57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2007
I have had this lens for a month now and have shot a few thousand photos with it in different lighting situations. I own a few other fast lenses and use them all in my work as a wedding photographer. This was the first purchase I have made outside of the Nikon brand name. I am always a big review reader, before I buy kinda guy. Not just with Photography.
First off, let me say this. The lens is very good. I would go so far as to say it is excellent, with all things considered about this lens.
Now I will tell you how to buy it. Go to the shop you favor and use it. I did this and did not buy it on Amazon. I brought one of my cameras (D200) and I used the lens inside and outside of the shop. Then for comparison, I used the Genuine Nikon lens to A-B them together. Tamron has been rumored to have some QC issues, so using the lens copy you are going to actually buy is the best bet, I think. Note: I made samples from each lens at 2.8, f4, f8 and f11. I did them at full wide and full zoom and about the middle range of both lenses I think it was 35mm. I used no flash for these tests.
Here is what I determined from the above exercise. The Nikon lens is definitely much better built. It is much larger and has significantly more weight. It reminds me of a Jr version of my Nikon 80-200mm 2.8D AF lens. A lens I love btw. However, that is not to say that the Tamron was in any way built cheap. In fact it is well built. I use my lenses a lot, but I am very careful with them too. Tamron offers a 6 year warranty VS Nikon's 5 year. The build of the Tamron lens was better than the kit lens sold with most Nikon models, but no where near that of the Nikon lens I am comparing it to. With proper care, the Tamron lens will hold up, no doubt.
Focus was also, noticibly faster on the Nikon lens. However, not dramaticly so. It is more quiet, again, not dramaticly so. Some people have complained about the Tamron being noisy. All I can say is the one I tested was not. It was About as noisy or a little less than my Nikon 18-55 Kit lens was, before I sold it.
Image quality: Honestly, I could not tell the difference here and this is what really sold me on the Tamron lens. The folks at my camera store took the A-B images I took and uploaded them to one of their in store computers for me to really compare them on the spot. Now that is customer service!! I was really hard pressed to see any difference at all in the images and I knew which lens they came from. Both lenses produced images which were very sharp and contrasty in all areas at all focal lengths and stops. I would bet if I mixed them up and said..OK, Pick the Nikon and the Tamron's out of the pile, I do not think anyone would get them right. The only noticible difference was an image taken outdoors at f/11. The Nikon one did seem to be just a tad sharper in the background. I should have taken more images at that range, but on the LCD they both looked good at the time and I was starting to run late, so I didn't. My point was, I do not know if it was lens error or my error on these two particular shots. But like I said, it was minimal differences anyway.
Conclusion: Ok, so the Nikon is a better lens on a number of points. This of course given my highly un-scientific testing results. However, when you consider the cost, it better be superior at something. I opted to buy the Tamron 17-50 because, I could not tell the difference enough to make me justify the cost of the Nikon lens.
I am very happy with this lens and I have no doubts it will last many years. So, do yourself a favor if you are in the market for this lens, use the one you intend to buy first. Make sure you did not get one of the bad copies and I am confident you too will love this lens.
129 of 140 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2007
I felt like I was taking a gamble when I bought this lens, because I was not able to find many reviews of it. Given that the equivalent Nikon was almost 3x the price, I decided to take a chance. At this point I still can't give a solid thumbs up or down, so I opted to give it a 3. Here is a short history of my experience:
1) Bought lens from Amazon to use on my D50. It was a joy to have an f/2.8 zoom lens, but I was not totally convinced about the sharpness (which the few reviews I could find said was supposed to be really good). After comparing it to my other lenses and a rented Nikon 17-55 f/2.8 (great lens, but much bulkier and heavier), I determined that it front-focused so much that the subject would always be very slightly out of focus. It wasn't obvious right away, because the front-focusing meant that the background went out of focus really quickly, making for a great depth-of-field effect. The heavily out of focus background essentially made the subject look more focused, even though it really wasn't all that sharp. After much deliberation, I sent it back to Amazon to try another copy.
2) 2nd copy. This one was much sharper but back-focused, which I found to be even more annoying. This would manifest itself by someone's eyes and nose being out of focus and their ears and hairline being razor sharp. After trying to force myself to live with it, I decided I couldn't and sent it off to Tamron for calibration. Several people in lens forums mentioned that this did the trick, so I decided to give that a shot rather than send it back to Amazon (they were out of stock at the time anyway, so it made the decision easier).
3) Tamron told me that they were running slow, so it would take 5 weeks to calibrate it. Again weighing the extra $800 I'd have to pay to buy the Nikon, I decided to send it in. It actually took 8 weeks! And when I wrote them to inquire at the 7 week mark, they said they had no record of it. I think that was just because they had already shipped it, but it did scare me at first.
4) Calibrated lens. My first impression was wow, this thing really is sharp, and I was really glad that I has sent it back in. And that's when I started noticing something strange... many of my shots were looking massively overexposed. I was out on a nice, evenly-lit overcast day, so I wasn't able to figure out why the camera was having such a difficult time metering. After a few more shots, I realized that anything taken at an aperture smaller than f/2.8 would be overexposed, which led me to suspect a problem with the aperture blades. Sure enough, they were stuck wide open, so every picture was at f/2.8, regardless of the actual setting. At this point in the story, I was very unhappy.
5) Tamron customer service. I expressed my frustrations to them in an email over Christmas weekend, and I am happy to say that they responded positively the next business day. They gave me their Fedex #, so that I didn't have to pay return shipping. They also promised that they would keep it for only 2 or 3 days and ship it back right away. That made me feel a little better.
6) ???? I have not received it back yet (should be soon), so I don't have a final recommendation on this lens. My sense is that it will follow the "worth what you pay for it" adage. It will have taken a large investment of time (actually, waiting), but in the end I hope to have a pretty good lens at a relatively bargain price. There have been several times that I wanted to give up and just go buy the Nikon, but not being a professional, it's really hard to justify paying $1200-1300 for a single lens.
Otherwise, the lens is really nice. It's nice and compact for what it does, and what several have complained about as a "really loud focus noise" doesn't seem bad to me at all. It does have some pretty serious distortion, especially at wide angle. It's a complex moustache distortion which isn't correctable with Photoshop's built in correction. I did send in photos to the creator of PTLens, and he calibrated the lens and integrated it into the PTLens plugin (and standalone version). With that, your photos can be essentially distortion-free. It's really impressive how well it works. Of course, I used the lens for weeks before I really noticed the distortion. I took a picture of brick wall and couldn't believe how bad it was. Unless your photo has a continuous horizontal element, you're unlikely to even notice this.
I wish my review could be more conclusive, but I'm feeling ambiguous at this point. Hope that this helps someone trying to decide on this lens.
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2008
I spent a great deal of time researching a DX equivalent pro normal zoom lens, I've read many reviews and it came down to the nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8, the sigma 18-50mm f/2.8, and this little gem of a lens. After owning this lens for a month, I can attest to it's value and performance as similar to other's experience. It's fast, the newer built-in-motor version is much quieter and finds it's focus lock much faster than the previous version, which I did not care for having tried it out on my D80 the better part of a year ago. I have also found it acquires focus lock in lower light better than my AF-S kit lens, with little hunt, but there is some. I would have liked to see a focus limiter for those situations.
My nikkor 18-135mm performed horribly in low light, and realizing it is not as fast in terms of maximum aperture, I did expect much more from an AF-S DX lens costing $300.
Now, back to the Tamron...
At a third the price of the nikkor version, this lens is the best value, even at MSRP full price. I did not purchase through amazon, but I realize that many have and will so I want people to know what they are getting. I paid the full $500 for mine and still feel I made the best investment. This lens excels at sharpness and has some of the creamiest bokeh I have produced on my D80, better even than the venerable AF nikkor 50mm f/1.8. I've got just enough depth of field to keep a person's face nicely focused from their ear to their nose, but shallow enough to blow out the background in a soup of lovely soft edged blur, this achievable from the rounded aperture blades. Sharpness is unbelievable. I was so surprised at what I got from this lens the first shot I took from it. The zoom ring has a nice feel to it, not too lose, not to tight and the zoom lock is very useful...even though there is zero creep so far. I love that the focus ring has a short throw from infinity to close (which is very close by the way, about 2 and a half inches from the glass at either end of the focal range). I can flick the focus ring, in MF with one finger from infinity to close, and it feels very natural giving great response, as does the zoom ring. The included lens hood is much better than the nikon supplied hoods, being very sturdy and easily put on and taken off. I hear the hood for the nikkor 17-55mm f/2.8 is a pain and has a much larger profile. The tamron hood is nice, does its job, and even fits in my bag without taking it off. It usually stays on the all the time. The lens cap is also very good, like nikon's, can be taken off with the hood in place, which is very convenient. (I hear nikon stole that idea from tamron by the way, but I won't hold it against them)
Now for some things I have noticed that aren't so perfect. But before I share them, I want to make sure that people who will read this understands something that is very important. This is not a pro lens. So it will not be perfect optically and because it extends, or telescopes during zoom it is not sealed from the elements. As I stated earlier in this review, for the money, this is the closest you can get to achieving pro results without spending on the order of a thousand dollars more.
There is some significant vignetting, or light fall-off (darkening of the corners) wide open at f/2.8. This is to be expected in most zooms anyway, pro or not. If you are someone who is knowledgeable enough to know why you need this lens, I will assume you've heard of photoshop. In this case, the lens correction filter in CS2, will eliminate 95% of all optical anomalies to include corner vignetting, barrel distortion, and pincusion distortion. That being said, there is little barrel at 17mm believe it or not. Even better than my 18-135mm AF-S. A +2.0 correction makes it go away. I have noticed zero pincusion, but admit that I did not shoot against a grid to notice anything any more than what my eyes can see. As I stated already, there is a chance debris will enter the lens. I have not seen any yet, after a month, but I will not be disappointed if I do, it is to be expected. If you keep your camera protected most of the time, you will likely never see a problem, but there does exist the potential. The only real gripe I have with this lens is the absense of a focus limiter.
There was one time where the AF stopped working altogether, while in AF mode. I was sure to have checked the position of both AF switches (both on lens and on body) and sure enough, no AF. I turned my camera off, then on again and the problem seemed to just go away. This was early on, and it did not happen again. I do not blame the lens directly, it could be a copy issue if it persists, but again, I have not had it happen since the first time. I haven't read that it is a common problem with the lens. I will be utilizing the 6 year manufacturers warranty if there is any further problem (which I do not foresee, but it's good to know I have it nonetheless).
Bottom line, this is a great lens to get you to your next pro level lens if you're tight on cash (as I am). This lens works well and comes from a company that has been around for some time, and will remain for some time to come. You can't beat it for the money. It just works. I am constantly surprised at the quality I get on a consitent basis with this lens. I have been so impressed that I am considering the new 70-200mm f/2.8. We will see.
I hope this review is well recieved, and good luck in your decision.
23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2006
This lens features a good zoom range, that gives us nice wide-angle scenics and groups, mid-range couple shoots, and acceptable head-and-shoulder shots. The lens is of middle weight, but feels solid, and has a smooth zoom control.
The internal focusing is quick, but a bit noisier than Nikon's Silent Wave designs, and does not allow for "focus on demand" (while still set to autofocus). When switched to manual, the focusing is easy to use.
The lens comes standard with the petal type lens hood, and has a warranty a year longer than Nikon's.
The real charm of this lens is the fast F2.8 throughout the zoom range. It's great for general available light photography, but at it's best as a wedding lens. The range will do the groups and couples, the larger aperture will increase our flash range, increase our ability to get the background to come out in flash shots, and increase the ability of the camera to focus accurately in low light.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 22, 2007
A good choice for the amateur photographer, especially if you own a D80 or D200. The lens is very lightweight, the focal length is equivalent to 26-75mm in 35mm format, and the f/2.8 maximum aperture is very fast and useable throughout the entire zoom range. All of which make it an extremely versatile lens that tends to get used a lot. It's a bit more plastic than I like to see, but at least the mount is metal, and the use of plastic keeps the weight down. The build quality is no worse that that of my Nikkor 50mm f/1.4. Optical quality is superb for a lens in this price range. Aesthetically, it produces good contrast and natural colours. No real problems with barrelling, vignetting, purple fringing or lens flare in everyday shooting, but you do need to use the supplied lens hood. It makes loud Borg noises while focusing, but otherwise the autofocus is very quick and precise. All in all, there is very little to complain about.
I have never been a huge fan of zoom lenses, but a lens like this genuinely replaces the standard 50mm lens of the 35mm era. A "normal" lens for the APS-C format would be the Nikkor 35mm f/2, but the differences in optical performance between the fixed focal length 35mm Nikkor and the 17-50mm Tamron are so small that they are irrelevant in real-world photography. The only real penalty you pay with the Tamron is the loss of one f-stop, and in exchange you get a 3x zoom capability. I really wish that Nikon produced a fast zoom like this in this price range, preferably with a SWM, but they don't. Tamron tends to be up and down quite a bit with their products, but they always seem to have one or two absolute gems among their SP-series lenses, and this is definitely one of them.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2006
This is a great lens -- it rivals the Nikon 17-55 at less than 1/3 the price. It is also lightweight and easy to carry around as a day to day lens. THe image quality is supurb. Compare this to the Sigma 18-50, they are virtually identical. This lens produces a better right-out-of-the-camera image, especially useful if you are a jpg enthusiast. While a bit more pricy than the standard "kit lens" it would replace in your lens collection, the fast 2.8 speed and image quality can not be bettered at this price with these features.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 27, 2008
I've read a lot of good reviews of this lens and so I decided to purchase a 2nd hand one at about USD$380, and what I found was a real gem! This is a fast lens with constant f/2.8 aperture throughout the focal range, and would give you a better depth of field (DOF) from most normal lenses, and hence the nice bokehs.
I've heard that there are lenses with front or back focusing, but the one I got was great. If you own a D300, there is the AF Fine Tuning function where you can adjust your front or backfocusing of your lens. In fact, I found that Nikkor lenses also suffer from some front or back focusing.
This lens is 1/3 the price of a Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 DX lens, but performs just as well. The MTF of this lens is phenomenal for the price you pay. The only 2 things which I believe could have been improved upon is the built of the lens (which would then probably cost more), and the colors the lens gives on the pictures. Don't get me wrong, the colors are great... but I'm comparing to colors from Nikkor lenses, and somehow, after trying many different lenses, I still find colors from Nikkor lenses the most natural with good contrast and saturation. It is a good thing that the colors can always be post processed.
All in all, this lens is a winner! And this lens spends more time on my camera than any other lens. Tamron released a 2nd version of this lens (A16NII) in 2008 which has an in-built motor to work with the D40/x + D60. The D40/x + D60 does not have a screw drive motor in the body and depends on the in-built motor in the lens for focusing, just like Nikkor's AF-S lenses (AF with Silent Wave Motor).
Depending on how what mode you normally shoot in, this Tamron lens has a problem reporting back the correct distance when using flash in the TTL-BL mode. Apparently, it is not just this lens, but other Tamron lenses as well. If you use flash in P (Program) mode and the flash goes to TTL-BL mode, because it reports back a larger distance than your subjects really are, the flash would fire off with more power, so you'll need to reduce the flash power in the flash compensation. However, if you shoot mainly in A (Aperture priority) mode, which is normally what I use, you would not face this problem with a flash because in A mode, it goes to TTL mode with the flash.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 2007
<<Edit: i've had this for a few months now. it's my most-used lens. absolutely stunning results, makes the nikon 17-55 seem overpriced. no complaints whatsoever. i'd give it six stars if i could --5 for performance, 1 for value)
after owning the tamron 28-75 model this lens is based on, i decided to get this one too, mainly because it started at 17mm. haven't shot that much with it yet, but the few photos i've taken suggest it's a keeper. 17-50 is a very useful range with a dslr, especially with the constant f/2.8, which makes low-light shooting possible. the pics are nice sharp and contrasty, and so far this lens lives up to the photozone.de review, which noted its excellent MTF (resolution) results and hinted it's better than the sigma 18-50 f/2.8. plenty of nikon users like the sigma, the tamron's closest competitor, but for roughly the same price you get one (1) extra mm plus it uses 67mm filters, the same as the 18-70 kit lens, while the sigma uses expensive 82 mm filters.
the look is sexy and self-assertive. not nearly as imposing as the nikkor 17-55, but not as meek at the nikkor 18-70 either. the rubber gripping surface provides easy twist-ability and added protection --it looks sturdier than the 28-75--which is good because there's very little if any metal used in this lens. the barrel does rotate outward a bit, and the lens hood is petal-type.
it balances nicely with a d80 and is pretty lightweight at 1.2 lbs. definitely an upgrade from the kit lens, with optics good enough to make anyone but a nikkor snob or a pro wedding photog. consider this over the nikon 17-55 which costs 3x as much but wont give you 3x the performance (maybe 3x the hernias from hefting it).
it was a no-brainer to get this after taking so many great shots with the 28-75 but i think i'm gonna like this one even more.
two technical notes:
the 17-50 is a dII, meaning it's digital-only, while the 28-75 is a dI, so it can work on film and digital bodies. other than that, they're virtually the same design wise, except the 17-50 is sexier. it just is. dont ask me why.
and there's no hsm or swm equivalent so d40 and d40x users will have to go for the nikkor 17-55 or the hsm-equipped sigmas.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2008
I'll make this short and sweet since I actually came to amazon to see the price of the Nikon 17-55 because im dumping my tamron 17-50. I bought one from Ritz about 4 months ago. After about 6 weeks of use, the lens literally fell apart. The zoom ring would just spin in cirlces, not zoom the lens, and would be accompanied by a wonderful grinding and cluncking sound. Took it to ritz and they couldn't believe it. I am a semi-pro shooting on a D300. My D300, along with all other Nikon DSLRs and Nikon lenses have NEVER had any problems like this. Ritz knew that since Im a long-time customer so she said it must have just been an "anomoly" and exchanged it for me.
Im currently on my second lens...and now using it for about 2 months, it hasn't fallen apart yet. HOWEVER, within the last few weeks, whenever I zoom it, it very notchy.
I do intense event photography shooting on average of 1k pics/event. I think in general this is a nice lens, but for more serious photography, photojournalist, sport photographers, or pretty much anything on a pro-level, this lens doesn't cut it. Its a definite "Consumer" lens.
If you plan on using this lens to take pictures of your grandson at the park, or of that really big tree at Yellow Stone national park, this is right up your ally. But if you're shooting DJ shots onstage in front of 15,000 people and constantly working the camera to get the right shot and also shooting pictures in packed crowds of people for 8 hours at a time, better get the Nikkor.
For me I give this lens a 2 because it just cannot hold up. I wish it could. For the general public, I would give it a 4 or a 5 - just depends on what you do with it. So im gonna round it off with a solid 3 stars.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2007
At first, I was unsure about this purchase. It took me a while to decide. I have enjoyed using its predecessor SPAF 28-105 2.8 on an F5 and F100 for years and recently on my 5D with a CameraQuest adapter. I was disappointed that the older lens was discontinued. It was huge and heavy, but optically the equal of any of my Nikon or Canon lenses - even on the lens-killer 5D - and just as sturdy.
No fear, though. Plastic barrel and noisy zoom notwithstanding, this thing is so sharp and contrasty that I just don't mind. In fact, after using this lens on my D200, I went out and bought the 28-75 version so I don't have to use an adapter on the Canon. The ruggedness issue has yet to be determined, but image quality is no problem.
I only wish it had a longer-range at the long end to match its excellent older sibling.