Nov 152009

There is a funny thing going on with this new Tamron SP AF 17-50mm 2.8 XR Di II VC LD Asp IF. Sometimes it does not focus.

What happens is this: I try to make an image, I recognize that the camera does not focus, i.e. I get no AF confirmation beep (yes, Ken Rockwell says that’s unmanly, I know :)), I turn the camera off, on again, half-press the shutter release, and it works. Perfect autofocus.

It doesn’t happen all the time. I can’t yet tell when it happens and when not. Due to the way I work, it does not really bother me, but I recognize that it may bother other people to the point where it renders this lens useless for them. Just think of someone using it to photograph children or animals. This is the kind of photography where you can’t accept that a lens sometimes needs a hard reset.

As I said, so far I have not found out if there is a certain pattern, and if so, what the pattern is. Those things need time, but I currently look into it, consciously try to find it out. The only thing that’s for sure at the moment is, that there is indeed a problem.

If you have such a lens (I am talking of the new, stabilized version), regardless of what your experience is, if it works for you or not, please drop me a line. I’m really interested to find out.

The Song of the Day is “Silver & Gold” from Neil Young’s equally titled 2000 album. See part of a live performance on YouTube.

  6 Responses to “1128 – Silver & Gold”

  1. not very good at technical specifications of camera stuff.
    i think stuff has to do, where for it is ment for. if it doesn’t, it sucks.
    like cars with flat tires 🙂 they are out of focus.

    of course it doen’st mean that you can’t have a jolly good time.
    call it an unexpected chance to focus more on things you love to do. 🙂
    focus or out of focus or even not always reliable autofocuses.
    if you’ve got an eye for it, it will always bring you something 🙂

    have a nice evening, andreas 🙂

  2. this time i prefer the blueish silver image
    i think it’s the focus on the type, i love so much
    and the light 🙂

  3. I have got the focus problem with my 17-50 VC as well. In my case it´s a result of turning the focus-ring when the focus-button is set at auto-focus. The only way to get it focus again, is to “restart” the camera, just as you mentioned.

    I was very happy with the Tamron 17-50 VC until I bought the Canon 15-85 IS (lucky bargain 125$!!). The Canon lens focus a lot faster and more silent than the Tamron. I also prefer the bokeh and saturation of the Canon, but I guess this is a matter of taste. In addition the focus-range of the Canon is almost twice the size of the Tamron. I regard the 15-85 IS as the best all-round lens in the crop-camera segment, and use it at least 75% of the time. If I need a larger aperture than the 15-85 IS offer, I most often use my Canon 50mm 1,8. I only use the Tamron in relatively dark settings that recuire wide-angle, and the use of flash is either prohibited or by other reasons not prefered. I would rather recommend the combination of Canon 15-85 IS, than a Tamron 17-50 VC. In addition the 15-85 IS fit much better than the 17-50 VC to a Canon 70-200mm. I think a set of 50mm 1,8 or 1,4, a 15-85 IS and a 70-200mm IS will cover most photographers demands. If you regard 3x zoom, IS and f2.8 extremely attractive, I would rather try the Canon 17-55 IS. I have only tested the 17-55 IS a couple of days, but in my opinion this lens is far better than the 17-50 VC.

    (Sorry, my written English is horrible. I promise to improve it in the future.)

  4. So far I have used three copies of the second version (non VC) of this lens. All three now and then needed a reset by turning the camera off and on. I find this very annoying and appareantly Tamron hasn’t solved this problem. To me it’s a real showstopper. Even the cheapest Nikon 18-55 VR (79 euro) never fails like this. Maybe the Sigma equivalent is better?

    • John, that’s extremely interesting to hear.

      You may have followed my adventures with this lens, but maybe not, so let me tell you that sometime in Spring I dropped my camera bag, a LowePro Slingshot 200, from a height of about one meter. The bag was closed, it is well padded, I didn’t even look inside, because I was sure nothing bad could have happened.

      Not so. While all other lenses and the camera were just fine, the Tamron was broken. Not the glass, but the barrel. There was a gap between the lens mount and the zoom ring. I sent the lens in for repair, Tamron asked no questions, and I got the same lens back (I checked the serial number), it was fixed, and since then I have no AF problems any more. They must have made a firmware upgrade.

      Unfortunately I got the lens back with another, new problem. When I have not used it for a few hours, the first shot tends to be overexposed, because the aperture fails to close upon exposure. The camera meters at f2.8, and when I have dialed in, say, f8 and when the aperture does not actually stop down to f8 upon exposure, the image is overexposed by three stops.

      I had the lens for a second repair, it’s better now, but the problem is still there. I suppose though, that this could be a mechanical problem, most likely a consequence of the fall.

      Thus: Tamron seems to have fixed their occasional AF problems. I never had them again. I think it must have been a software bug. Overall the Tamron lenses seem fragile though. At least mine is.

  5. I have the same focusing problem with my vc model. It seems the lens has problems focusing when I use focusing points other than the middle one ( I own a canon 450d). I have only had the lens for a couple of days but other than the problem I have just mentioned I am happy with the lens. Having a constant f2.8 throught the zoom range offers more versatility than mu 17-55 IS kit lens. I should mention that I am a relatively to photography, so my opinion of this lens may change as I get more experienced.

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