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  Reviews by: Luke Ty  

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Canon EF-S 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM

Review Date: Feb 11, 2010 Recommend? yes | Price paid: Not Indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Insanely good IQ and keeper ratio, fast accurate focus, great color. Silent. IS USM Canon quality.
Does not come with a hood. Expensive.


I purchased Tamron's 17-50mm f/2.8 along with my Canon 30D several years ago. Frustrated with it's slow focus motor I purchased a used Canon 17-85mm IS. Focus was much faster, but Tamron's IQ and fixed aperture won me over. I've taken tens of thousands of pictures with the Tamron. It is a very nice lens, with a few irratating issues (slow/noisy focus, not as accurate as Canon USM, yellow cast to indoor images). After just missing focus for one time too many, I decided to plunk down the $$ for Canon's 17-55mm IS f/2.8. Now THIS is a GREAT lens.

Color and IQ are top notch, on par with my 70-200 f4 IS. Focus speed seems instant, and it's dead accurate. My keeper ratio is through the roof compared to my Tamron 17-50mm, mostly due to the MUCH better/faster USM focus system.

The lens hood is a rip off. No name Chinese hoods can be found for under $10 delivered. Quality is almost as good as Canon, good enough for me anyway. This lens is larger and heavier than similar models, but with the battery grip installed it's no big deal. Ease of use, IS, IQ and f/2.8 make up for the additional size and weight.

I love this lens.

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

Review Date: Oct 25, 2007 Recommend? | Price paid: Not Indicated

Pros: Light weight, IQ, fast aperture for a zoom.
Build quality? Slow and noisy AF.

I jinxed myself! One day after writing a review on this lens, it broke. My "clunky" zoom turned into a broken zoom. I believe some gears stripped in the zoom mechanism. Because I had a trip lined up I picked up the Canon 17-55mm IS f/.8 and used it over the weekend. The Canon feels large and heavy in comparison. All weekend I was actually wishing I had the smaller Tamron mounted while hiking around Skyline Drive in VA.

The Canon's USM blows Tamron's focus system away. It's much faster and hardly ever hunts for focus. Tamton's AF is not even in the same ballpark. The IS system was not very useful for me, but I could see how it might be useful for others who enjoy low light photography of static objects. To be fair I only used this lens for a weekend and mostly during daylight. I was only able to notice about a one stop advantage with the IS while using both lenses, carefully braced at around 50mm indoors. I feel IS is much more useful on telephoto lenses, but if the price were to come down it is a feature I would like to have.

Each lens has their advantages. The Canon may have better IQ and more accurate focus at f/2.8. Both lenses are very sharp and work very well overall. I prefer the location of Tamron's zoom ring over Canon's. The Tamron displays less distortion and light fall off at 17mm. Canon's USM is in another world compared to Tamron's AF (come on Tamron.....). The Tamron lens is more compact and light weight. The Canon cost almost $600 more and doesn't come with a lens hood (and it needs one!).

I'm glad to have had a chance to compare both lenses side by side. Now I can stop worrying if I bought the right lens. For the $$, I was expecting the Canon lens to be better built. I returned the Canon and sent the Tamron back for repairs. I've been using the excellent Canon 50mm 1.4 in the interim, but I can't wait to get my Tamron 17-50mm back in working order. If you've got deep pockets and don't mind lugging a bit more weight, the Canon is an excellent choice.

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

Review Date: Oct 14, 2007 Recommend? yes | Price paid: $450.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Extremely sharp, high IQ, close focusing, fixed f/2.8 aperture, compact and light weight, build quality.
No full time manual focus, focus hunts a bit in lower light, zoom ring is clunky at both ends. I wish this lens was just a tad wider and longer. It's not a Canon. ;)

I've got an early copy of this lens, made in Japan. I've had this lens for the better part of a year now. I just picked up my first Canon L lens (70-200mm f/4 IS) and it makes me appreciate the Tamron even more! Why? Because I consistently get beautiful SHARP images from the Tamron, easily on par with the Canon L glass. The Canon 70-200mm does have some pretty amazing buttery bokeah due to it's shallow DOF. Back to the Tamron, a fixed aperture of f/2.8, makes it a great all around zoom lens. This lens pretty much lives on my Canon 30D. I've also got an EF 50 1.4 USM, but the Tamron is SO good that I hardly mount the Canon 50mm 1.4 unless I know I'm going to be shooting in really low light or want to force myself to work without a zoom.

The close focusing distance of the Tamron allow for fantastic close up photography. This is not a macro lens, but it's pretty darn good. This is my second Tamron SP lens, the first being the excellent Tamron 24-135mm SP. My previous lens was both wider and longer when used on a 35mm body (Elan 7e). I do miss the range of my previous Tamron lens, but it was simply not wide enough on my newer 30D. I sold the 24-135mm and picked up the 17-50mm f/2.8. I have no regrets. The 17-50mm focuses much faster due to it's fixed f/2.8 aperture. The new lens is lighter and more compact and much better for indoor and low light use. The zoom ring has nice damping, but is still a bit clunky at both ends. The fixed aperture really makes the Tamron a nice zoom lens to work with.

Around f/4 on up this lens is just fantastic and SHARP. I love it. The lens is plenty usable at f/2.8 but the DOF is very shallow and some CA is noticeable. Sometimes I desire the Canon 17-55mm f/2.8 IS, until I remember how much it costs! The IQ, price and convenience of the smaller and lighter Tamron lens make it an excellent choice. I haven't found myself wanting IS very often at this focal length anyway.

There is some CA visible when shooting certain conditions wide open. The manual focus ring is not that great either. Auto focus works very well most of the time, but does make a little bit of noise. The lens does hunt more than decent Canon USM lenses, but with enough light this usually isn't a problem. I often find myself trying to twist the zoom ring wider. When I need more reach I can move closer to the subject or switch to a longer lens. Sometimes this is not possible when trying to include more of the subject in the frame. Due to this the Canon 10-22mm USM is on my short list of things I'd like to acquire in the near future.

The Tamron has got to be one of the nicest all around lenses at this price and focal length for a cropped sensor DSLR. I realize there are many out there who would prefer a 17-300mm, but at what cost? The Tamron 17-50 covers the most used focal lengths and does it at a fixed with fixed f/2.8 aperture and great IQ. I've tried and owned more than a few great EOS lenses, most of them made by Canon. I've consolidated, swapped and sold off most of my lenses leaving me with the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8, Canon 50mm 1.4mm USM and the Canon 70-200mm f/4 IS. I'm very happy with this light weight high quality combination of lenses. The Tamron IQ holds it's own when compared to my other Canon lenses, including the 100mm f.2.8 USM macro that I just sold.

This lens would be perfect if it was equipped with a USM type focus system and was a few mm wider. If you're looking for a sweet all around lens for your cropped sensor DSLR, check out the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8.