Tamron 17-50mm compare to Canon 17-55mm IS USM

by Enche Tjin on July 18, 2008

After several months using kit lens Canon 28-135mm IS USM which I got from buying Canon 40D digital camera, I decided it is the time to buy a higher quality lens. I like lens that can perform well in low light and I am budget conscious, so I pick Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8.

My impression about Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8
It is a solid built lens, the body is sturdy and short, the zoom bar are pretty big (look at the picture) and lens hood is included.

Despite the glowing reviews about this lens, I find the image quality especially in f/2.8 is not that sharp. The auto focus mechanism is quiet noisy and slightly slower compare to Canon’s USM lenses, but it is acceptable.

The image quality in higher ISO (800 and up) is not good either. I notices that it produces higher amount of noises than Canon 28-135mm IS USM. Furthermore, the object edge/corner in the image is quiet soft at 50mm.

I might get a bad copy, but that is my impression about the lens.

Later, I sold both Canon 28-135mm and Tamron 17-50mm and add extra bucks to buy Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM.

My Impression of Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM
Many users in internet complaint about the price and comparing this lens to Tamron, it is understandable. This lens is not perfect. it is not L quality means that the construction is not the highest possible quality. The zoom bar is not smooth at 17-35mm. Some people argued that it is purposely done so to prevent lens creep. But I prefer smooth zoom better. Overall The lens build quality is above average. At a glance it looks like 17-85mm or 28-135mm kit lens. But it is slightly better of the popular 40D kit lens. The difference is, the lens is surprisingly longer and heavier. It also has texture on the body.

Quality of image is top notch, very sharp at most focal length, especially f/4. The IS works miraculously. This lens is one of the best in low light. However, it is a slightly soft wide open at f/2.8, and at wide open, the AF won’t be accurate all the time.

Although the lens hood is not included (it is $44 sold separately) I will say it is a good investment due to the image quality (sharp on edge, nice ‘bokeh’ or depth of field blur).

Pro compare to Tamron 17-50mm

  • Superb image quality in any focal length and ISO
  • Image Stabilization up to 3.5 stops
  • Auto focus is quieter and faster

Cons compare to Tamron 17-50mm

  • Two times more expensive and lens hood + lens pouch are not included
  • Built quality is about the same as 40D’s kit lenses
  • Zoom bar is not smooth at 17-35mm
  • EF-S lens means that you can’t use this lens in Full Frame camera such as 5D or Mark Series

Rating for Tamron 17-50mm
Image Quality : Excellent 3/5
Build Quality : Very Good 3/5
Price value: 3/5

Rating for Canon 17-55mm
Image Quality : Excellent 4 1/2/5
Build Quality : Very Good 3/5
Price value: 4/5

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

SciPhinx June 23, 2010 at 4:30 am

Thanx for a pretty good review. just wanted to point out that Tamrons rating in image quality seems a little of shouldnt it be “very good” by your scale?

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