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Tamron 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical [IF]

1750diII
Review Date: Nov 22, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $360.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Build Quality, Image sharpness, color rendering, wide angle ability, price, fast AF, inclusion of hood, 7 year warranty.
Cons:
MF ring, AF reliability and loudness, the fact it's not a Canon. APS-C only

(I should point out my copy AF'd perfectly out of the box; if working as it should, the AF will simply creep a little in low light, and not do so well with minor adjustments. Otherwise it works great. It's safe to say really disgusted users were dealing with a ''bad'' copy, which has been recognized in early-production models. Mine is a 2010 and works as it should)
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So, like many of you, I was looking to replace the soft-as-heck-but-still-good-value 18-55 IS kit lens that came on my Canon body (a t2i). After considering the 17-85, 17-40L, Sigma equivalent and, to a lesser degree, 15-85 and 17-55IS (both above my $ but still looked at), I chose the Tammy.

Impressions:

- Build: excellent quality, feels more metal than plastic, great zoom ring, cheap manual ring, GREAT weight and dimensions for smaller bodies (t1i to 7d sized). Makes 18-55 look like a farce, betters 17-85 and sigmas. Most similar, albeit slightly inferior, to 17-55 and 15-85) but hood and caps are superior.

-Functionality: great zooming (smooth turning and ring feels great (dampened)), only 17-40L zoomed as smoothly imo, focusing system is so-so, it's cons being inconsistent precision, oddly placed manual ring/switch and some creeping in low-light. Most annoying sound of AF makes us forget it is generally very fast and efficient. Particularly for travel and casual shooting, I found the AF satisfactory. 2.8 aperture speaks for itself, it's amazing how it contributes to shooting options.

-Image Quality: Breathtaking, period. Even with strong expectations I expected less. Bright, crisp, sharp as tack, lush colors, you name it. Most impressive was this lens' sheer width (almost sure it goes to 16!) and performance from 17-35. CA, vignetting and barrel distortion all hardly an issue (unlike kit lens). A touch stopped down gives terrific corner sharpness!! IQ advantage over the competition was so obvious I could confirm it in the camera store. I couldn't believe how it easily outperformed Canon's 17-40L and 17-85 at the same aperture settings. Only the 15-85 and 17-55IS seemed to perform a touch better above 35mm (same apertures)

Conclusion: If you're an objective enough shopper, then you'll fully appreciate this lens. From my testing perspective, it was most baffling when comparing to 17-40L to think that this lens was below 500$. Put a Canon name-tag on it and it would be the king of the consumer coop, quite simply; it's better than 18-55, 17-85, Sigma lenses in every respect, better than 17-40 in IQ, as good as 15-85 in IQ (sometimes better) and build, only slightly inferior to 17-55 (though the smaller size and price are nice). No illusions here, the 16-35 2.8L destroys them all (I tested it for fun)
If you have to have the Canon brand, don't buy this lens. Otherwise, buy this lens. Even with a handsome budget, unless you already own all of the lenses you've considered, I would still recommend the Tamron over the 17-55IS (price difference = a 70-200mm f4 L, or even a 50mm 1.4 + 85mm 1.8!!) I mean, the 17-55 doesnt even have the advantage of working on a full-body.
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Here are some shots I took with the 17-50 and a T2i (keep in mind the reduced quality from JPEG conversion)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/leftimage/5197311653/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/leftimage/5195456460/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/leftimage/5191203770/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/leftimage/5178917909/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/leftimage/5113324062/

Oh and here's an interesting comparison on the digital-picture charts (Glaring IQ superiority to 17-40L) :

http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=400&Camera=474&Sample=0&FLIComp=0&APIComp=0&LensComp=100&CameraComp=474&SampleComp=0&FLI=0&API=2
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Bravo Tamron, for a great lens.


 
Canon EF 100-300mm f/4.5-5.6 USM

ef100_300f45_56_1_
Review Date: Nov 22, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: IQ from 100-250mm, build quality, ultrasonic motor, price, full-time manual focus works effectively, size.
Cons:
IQ at 300mm, zoom ring, lack of IS/aperture limit use.

Bought this lens (gently)used from a gentleman on craigslist. Information on this lens is relatively limited online, so my expectations were somewhat uninformed. Essentially, I was hoping I'd be getting a better-built, silent-focusing, FTM version of the new 55-250mm. I had been looking hard for alternatives to Canon's newer zooms, having been bitterly disappointed by the 18-55 IS's performance on my T2I (especially regarding IQ).

I was about to pull the trigger on the 70-300is until I ran into this baby on CL. Did a quick check up and went for it.
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Impressions:
- build: Wow, a ''throwback'' build that can be described as a less modern version of the 70-300is standard: mostly metal, will survive fumbles and tumbles just fine (classic ''mid-range''). More than pleased with this aspect.

-functionality: AF if decent light works very well, quite fast, in complete silence. Very little creeping with good precision. FTM as advertised, works perfectly even if I don't know the age of this one. Zoom ring sucks; maybe just my copy, but i'm better off turning camera and holding ring to change length.

-IQ:. Very, very impressive sharpness and color rendering. NOT what you'd expect in entry-level telezoom today, but rather what you'd expect from mid-range with a 600$ tag on it. And bokeh quality was a pleasant surprise, lens very useful for portraits.
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Conclusions:I've since tried it side-by-side with a 55-250m and a 70-300m and their owners; we all agreed the 100-300m was much closer to the 70- than to the 50- in every respect, and agreed the main diff with the 70- was the more limited range, weaker IQ at 300 and lack of IS.

What I like most about this lens is that it's limitations are stated in the lens' title, like most of Canon's mid-ranges. In this case it means forget about hand-held in less-than-ideal light. In good light? great results, period. (the 55-250m IS overstates it's capabilities, which are better represented by it's price imho)

If you're shopping for a telezoom in the 100-300$ range, buy this lens, period. If you're looking closely at the 70-200m f4 and 70-300m IS, and your main concern is budgetary, then you take a look at this one before deciding.
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Modern supersensors like Canon's latest, and the use of RAW will result in terrific images. Take a look at a few shots I took with this lens and a T2I (Keeping in mind they're in reduced-quality JPEG format, and they're all HAND-HELD!)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/leftimage/5185822395/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/leftimage/5182733059/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/leftimage/5182729233/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/leftimage/5172904376/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/leftimage/5164867079/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/leftimage/5164867533/

Finally, If you really want to be shocked, look how it compares to the 70-300 on the digital-picture blog's iso chart:

http://www.the-digital-picture.com/Reviews/ISO-12233-Sample-Crops.aspx?Lens=288&Camera=453&Sample=0&FLI=0&API=0&LensComp=358&CameraComp=453&SampleComp=0&FLIComp=1&APIComp=0

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Hooray for this lens!