Ensuring smooth operation of lenses and the availability of the latest features requires regular firmware updates. Until recently, we were dependent on two basic paths - either performing updates through the camera or an external console. Both solutions are functional, but not entirely user-friendly.
Tamron took a fresh approach to firmware updates by integrating a USB-C connector into the bodies of their new lenses, allowing direct connection to your computer. With the help of the Tamron Lens Utility application (available for both Windows and MacOS), you can now easily perform updates and configure advanced lens functions in the comfort of your home.
A simple solution for connecting your lens to the computer through the USB-C interface.
In late November of last year, Tamron also introduced a version for mobile phones, Tamron Lens Utility Mobile, which allows you to reconfigure the lens's programmable buttons even in the field (unfortunately, it is currently only available for Android users).
List of Tamron Lens Utility compatible lenses with an integrated USB-C connector:
Tamron 28-75mm F/2.8 Di III VXD G2 - E-mount
Tamron 50-400mm F/4.5-6.3 Di III VC VXD - E-mount
Tamron 70-300mm F/4.5-6.3 Di III RXD - Z mount
Let's take a closer look at the application. After connecting the lens and launching the Tamron Lens Utility, we get a clear menu where the first step is to check our firmware version by choosing the "Firmware version" option. Each update can bring new features and improvements (e.g., faster autofocus, compatibility with newer cameras, etc.), which were not available in the previous version.
Especially in the initial phase of getting acquainted with the application, the most interesting option will be the "Function list". Under this option, you can find a list of all supported settings, along with a brief explanation of what each setting means.
Available settings vary depending on the connected lens. For example, the Tamron 20-40mm F/2.8 Di III VXD allows us to "only" change the direction of the focus ring rotation and set the manual focusing method by choosing MF Method. The default value is non-linear focusing, i.e., focusing that takes into account not only the angle of rotation of the focusing ring but also the speed of its rotation. The faster we rotate the ring, the greater the shift of the focusing elements and, therefore, the greater the refocusing. On the other hand, there is the linear focusing method, where the algorithm ignores the speed of rotation of the focusing ring and only takes into account the range of its rotation angle. With the same rotation distance of the focusing ring, the optics will always focus identically, regardless of the rotation speed.
For the linear focus method, you can also set the rotation angle range, i.e., the length of the focus ring travel. For precise but slower focusing, you can choose a larger angle, such as a full 360°. On the other hand, for quick refocus from minimum distance to infinity, you can select a smaller angle, like 90°.
Personally, I have non-linear focus set for photography and linear focus for video, where precise, repeatable focus changes are needed.
Compared to the “limited” customization options of the aforementioned 20-40mm F/2.8, the Tamron 35-150mm F/2-2.8 Di III VXD offers a diverse range of useful settings. Particularly interesting are the programmable buttons, which have several options to choose from (again, depending on the connected lens):
Assign function from the camera - allows you to assign a camera function to a button (e.g., switching between APS-C/Full Frame mode).
Select AF/MF - switches between autofocus and manual focus (2 options, you will switch either by pressing or by pressing and holding the button for 1 second, to prevent unintentional switching).
Focus Limiter - allows you to set a minimum focusing distance and focus range (e.g., when shooting a sports event and you know that everything beyond 3 meters from you will be in focus, adjusting the focus range will enable faster autofocus, as the lens will ignore anything in the foreground within 3 meters).
Focus Preset - allows you set a specific focusing distance. After refocusing, just press the programmed lens button to return to the original position. For example, you can set the focusing distance for astrophotography. Once we perfectly focus on the stars and save the setting as a Focus Preset, we don't have to repeat the process in the future and we can simply recall our setting with one click. For video, you can also set the focus transition speed here.
A-B Focus - allows you to set 2 focusing points (A and B) and smoothly switch between them by pressing the programmed button. Again, you can set the focus transition speed here.
Ring Function (Focus/Aperture) - this option allows you to switch the function of the focus ring to control the aperture.
Clear Settings - clears all previous settings for the specific button.
Furthermore, you can save individual settings as unique presets - Save Current Settings - and recall them as needed with Load Settings. This way, you can easily create different settings for photo or video modes, even while in the field, using the Tamron Lens Utility Mobile app.
As mentioned above, users of iOS devices are at a disadvantage, as the mobile feature is currently prohibited and limited to the desktop version. The probable culprit is the absence of a USB-C port on Apple phones. However, given the recently approved unification of mobile phone ports, it can be expected that Tamron will focus on this segment in the future.
Until next time,
Link to download Tamron Lens Utility: