Rodney Campbell's Blog

Tamron SP AF 17-50mm f2.8 XR Di-II LD Lens…

by on Jan.11, 2011, under Life, Photography

I went on a bit of an online shopping spree the past week. I ordered multiple photographic items from four different online stores (two on eBay).

First to arrive is my new Tamron SP AF 17-50mm f2.8 XR Di-II LD lens.

I was looking for a fast short zoom for my Nikon D90 camera – essentially looking for something to replace using my slow 18-200mm lens when shooting things like:
– indoors low light photography (e.g. school events)
– general walkaround use (especially when photographing the kids, candid portraits, etc) – maybe the lens to leave on the camera when I don’t have a specific photographic thing in mind
– sea/landscapes (I’d probably invest in something like a 0.9ND and 0.9GND which I could use with this lens – I also just ordered some step-up rings (e.g. 62-72, 67-77, 72-77, etc) so I’d probably be able to standardise on 77mm fixed filters in future? My current UWA (Ultra Wide Angle) lens – the Sigma 8-16mm whilst being uber wide has a very bulbous front element, a built in non removable petal hood and no front thread so kinda precludes using filters.

I tend to like using shallow depth of field a lot when shooting people, etc (which is partially why I so love my 50/1.4 – but using that lens indoors can get pretty restrictive and even for group shots of children outdoors it can require me to go back a very long way). I also want to use something sharper and faster than my 18-200.

The Nikon 17-55/2.8 (77mm thread 755g) is the standard bearer in this range – it is a DX only lens (so isn’t for full frame (FX) cameras – just crop sensor (DX) cameras). However it is over AUD$2,000 here in Australia, as low as AUD$1,350 grey market delivered or even around AUD$1,000 used.

I also looked at the Sigma 17-50/2.8 (as low as AUD$650) but in the end took the pragmatic route and opted for the Tamron 17-50/2.8 Non VC (67mm thread 434g) instead.

It retails here in Australia for around AUD$600-700 but I purchased it online for AUD$345 grey market delivered from eGlobal which basically ships in from their warehouse in Hong Kong. I must say that the ordering and delivery was outstanding – I ordered at 2:45PM on friday, it was dispatched at 8:45PM and I was sent a DHL tracking number and it arrived on my doorstep here in Sydney at 10AM on monday – can’t ask for much more than that!

This lens is actually the older of the Tamron 17-50mm/2.8 lenses, they have a newer model which has VC (Vibration Reduction) and is about $100 more expensive but apparently from all the online reviews the newer lens is actually optically inferior (less sharp) to the older model which is why I bought the older Non VC version.

Whilst this lens doesn’t have the build quality of the Nikon 17-55 and apparently pretty loud auto focusing (no ultrasonic motor) with no manual autofocus override (like the Nikon AF-S lenses) by all accounts it is supposed to be optically very close at a fraction of the cost. I guess only time and use will tell :). The only thing really that would concern me would be lots of hunting auto focus – I don’t need sports tracking but when I’m photographing something that isn’t moving too much in lower light conditions (and I generally use selected single focus point – on the eye/face for instance) I want it to focus accurately and reasonably quickly.

I’ll report more once I’ve had a chance to use it extensively 🙂

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