Tamron SP AF 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II VC LD IF Lens Review

Tamron SP AF 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II VC LD IF Lens Review

A full Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II VC Lens review is planned, but here is a quick lab-only review:

 
Based on the quality-for-the-price ratio of the non-VC Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II Lens, I had very high hopes for the Tamron 17-50 VC. Taking the good image quality of the non-VC 17-50 and adding vibration control to it sounded like a recipe for success to me. A recipe that should close the feature/benefits gap between it and the excellent Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens.

Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II VC Lens on Canon EOS 60D - Top View with Hood

Preliminary findings from lab-only testing have been somewhat disheartening however. You can see the image quality results in the ISO 12233 resolution chart link above. Basically, the Tamron 17-50 VC is reasonably sharp in the center at its constant wide open aperture of f/2.8. Corners, however, are very soft wide open. All four corners are similarly soft throughout the focal length range with the exception of 35mm where the right side is slightly softer (shown in ISO 12233 results) than the left. The difference at 35mm is not very significant though.

As is usually the case with a lens that does not deliver excellent image quality with a wide open aperture, stopping down the Tamron 17-50 VC results in a noticeable optical performance improvement. The wider half of the 17-50 VC looks much better at f/4 and the longer half prefers f/5.6.

The Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II VC Lens has strong barrel distortion at 17mm transitioning to slight barrel distortion at 24mm and to essentially no distortion at 35mm and 50mm. CA (Chromatic Aberration) is very well controlled with CA being evident primarily in the 17mm corners.

Between 1.5 and 2 stops of vignetting is visible in the corners. By f/4, vignetting is much improved with some corner darkening still visible at 17mm where is remains slightly visible even at f/8 where .9 stops of shading remain.

ModelWeightDimensions w/o HoodFilterYear 
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4.0 L USM Lens16.8 oz(475g)3.3 x 3.8"(84 x 97mm)77mm2003
Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II Lens15.3 oz(434g)3.2 x 2.9"(81.7 x 74mm)67mm2006
Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II VC Lens20.1 oz(570g)3.1 x 3.7"(79.6 x 94.5mm)72mm2009
Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens22.8 oz(645g)3.3 x 4.4"(83.5 x 110.6mm)77mm2006
Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens16.8 oz(475g)3.1 x 3.6"(79 x 92mm)67mm2004
Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens7.1 oz(200g)2.7 x 2.8"(68.5 x 70mm)58mm2007
Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens16.1 oz(455g)3.0 x 4.0"(75.4 x 101mm)67mm2009
Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens21 oz(595g)3.1 x 4.0"(78.6 x 102mm)72mm2008
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM Lens33.5 oz(950g)3.3 x 4.9"(83 x 124mm)77mm2002
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens23.7 oz(670g)3.3 x 4.2"(83.5 x 107mm)77mm2005
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di Lens18 oz(510g)2.9 x 3.6"(73 x 92mm)67mm
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens10.2 oz(290g)2.9 x 2"(74 x 51mm)58mm1993
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Lens4.6 oz(130g)2.7 x 1.6"(68 x 41mm)52mm1990

 
Overall, the Tamron 17-50mm non-VC lens is sharper, has less vignetting, has a similar amount of CA and has less barrel distortion on the wide end but more pincushion distortion on the long end. The non-VC 17-50 is a bit smaller and lighter. Obviously the 17-50 VC has the 4-stop-rated (I didn't test this yet) stabilization advantage.

Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II VC Lens' AF is loud. AF speed is not bad, but the noise deceptively makes the focusing seem slow. VC is also loud.

Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II VC Lens Product Images

Select View:  MFD |    MFD |    w/ Hood:  MFD |    MFD |    Rotated        Compare >

Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II VC Lens Compared to Similar 17-50mm Lenses

Positioned above from left to right in their fully retracted positions are the following lenses:
Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II Lens
Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II Lens
Sigma 17-50mm f/2.8 EX DC OS HSM Lens
Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II VC Lens
Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens

The same lenses are shown below in their fully extended states with their lens hoods in place.

Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II VC Lens Compared to Similar 17-50mm Lenses with Hoods

Click on the image below to compare the Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II VC Lens to other lens models with and without hoods (opens in new window to save your place in this review).

Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II VC Lens on Camera Comparison

ModelMFDMM
Canon EF 17-40mm f/4.0 L USM Lens11.0"(280mm).25x
Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II Lens10.6"(270mm).25x
Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II VC Lens11.4"(290mm).21x
Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM Lens13.8"(350mm).16x
Canon EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens11.8"(300mm).20x
Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens9.8"(250mm).34x
Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens17.7"(450mm).21x
Canon EF-S 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens17.7"(450mm).24x
Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM Lens15.0"(380mm).29x
Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens17.7"(450mm).23x
Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 XR Di Lens13.0"(330mm).26x
Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM Lens17.7"(450mm).15x
Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Lens17.7"(450mm).15x

I will try to find time for a full Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II VC Lens review.

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