Tamron 17-50 vs Nikon 17-55

Tamron 17-55 f/2.8I own the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 lens. If you follow this blog, you will know that I had to send it in for service a little while back. I had issues with focusing, and some parts coming loose. While I had the lens in for service, I had to rent the Nikon 17-55 f/2.8 when I had a wedding to shoot. This is a bit of a comparison after using both. Not scientific at all.

First of all, I bought the Tamron because it was $450. The Nikon is $1230. A bit of a difference. I now know what that money gets you. The Nikon is a lot heavier. That could be a plus or a minus depending on what you like. The weight is because the lens has more metal in it. The lens I rented was very much a rental. It was banged up pretty good, but still worked. With the Tamron I am always very careful, and one of the issues I had was that the front ring where the hood snaps on was loose. You could wiggle it.

Sharpness is good across both lenses. The Tamron appears to be fine now that I have it back. I was never really happy with, and it seemed to get worse until I sent it in. Now I have no issues. I have not tried to examine sharpness across all apertures, and I don’t have comparison pictures, but I am happy with it now. I shoot a lot with this lens at 2.8, and it seems just fine. (My Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 feels sharper, but I haven’t¬† tried to collect proof.)

nikon17-55dxFocus speed is a world of difference. Night and day. You can’t hear the Nikon, and can’t tell when it is focusing (except for the odd time that it hunts, but so do all lenses). The Nikon seems instantanious. The Tamron is slow. I don’t really care about the noise. It doesn’t bug me. But it means that I can tell how long it takes for the lens to focus. It almost always turns to get close and then a few smaller micro adjustments. I have very bad luck with moving kids. That can be an issue with any lens, but I fell it is an issue with the Tamron.

So, it really depends how you want to use this lens. If you want a fast zoom lens (aperture) to use on a small light weight body, and price is a concern (when is it not), then this is a good option. If you want to shoot sports and moving kids, I am a little unsure on giving it the thumbs up. I do shoot my own kids with this lens, but not with great results. I try to shoot with my 70-200 if I am after moving things, but that is a much longer focal length, and a much heavier lens.

For me, I am considering replacing this with the Nikon version. This issue really holding me back right now is the full frame one. If I am going to move to a full frame camera, and I want to eventually, then the 17-55 will not work on those cameras. I will keep my D90 as a backup, so maybe it is a good lens to keep with the camera. In the meantime, I will have a better lens. Doing it over, I would probably try to save for the Nikon. Paying double (or more) seems like a Nikon Tax, but there really are good reasons that it should be priced more. It’s just whether you think the durability, the weight, and the focus speed are deal breaker issues for you.

Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 Back from Service

Tamron 17-55 f/2.8 Well, I was quite surprised to see a box from Tamron when I got home yesterday. It was my 17-50 back from service. I was not expecting it so soon. I had recieved a letter from Tamron late last week saying that it would be another 2-3 weeks. That must have just been the standard boiler plate that goes out with every repair notice. It is a little annoying that they can’t look around the room and see how many lenses are in the queue waiting to go out and make a better estimate.

Notice I said I got a letter from Tamron. Yup. Paper. Not email, a paper letter. Weird. I don’t quite get what is going on there. They need a serious upgrade in the software side of the house at Tamron’s repair facility. They need to look at getting more automated communication with their customers.

I did get an email, from the post office for tracking the package. I found it in my junk mail. It must have only showed up a day or two ago, becuase I check it fairly frequently. Outside of my phoning awhile back, the only communication from Tamron was the letter from last week.

Ok, so was it fixed? It looks like it. I had several issues when I sent it in. The front ring where the lens hood attached was really loose when I sent it in. It is just like new now. The barrel, where you adjust the zoom appears to have been tightened as well. It is smooth, but tighter.

Nikkor 50mm f/1.8

The biggest issue I was having was the focusing. It just didn’t seem to nail the focus properly. I wish I had thought to take this same picture before I sent it in to compare. But if you look at the picture of the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 above, you can see the the text in the middle is very sharp. This was in auto focus. It was not anywhere near this sharp before. I need to so some tests with flowers and people still, because that is what appeared to not hit the focus sweet spot before.

So I am giving Tamron service an A for the repair, but for the whole experience, a C. The lens did come back fairly timely (sent May 11, so not super speedy). I am OK with that, but the utter lack of communication is a problem. 

Note to Tamron: customers want to have confidence that thier investment is being looked after. Remember, if you have to send something back, you are starting off with the customer frustrated.

Update: I sent Tamron a letter suggesting they improve their ability to communicate with their customers via automated emails or better/more information online. I got back a reply:

“Thank you for your suggestions. We are actually in the middle of doing some updates to our repair process to make it more automated. This may take some time but we hope to have drastic improvements in the future.”

Nice to see them respond so quickly. Hopfully (for their sake) the improvement will be soon.

Nikon Creative Lighting DVD

Nikon Creative Lighting System DVDI just finished viewing the Nikon DVD called “A Hands-on Guide to Creative Lighting”. You can see excerpts of this DVD from Nikon here. You can get it for around $30. (I got mine from West Photo) This DVD features the host, Bob Krist, and Joe McNally.

This is a pretty good DVD, with something in it for everyone. Probably not for the ripest beginner, or the most advanced flasher, because it covers a lot of ground. A beginner or intermediate photographer with a speedlight or two willing to pause, stop, and rewind this DVD a few times will probably get quite a bit out of it.

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