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Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II LD AF SP Aspherical L IF
Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II VC
|ePHOTOzine's Will Cheung enjoys the countryside with two Tamron zoom lenses, the 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II VC (on the left) and the 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II LD AF SP Aspherical L IF (on the camera).|
I love taking photographs, regardless of subject. Like many photographers, however, I especially enjoy landscape. I suppose that is because landscape, in its broadest sense, just means views, whether they are street scenes, seascapes or cityscapes.
I have been using a pair of lovely Tamron lenses for the past few months. The Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II LD AF SP Aspherical (IF) and the Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 XR Di II VC make for a lightweight and versatile pairing on my Nikon D300. With the camera’s 1.5x crop factor the pair gives a total focal length range of 15mm to 75mm equivalent in the full-frame 35mm format. As a keen wide-angler, that suits me down to the ground.
My preference for wide-angles for scenic subjects is because I like to use bold foregrounds and plenty of depth-of-field to give compositions a strong foundation and to pull the viewer into the image. It also gives me the chance to make more of dramatic skies.
Over the past few weeks, London, the Lake District and the seaside are places I have been shooting with this lens pairing and very impressed I am too.
|Castlerigg Stone Circle captured early in the morning using the Tamron 10-24mm on a Nikon D300. Exposure at ISO200 was 1/250sec at f/11 with two Cokin filters, a blue graduate and a warm-up, were held in front of the lens.||The ultrawide Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II LD AF SP Aspherical L (IF) is a pleasure to use.|
This is a sweet little lens, giving the equivalent of a 15-36mm in the 35mm format, and has the family cosmetics of a gold-coloured band around its barrel. The focal length range is impressive given the lens’ compact size and the widest setting is brilliant for interior work too. Good value too, for an ultrawide, selling at £384.99 from Warehouse Express.
Handling is typically Tamron, i.e. generally excellent with smooth manual focusing and zoom actions. A switch on the barrel takes you from AF to manual operation. The autofocusing works fine and is quick enough that speed is not an issue. The same applies to noise and while you can hear the lens focusing in quiet conditions the lens’ AF motor is all but inaudible in normal shooting conditions.
Autofocus is accurate and quite speedy and rarely is manual focus required. If it is, the manual focusing barrel is smooth to use.
The wide angle of view is probably one reason why the screw-in filter thread is 77mm. A hood is supplied, but given its design a Hoya HD skylight filter with its thin frame is advised to protect the gently protruding front element.
No complaints about the optical prowess of this optic and images are sharp, as you can see here. I shot wide open as well as fully stopped down and while there is slight softening of finer detail at both extremes of the aperture range, especially in the corners, it was nothing more than I would expect. However, I made several A3+ size prints from my scenic images and there is no problem with sharpness and fine detail is nicely resolved.
Stopping down does improve optical quality, as you would expect. The lens shows its best at f/8 or f/11 and at these settings optical quality is very good and close to excellent, especially at the centre of the frame. The edges were not too far behind either, which is great news. Stopping down to f/22 did cause the usual softening due to diffraction but that is typical of lens performance.
Flare resistance is good too. I shot direct into the sun on several occasions – even without the supplied hood - and the images did not suffer too much from contrast degradation or ghosting.
|Direct sun just out of frame was no problem and no signs of flare are noticeable.||
A hint of warmth has added by using a P-series Cokin 81B warm-up filter.
|Shot at 1/45sec and f/16 for lots of depth-of-field. No sign of camera shake.||
Another shot taken at f/16 for maximum front-to-back sharpness.
Using creative filters such as Cokin is the only notable drawback and this is no surprise given the extreme angle of view at the shorter end of the lens. I did have a Cokin P Landscape kit handy so I tried that, but when the lens is wider than 15mm there is cut off at the sides of the image. Obviously you can see this in the viewfinder so is easily avoided should you want to use filters at the wide end of the zoom range.
Although it is a little fiddly and not great technique it is possible to simply hold filters against the front of the lens. The key thing to avoid is your fingers getting into shot. I managed to hold a blue graduate and a warm-up in front of the lens and kept my digits out of shot. When you do use filters in the holder, they stay in the same position when the lens focuses so you do not have to realign the filter holder if focus is adjusted.
Of course, one of the great things of using a very wide-angle lens is the extensive depth-of-field that is possible. With an aperture of f/11 and f/16 everything from within touching distance to infinity is in sharp focus. You get great depth-of-field even at f/8 at normal shooting distances.
Minimum focusing distance is 24cm so you can get very close to the subject. At this distance, there is some darkening in the corners, though, at focal lengths shorter than 15mm so watch for that.
Overall, this is a lovely lens and I was perfectly happy leaving this optic on the camera as my ‘standard’ lens when I was walking in the Lake District. Given that this lens is in the shops for under £400 (£384.99 from Warehouse Express) that is excellent value for wide-angle fans among you.
For a full technical review of this lens click here.
The Tamron 17-50mm is a silky smooth lens to use and
having the advantage of a fast f/2.8 maximum aperture
is a major benefit. This shot was taken at 1/60sec at f/13 at ISO 200 on a Nikon D300.
|The Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II VC is compact for a fast aperture standard zoom|
If you bought a DSLR with its kit lens and have been frustrated by its limited maximum aperture, the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II VC lens is a worthwhile and significant upgrade. For a lens with a constant f/2.8 aperture throughout its focal length range, it is remarkably compact and makes a perfect partner for a medium-sized DSLR like the Nikon D300 I used for this review. Optics of similar specification from the camera brands can be significantly bigger, not to mention much more pricey. It is £529.99 from Warehouse Express right now.
There are several benefits of having a lens that is f/2.8 throughout rather than f/3.5 to f/5.6. For example, the faster aperture does give a brighter viewing image and means you can shoot in lower light without having to increase ISO as much, so there is a significant benefit in image quality. Also, the wider aperture is better for throwing distracting backgrounds out of focus when you are shooting portraits.
Something easier to quantify is the Tamron VC (Vibration Compensation) system that makes a welcome appearance in this lens. I say welcome because any aid to reduce the risk of blurred pictures due to camera shake is worth its weight in gold, and Tamron’s VC technology is as good as anything I have used.
The VC system uses three tiny internal motors to move compensating lens elements to stop camera shake. You can see this in action when you touch the shutter release when the camera is on and up to the eye. In quiet conditions, you can hear the VC system too but only because you are so close to the camera. In normal shooting, it is a non-issue.
In my tests, the VR system proved very effective and you can see the results below.
Without VR at a mid point, 36mm, I was getting sharp, handheld images at 1/30sec but camera shake was clearly obvious at slower shutter speeds. With VR on, I got to 1/10sec consistently without camera shake and on occasion even as low as 1/8sec and 1/4sec and still got sharp images.
One key benefit of the f/2.8 aperture is only realized if the lens delivers a respectable optical performance at this setting. If you had to stop-down the lens three stops to enjoy good sharpness, having a brighter viewing image is the only gain of having the f/2.8 aperture.
The good news is that contrast and resolution are very good at maximum aperture and further improvement can be made by stopping down.
Resistance to flare is also excellent. The lens does come supplied with a bayonet-fit hood, like the 10-24mm, but I used both without hoods on more than one occasion and, even with the low sun, I never worried about flare or contrast degradation.
|At its wide end, the 17-50mm is suitable for general scenic photography.||
Image resolution proved impressive throughout the aperture range.
A focal length of 19mm is roughly 28mm in the 35mm full-frame format.
||The Tamron 17-50mm showed excellent against-the-light performance.|
In summary, while this 17-50mm zoom is not a cheap lens, selling at £529.99 at Warehouse Express, it has a lot to commend it. It is compact, especially if you consider that it is f/2.8 throughout and has an effective camera-shake mechanism built-in, covers very popular focal lengths (equivalent to 26-75mm in the 35mm format) and delivers very impressive optical performance. It is a worthwhile upgrade for those with kit zooms, but also has great appeal to all photographers wanting a fast aperture standard zoom. It comes highly recommended.
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Tamron SP AF 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II LD Aspherical (IF) Specifications
|Focal Length||10mm - 24mm|
|Angle of View||61° - 109°|
|Max Aperture||f/3.5 - f/4.5|
|Min Aperture||No Data|
|35mm equivalent||No Data|
|Internal focusing||No Data|
|Box Contents||No Data|
Tamron SP AF 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di II VC LD Aspherical [IF] Specifications
|Focal Length||17mm - 50mm|
|Angle of View||32° - 79°|
|35mm equivalent||No Data|
|Internal focusing||No Data|
|Box Contents||No Data|