Need an ultra-wide-angle zoom lens? Most of us do.
Need a lightweight, compact, simple-to-use lens? Few will complain about these features.
Want good image quality but also want a low price? Again, most of us do.
If any of your answers to these questions were "yes," the full-frame-compatible Tamron 17-35mm f/2.8-4 Di OSD Lens might have your name on it.
One of the first reasons to buy a lens or to select a lens for use is because the focal length or focal length range meets the needs of the subject being photographed. Lenses containing an Ultra-wide-angle zoom focal length range are extremely popular and for a good reason: there are a huge number of subjects best captured with this range.
Lenses in this category vary somewhat in their starting and stopping focal lengths with 16-35mm perhaps being most standard (in my mind at least) and I find this range useful as a gauge for comparing the other options. In this case, the 17mm wide end is slightly narrower than 16mm. The angle of view difference 1mm in focal length makes is minuscule at telephoto focal lengths, but the angle of view difference between 16mm and 17mm is noticeable (and wider options exist). Still, 17mm is really wide. On the long end, this lens hits the full 35mm I use for the comparable.
When you cannot get any farther away from your subject but still need to get a wide area of view in the frame, you want an ultra-wide-angle lens. Better still is to be able to choose an ultra-wide-angle for perspective reasons. An ultra-wide-angle lens has the capability, via perspective, of making a foreground object (ideally something interesting or attractive such as a flower) appear large and emphasized in relation to a distant yet potentially in-focus background with a vast amount of background in the frame and with subjects in the background rendered relatively small. To the vast amount of background point, especially careful attention must be paid to ultra-wide-angle composition — hopefully the background is as attractive as the foreground. I generally find excellent ultra-wide compositions more challenging to create than normal or telephoto compositions, but when the right scene is found, ultra-wide results are tremendously rewarding.
The foreground emphasis with background inclusion capability fits especially well with landscape photography and this entire focal length range is perfect for that use. Start looking for a beautiful patch of flowers in front of a large mountain range (perhaps with a lake between them for an additional layer of interest) to utilize the ultra-wide-angle concepts just discussed. Or zoom to 35mm to take in a smaller angle of view, keeping distant subjects (such as mountains) larger in the frame. Also, try using a wide-open aperture with that close subject, letting the background go out of focus and drawing more emphasis on the foreground subject.
The only-mildly-wide-angle 35mm long end of this focal length is easy to compose with. This ultra-popular focal length shows a natural perspective, allowing the viewer to feel part of the scene.
While a close-up wide-angle perspective can look amazing in a landscape scene, it is generally to be avoided when a person is the primary subject. What you do not (usually) want to appear large in the foreground of your ultra-wide composition is a person's nose. We do not typically look at a person from really close distances and if we do, that person becomes uncomfortable with us being in their personal space (and even more so when a camera is in hand). When we look at photos of people captured from very close distances, certain body parts (usually the nose) start to look humorously (to some) large. Unique portrait perspectives can be fun, but this technique should not be overused as it quickly gets old. Get the telephoto lens out for your tightly-framed portraits.
However, that does not mean wide-angle focal lengths are not a good choice for photographing people. Simply move back and include people in a larger scene, creating environmental portraits. The 35mm focal length is a great choice for full-body portraits and this focal length range also nicely handles small up to very large groups. Note that group photography requiring an ultra-wide-angle focal length to fit everyone in the frame often leaves those in the front row appearing considerably larger than those in the back row. Back up or move the subjects back to reduce the multi-row perspective issue.
The 17-35mm focal length range is a great option for the wide work at weddings, family gatherings, and at other events as well as for photojournalism and sports photography needs. This lens can also be used overhead, to photograph over crowds such as those arriving on-field after football games.
Many of the just-discussed uses happen at a venue that itself is worthy of being photographed. Wide-angles make interior spaces, from houses to vehicles, look large and allow for illustrative composition even when working space is limited. This focal length range is an important one for architecture.
When photographing architecture, a level camera is often desired to keep walls and the sides of buildings straight/vertical in the frame, avoiding converging lines. However, it is not always possible, affordable, or convenient to get the camera to a height that permits the desired framing with a level camera. This is especially common when photographing the exterior of buildings from ground level. A tilt-shift lens is the ideal choice for this situation, but an ultra-wide-angle lens can also get the job done. Simply set up the camera in a level position, zoom out until the building (or other subject) is contained in the frame, capture the image, and then crop whatever is not desired in the frame, typically at the bottom, during post processing. Basically, having a lens that takes in wide angles of view can circumvent the need for a tilt-shift lens (with resolution loss from the cropping being a downside) or pixel-level-destructive perspective correction.
Directly related to architecture photography is real estate photography and that use has us circling back to include the landscape capabilities of this focal length range. The landscape after dark, aptly described as nightscape, is a frequent use for the 17-35mm range. Also, count cityscapes on this lens' great uses list.
Do you like the looking upward into the woods with tree trunks converging into the center of the frame type of picture? This lens can do that. It is seldom that my pack does not have a lens covering this focal length range in it.
You never know when you might encounter a random remote poison ivy throne, but when you do, you will be glad that you have this focal length range available.
Here is an example of what this focal length range looks like on a full frame camera:
Utilizing a smaller portion of the image circle means that APS-C sensor format cameras see a narrower angle of view, with 1.6x being the multiplier (FOVCF) for Canon's lineup and 1.5x being the factor for Nikon and Sony cameras. Multiplying 17-35mm by 1.6x and 1.5x respectively yields 27.2-56mm and 25.5-52.5mm representing the full frame 35mm format camera angle of view equivalent for this lens (for those of us with full frame angle of view measurement-based minds).
While those with primarily wide-angle needs may find the 17-35mm range on a full frame camera to be ideal for general-purpose needs, the APS-C angle of view is ideal for a majority of photographers. These cameras do not get the extreme wide-angle of views to work with, but the angle of views present are even better for portraiture and other images including people, for products, for what is encountered on the street, for sports, etc.
The overarching question, "What subjects are good for photographing with the Tamron 17-35mm f/2.8-4 Di OSD Lens?" once again has an endless list of answers. I shared some popular ultra-wide-angle lens pursuits, but there are so many more and videographers especially find this range useful.
The aperture value (f-stop) is the ratio of the focal length to the diameter of the entrance pupil. Thus, longer focal lengths require wider physical openings to reach the same aperture opening as a wider focal length. To maximize the maximum aperture opening over the focal length range, a variable maximum aperture is often designed, especially on lenses targeting the value-priced, small-sized, and light weight sectors.
As always, the lower the aperture number, the more light the lens will allow to reach the sensor. Each "stop" in aperture change (examples: f/2.8, f/4.0, f/5.6, f/8, f/11) increases or reduces the amount of light reaching the sensor by a factor of 2x (a big deal). Allowing more light to reach the sensor permits freezing action, handholding the camera in lower light levels and/or use of a lower (less noisy) ISO setting. In addition to allowing more light to reach the sensor, increasing the opening permits a stronger, better subject-isolating background blur (at equivalent focal lengths). Also, lenses with an opening wider than a specific aperture enable the higher precision AF capabilities (usually f/2.8, most often the center AF point) in some cameras and present a brighter viewfinder image.
The advantages of a narrow aperture, because the size of the lens elements can be reduced significantly, include lighter weight and lower cost, two things that we all can appreciate. The variable max aperture has the same two advantages, compounding the benefit. A downside to the variable max aperture is that, by definition, the same max aperture cannot be used over the entire focal length selected. Your camera will automatically account for the change in auto exposure modes, but making use of the widest-available aperture in manual exposure mode is complicated somewhat.
At 17mm, this lens has a fast, f/2.8 aperture, an opening surpassed by very few zoom lenses. By 35mm, the max aperture opening is only moderately wide, though still very useful. Here is the max aperture reduction by focal length range as seen by a Canon EOS camera with 1/3 stop aperture settings enabled (the default):
17-20mm = f/2.8
21-24mm = f/3.2
25-30mm = f/3.5
31-35mm = f/4.0
This lens' aperture makes it a good choice for stopping action, both subject and camera, in low light at 17mm, though by 35mm, it becomes only a moderately-good choice.
The wider the aperture, the shallower the depth of field and the more strongly blurred the background will be. Here are examples of the maximum background blur this lens can produce:
Remember that wide-angle lenses render the background details smaller in size? That includes the background blur. There is a nice amount of blur seen in these examples, though the scene remains recognizable, especially at the wide end.
This lens does not feature Tamron's Vibration Compensation. While I always appreciate image stabilization, it is easier to manage wide-angle focal lengths handheld without stabilization than long ones. Omitting this feature permits a lower price, smaller size, and lighter weight to be achieved.
Despite how little or much we pay for our lenses, none of us wants to accept poor image quality. With this lens costing on the "little" side of the spectrum, questions in regards to image quality are immediately raised. You pay for what you get, right?
As a rule, lenses are not as sharp at their wide-open apertures as they are when stopped down one or two stops. In the center of the frame, this lens is very sharp at wide-open apertures, especially at 17mm and 20mm where its performance is remarkable. Stopped down about one stop, this lens turns in extremely sharp center of the frame results over the entire focal length range.
As a rule, lenses are not as sharp in the periphery where light rays must be bent more strongly than they are in the center of the image circle. This lens' mid-frame wide-open aperture results are slightly softer than the center of the frame results with the 17mm and 24mm focal lengths performing the best. Moving out toward the corners shows us that this lens is still performing rather well. Corner of the frame wide-open results are modestly softer than in the center with little variance over the focal length range. Only slight improvement is seen at narrower apertures throughout the longer end of the focal length range, but by f/8, this lens is really sharp in the corners at the wider focal lengths.
In addition to our standard lab tests, I like to share some real-world examples. The images below are 100% resolution center of the frame crops from images captured in RAW format using a Canon EOS 5Ds R. The images were processed in Canon's Digital Photo Professional using the Standard Picture Style with sharpness set to "1" (Note that images from most cameras require some level of sharpening but too-high sharpness settings are destructive to image details and hide the deficiencies of a lens).
I'm happy with these results. They leave little to want.
Focus shift, the plane of sharp focus moving forward or backward as the aperture is narrowed (residual spherical aberration or RSA), is not an issue with this lens.
Corners are much more challenging. The comparison below is showing 100% extreme-top-left-corner crops captured and processed identically to the above center-of-the-frame images. These images were manually focused in the corner of the frame.
Those of us who remember thinking that ultra-wide-angle full frame corners were supposed to appear mushy will recognize how far lens technology has come. While I'm not going to rave over the 17mm f/2.8 corner crop, it is not bad and the other examples get better with the 24mm f/5.6 crop being especially nice.
Does corner sharpness matter? Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. Landscape photography often requires sharp corners. However, landscape photography usually requires apertures narrower than f/5.6. When shooting at the widest apertures, depth of field is often shallow and the plane of sharp focus less-frequently includes a corner, making corner sharpness less important. I always prefer my lenses to be razor-sharp in the corners, ready when that feature is needed, but each of us must consider our own applications to answer this paragraph's initial question.
Lenses project a circle of light onto the image sensor. The physical properties of light passing through a lens make it impossible for the same amount of light to reach the edges of the circle as the center, resulting in a darkening of the corners, referred to as vignetting or peripheral shading. When used on a camera that utilizes a lens' entire image circle, peripheral shading can be expected at the widest aperture settings. Wide-angle, ultra-wide aperture lenses tend to show strong peripheral shading wide-open and the about-3.5-stops of shading in the Tamron 17-35 OSD's 17mm corners is relatively strong, though not unexpectedly so. As the focal length increases, corner shading slowly decreases to about 1.6-stops at 35mm. However, the aperture also becomes narrower at that focal length and at f/4, the 17mm corner shading is reduced to about 2.5-stops. At f/5.6, corner shading reaches the 1.6-stops mark and remains there over the balance of the aperture range. This amount is a touch strong and will be noticeable at times. About 1-stop of shading, the amount often regarded as the minimum needed to be visible, remains in the corners at the longer focal lengths at the narrowest apertures. You might see this amount with clear blue skies in the frame, but at wide angles, the natural gradient of the sky may also cause unevenness.
APS-C format cameras using lenses projecting a full-frame-sized image circle avoid most vignetting problems. In this case, the about-1-stop of shading showing at the widest angles and widest apertures might be visible in select images.
The effect of different colors of the spectrum being magnified differently is referred to as lateral (or transverse) CA (Chromatic Aberration). Lateral CA shows as color fringing along lines of strong contrast running tangential (meridional, right angles to radii) with the mid and especially the periphery of the image circle showing the greatest amount as this is where the greatest difference in the magnification of wavelengths typically exists.
With the right lens profile and software, lateral CA is often easily correctable (often in the camera) by radially shifting the colors to coincide though it is always better to not have the problem in the first place. Any color misalignment present can easily be seen in the site's image quality tool, but let's also look at a set of worst-case examples, 100% crops from the extreme top left corner of ultra-high-resolution EOS 5Ds R frames showing diagonal black and white lines.
There should be only black and white colors in these images and any additional colors are showing lateral CA. For a zoom lens, this one has an overall relatively low amount of lateral CA with a moderate amount showing at 17mm and diminishing rapidly as the focal length increases.
A relatively common lens aberration is axial (longitudinal, bokeh) CA, which causes non-coinciding focal planes of the various wavelengths of light, or more simply, different colors of light are focused to different depths. Spherical aberration along with spherochromatism, or a change in the amount of spherical aberration with respect to color (looks quite similar to axial chromatic aberration but is hazier) are other common lens aberrations to look for. Axial CA remains at least somewhat persistent when stopping down with the color misalignment effect increasing with defocusing while the spherical aberration color halo shows little size change as the lens is defocused and stopping down one to two stops generally removes this aberration.
In the real world, lens defects do not exist in isolation with spherical aberration and spherochromatism generally found, at least to some degree, along with axial CA. These combine to create a less sharp, hazy-appearing image quality at the widest apertures.
In the examples below, look at the fringing colors in the out of focus specular highlights created by the neutrally-colored subjects. Any color difference is being introduced by the lens.
The 17mm and 24mm examples look very good and the 35mm example shows only a small amount of this effect.
Tamron combats flare and ghosting using their BBAR (Broad-Band Anti-Reflection) Coating. Our standard flare testing uses the sun in the corner of the frame and most lenses show noticeable flaring at narrow apertures in this test. Not this one. Very few flare effects are seen even at f/16 over the entire focal length range.
There are two lens aberrations that are particularly evident when shooting images of stars, mainly because bright points of light against a dark background make them easier to see. Coma occurs when light rays from a point of light spread out from that point instead of being refocused as a point on the sensor. Coma is absent in the center of the frame, gets worse toward the edges/corners, and generally appears as a comet-like or triangular tail of light which can be oriented either away from the center of the frame (external coma), or toward the center of the frame (internal coma). Astigmatism is seen as points of light spreading into a line, either meridional (radiating from the center of the image) or sagittal (perpendicular to meridional). Remember that lateral CA is another aberration apparent in the corners.
The images below are 100% crops taken from the extreme top-left corner of EOS 5Ds R frames.
The aberrations showing here are relatively strong but not that unusual.
This is a wide-angle zoom lens and the standard wide-angle zoom lens geometric distortion statement holds true. This lens has barrel distortion at the wide end that transitions into negligible distortion and then on into pincushion distortion at the long end. The amount of barrel distortion at 17mm is strong. The linear distortion nearly resolves between 20 and 24mm and the amount of pincushion distortion at 35mm is moderate. These amounts are slightly strong for this class of lens, but not unusual.
The blur and quality of blur seen in the out of focus portions of an image are referred to as bokeh. The amount of blur a lens can produce is easy to show (and was shown earlier in the review). Assessing the quality is a much harder challenge due in part to the number of variables present in any scene. I'll share some f/11 (for aperture blade interaction) examples.
These examples appear average/normal though the defocused highlights in the first 24mm example are not especially round.
If you look through a tube at an angle, similar to the light reaching the corner of the imaging sensor, the shape is not round and that is the shape seen here. As the aperture narrows, the entrance pupil size is reduced and the mechanical vignetting absolves with the shapes becoming round. In the wide-open results shared above (the first two examples show only the top-left quarter of the frame), we see only modest cat's eye effect.
When stopped down, this lens' 7-blade aperture produces 14-point stars from point light sources as seen in the f/16 example below.
These results show a modest outward flaring of each point.
Overall, especially for the price, this lens has very good image quality.
The "OSD" acronym in the model name indicates that this lens' AF is powered by Tamron's "Optimized Silent Drive" motor.
Overall, this lens autofocuses somewhat slowly ("smoothly" always sounds better) though the speed is very adequate for most uses for this lens. Short focus distance changes happen quickly and only a light "brrrrrrr" is heard during focusing.
Focusing is completely internal. Full-time manual focusing is not available and the focus ring rotates during autofocus (avoid holding it during AF).
Unless one is primarily using manual focusing, a lens' autofocus accuracy is very important for realizing the ultimate image quality a lens is capable of producing. In this testing, consistency is especially important as consistency can be calibrated into accuracy if necessary, either in-camera or via the Tamron TAP-in Console (more on that later). Third-party lens manufacturers are often required to reverse engineer camera autofocus algorithms and the result is commonly the weakest performance aspect of these lenses.
Very common is for a lens to exhibit focus breathing with the angle of view changing during focus changes.
The amount illustrated above is not strong from a relative standpoint.
Parfocal-like behavior can be lens-specific, but the review lens appears to exhibit this characteristic. Subjects focused on at 35mm remained in sharp focus at 17mm.
I like the forward position of the focus ring, keeping it away from the more frequently used zoom ring, and the size of the focus ring is reasonable. With a rather short 56° of rotation, focusing occurs slightly fast, especially at 35mm and at close distances. While this ring is smooth, the rotational resistance is light, further challenging manual focusing. When manually focusing lenses with light resistance MF rings, I like to hold a portion of the lens barrel beside the ring to artificially increase the resistance. Scene framing shifts slightly during focus ring direction changes at mid and long focal lengths.
A focus distance scale is not provided on this lens. You must remember which way to turn the ring (trial and error always works) which happens to be in the same direction as Canon lenses, opposite that of Nikon and Sony lenses. This lens has hard focus stops at each extent, so marks, if somehow made on the lens, are repeatable. Expect this lens model to focus far past infinity at the farthest distant stop.
With an 11.0" (279mm) minimum focus distance, this lens turns in a modest 0.20x maximum magnification spec. These numbers place this lens just above a sizable set of lenses with 0.19x max magnifications, but noticeably below those featuring 0.25x.
|Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM Lens||11.0"||(280mm)||0.25x|
|Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Lens||11.0"||(280mm)||0.23x|
|Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM Lens||11.0"||(280mm)||0.25x|
|Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G AF-S Lens||11.0"||(280mm)||0.15x|
|Nikon 16-35mm f/4G AF-S VR Lens||11.4"||(290mm)||0.25x|
|Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art Lens||10.2"||(260mm)||0.19x|
|Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM Lens||11.0"||(280mm)||0.19x|
|Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens||11.0"||(280mm)||0.19x|
|Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD Lens||11.0"||(280mm)||0.20x|
|Tamron 17-35mm f/2.8-4 Di OSD Lens||11.0"||(279mm)||0.20x|
|Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro FX Lens||11.0"||(280mm)||0.19x|
|Tokina 17-35mm f/4 AT-X Pro FX Lens||11.0"||(279mm)||0.21x|
At 35mm, a subject measuring approximately 5.4 x 3.6" (137 x 91mm) will fill the frame at the minimum focus distance.
Magnification from wide-angle focal length lenses is generally significantly increased with the use of extension tubes. Doing so allows the lens to focus at closer distances, though at the expense of long-distance focusing. Testing with a 12mm extension tube shows that this lens set to at 35mm (the 12mm tube was too long for 17mm work) focuses very closely at the infinity focus distance down to about an inch (25mm) of working distance without the hood installed at the minimum focus distance. The peripheral image sharpness takes a strong hit with this extension tube mounted.
This lens is not compatible with Tamron teleconverters.
Tamron's current lens designs, featuring a matte black finish and white printing in a modern font, are visually very attractive.
While Tamron is currently using metal for the exterior of some of their lenses, this one features quality plastic exterior construction. The overall shape is smooth and it is comfortable to hold. This lens utilizes an extending design with the longest extension (only 0.22" / 5.5mm) occurring at 17mm and the fully retracted focal length range being about 24mm through 28mm. Overall, tight build tolerances give this lens a quality feel with no play or wobble in the zoom ring or the barrel extension.
The rubber-rib-covered zoom ring is nicely sized, has good smoothness, has a comfortable rotation amount, has the right amount of resistance, and is ideally positioned to the rear of the lens, behind the focus ring. The zoom ring affects focal length changes in the same direction as Nikon and Sony lenses, opposite of Canon lenses. Yes, Canon users may require slightly more mental energy to adjust to the cross-over.
This lens covers the basic physical features with only one switch present, controlling AF/MF. The switch is conveniently located on a low-profile switch bank, is raised an ideal amount for easy use, and assuredly clicks into position.
This lens features moisture-resistant construction with a rear gasket and barrel seals.
The front lens element features a fluorine coating, helping that element remain clean and making it easier to clean.
The lens was made in Vietnam, the hood was made in Taiwan, and printed boldly on the lens is "Designed in Japan".
This lens is small but large enough to be controllable during use and the light weight means that it will be comfortable to carry all day. As most of the comparable lenses in our database have fixed max apertures, I'll include a selection of both f/2.8 and f/4 models in this table.
|Model||Weight oz(g)||Dimensions w/o Hood "(mm)||Filter||Year|
|Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM Lens||27.9||(790)||3.5 x 5.0||(88.5 x 127.5)||82||2016|
|Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Lens||21.7||(615)||3.3 x 4.4||(82.6 x 112.8)||77||2014|
|Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM Lens||16.8||(475)||3.3 x 3.8||(84.0 x 97.0)||77||2003|
|Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8G AF-S Lens||34.2||(969)||3.9 x 5.2||(98.0 x 131.5)||2007|
|Nikon 16-35mm f/4G AF-S VR Lens||24.0||(680)||3.2 x 4.9||(82.5 x 125.0)||77||2010|
|Sigma 14-24mm f/2.8 DG HSM Art Lens||40.6||(1150)||3.8 x 5.3||(96.4 x 135.1)||2018|
|Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM Lens||24.0||(680)||3.5 x 4.8||(88.5 x 121.6)||82||2017|
|Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens||18.3||(518)||3.1 x 3.9||(78.0 x 98.5)||72||2014|
|Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2 Lens||39.2||(1110)||3.9 x 5.7||(98.4 x 145.0)||2018|
|Tamron 17-35mm f/2.8-4 Di OSD Lens||16.2||(459)||3.3 x 3.6||(83.6 x 92.5)||77||2018|
|Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 AT-X Pro FX Lens||33.5||(950)||3.5 x 5.2||(90.0 x 133.3)||n/a||2011|
|Tokina 17-35mm f/4 AT-X Pro FX Lens||21.2||(600)||3.5 x 3.7||(89.0 x 94.0)||82||2011|
For many more comparisons, review the complete Tamron 17-35mm f/2.8-4 Di OSD Lens Specifications using the site's Lens Spec tool.
Positioned above from left to right are the following lenses:
The same lenses are shown below with their hoods in place.
Use the site's product image comparison tool to visually compare the Tamron 17-35mm f/2.8-4 Di OSD Lens to other lenses.
This lens accepts ultra-common 77mm-sized filters. Although not the smallest or least expensive filter size, 77mm filters are very commonly available and commonly shareable. Note that using a standard thickness circular polarizer filter will increase peripheral shading, thus a slim model such as the B+W XS-Pro or Breakthrough X4 is highly recommended.
I don't remember getting a Tamron lens without a hood being included. This is as it should be and this lens gets the Tamron HB023 lens hood. This is a good quality, rather rigid, molded plastic, petal-shaped hood with a ribbed interior to reduce reflections from reaching the front lens element. The hood is relatively compact but still adds protection from both impact and from contrast-robbing, flare-inducing light.
A case is not included with this lens. Check out Lowepro's Lens Cases for a nice yet affordable solution for single-lens storage, transport, and carry.
Lens caps are something that get a lot of use and Tamron's have long been great.
The Tamron 17-35mm f/2.8-4 Di OSD Lens is compatible with the Tamron TAP-in Console. The TAP-in Console is a small round device that attaches to the lens mount and via a USB connection, allows communication with a computer.
Once the lens is attached to the dock and the dock attached to the computer, the TAP-in Utility checks for a firmware update to the device and the software app then communicates with the lens and checks for any available lens firmware updates. If an update is available, a dialog box is presented, providing the option to update the lens. There have been a number of Tamron lens firmware updates released recently, addressing compatibility and other issues. Having the TAP-in Console makes installing those updates very fast and easy, especially compared to the alternative of shipping a lens to a service center.
Within the TAP-in Utility app, many will find the first tab, Focus Adjustment, to be the most important. Autofocus adjustments can be made at 5 focal lengths with 3 focus distance adjustments available at each focal length for a total of 15 adjustments available. That is enough adjustability to dial in the calibration of the most difficult camera and lens combinations, and possibly enough to drive perfectionists (nearly) crazy. A focus Limiter tab is provided; however, this lens does not offer the ability to customize the autofocus distance range (the full range is always enabled). The last tab, Miscellaneous, provides control over full-time manual focus override and the VC mode on lenses with those features.
As with most Tamron lenses, most photographers are going to find this affordably priced lens to be a strong value.
The Tamron 17-35mm f/2.8-4 Di OSD Lens is available in Canon EF (reviewed) and Nikon F mounts. Since Tamron reverse engineers (vs. licenses) manufacturer electronics and algorithms, there is always the potential that a DSLR body might not support a (likely older) third party lens. Usually, a lens can be made compatible by the manufacturer via a firmware update, but this cannot be guaranteed. Compatibility with the Tamron TAP-in Console is risk-reducing as Tamron can make lens firmware updates available for easy download. Tamron USA provides an impressive 6-year limited warranty.
The reviewed Tamron 17-35mm f/2.8-4 Di OSD Lens was online/retail sourced.
As mentioned, most of the lenses I've reviewed in this class have fixed max apertures. As this lens is priced and weighted closer to the f/4 competitors, I'll create some comparisons with some of the f/4 options. I'll not repeat the Tamron's aperture advantage at the wider angles, but this advantage will be present in all of the following comparisons.
First up is one of my favorite lenses, the Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Lens. From an image quality perspective, this lens was a game-changer and image stabilization added greatly to this lens' versatility. In the image quality comparison, I like the Canon lens slightly better overall but the two are not dramatically different. The Tamron lens shows slightly less flare in our tests. The Canon lens has less linear distortion at both ends of the range and also produces pointier starburst effects.
Looking at the specs and measurements, the Tamron 17-35mm f/2.8-4 Di OSD Lens vs. Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM Lens comparison shows the Tamron lens to be a bit shorter and lighter (16.2 vs. 21.7 oz / 459 vs. 615g). The Canon lens' Ring USM AF system is faster and, at least on some Canon bodies, more accurate. The Canon lens' focus ring has a longer throw with FTM focusing available and also has a higher maximum magnification (0.23x vs. 0.20x) at the same minimum focus distance, likely due to less focus breathing. The Canon lens adds 1mm on the wide end (it's noticeable) and again, gains significant versatility with image stabilization. The Canon lens is considerably more expensive and this will be the biggest decision factor for many.
The Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM Lens is an interesting comparable. In this image quality comparison, the Canon lens makes the Tamron lens look good in the corners but retains an advantage in some center-of-the-frame comparisons. The Canon lens has slightly stronger peripheral shading.
Looking at the specs and measurements, the Tamron 17-35mm f/2.8-4 Di OSD Lens vs. Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM Lens comparison shows these two lenses sizing up very similarly. The Canon lens' Ring USM AF system is faster and, at least on some Canon bodies, more accurate. The Canon's focus ring has a longer throw with FTM focusing available and, leveraging an extra 5mm on the long end with the same minimum focus distance, also has a higher maximum magnification (0.25x vs. 0.20x). This time the Canon lens can be the considerably less expensive option when regional rebates are in effect (and this will be a decision factor for many), but its regular price is a bit higher than the Tamron's.
I have been reviewing a lot of Sony lenses recently and the Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens is worthy of comparison. In this image quality comparison, the Sony lens has an advantage at the wider focal lengths. At 28mm, the two become similar and the Sony lens falls apart at 35mm. The Sony lens has stronger peripheral shading at the wide end, including at f/11. The Sony lens also has barrel distortion at the wide end, but stronger pincushion distortion at the long end.
Looking at the specs and measurements, the Tamron 17-35mm f/2.8-4 Di OSD Lens vs. Sony FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS Lens comparison shows the two to be close in size and weight, though the Sony lens extends longer. The Sony lens has smaller filter threads (72mm vs. 77mm). The Sony lens' 4-stop Optical Steady Shot image stabilization system is a strong advantage. You could buy a couple of Tamron lenses for the price of one Sony lens.
The 16-35mm f/4G AF-S VR Lens is Nikon's entry in this game. In the image quality comparison, the Tamron lens shows less lateral CA/sharper corners but the Nikon lens competes strongly in the mid and long focal lengths. The Nikon lens shows less peripheral shading, more flare effects, and stronger barrel distortion at the wide end.
Looking at the specs and measurements, the Tamron 17-35mm f/2.8-4 Di OSD Lens vs. Nikon 16-35mm f/4G AF-S VR Lens comparison shows the Nikon lens weighing modestly more and measuring longer. The Nikon lens has a higher maximum magnification (0.25x vs. 0.20x) at a slightly longer minimum focus distance, likely due to less focus breathing. The Nikon lens has 9 aperture blades vs. 7, has a 1mm advantage on the wide end, and has Vibration Reduction. You will pay considerably more to put the Nikon lens in your kit.
I'll also give the Tokina 17-35mm f/4 AT-X Pro FX Lens a section here. In the image quality comparison, created with different resolution cameras, some visualization skills are required. At the wide end, the Tamron lens has better performance, especially in the periphery. The Tokina lens competes more strongly in the mid focal lengths but falls apart at 35mm. The Tokina lens shows slightly more flare and slightly less linear distortion.
Looking at the specs and measurements, the Tamron 17-35mm f/2.8-4 Di OSD Lens vs. Tokina 17-35mm f/4 AT-X Pro FX Lens comparison shows the two lenses being similar in size but the Tokina lens weighing more. The Tokina lens has 9 aperture blades vs. 7, 82mm filter threads vs. 77mm, and a zoom ring rotation even shorter than the Tamron's, 43° vs. 60°. The Tokina lens' push-pull manual focus ring switching is not my favorite, but its price is.
Use the site's image quality comparison tools to create your own comparisons.
Focal length range is an important lens selection criterion and the Tamron 17-35mm f/2.8-4 Di OSD Lens' focal length range is a very important one to most kits. With an aperture opening that is reasonably wide, especially at the wide end, this lens stands ready for a wide range of lighting conditions and a wide range of subject activities.
Everyone wants good image quality and, in that regard, this lens exceeded expectations. Image sharpness is quite good, even into the corners. Vignetting is a touch strong even at narrow apertures, especially at wide focal lengths, though not unusually so for this lens class. A relatively low overall amount of lateral CA and low spherical and axial chromatic aberrations are present. Flare effects were low, bokeh appears normal, the starburst effect is flaring, coma/astigmatism is normal, and a relatively strong amount of linear distortion is present at wide and long ends of the focal length range.
To gain full image quality capabilities requires accurate focusing. The mirrorless EOS R focused very precisely with this lens and the EOS 5Ds R did not. This lens focuses very quietly and though adequate for most uses, the AF speed is rather slow. The manual focus ring with a too-light touch and turning during AF is not my favorite design but it is nicely sized and I like where it is positioned. Focus breathing is modest and the review lens exhibited parfocal-like behavior, retaining focus over the entire focal length range, ideal for videography needs. This lens has only modest close-focusing capabilities and shows poor periphery performance with extension tubes.
This lens has an attractive, comfortable, and with only one switch, simple to use overall design and the light weight means that this lens can be used for long periods of time. The Tamron 17-35mm f/2.8-4 Di OSD Lens' low price will bubble this lens to the top of many shortlists.
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