 1/30 second at a five-stop range.” VC image stabilization is especially important because tripod use isn’t practical in his fast-paced work. “I may only have five to ten minutes with a celebrity, and I have to get the shot quickly.”
“Whether it’s a painting or a photograph, it’s all about the subject,” Rodriguez states. “You get rid of distractions and make the portrait all about the expression, the face.” The SP 70-200mm F/2.8 also takes him back to his painting days because of the shallow depth of field he gets with a wide aperture of F/2.8 combined with a long focal length. “I can zoom in at 200mm and avoid distractions.”
The lens’s minimum focusing (or object) distance (MOD) has been reduced from its predecessor’s 50.7 inches to just 37.4 inches in the new model A025, allowing for more effective closeups. The new SP 70-200mm F/2.8 also offers moisture-proof and dust-resistant construction, making it ideal for outdoor photography. A fluorine coating on the front surface of the lens element makes it water- and oil-repellent, and easy to clean.
The SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 (Model A025) is available for Canon and Nikon mounts for $1299.00.
SP 85mm F/1.8 Di VC USD (Model F016)
Tamron SP 85mm F/1.8 Di VC USD (Model F016)
Rodriguez uses this lens primarily for environmental portraiture, such as when he photographed professional boxer Evander Holyfield in a hotel lobby. “The SP 85mm F/1.8 lens allows me to minimize the background, and I get beautiful bokeh with a wide aperture,” he remarks. “It also creates beautiful circles of light in the background.” He calls these out-of-focus lights “hot spots,” and he positions his subject in front of them. “These lights can be caused by a hotel lamp or a car’s headlights, and they create separation between my subject and the background. They can also provide a hair or background light.” The lens’s wide aperture allows him to use fast shutter speeds and to focus easily in lowlight situations. “When I want to get only the eyes in sharp focus, I use the aperture setting of f/1.8.”
“This lens also keeps everything true to perspective,” Rodriguez adds. “It doesn’t distort features.” A salient feature of telephoto lenses is that they often compress a scene, causing the background to appear as if it’s on the same plane with the subject, but he doesn’t find this to be the case with the SP 85mm F/1.8 lens. On the other hand, he says, “I use the SP 70-200mm lens when I want to draw the background closer to the subject.” The SP 85mm F/1.8 also offers VC, which enables photographers to get sharp images when hand-holding their cameras, even in dim lighting.
The SP 85mm F/1.8 Di VC USD (Model F016) is compatible with Canon, Nikon and Sony mounts and is available for $749.00.
“I’m very intuitive and know which lens I want to use,” Rodriguez notes. “It’s dictated by my subject and the feeling I want to get from the portrait, as well as the scenario and location.”