Tamron 17-50 how good compared to L's

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by tdigi, Sep 23, 2008.

  1. I have a 24-105 and 70-200 2.8 I would like to get something wider and I would prefer a 2.8 zoom that is not very expensive so the Tamron
    comes to mind. I used to have the Tamron 28-75 2.8 which I really liked a lot but I moved to Canon L lenses and now I feel that I may be
    spoiled with the focus speed of the Ls. I do remember my Tamron hunting somewhat often but the photo quality being very good.

    Would the Tamron be a good choice? I need something just a little wider then what I have and I do like that the 17-50 is small light and 2.8
    and will make a nice lens to keep on my 40D when I do move to a full frame body ( I will keep the 40D )
  2. Is it really comparable? I mean - the Tamron lens is only usable on crop cameras while the canon L lenses are for full frame as well. It makes more sense to compare the Tamron to the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 USM IS in my opinion.
  3. On my D300, I had the older version, w/o motor. A pretty good alternative to the Nikkor 17-55. Focus was pretty quick and it didn't stutter and jitter like my Sigmas did. Sharpness was very good, contrast not bad, but color was different. Not in a bad way, but different. I had a 28-75 as well and the two compared pretty evenly. If I remember correctly. :)
  4. I wouldn't buy one. Although it's pretty sharp it has big chromatic aberrations and AF motor is very loud. Canon's 17-55 IS USM is a lot better and it's also f/2.8.
  5. I know the 17-55 is a very good lens but I am looking to keep it more affordable since I will mostly use this with a 40D
    when I want to travel light and still have fast glass.

    I considered a 17-40 or an old 16-35 M1 if I can find one or even a Sigma 17-70.
  6. Tommy, I own the Tamron (40D also) and am very pleased with it. IMHO it compares well with L lenses, I have a 70-
    200 2.8 and a 400 5.6, when you shuffle the pics together I doubt anyone could pick out what came from what lens.
    The focus motor is a bit loud, I don't really know why that bothers some people but it has never been an issue for
    me. I don't know why someone suggested you compare them to only APS-C lenses, IQ is comparable no matter
    what the source is. Chromatic abberations? Never noticed any, and photozone tested it and its only a bit high at
    17mm 2.8, again, never an issue in any photos I've taken. Check here http://www.photozone.de/canon-eos/289-
    tamron-af-17-50mm-f28-sp-xr-di-ii-ld-aspherical-if-canon-test-report--review for Photozones test. Check here
    CameraComp=0&FLIComp=0&APIComp=0&Lens=398&Camera=396&Sample=0&FLI=0&API=0&LensComp=400 for
    a resolution chart comparison from Digital Picture. I've also posted a sample for you to check out.

    [oversize image deleted - downsize before posting]
  7. The Tamron is a fine lens. It doesn't focus silently like a canon USM lens, but it's not excessively sluggish in
    focusing speed. Optically the lens is quite good, but be aware of significant sample variation. CA (chromatic
    aberration) only becomes noticeable at wide-angle (17mm) with the lens set to a large aperture.

    For the price (only $400 from Amazon), it's hard to beat this lens. Tamron offers a five-year warranty, which is
    impressive for such an inexpensive lens.
  8. My Tamron 17-50 is very sharp. Although I don't have an L lens within the range to compare to, it's probably as sharp. c/a are nothing to worry about, and when present they are easily corrected. Distortions are about average for a standard zoom and needs correction at times. There's some vignetting at f/2.8 at both the long and short end of the zoom range, again easily corrected when you shoot RAW.

    What distinguishes L lenses from non-L lenses are not only things that are easily quantified and shown on charts and graphs in lens test reports. Color and contrast of this lens are good, substantially better than most consumer zooms, but not quite as good as a nice prime or a 70-200 L. Bokeh is not very good, very doughnut-like with light piled up at the edges. But then again this is not a thin-dof lens like a 70-200, bokeh only really shows at close focusing distances, 50 mm f/2.8. This is stretching things. If you want to take headshots at 50/2.8 either use a different lens or avoid busy background. Flare resistance is excellent, on par with L glass IMO.

    Build quality is very good, but not quite L. I've backpacked with this lens for 6+ months though humid tropical jungle, windy beaches, etc. and it has held up very well. Will this lens still be in my bag 20 years from now, as an L lens would? Maybe, but probably not. At $400 that's but a big concern to me. I like the rubberized rings and MF is very workable. AF is loud but does the job. It's black, small, and unobtrusive.

    So is it an L lens? No. If you want a red stripe on the barrel you'll need to look elsewhere. But it is versatile, very sharp, and allows you to take great photos. I've enlarged to 13"19" and the photos are tack sharp, corner to corner.
  9. Image quality is comparable to L lenses. With film, there could be a difference in color rendition, but with digital, this is moot. I use one with my 20D to shoot weddings, and I use the 28-75mm on my 5D. On the latter, f2.8 at the long end of the lens is just very slightly less sharp than everything else (which is very sharp), but sharpens up nicely in post--to the point where you couldn't tell the difference. On image quality alone, I would not hesitate.

    The other factors--build, focus accuracy, speed, and noise, and the fact that the zoom ring turns opposite from Canon zooms--are up to you whether they matter. None of them bother me. Build quality has not been an issue at all, and I don't miss any shots due to focus speed. The focus noise doesn't bother me at all, neither does the zoom ring.

    Here's an interesting bit of information for you. When the camera (not the lens) decides to misfocus--the famous back focus problem--a Tamron lens will front focus while Canon lenses back focus.
  10. The focus motor is a bit loud, I don't really know why that bothers some people but it has never been an issue for me.

    It sounds like an engine of a tank of II world war. If I were hiring a photographer on an event I wouldn't like him to use this lens :)
  11. I don't know Michael, I used the 11-18 and the 28-75 and they where not that loud. I have used many Nikon lenses that are
    much louder then Canons and I don't see that as a problem.

    Anyway in my case this will be used as a general walk around lens.
  12. Tommy,

    I've enjoyed the heck out of my 17-50. It is sharper than the Canon 17-40 I had (which was stolen), but distortion is the one thing I find myself correcting in Photoshop more than I did with the Canon. Anyway, here's a link to about 400 travel shots I took recently, mostly with the Tamron:


    Password is pineapple (I'm too lazy to remove it).

    These are just family travel shots (little time for bracketing, tripod, etc.) with a modest level of post-processing, but I hope they will give you a "real world" feel for the lens. There are a mix of other lenses in there (11-16, 70-200, 85, 135, 400), so hover over a photo and click the "Photo Info" icon to be sure.
  13. I recently picked up the Sigma 17-70 and so far I am very happy with it. I do not find the AF motor to be loud at all and image quality and color/contrast has been great. All in all I really like this lens, I was torn between this lens and the tammy and I am glad for the extra 20mm reach it gives.
  14. I've grown very weary of reviewers claiming the Tamron AF sounds like a chainsaw.
    The AF on my Tamron 17-35 is very quiet. Even in a quiet room you can't hear it more than a few feet away. It is immensely less loud than the mirror clatter of an SLR, so these lenses should be completely acceptable at any venue which can be photographed with an SLR at all.
    Ok, vented now. Thanks for your time.
  15. What does this tell you ?

    Yes, its a bit noisier than Canon USM lenses, but people fuss too much about that ... these are not musical instruments! At 2.8 I could barely differentiate between this and my 50/1.8 and certainly not in prints. Great walk-around lens, no regret that I bought it.
  16. i had the 17-50 2.8 and I was pretty happy with it. I will say it was loud, and tended to hunt a little, but i was ok with it. However, there's simply no comparing it to the Ls
  17. >I've grown very weary of reviewers claiming the Tamron AF sounds like a chainsaw<

    Totally agree with you Alan :)

    >>It sounds like an engine of a tank of II world war. If I were hiring a photographer on an event I wouldn't like him to use this lens :)<<

    What a load of BS..In 4 decades have never been knocked back from any event because my Hassy`s clunk, flashes whirl, or lens has a focus squeal and I doubt anyone here has either, the only place I`ve ever heard wanted total silence was government sittings (romper room) where Leica was exepted. We do events for a living and the Tamron 17 50 f2.8 lives on the workhorse ( 40d ) it does a better job for us than the 17 40 L.. Time to grow up M I`II:)
  18. BTW Tommy, only downside has been to keep fingers clear of the focus ring, as it turns during AF. Not sure if 28 75 the same. the AF motor on mine is quite quiet in one direction and a lil louder the other, certainly a lot quieter than my EF 135 SF :)
  19. I was contemplating to get either the Canon 17-55 F2.8 or 17-40 F4L about 2 months ago.

    I finally chose neither, and got the Tamron instead because of its competetive and low price, and good technical data/reviews from Photozone.

    I never regretted it. The pictures are much sharper than I expected, and I love the size of the lens. The money that I saved is now going towards the new 50D.
  20. Tho Michael, you did not say you would Not hire the photographer ? just the gross exageration of noise I objected to :)
  21. The Tamron is the best bang-for-the-buck among 2.8 zooms.
  22. I understand the situation you're in. I recently upgraded to a FF sensor and some expensive L lenses. But now I find myself with limited funds but still a need for a wide angle lens. I looked at the Tamron line of lenses as you have. I've seen favorable reviews on the 17-50 and the 17-35 Tamrons. If I were you, I would go for the Tamron 17-35 since this is the only one that can mount on a FF camera like the 5D (since you mentioned you're moving toward a FF soon). The 17-50 is not compatible with a FF camera.

  23. Not a bad idea to get a 17-35 but I think the 17-50 is a bit better and I dont really like variable aperture. I wont dump my
    40D when I go ff so while I prefer it work on both cameras but I can live with 1 lens thats only for the 40D. The only thing
    nice about a 17-40 is that it will be a nice ultra wide on full frame but not as useful on my 40D and that is what I own

    I also like the 40D with the Tamron when I want to travel light and in places where I don't want really expensive gear and
    just like the many lenses I have sold in the past I can sell this one down the road as well if needs be.

    Thanks for all the feedback everyone.
  24. I recently purchased one and have given it a pretty good work out over the last 3 months. For the money it is a good buy. Sharpness is good, I have to look at the EXIF data to tell which was taken with the 50 1.8 or the Tamron zoom. Looking closely, the 50mm 1.8 is a touch sharper but there's not much in it. I don't notice the focussing noise but because of the way I support my camera I often feel the focussing ring spin under my fingures. The colours seem more vivid, as if it has a touch of a polarising element in it, but this might be because with a wide angle I get a bit more sky in my shots. I haven't had any focussing problems, but haven't done any testing either. With the 50 1.8 I'm used to hearing the AF give a bump each time I AF, but the Tamron stays silent, even though the distance changes slightly, but this doesn't seem to affect the AF performance, the shots are still sharp. Build quality seems good, not L quality, but there's no sloppiness or wobbles in the zoom or focus rings. I'm pleasantly surprised by mine.
    Neill Farmer
  25. Tammy 17-50 is superb when you compare the investment made in the purchase.
    Good images... no complaints.
  26. The 17-50 is a fantastic lens if you aren't planning on going 100% full frame. Take the 'third party lenses aren't worth getting' comments with a grain of salt. For the vast vast majority of all applications the Tamron will perform just as well as a first party lens. I have this lens, and even peering at pixels at 100%, I'm usually very very satisfied.
  27. ok Chris, imagine the situation: you're in the dark church (wedding), there really is not much light available, for some
    reason everybody's silent for a moment and you want to take a picture. Tamron 17-50 starts hunting the focus... from
    closest position to infinity... dzzzzwrrrrr dzzzzwrrrr, everybody's looking at you, annoying - isn't it? :) OK, I'm
    exaggerating but I've tried this lens once and that's what I remember - the sound of AF motor. It's like a trauma which
    is going to stay in my brain forever. I'm not saying that you can't use 17-50 because image quality it produces is
    really good and usually nobody will even hear its motor. And I think it's better than 17-40 on a 40D. EF 17-40
    produces really soft images wide open and is one stop slower so 17-50 is a better choice. If I didn't use film camera
    from times to times I would never buy 17-40/4 but they could put a better motor in 17-50/2.8...

    I don't want to grow up. S#!t - I really don't want to be that old. When I turn 18 in few months I'm going to change date
    on my computer to July 2008 :p thanks for reminding me I'm that old... -.-
  28. I own the lens but my daughter has it, it is an excellent lens for the price, sound is relative and if you don't like the buzzing can always do manual focus which is what my daughter does not because of the sound but because she prefers to focus manually and totally agree with Michael above got rid of 17-40 a long time ago. I use primes for wide.
  29. Michael, enjoy your youth, I for one generally like to hear from a younger perspective as my youngest is 18, you guys have so much oppertunity to learn so much quicker than most older folks did. I grew up with a 50 1.4 in every system I`ve had and would not venture into a low light situation without one, I`m positive the OP Tommy knows likewise. with a slow f2.8 either use MF or leave your fly half down for better expressions :)

  30. The Tamron 17-50 has become my only lens used for SP.
  31. Two points which may or may not be valid. A: I don't believe the Tamron has IS as the Canon's do. Not sure on that but it's pretty useful. B: Due to this lens popularity it can be difficult to find and may have to back ordered. I was going to buy this lens a few months ago and couldn't find it anywhere with out having to wait weeks for it. I ended it up getting a Canon 17-55 EFS 2.8. I don't regret it now, but it was pricey!
  32. I bought this lens a few weeks ago to go with my still great working nikon d50.I've had a canon 40D with the 17-55 IS.Good camera, great lens, no doubt.However i prefer nikons and i bought the tamron beacause nikon's 17-55 is over 1000$ so....no.It's not as well built as the canon or nikon but still one can't complain.Other than that , I know it makes a squeeky noise, but it only makes it on canons.I'm guessing it's the different focusing system .on my camera it sounds just like any other lens.it's pretty quiet.Sharpness wise , it's at least decent if not very good.
  33. Tommy,

    You should check out the images captured by Michael Brisbane. The link to his portfolio is attached. He used Tamron 28-
    75 for a good chunk of his shots and they are quite impressive. I believe a few were also taken with the 17-50

  34. WOW! Dotun his stuff is really nice. I liked the Tamron 11-18 and the 28-75 and I did not sell either for bad performance
    and when I move to a full frame ( probably not til spring ) this can stay on the 40D as an inexpensive small walk around
    option. I tested one out and I was very impressed with how small it is.
  35. The focus is only loud when it hunts from end to end. Help it out by picking a high contrast edge and you won't have this issue. In very low light you'll need to use the flash focus assist. Focus on the Canons is probably faster and better, but at what price?
  36. Yes the Canons are much better at focusing faster but on the wide end there is not a lot from Canon unless A you want to
    spend a lot ( 17-55 2.8 or 16-35 2.8 or B you want slow ( 17-85 or 18-55 )
  37. I have the 17-50 for my Nikon D300 - Never had a problem in low light with it hunting...of course I haven't tried it in pitch dark yet! ;-)

    To me the noise of the af is minor compared to thud of the mirror slap, shutter fire and re-cock.

    The lens itself is a dream. Images are crisp and sharp and it has excellent Bokeah.

  38. Does anyone own the Pro Master version of this lens? I know that Tamron makes lenses for Promaster, just getting
    your take on that version.
  39. Tom, My D50's shutter draws more attention than my 17-50 auto focus. Infact I can not think of anytime it turned a head in the four months I have had it. I really like my 50/1.8 for sharpness but I am very happy with the sharpness of my Tamron.
  40. "OK, I'm exaggerating but I've tried this lens once and that's what I remember - the sound of AF motor. It's like a trauma which is going to stay in my brain forever." i hate to think what walking past a construction site or childhood trips to the dentist must have done to your apparently trauma-prone noggin. how have you managed to live all these years without killing yourself? seriously this is really over the top. i use the 17-50 on a nikon d300 and it rarely hunts at all. great IQ, even better cost/benefit. not surprised at stodgy responses as we get the same thing in nikon forum. but results tend to speak for themselves.
  41. I'm getting a Tammy 17-50 today from Amazon. I'm going to compare it to my 17-40. It it is as good, bye bye 17-40, hello 2.8!
  42. Tested my new Tammy 17-50 and have decided to sell my 17-40 L.... It's that good.
  43. I was just at Helix testing it out and I don't know who is saying its loud and slow to focus, its pretty quite as far as I can
    tell. Its also built very well and about the size of the kit lens.

    I hear Tamron is making an UW that is 10-24 that will be under $500 as well.
  44. Well it makes more noise than say the 17-40 L. But not THAT much noise.
  45. I recently did a quick test of my friend's 17-50 vs. my 17-55. Optics and AF speed in good light were about comparable and I was surprised to see how small and light it is. However, low light AF speeds were dramatically different. It took the Tamron about 1 to 1.5 seconds! To me that's completely unacceptable. Thus, if your walkaround consists of low light and you don't want to MF I'd have to recommend against it.

    And yes, when it focused it did sound pretty awful….

    Happy shooting,
  46. The choice was clear to me trying both... The Tamron with outstanding performance. And 1/3 the price, and greatly smaller in
    size and weight compared to the Canon. A no-brainer if you do street photography...

    As far as AF sound goes, that's such a non-issue - camera shutter/mirror noise is several times louder...
  47. I have shot with this lens quite a bit. <br>
    Its a great lens, sharp, light, cheap.<br>
    It hunts in low light.<br>
    Not sure if some examples are better than others...
  48. `Not sure if some examples are better than others...`

    That could be possible as in all brands, mine only gets used in low light, upto 3~400 pics/wk, only use center FP and makes sure a contrast line for AF, rarely hunts anymore than most lenses :)
  49. "I have a 24-105 and 70-200 2.8 I would like to get something wider and I would prefer a 2.8 zoom that is not very expensive so the Tamron comes to mind. I used to have the Tamron 28-75 2.8 which I really liked a lot but I moved to Canon L lenses"
    Tommy, how good was the 28-75 compared to the 24-105L? The 17-50 would probably be similar.
  50. I have the Tamron, it's the lens I got with my XT. About 7,500 shots on it. Relatively sharp, but I found quite a bit of Chromatic Aberration seen when enlarged over 6X8. It seems better now with my 40D. You get what you pay for (mostly, [see below]) so I have kept it. I also have a Canon 70-200f/4 L lens and hope to find in the near future, something wide angle with IQ comparable to the Canon. I bought the Tamron for $429 and the Canon with collar for $500. so I have been hesitant on buying anything but "L" glass, mainly for image sharpness. I have seen what a quality lens can do and that's what I'm looking for. Long story short, I would grade the Tamron a "B-" as in "it's OK, but there is better out there.
  51. The 28-75 was a good lens, it did focus hunt once in a while but it was not bad at all. As everyone knows the wide end on
    a 1.6 crop is a bit limited.

    So if not the Tamron, what would everyone suggest as a wider then 24mm lens on a crop body?
  52. Tommy,a cheapscate nikonion friend of mine uses this for weddings, He`s happy with it but I`m not sure how old the design or IQ is like :) someone may know it better

    Tokina 17mm f/3.5 AT-X AF Pro
  53. My Tamron 17-50 does very little focus hunting, even in very low light. Dim interior lighting? No problem. Well lit streets at night? No problem at all. Church, available light, focus-tracking the wedding party walking up the isle? In capable hands this lens will do it.

    This is opposite of my Tamron 90/2.8 macro which really likes to hunt, even in decent light. And when the macro does hunt it takes a long time to complete a cycle, which can be a major exercise in frustration. My old Tamron 28-300 used to hunt a lot too, but it is a slow lens. No such problems with the 17-50.

    About AF noise and speed. It is comparable to Canon 50/1.8. Not pretty but it works. I've taken candid photos inside of children doing arts and crafts. Hardly any disturbance, uless you focus/recompose two dozen times before you make up your mind on the shot.

    If Tamron ever manages to construct a knock-off of USM / HSM / AF-S - watch out! I love Tamron optics, but AF performance is holding me back from Tamron's shallow-dof lenses like their 70-200/2.8. But for a lens like 17-50 it doesn't matter all that much to me.

    Is there a lens shorter than 24 mm which is better than the Tamron? Well, there's Canon's full-frame ultrawides. They're expensive and have limited zoom range, but offer excellent performance. Canon 17-55 does most things just a little bit better. Whether it's worth the extra $$ is a personal matter.
  54. Okay everyone. I've read quite a bit about the Tamron 17-50 and the Canon 17-55 IS. I understand the Tamron has some
    focusing problems: back or front, etc. I've been photoing for a long time. Back during the film days, some of my images would
    come out slightly out of focus if I wasn't closed down. So AF is a wonderful thing. Did I mention that I'm almost blind...

    Anyway, I want to take as much of the guess work out of the equation as I can. Maybe the focus problem on the Tamron is due
    to the older models... Please comment about your experience.

    I have a 20d w/ Sigma 14mm, Canon 28-70L, and Canon 100 macro. I'm going to sell the 20d for the 50d. Since I want a little
    wider range, I'm going to sell the 28-70 (excellent lens) for a 17-50/55.

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