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Lens Reviews

The Tamron SP AF17-50/2.8 XR Di-II VC LD IF

Darrell Young (DigitalDarrell)

Keywords: tamron, 17mm, 50mm, sp, aspherical, lenses, non_nikon

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Do you entertain yourself by reading lens reviews and spend hours on eBay looking for the ultimate lens? Do you have the desire to own every lens ever made? Does your camera bag weigh more than you do? Then you may be a good candidate to read this article.


Tamron® SP AF17-50mm F/2.8 Lens on a Nikon D300s

Collecting lenses can be like collecting used Boeing 747 airplanes. Lenses are just plain expensive! Yet life is best when our camera bags are heavy with glass. We may not need them today, but they're there when we do.

With lens buying habits that approach national debt levels, it's a good idea to save money, as long as quality isn't compromised. Nikkors® have been my choice for most of my photographic life—and will continue to be. Recently, though, aftermarket lens manufacturers have released some very desirable lenses that cost significantly less. Less is better when it comes to cost!


Tamron® SP AF17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di-II VC LD Aspherical (IF) Lens

One of my favorites is the Tamron® SP AF17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di-II VC LD Aspherical (IF). Although the name is longer than the lens itself, it performs—in certain ways—even better than some of my beloved Nikkors. The Tamron "SP" designation marks their best lenses, with resulting excellence in glass and build quality. The Tamron costs about $650 USD. A comparable Nikon-brand lens, such as the AF-S Nikkor 17-55mm F2.8 can cost over twice as much. Of course, the Nikkor lens has a stronger metal build, and you pay for that. The Tamron lens barrel is made of "high-impact" polycarbonate, so it can be lighter yet still maintain excellent strength for daily use.

Let me tell you about my experiences with this lens.




Not long after the newest version of the lens was released, I was given an opportunity by and Tamron to use one for a few weeks. For most of December 2009, this lens was on my Nikon D300s. I used it as the "portrait" lens while shooting a wedding's formal groups shots, and as a "save my buns" lens, when shooting the reception lit by white Christmas tree lights. Do you know how hard it is for a camera to focus on people dancing by candlelight? The Tamron's wide F2.8 constant aperture was a big help.

(1 Vote )
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Originally written on April 27, 2010

Last updated on December 31, 2020


BARTOSZ PIOR (Bart Pior) on August 19, 2013

For me, no more, Tamron. I have got it and looking to get rid off. For me is far to much flare on this lens and without software image never is sharp...

Mark Price (Photograffiti) on March 4, 2012

Steve: I've heard the non-VC version is sharper as well, but I haven't confirmed this. I also wouldn't sacrifice sharpness for VC - particularly in a lens of this focal range. I've owned two copies of the Tamron 17-50: one without the built-in motor (BIM) which I used with a D7000, and the one I now own (with BIM) that I use with my D5100. I found the non-BIM version to focus slightly faster than the one with the BIM - but it wasn't as sharp when shot at f/2.8. This might have been an issue with sample variation, or my shooting technique. My current version is extremely sharp at all settings, delivers nicely saturated colors, and pairs nicely with a Sigma 50-150 2.8 for an outstanding 2-lens kit (as both use 67mm filters). I've owned the Nikon 17-55 (several years ago), but never had the chance to compare it to the Tamron. Both deliver high quality photos. The Tamron just does it at a considerably cheaper price.

User on November 18, 2011

I've heard that the non-VC version is sharper. Certain testing sites have arrived at this conclusion in their independent testing. Has anyone had a chance to test whether this is true of not? If it is true, I think it would be hard to sacrifice some of the lens' sharpness for VC.

James Granberry (beemerman2k) on June 3, 2011

OK, here it is, a year later, and I have an update on my Tamron 17-50 F2.8 non-VC lens. I now use it on a D7000, and it performs much better than it did on my D70s! Go figure. I can now easily go up to F16 and get razor sharp images! This lens is stellar at F2.8, too. For this non-VC version, I still often pause a half second or so before releasing the shutter to allow the focus engine to lock on target. I find that when I do this, I get consistently sharper images.

User on July 10, 2010

I'm thinking about buying this lens, but i heard it can be soft in 2.8, do you have experience with that? I want to use it with my canon eos 7D (i assume there's no difference in the nikon or canon version)


I think it's a great lens. My first choise on D300S!

Darrell Young (DigitalDarrell) on June 2, 2010

Founding Member of the Nikonians writer Guild. Author of most of the NikoniansPress books. Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Donor Ribbon awarded for his very generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Darrell offers expert advice as the author of several Nikonians Press Books.

Don, The lens will not work on the D700 in FX mode. However, it does work in the DX mode. Of course, that takes the camera down to the 5 megapixel level. Rob Moody took his sample Tamron pictures in the D700's DX mode.

User on May 10, 2010

You stated earlier that this lens will not work on the D700. However, in the descriptions in figures 10 & 11 it states that the camera was a D700. is this an error or did Rob Moody really ust the D700?

James Granberry (beemerman2k) on April 28, 2010

I own the previous version of this lens that does not have the vibration control logic. In all, great lens, especially for wide aperture/low light situations. Very sharp up to F8 max in my experience. I don't like going much above that as the sharpness falls off at that point. For me, F11 is noticably less sharp than F8 on my Nikon D70s. Used in it's element, it's a great lens for a great price. If I somehow lost mine, I'm not sure I'd replace it with a VC model. The one I own is fine just as it is!

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