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Thread: Mini review: Tamron 17-50 f2.8 VC

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    Mini review: Tamron 17-50 f2.8 VC

    Well I thought I would try my hand at a little lens review, and that would be one for my new baby, affectionately known as the SP AF17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di-II VC LD Aspherical (IF). It replaces its almost identically identically named precursor, which lacks two important letters, “VC”. And of course I have the Nikon mount version. I picked it up for $750 at ECS (www.cameras.net.au) in person (i.e. no pastage) and it is a local version with Australian warranty.

    Unfortunately I don't have a lot to compare it to – only the Nikon 18-55 3.5-5.6 kit lens. In comparison to that, the Tamron is (a) heavier; (b) bigger (it carries a 72mm filter thread versus 52 on the kit lens); (c) a little slower to focus; and (d) a little noisier.

    BUT it's significantly faster (2.8 all the way) and I think a little bit sharper. It also feels a lot better in the hand, and the build quality seems to be much better. The VC also works a treat and I'm getting keepers hand held at 1/15th.

    The focus ring is quite light, but very smooth. The zoom is significantly heavier, but also silky smooth.

    One little problem I have from time to time, although becoming less frequent (although at the moment about once every session of use) is that the lens' electronics seem to lock up – my D90 reports “f--” and it won't autofocus, meter, or allow me to open the shutter. Turning the camera off and back on sometimes fixes it, however, sometimes I have to give the lens a little turn back and forth (as if I were taking it off the body).

    A little research (i.e. googling “D90 f--”) brings up a whole bunch of hits of what appears to be a loss of contact between the lens from the body, mostly happening with Tamron lenses, but also troubling a range of Nikon lenses. Most accounts seem to back my experience of it happening less and less as you go along and change lenses on your camera a few times.

    Anyway, on to the images. All taken with a D90 at ISO 200.

    The first is 40mm, 1/30th f8.

    The second is 50mm, 1/60th. f.28.

    And the third is at 50mm, 1/50th, f2.8
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Thanks for doing this review, this is one of the lens I am considering buying.

    my D90 reports “f--” and it won't autofocus, meter, or allow me to open the shutter.
    f--- is a bit of a concern

    Your sample images look really sharp and detailed.

    Chris
    Chris

    - Constructive Feedback Appreciated

    My stuff: Nikon D90: 35mm f1.8, 55-200mm f4-5.6G
    Tamron 17-50 f2.8 and a growing collection of other stuff.

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    looks good Tony. My 18-135 does the f--- thing occassionally and all I do is give it a slight wiggle back and forth and it stops. It seems to be the only lens I have that does it. Good review and your shots are nice and sharp. I have just got a s/h one with BIM but no VC. Its nice and fast but I`m still coming to terms with it`s overall performance and how to use it to its full advantage.
    Graeme
    "May the good Lord look down and smile upon your face"......Norman Gunston___________________________________________________
    Nikon: D7000, D80, 12-24 f4, 17-55 f2.8, 18-135, 70-300VR, 35f2, SB 400, SB 600, TC-201 2x converter. Tamron: 90 macro 2.8 Kenko ext. tubes. Photoshop CS2.


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    Thanks Tony .

    Been looking at one of these since they were first released.
    AKA Sean

    Canon 5D MKII - 24-105L - 70-200 F4L IS - 70-300 IS USM - 28 1.8 - 35L 1.4 - 50 1.4 - 85 1.8 - 100L Macro - 200L 2.8II - Tamron 17-35 2.8 - Sigma 150-500 - 430EX - and a stack of other bits and pieces.

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    f--- is a bit of a concern
    In my research, it doesn't seem to be specific to this lens, but rather a range of lenses on the D80 / 90 - as Old Dog's post attests. It was a concern to me but the compromise that I came to was to buy from a local B & M store (which only cost me about $50 more than grey importing) so if I had any issues, I could take it in there - I bought the body there too, so they can't shift the blame on to that :-)

    Its nice and fast but I`m still coming to terms with it`s overall performance and how to use it to its full advantage.
    That is indeed the challenge. It's funny, reading the reviews people occasionally complained about some softness wide open or mis-focussing, but I concluded "user error". When you're wide open and right up in your subject's face, DOF is just a sliver, so technique becomes quite important. A good example there is the third photo I've posted - it looks quite out of focus, however I think I managed to nail the focus point on the right eye, which is razor sharp, even at 100%.

    Your sample images look really sharp and detailed.
    Happy to email some high-res non-compressed shots which are extremely impressive detail wise (still crap shots though) - just PM me.

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    A. P's Culinary Indiscriminant mongo's Avatar
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    Mongo does not think comparing that lens to a 18-55 Nikkor (costing $174) is a relevant comparison. Maybe comparing it to a 17-55 f2.8 Nikkor (albeit at twice the price $1540)) is more apples with apples; at least as far as specs go and forgetting price for the moment for which there are no directly comparable lenses except other 3rd party lenses.

    Having said that, Mongo does not own a 17-55 f2.8 and could in no way say how it would compare performance wise. Certainly, one would expect the f2.8 Tamron to outperform the lesser speced and lesser priced Nikkor 18-55.

    It is however, useful and appreciated that your findings have been made available – it all helps.
    Nikon and Pentax user



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    I'm another who is considering this lense at present but even at $750 it is out of my range so I'm looking second hand. I've read a lot of mixed reviews, some saying that is actually soft at f2.8 and you have to reduce the aperture somewhat for the best results. Seems a bit pointless having a 2.8 and not being able to utilise it's full potential Your third pic seems to have good detail though Tony.
    Attitude is everything!

    Cheers, Paul

    Nikon

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    keen learner of new tricks.
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    Paul...there is one coming up s/h on ebay today...the VC model.

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    point is most lenses are a little softer at their lowest aperture (2.8 or 1.8 or 1.4 depending on the lens) and all become sharper as you raise the f stop (to a certain point).

    I rekon the Tammy looks pretty good at 2.8, mine does anyway, however I don't have the VC version, I only convinced maccaroneski to buy it and hence give myself lens lust and also a large amount of jealousy.
    NIGH -KON

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    Quote Originally Posted by old dog View Post
    Paul...there is one coming up s/h on ebay today...the VC model.
    Cheers O.D.
    I was watching that one but missed the end of the auction. Just checked and it didn't get one bid at a starting price of $550 and it was only two months old?
    I see you've got the previous version for sale yourself. How much difference or loss would you expect from the VC to the non-VC do you think? My budget doesn't even really stretch to $550 at present and like you the Nikon is the one I would like to get eventually.
    Last edited by Paul G; 19-12-2009 at 1:51am.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rogklee View Post
    point is most lenses are a little softer at their lowest aperture (2.8 or 1.8 or 1.4 depending on the lens) and all become sharper as you raise the f stop (to a certain point).

    I rekon the Tammy looks pretty good at 2.8, mine does anyway, however I don't have the VC version, I only convinced maccaroneski to buy it and hence give myself lens lust and also a large amount of jealousy.
    Agreed. I don't have any problem with the image quality at 2.8 - the difference as you open it up is no more than my Nikkor 35mm 1.8.

    There's 2 things about faster lenses, well at least that I have read, and to some extent experienced:

    As Rogklee points out, any lens would appear to get softer at maximum aperture. At least with this lens you get that maximum sharpness at f4 rather than say with the kit lens at f7.

    Secondly I think that as this lens is generally a first excursion into a fast zoom for the hobbyist / beginner, there is something of a learning curve involved in shooting at f2.8 when you haven't had that option before, especially with regard to the thin DOF at closeish working distances.

    I too considered the more expensive Nikkor lens, but thought I'd go with this one and see how far I get with it. If I come up against any limitations (and at my level I don't think I will too soon) in a year's time if I can get $600 for it 2nd hand, then the whole experience will have only cost me $150.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mongo View Post
    Mongo does not think comparing that lens to a 18-55 Nikkor (costing $174) is a relevant comparison...

    It is however, useful and appreciated that your findings have been made available – it all helps.
    It's all I had :-). Rather than really give the lens a good going over (which I don't really have the expertise to do) I was more trying to capture what it was like going from the kit lens to the Tammy - as I thought that's probably the type of user who is going to buy this lens would be doing - and the big question for me really was "what am I going to get for my money " considering that the purchase was an upgrade.

    All in all I'm very happy with my value for money - I'm not so sure if that would have been the case and paid twice the price for even say 10% better performance.

    A great read will be old dog's experience in that regard when he goes from the non-VC Tammy to the Nikkor - looking forward to it.

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    A. P's Culinary Indiscriminant mongo's Avatar
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    The purpose and helpfulness of your exercise was and remains understood and acknowledged.
    "It is however, useful and appreciated that your findings have been made available – it all helps."

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    Thanks Tony - I appreciate your review as I too am considering this lens...decisions decisions!!
    flickr

    C+C welcome and appreciated

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    I too have just purchased this lens, and it this stage i"m not 100% sure on it.

    Now, I'm pretty much starting again with digital, but at this stage it doesn't appear to be anywhere near as sharp as my tamron 70-200.

    Focus isn't as straight forward, but that might just be me and not knowing how to set the focus up properly on the 50D.


    Life's been busy, so I haven't had much of a play at this stage, but I'll post some images when I learn how.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chrisbevan4 View Post
    Thanks for doing this review, this is one of the lens I am considering buying.



    f--- is a bit of a concern



    Chris
    Small update - haven't had this problem for at least a couple of weeks now, and I'm using the lens every day. Perhaps what I read was true - it just needed to be mounted and dismounted a dozen or so times.

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    I got the non VR model for $499 at JB, and I am not 100% with it !

    May well be me be not using it properly!

    But I have taken a few photos and closeups are not as good as my Nikon 55-200 there seems to be a lot of noise with the Tamron 17-50.

    I will take some more photo's in different situations and see how it goes,

    I did get it, to use as a walk around-portrait lens so close up comparison
    is not a good/fair test of what I wanted to use it for.

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    Chris,

    I did feel the same way with regard to my 55-200... I think that there is something of a learning curve though, especially with the smaller DOF at say f2.8 on a closeup.

    Maybe post some images of the noise you're referring to?

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    Quote Originally Posted by old dog View Post
    looks good Tony. My 18-135 does the f--- thing occassionally and all I do is give it a slight wiggle back and forth and it stops. It seems to be the only lens I have that does it. Good review and your shots are nice and sharp. I have just got a s/h one with BIM but no VC. Its nice and fast but I`m still coming to terms with it`s overall performance and how to use it to its full advantage.
    Sounds like the contacts are a bit dirty. Maybe try cleaning them with alcohol?
    . .
    The more I learn the less I know !

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    Quote Originally Posted by maccaroneski View Post
    Chris,

    I did feel the same way with regard to my 55-200... I think that there is something of a learning curve though, especially with the smaller DOF at say f2.8 on a closeup.

    Maybe post some images of the noise you're referring to?
    I have taken a few images, but I think I'll do a fair and equal test
    and will use tripod and remote a try to get the best I can from both lens of the same thing to see for sure. May not get time until the weekend.

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