Tamron SP AF17-35/2.8-4 Di LD Aspherical (IF) Review
Real World Images
Here are a couple of "real world" shots with 100% crops from center and edge sections. The first image (below) was taken at a 17mm setting. The 100% crops were taken from the areas outlined in red.Note again that these are shots taken with an EOS 20D DSLR with an APS-C sized sensor. This means the edges of the frame are 11mm from the center. A full frame image is 36mm wide, so the edges are 18mm from the center. Image quality would likely be somewhat lower and chromatic abrration higher at the edges of a full frame 35mm image.
As you can see, performance is pretty good, even wide open at 17mm and even towards the edge of the frame (using the EOS 20D with a 22mm wide frame). The lens does sharpen up a little both in the center and at the edge when stopped down to f8, but the f2.8 performance is good enough that you don't need to stop down to get a good image.
Below is a shot of the same scene, but zoomed to 35mm. The 100% crops were taken from the areas outlined in red.
At 35mm the maximum aperture of the lens is f4 and real world performance wide open isn't bad. It is evident though that stopping down to f8 does show some image improvement, particularly at the edge of the image where contrast and sharpness are improved (see the "K" in BANK).
The Tamron SP AF17-35/2.8-4 Di LD Aspherical (IF) is a well built lens with overall good performance. At 17mm it's very good and can be used wide open at f2.8 without much worry about image quality. The only negative is noticeable barrel distortion which could be a problem in some circumstances. Chromatic aberration is present but fairly well controlled throughout the zoom range. At 35mm the lens is slower (f4) and a little less sharp, though distortion is low.
The obvious competitors to the Tamron SP AF17-35/2.8-4 Di LD Aspherical (IF) (ca. $460) are the Canon EF 17-40/4L (ca. $680) and the Canon 16-35/2.8L (ca $1400) in the Canon line, and the Sigma 17-35/2.8-4 EX DG (ca $470). Unfortunately I can't make any direct comparisons since neither Canon nor Sigma have provided me with lenses to test!
I did look at a few shots taken with the Canon EF-S 18-55/3.5-5.6 lens and compared them with the The Tamron SP AF17-35/2.8-4 Di LD Aspherical (IF). Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, when stopped down there wasn't much difference in the center of the frame. The Tamron lens tended to give better images wide open and at the edge, but for a 20D/Digital Rebel owner the question of whether the Tamron is worth 5x the cost of the Canon is a difficult one. The images certainly aren't 5x as good. The Tamron is undoubtedly better built, covers the full 35mm frame and is faster, but if you're shooting stopped down with an APS-C sensor digital camera, the EF-S 18-55 does pretty well in the 18-35mm range (it gets weak at 55mm). See the EF-S 18-55 review.
If you're looking for a fast, wide (17mm) lens, the Tamron is a stop faster than the Canon 17-40/4L at the wide end and over $200 cheaper, which makes it an attractive option. It's $950 cheaper than the Canon 16-35/2.8L, though the Canon is 1mm wider and a constant f2.8. Both Canon lenses are USM with full time manual focus and the Tamron isn't, so that factors into the equation too. If you're looking for a lens mainly for the longer end, then the Canon 17-40/4L offers you an extra 5mm of focal length and the 16-35/2.8L offers you an extra stop. Overall the Tamron SP AF17-35/2.8-4 Di LD Aspherical (IF) seems like a fair compromise, perhaps not offering quite as much as the Canon "L" lenses in some respects, but available at a significantly lower cost.
Note that there is a $40 rebate on the Tamron SP AF17-35/2.8-4 Di LD Aspherical (IF), which runs until April 30th 2005. See http://www.tamron.com/lenses/assets/rebates/tam_rebate_Jan05.pdf for full details. Tamron's standard 6 year warranty applies on this lens.
Where to BuyAMAZON have the Tamron SP AF17-35/2.8-4 Di LD Aspherical (IF) in stock for immediate delivery.
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