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First Impression! Tamron SP AF 17-50mm f/2.8 XR DI-II VC (Part II)

I was too busy in the last few days, so don’t have time to follow up with my “first impression” write-up of the Tamron SP 17-50mm VC lens.

I have asked Futuromic to loan me a sample to test, but no news from them. Nevermind, one of my customer has requested me to test his lens, so I did some tests and share the results here. All lenses were handled with extreme care. 🙂

The Old and the New

I have the Tamron SP 17-50mm F/2.8 lens myself (First Generation, screwdriver type), so I were able to compare it to the new VC version side by side. The new VC lens is significantly larger – fatter and longer. Good solidly built, which I am quite impressed with.

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The VC lens is made in Japan, which is normally an assurance of good quality control (but not all the case). At least is better feeling to owner. 😀

Vibration Correction

How does it works? Nikon has VR (Vibration Reduction), Canon has IS (Image Stabilization), Sigma has OS (Optical Stabilizer), of course now Tamron has VC. All works similarly by having one of the lens element inside the lens moves in up and down / left and right position to correct for the shake of the lens and making sure that the image that hit the sensor is always sharp and stable. The good thing about lens optical correction as compared to sensor stabilizer is that you can see the effect immediately through the viewfinder, and the degree of shake correction is better.

I still remember the first Tamron VC lens that I have tested is the 18-270mm VC, which has an annoying TICK TICK sound whenever the VC hits in. The new VC in this Tamron 17-50mm lens does not has such sound anymore, and is actually a great improvement!

I did some test shots at 1/4 second, F/8 at 50mm focal length and found the image to be quite acceptable. Though not extremely sharp. Without the VC ON, the hand shake is obvious.

This is my test subject:

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VC ON
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VC OFF
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Ok, VC does helped but at 1/4s, it is kind of a bit extreme… 😛

Sharpness?

The Tamron 17-50VC is a very sharp lens, which I am quite impressed with.

Test Subject
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100% crop
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Another full view

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100% crop
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As compared to the first generation version that I have, I found that mine is slightly sharper…not a scientific test so don’t take it as a definite answer. When you turn the VC OFF, I find the photo to be sharper as with VC ON.

I also notice that VC is less successful with shooting at 1/15s, which is a critical shutter speed that is very much affected by camera mirror bounce.

Auto Focus Speed?

There are 3 versions of Tamron SP 17-50mm lens for Nikon mount.  First is the screwdriver type, Second is the built in motor type, and now the Third version is the VC lens.

In terms of AF, the built in motor type is the slowest, really slow that I feel throwing the lens away and you can fee how lame the lens is in AF when you first use it. The screwdriver type is fast and the VC version is similar speed as compared to the screwdriver type. This is a great improvement in Tamron for the 17-50mm lens considered that the VC version is using built in motor as well!

How does it compared to Nikon AF-S 17-35mm? Not near and not even close. The Nikon AF-S 17-35mm is extremely fast and you can feel the difference immediately once you tried it. This can be partly due to the fact that Nikon AF-S 17-35mm is shorter in range as compared to Tamron 17-50mm. Sorry, I do not have the Nikon AF-S 17-55mm ready in hand to compare. While the Tamron 17-50mm VC has improvement in AF speed, it still can’t compare to the Silent Wave technology I believe.

Not forgetting that the S lens is extremely quiet, while the Tamron is slightly noisier (not disturbing).

Conclusion

I wonder why Nikon and Canon does not implement VC into their 17-55mm and 16-35mm or 17-35mm f/2.8 lenses, is it because it might reduce the overall sharpness of the lens or is it because it is not needed in such wide angle?

While the screwdriver version (first generation) of the Tamron SP 17-50mm f/2.8 lens is no longer available, and only the built in motor version and the VC versions are available now, I would suggest to get the VC version for the improvement in focusing speed in Nikon mount (Take note that Canon version has built in motor from day 1, and is fast like the Nikon screwdriver version.).

A recommended lens for those who do not want to spend 2-3 times the money of the Tamron for Nikon or Canon counterparts, and is definitely a nice addition to have VC to play with when you needed it. 🙂

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