Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tamron 17-50 verses Tamron 28-75 for Social Gatherings

A while back I sold sold my Tamron 28-75, having acquired a non-BIM version of the 17-50mm. This was a hard sale for me personally, as the 28-75 was one of the best lenses in my collection but it simply wasn't getting used anymore with the more convenient DX sized 17-50.  In some ways, these lenses are like little brother and big brother, and some ways, they are not. A few quick thoughts:
  • One the same camera, the 28-75 produces nicer headshots at 75mm than the 17-50 does at 50mm... that's a given considering the extra perspective compression. The bokeh rendition is also better, as the smaller lens can be a bit harsh in out of focus areas. However, for casual purposes, I find that any of the 50mm primes are usually a better choice than either of these two lenses for portrait shooting, as the zooms tend to produce a harsh bokeh if the background gets busy. This is especially true of the 17-50.
  • With the 17-50, you really don't miss switching back and forth between lenses that is necessary with the 28-75. If you are in a big space, it's no problem, but mounting and un-mounting lenses gets old fairly quickly in small spaces. The 17-50 is much better matched to the DX sensor size. With the 28-75, the awkwardness of the focal length constantly reminds you that it's there.
  • 28mm on DX is still in the 'normal' category. You really miss the feeling of depth that the 17-50 range provides, and have to work hard to exaggerate perspective.
  • The 17-50 is sharper at f/2.8. The plane of focus is quite curved, especially at the wide end of the lens, but the 17-50 is bit more contrasty wide open.  Both lenses are superb by f4, but you can shoot at f/2.8 with a bit more confidence with the 17-50.
  • The 28-75 is practically vignette-free on crop frame. This is a weakness with the 17-50, the dark corners are fairly apparent when you shoot against big expanses of light background. However, for people shots, it's not that intrusive and is rather welcome at times.
  • The 17-50 is a tad shorter than the 28-75. By normal zoom standards, the 28-75 is fairly small, but it still feels a bit on the long and heavy side when mounted on a DX camera.
No surprise, then, that the crop frame lens works better on a D80 (or D90, D7000, etc.) than the 28-75. There are a few opinions out there (mostly from working pros) that normal zooms are boring because most pictures are taken in this range, and consequently, don't stand out. That may be true, but there is a reason why Leica shooters collect 28mm, 35mm, 50mm and 90mm primes... which is the full range of the so-called 'normal-zoom'.

If you have a chance to get either 17-50 or 28-75 on the used market, especially the AF-D non-built-in-motor versions, go for it. They're great deals, and for anywhere between $250 to $350 on Craigslist, you'll get a lot for your money.

1 comment:

  1. I have both the 17-50 and 28-75 Tamron to go along with my tokina 11-16. The 17-50 I use indoors and the 28-75 outside. Both are a excellent lens and I would not part with either