Am I the first in the world (consumer) to review this lens?! π
Tamron scheduled to release this lens to the market on 17th March 2008, but my supplier has managed to get the stock for me today! I ordered some quantity from them, the first generation (A16N), but was surprised to see there is a mixed of A16N and A16N II in the delivery. π
As usual, I checked and tested every unit of Tamron SP 17-50mm F2.8 lens for my customers. This is important as my experience is that there is poor Quality Control from Tamron in this lens…the early batch (Assembled in China), but nowadays the reject rate is very low (Made in Japan version).
Since I have both the A16N and A16N II in hands, so I have the privilege to test both side by side.
Built quality is similar in both. Weight seems similar as well, can’t feel any difference in hand.
When mounting the A16N II onto my D200, it is silky smooth. Yes, it is very hard to describe, but once you tried it, you will agree with me. When mounting the A16N, you will have the feeling of metal scratching each other. However, the A16N II is like butter smooth when mounting. Good. π
There is a slight changes in the rear part of the lens. Some physical extension of marking on the 17mm focal length and you can now see more pins on the rear circuits and no screwdriver catch.
Made in Japan
Yes, both lenses are made in Japan. Great! On all the stock that I received this round, they are perfect. Sharp focus, clean and clear. π
AF MF Switch
Besides made in Japan, you can also see a AF MF switch on the new A16N II version. You can have the camera body in AF all the time, and changing the AF MF on the lens will allow you to focus manually or automatically.
I guess this is where most are interested in.
Auto focus of Tamron A16N II is slow. Yes, you heard me right. AF is much slower than A16N. From minimum focusing distance to infinity, it takes twice the time of the A16N. Yes, you can spot and feel the difference clearly.
However, though focus slower, the A16N II is much quieter than the A16N. Again, focusing is smooth. Though slow but very smooth. On the A16N, you will hear higher pitch focusing sound, but the A16N II is damper sound and quieter in focusing. Good in quiet environment, eg. Cinema or theater, though might still not be as quiet as AFS or USM lens.
Yes, I did compare the A16N II with A16E (Canon mount). A16E is still faster, similar speed to the A16N. However, Canon mount version is always noisier in focusing. In fact, very very noisy and high pitch sound. The A16N (Nikon) is still acceptable, the Canon version is considered as annoying. So the A16N II is considered as SWEET now. π
Image Quality / Sharpness?
I always regards Tamron A16 17-50mm F2.8 lens as the best value for money wide angle fixed aperture zoom lens that you can get in the market. In fact, I am using one of it myself on my Nikon D200. This lens has been in such a high demand that it is often out of stock from time to time in Japan. I have sold many copies to my customers in Malaysia.
This lens is sharp. Very sharp indeed! Here’s an example of a shot I just took (A16N II):
(Original file of 0.99MB, unedited except putting ShaShinKi.com logo on it. Exif intact, shot at f2.8)
Bokeh is nice and focus is spot on and sharp in the center. The lens design is same as the A16N, so you can browse many other photos in my blog that are taken with this lens.
Will I recommend this lens? Yes. The A16N II has some improvements over the A16N and the only drawback is the slower in focusing. The added AF MF switch is nice, making manual focusing switching easier. Damped focusing sound is a welcome improvement, though with the sacrifice of faster AF.
Do you have a choice? My understanding is that Tamron will discontinued the A16N version. No reason for Tamron to keep two almost identical lens for Nikon mount in the market, no production effective. So, if you want faster AF of the A16N and don’t need the built in motor for Nikon D40/D40X/D60, then you will have to act fast and grab the stock of A16N in the market!
Regardless of which version (A16N or A16N II), both are still highly recommended lens. I am keeping mine (A16N). π
Where to Buy?
You can order the lens at ShaShinKi.com (fully tested and checked!):