Tamron SP AF 17-50mm F2.8 XR Di II LD Aspherical A-mount lens review by QuietOC

reviewer#28611 date: Jun-21-2016
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 3
distortion: 4
flare control: 4
overall: 4.1
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP; 61MP61 MP
ownership:I used to own this lens
compared to:Sony DT 16-50 F2.8 SSM
Sony CZ 16-80 F3.5-4.5 DT
Sony DT 16-105 F3.5-5.6
Sony DT 18-55 F3.5-5.6 SAM I/II
Sony DT 18-70 F3.5-5.6
Sony DT 18-135 F3.5-5.6 SAM
Sony DT 18-200 F3.5-6.3
Minolta AF 24-50 F4
Minolta AF 24-85 F3.5-4.5/RS
Minolta AF 24-105 F3.5-4.5 D
Tamron 18-250
price paid:175 USD (used)
positive:Moderate size and weight
Internal focus/petal hood
AF accuracy
negative:Limited zoom range
Strong/complex distortion
Soft wide-open esp. at 50 mm
Noisy, sticky zoom mechanism
Backwards, short focus throw
Slightly warm/pinkish color cast
Focal length encoder is failing
comment:The first copy came in an original retail box with the top flap torn off and missing. The focal length encoder on this copy registers 30 mm with the lens zoomed hard against the 50 mm stop. I won a second copy for $150 which came complete with an intact box. This copy had the left side noticeably soft and the right side sharper than the first lens. The first copy may also be a bit decentered. After Tamron's nice 60 mm F2 Macro I was expecting great performance from this lens. "MADE IN JAPAN"

This is the equivalent of a 26-75 mm F4.2 on full-frame. It is about twice the size of the Minolta AF 24-50 F4 and considerably cheaper feeling. It is closer in size and weight to the Minolta AF 24-85 F3.5-4.5. Image quality at the same focal lengths is similarly compromised, which is disappointing in a much more expensive lens supposedly optimized for the smaller format.

The softness in the center wide-open makes this lens hard to focus accurately. The full-frame F2.8 primes are sharper in the center wide-open and easier to focus accurately. This lens would probably benefit from stopped down focusing like that employed by E-mount cameras. If accurate focus is achieved it is sharper than the F2.8 full-frame primes especially once stopped down to f/4.

Overall I found the images from this lens to be better than those from the 16-80 and the other DT zooms except the Sony DT 16-50mm F2.8 SSM.

Test chart comparison with Sony 16-50 F2.8, Carl Zeiss 16-80, Sony DT 18-135 SAM, and primes.
Test chart comparison with the Carl Zeiss 16-80 and others.
Previous comparison with the Minolta F2.8 primes, the 24-50 F4 and the Sony DT 16-105, 18-55, and 18-135.

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 214
  • sharpness: 4.59
  • color: 4.45
  • build: 4.14
  • distortion: 4.16
  • flare control: 4.45
  • overall: 4.36
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