If you’re satisfied with the focal length of your current kit lens, but feel you could make use of a wider aperture, the Tamron 17-50mm SP AF f/2.8 XR Di VC LD (IF) is a good option, particularly for those on a budget. The lens offers a constant maximum aperture of f/2.8 regardless of the focal length. This makes it better suited to shooting in low light and achieving a shallow depth-of-field.
The Tamron is available in Canon and Nikon fit and comes with built-in tri-axial Vibration Control to reduce camera shake on three different planes, so users can get sharp handheld images at shutter speeds 4 stops slower than would otherwise be possible. A stabilised image is also very useful for capturing smooth handheld video footage. The lens feels well-built, with a rubberised coating on the focus and zoom rings. The barrel itself is all plastic, but appears fairly durable, and the mount which connects the lens to the camera is metal, unlike on some kit lenses.
The 17-50mm has an extending lens barrel when the zoom ring is turned. However, the barrel doesn’t increase in length during focusing, and it doesn’t rotate during focusing or zooming, which is perfect when using polarising filters. Plus the barrel can be locked at 17mm when not in use to avoid lens creep. Image quality isn’t as strong as rival lenses that we have tested, with lack of sharpness at wider apertures, especially in the corners and some chromatic aberration is visible at subject edges.
The constant maximum aperture of f/2.8 makes this better suited to low-light shooting, but there’s some lack of sharpness.
- Street price: £329 (As of June 2016)
- Max Aperture: f/2.8
- Min aperture: f/32
- Min focus distance: 29cm
- Image stabilisation: Yes
- Diaphragm blades: 7
- Angle of view: 78-31º
- No. of elements: 19, in 14 groups
- Filter size: 72mm
- Extending lens barrel: Yes
- Available mounts: Nikon, Canon
- Full frame compatible: No, APS-C only
- Length: 95mm
- Weight: 570g
- Visit: www.tamron.eu/uk
This review was first published in the November 2014 issue of Practical Photography - download back issues here.