Nov 292009
 

Here is another HDR image from this afternoon. It’s again been tone-mapped with Essential HDR. I like the snappy look that this program produces.

I have labeled this post to be part of my review of the Tamron SP AF 17-50mm 2.8 XR Di II VC LD Asp IF, the lens that I have bought three weeks ago and that I use exclusively at the moment. I have no interesting sample images, but I thought I should relate another problem of this lens, a problem that I ran into just yesterday and that could influence your buying decision.

Lens flares, ghosts, all sorts of fancy colored things will haunt you when you point this lens towards the sun. It is as if light bounces around and gets reflected back to the sensor by every single element in this lens. In fact, I think that’s just what’s happening 🙂

This is no lens to shoot into the sun. Never. It’s not bad, it’s disastrous. Don’t do it.

I will look into this deeper, and I will give you samples. This will most likely not happen before next weekend. I need bright sun and some time for this. On the other hand, whatever my attempts at a more exact method may unearth, it won’t change the result substantially.

How does this change my verdict? Hmm … not really. I have bought this lens for two purposes, as a travel zoom and as a low light lens. I have not yet used it on any trip, especially not in bright sunlight, but from the sunny days so far I can say that it performs very well as long as you don’t have the sun in your frame. I guess I can live with that. And the low light part is just perfect.

Let me put it this way: Each lens is a compromise. The cheaper the lens, the bigger the compromises. By and large you tend to get what you pay for. If you look at it this way, and if you account for the fantastic low-light capability, the excellent sharpness and the stabilization, then this lens is certainly a fine purchase. It is a good overall performer, it is a low light wonder, the occasional autofocus hiccups are too rare to make much effect, distortions are so-so, and finally flares are a problem. OK, my advice is very simple: just use this lens for what it is best at. Use it, don’t abuse it. Avoid shooting into the sun and you’re OK. There are other lenses better suited for that. It’s a compromise.

The Song of the Day is “Sun Goes Down” from the 2003 Deep Purple album “Bananas”. Hear it on YouTube.

  5 Responses to “1143 – Sun Goes Down”

  1. Howdy Andreas!

    I bought a Tamron SP AF 17-50mm 2.8 XR Di II VC LD Asp IF on the 20th at my local camera shop (arlingtoncamera.com) for $629.95 with a $25 mail in rebate. I took it off a few days after I purchased it (very briefly) but it has not been off my camera since then. I absolutely love this lens!

    It is certainly cheap when compared to the Nikon equivilent (without VR no less) but not what I consider a cheap lens. The Nikon 35mm f/1.8G AF-S DX is a cheap lens. The Sigma 70-300mm f/4-5.6 SLD DG Macro is a cheap lens. They are both inexpensive and perform on par with the price.

    I am not sure what I love more, the close focus, the sharpness or the creamy bokeh…

    I’ve uploaded a few shots to Flickr that were taken with it:
    http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=Tamron%20SP%20AF%2017-50mm%202.8%20XR%20Di%20II%20VC%20LD%20Asp%20IF&w=all&s=int

    I took a few more shots today despite the rain and my back glass being shot with a BB gun. I will be uploading them to Flickr as time permits (and tagging the same way).

    • Hi Matthew, welcome here. You’re right, it is only cheap when compared to the current standard of professional zooms. Even the Nikon 17-55/2.8 is not what I would consider “standard”. It severely lacks stabilization. That’s even true for the current 24-70/2.8, but people seem to excuse that. It’s still interesting that Nikonians are the only pro camera users who are denied a stabilized 24-70/2.8 (or equivalent). Canon has it, Sony, Olympus and Pentax stabilize the sensor. It’s curious that Nikon gets away with it 🙂

      As to the Tamron: you will love it, and especially so in dark places.

  2. I often find HDR images to be “harsh” in their results but your results with Essential HDR are not — the application or your expert use of it? I may take a look at it, thanks.

    I agree after purchasing any lens you have to adjust to it’s strengths and weaknesses. But I’d be interested to know after your experiences with this Tamron 17-50mm lens, if you had a do-over, would you buy it again paying what you paid before?

    • Earl, I really don’t like fiddling in HDR applications. I use one of their presets, export as TIFF and do everything else in Photoshop. My results from the HDR programs are normally much in need of contrast and some saturation. I really use the HDR mappers to contain the dynamic range.

      As to buying it again: yes. I am really, really satisfied with this lens. I suppose for a Canon user it would be tempting to spend more for the stabilized Canon version (maybe), but for Nikon you really have no choice. I could imagine (well, I really can) buying the Nikon 16-85 as well, and to use that as the “sunny weather travel zoom”, but what I needed and wanted now, was something for the long night that is winter 🙂

  3. I tested 2 of these new lenses and both had reproducible auto focus problem mentioned by the author. Switch to manual focus and set it completely off to one of the sides. Switch back to auto focus, point at a subject and press the release button half-way: at one of the previously set out of focus positions the lens will fail to focus. I think a second revision of this lens where the issue is fixed is likely to appear.

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