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.

Tamron Customer Service

tamron17-50I sent my Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 in to be serviced a couple of weeks ago. I was wondering if they really got the lens, as I hadn’t heard anything from them. I knew they really got it, because I asked for signature confirmation from USPS. Still, I hadn’t heard from them. I decided to go online and look around. I found a service section, but to get a status on your lens you had to have a service order number. I didn’t have one yet. They had a repair status form, so I filled that out. And waited.

I gave up waiting and called. Virtually no hold time and I was though. I give them points for that. I talked to someone who was able to confirm that they indeed had the lens and that it was sent to the repair area. That meant that they agreed that it had issues. Then I was told it would be 2 – 3 more weeks to do the repair. Really? Wow. That is not the fastest shop around. So then I asked if normally they sent out emails on the status of the repair, such as if they recieved the lens, if it had been sent to the repair shop, that kind of thing. The response was “No, we don’t have time.” Really? Wow.

To me, this means that either there are a lot of Tamron lenses that go back so they are overwhelmed, or they just don’t hire enough staff. I have never sent an item back to Nikon. I wonder what the turnaround is for Nikon and Canon, and how well they keep you up on the status of repairs. I was not expecting a personalized thoughtful carefully crafted response. I was expecting and automated email to go out when somone entered into the computer that the lens had arrived. I was expecting an automated email to go out once somone had looked at the lens and entered into the computer what problems they found. There shouldn’t be a time issue with this.

Tamron, you need some technology applied to your customer service area. By the way, I am looking for a programming job, do you want me to implement that for you?

Update: Lens fixed.

Tamron 17-50mm f2/8 in for Service

tamron17-50I finally did it. I sent my Tamron lens in for service. This is my main walking around lens, and only wide-ish lens. So… for now I am walking around with the Nikon 50mm f/1.8. I like that lens, but it sure isn’t on the wide side.

I had finally had enough of the lens. I sure hope it can get fixed. I would feel bad about trying to sell it and move to a Nikon version without getting it check out. So, what did I want looked at? Three things:

  1. Ever since I got the lens there has been issues with the camera reporting a F–. That means that the camera body doesn’t think there is a lens attached. I had to return two other versions before this one too. The current copy doesn’t do it often at least.
  2. The front mount where the hood goes seems loose. It is very jiggly. I don’t remember it like that before. I don’t know if that effects any of the lens elements. Probably not.
  3. The biggest issue is focus. I have been disappointed since getting this lens with it’s sharpness. I think it deteriorates toward 50mm the most, and is most evident as smaller apertures like 2.8. When I try to take pictures of people at 2.8-4.0 the success rate of in focus shots is rediculously low.

I lived with this stuff for awhile now, thinking that this is what I get for not going Nikon, but it isn’t acceptable now. I bought this lens after hearing from several Canon shooters who had the similar lens in a Canon mount just how good it was. I can’t believe it is the same lens they talk about.

It was getting some quality Nikon glass that pushed me to send it in though. I now have a Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8, and that lens is amazing. It really does make me want to try other Nikon lenses out and see if they are as good. The Tamron is no where near as sharp a lens. I can only hope that Tamron can find some little screws to adjust in there somewhere that will magicly make me like this lens. Otherwise, I am saving pennies (and lots of them) for the Real Deal.

Update: Tamron Customer Service.

Update: I got a paper confimation (05/29/2009) that they had recieved the lens and found issues they would fix. Paper. Really?

Update: Lens Fixed.

Tamron lens update

I finally got lens number three of the 17-50 f/2.8 lens from B&H. Before I put the lens on I cleaned the contacts very carefully with rubbing alcohol, and made sure it was dry before putting the lens back on. It seemed to work well, except once. I got the no lens attached thing again. This time no amount of turning off/on would work. I had to unseat the lens and reattach. It just happened once. I am going to hope that it is just a D40 issue, or just this D40 and keep it. It is really nice to have a faster lens. I found that I had to swap in my 55-200 often though at the Lantern Lighting event. I didn’t always need the upper end, but 50 was just too short most of the time for an event like this. The 55-200 works fine in the middle of the day. I like it a lot, it is just too slow as evening come on. Oh well. Can’t get everything with one lens.