Canon 17-55 vs Sigma 17-50 vs Tamron 17-50 - all stablized

Started Apr 21, 2012 | Discussions
HumphriesBunch
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Canon 17-55 vs Sigma 17-50 vs Tamron 17-50 - all stablized
Apr 21, 2012

I currently use the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 NON-Stabilized on my 50D, and I'm finding that my hands aren't quite as steady as they should be. Camera shake prevents me from shooting at speeds less than 1/40. So, I'm looking to move into one of the lenses mentioned in the title.

Has anyone had real-world experience with comparing these lenses for IQ, AF, etc., vs the non-stabilized versions? I understand that part of this problem is the somewhat poor performance of the 50D in high ISO situations, but I'm probably holding off for 7D2 or 70D releases before upgrading bodies. Full frame is out of the budget for a couple of years at least.

Thanks for any help / suggestions

Canon EOS 50D Canon EOS 70D Canon EOS 7D
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Keith Z Leonard
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Re: Canon 17-55 vs Sigma 17-50 vs Tamron 17-50 - all stablized
In reply to HumphriesBunch, Apr 21, 2012

I used to have a Sigma 18-50 f2.8 EX DC MACRO and then rented a Canon 17-55 f2.8 IS and Sigma 17-50 f2.8 OS and did a head to head to head comparison. The result is that I bought a Sigma 17-50 f2.8 OS.

The IS/OS lenses were better in all situations, though not HUGELY, but when shooting low light shots of static subjects or slow moving subjects the IS/OS lenses were clearly better. Mostly it's shots that cannot be resolved with flashes, like low light hand held landscapes on vacation etc....

My main motivation was for video, where the IS/OS makes a big difference.

The Sigma vs Canon was an image quality toss up, the canon better in the corners at f2.8, by f4 it's hard to tell a difference, the Sigma better in the center. The Canon feels more like a toy in build, the Sigma doesn't have full time MF....Not much of a difference in the end except in price, big difference there.

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007peter
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I owned both Tamron 17-50, VC + non-VC + Sigma 18-50 Macro+ Canon 17-55
In reply to HumphriesBunch, Apr 21, 2012

Here are just the f/2.8 standard zoom that I owned personally owned:

  • Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 - love this lens, but slow AF, and not wide enough

  • Tamorn 17-50mm f/2.8 (non-vc) - very bad field curvature @17mm f/2.8, slow and loud AF motor

  • Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 Macro - good bokeh, amazing macro, but I really want Image Stabilization

  • Canon 17-55 f/2.8 IS USM - best lens ever...minor flaws are (1) no zoom lock = zoom creep (2) prone to dust

  • Tamron 17-55 f/2.8 VC - I love this lens! Amazing contrast, smaller than 17-55, zoom-lock prevent zoom creep

Canon 17-55 is the sharpest f/2.8 zoom. Canon wide open at f/2.8 is actually sharper than my Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 Macro at f/5.6 step down !

Canon is also the only lens here that has true minimum barrel distortion that doesn't required fixing. If you take a photo of a vertical beam with your Tamron 17-50 (non-VC), you will noticed the barrel shaped beam curving toward the center. Canon 17-55 f/2.8 is almost flat, very impressed.

Canon 17-55 has no optical weakness but suffer from some constructional oversight . Sealing is kind of lousy as the lens is prone to dust. The lens is also very BIG + HEAVY when you placed next to your Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 Non-VC. My biggest complain is the lack of zoom lock to prevent the zoom creep . Because the lens element is so heavy, this lens is prone to severe zoom creep over time. If you like traveling with just a black rapid rs-4 sling strap like I do, beware that canon 17-55 will become loosen further exacerbate its zoom creep problem.

The online review for Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC isn't mediocre. I almost dismissed this lens due to my horrible experience with Tamron 17-50 (non-vc). To my surprised:

  • AF is reliable on both of my Canon XSi and T1i

  • AF is fast and reliable even in the dark

  • Image Stabilization is as good or better than canon

  • at 77mm filter, its bigger than 67mm non-vc, but much smaller than 77mm

  • Build and Finished is miles ahead of both Canon 17-55 and older Tamron 17-50 (non-vc)

  • same build as Tamron 60mm f/2.8 Macro...very nice

  • Zoom Lock to prevent zoom creep

The bottom lines: I kept the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 VC and sold my beloved Canon 17-55 . It was a difficult decisions but I wanted a more potable lens that travel everywhere with me and not having to worry about "zoom creep" or dust accumulation. The Tamron VC surprised me. If you don't need the absolute critical sharpness of Canon 17-55, than both Tamron 17-50 or Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 deserve a look.

Good luck

HumphriesBunch wrote:

I currently use the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 NON-Stabilized on my 50D, and I'm finding that my hands aren't quite as steady as they should be. Camera shake prevents me from shooting at speeds less than 1/40. So, I'm looking to move into one of the lenses mentioned in the title.

Has anyone had real-world experience with comparing these lenses for IQ, AF, etc., vs the non-stabilized versions? I understand that part of this problem is the somewhat poor performance of the 50D in high ISO situations, but I'm probably holding off for 7D2 or 70D releases before upgrading bodies. Full frame is out of the budget for a couple of years at least.

Thanks for any help / suggestions

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BAK
BAK
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Difficult decision
In reply to HumphriesBunch, Apr 21, 2012

I've played with the three, but not owned them.

And different people have different budgets.

And different things to photograph.

I used to use a Canon 24-70 on a 20D, and really liked the focal length for assorted pictures of people.

So if I was buying a "standard" zoom, I'd be looking at the new Tamron stabilized 24-70 f2.8, to get the extra reach compard to the 50/55 maxon the other lenses.

And I'd just use my 18-55 EF-S for the extra wideness-requiring shots.

But I think the Tamron is going to be aboujt twice the price of tghe Sigma 17-50 OS f2.8

Leaving that aside....

I think a Sigma 10-20 f3.5; Sigma 17-50 f2.8; and Sigma 70-200 f2.8 would be a wonderful combination.

Or swap out the 70-200 for a 50-150 OS (if it ever comes to market) plus a 120-400 OS zoom (leaving aside the really expensive 120-300 f2.8)

BAK

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Christoph Stephan
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Re: I owned both Tamron 17-50, VC + non-VC + Sigma 18-50 Macro+ Canon 17-55
In reply to 007peter, Apr 21, 2012

007peter wrote:

  • Sigma 18-50mm f/2.8 Macro - good bokeh, amazing macro, but I really want Image Stabilization

Hello Peter, I also now have the Sigma 18-50mm f2.8 Macro. I really like this lens for it is a noticeable smaller and lighter than my Canon EF-S 17-85mm IS (and smaller and lighter by a wide margin than the EF-S 17-55mm IS...). Another plus is the better close focus capibility which removes the need to carry a macro lens on many trips. For me, the macro capability of the 17-85mm IS is just not sufficient on most rips into the countryside - and as far I know the 17-55 mm IS is even worse in that regard. I find the combination of Sigma 18-50mm f2.8 and EF-S 55-250mm IS almost unbeatable for maximum versatility with minimum weight and I have exactly this combination with me very often.

However, IS would be nice - but then it would not be that light weight anymore.

  • Tamron 17-55 f/2.8 VC - I love this lens! Amazing contrast, smaller than 17-55, zoom-lock prevent zoom creep

How does it compare to the Sigma 18-50mm f2.8 Macro in size? Also, what is its maximum magnification? Anything less than the 18-50mm Macro would necessitate carrying my macro lens with me for me...

On the other hand we read about improvements in high-ISO in the newest cameras so often - wil IS be that essential in years to come? Or may it be even more essential, to make the most out the increased resolution of newer sensors?
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Keith Z Leonard
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Re: I owned both Tamron 17-50, VC + non-VC + Sigma 18-50 Macro+ Canon 17-55
In reply to 007peter, Apr 21, 2012

You are quite wrong about the sharpness issue when comparing the Canon and the new Sigma 17-50 f2.8. photozone shows the Sigma is sharper in the center pretty consistently and the corners are very close from f4 and up. The canon's advantage is only in the corners at f2.8.

http://www.photozone.de/canon-eos/425-canon_1755_28is_50d?start=1

http://www.photozone.de/canon-eos/531-sigma1750f28os?start=1

The Canon is sharper than my older 18-50 f2.8 EX DC Macro though, no question, but the Sigma 17-50 deserves a look, ESPECIALLY if sharpness is important.

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Keith Z Leonard
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Re: Difficult decision
In reply to BAK, Apr 21, 2012

Bak, don't forget the 8-16 wide angle, which is slightly crazy if you ask me. I'm still considering a wide angle, but I went with Canon's 70-200 L, fantastic lens.

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Mannypr
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Re: Difficult decision
In reply to Keith Z Leonard, Apr 21, 2012

First of all I would like to say that up to my knowledge a Tamron 17-55 does not exist , it is the Tamron 17-50mm which does . They come without VC which is the old version and with VC. Reviews all over praise the tamron for being an incredible sharp lens at all focal lenghts with a bit of distortion at 17 comparable to other manufacturers pro lens at a an inexpensive price.. The old version is sharper wide open and the newer VC version is as sharp from F4 onwards . Tamrons reputation for costumer service is second to none .

The Sigma also comes in two flavors , The Sigma 18-50mm and the Sigma 17-50. The Sigma 17-50 is the newer of the two and also the sharpess . It is not inexpensive costing 669.00 dollars . The 18-50 is less expensive but in my view doesn't compare to either Tamron or the new Sigma . I have seen photos taken with the new one and it seems to be an excellent lens . All the reviews on this lens are extremely positive .

I really can't talk to much about the canon but I do know that they are excellent (my system is Nikon . I read this forum because I love canon equipment and consider it to be excellent but having had good experiences with Nikon in my SLR days when going digital I went the Nikon route.)

The way I see it , don't make your decision based solely on sharpness as there are other considerations in image quality . Contrast , colors , bokeh and soforth have to be equally considered in a buying decision . Sharpness depending on your type of photography is overrated ( not saying it isn't important) Have fun with what ever you decide .

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zalle
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Photozone tests do not show reality here
In reply to Keith Z Leonard, Apr 21, 2012

Canon 17-55 gives bad results when focusing at a short distance, and that is what you see in these tests.

Keith Z Leonard wrote:

You are quite wrong about the sharpness issue when comparing the Canon and the new Sigma 17-50 f2.8. photozone shows the Sigma is sharper in the center pretty consistently and the corners are very close from f4 and up. The canon's advantage is only in the corners at f2.8.

http://www.photozone.de/canon-eos/425-canon_1755_28is_50d?start=1

http://www.photozone.de/canon-eos/531-sigma1750f28os?start=1

The Canon is sharper than my older 18-50 f2.8 EX DC Macro though, no question, but the Sigma 17-50 deserves a look, ESPECIALLY if sharpness is important.

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MI6gunny
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Re: Canon 17-55 vs Sigma 17-50 vs Tamron 17-50 - all stablized
In reply to HumphriesBunch, Apr 21, 2012

I have the Tamron 17-50 VC that you mentioned but I use it on a canon 60D, its a decent IQ but it feels like a morbidly obese kit lens. The AF isn't the greatest design either, but oh well. IF I were to do it again I would go for the canon but the flaring shots wouldn't be possible with it. Below are some samples and notes oh how this lens performed
1

I took this on a 4 hour photo walk at -38C. The lens nearly froze solid. The ice fog looked nice however
2

this is to show how this lens flares. It flares nicely I think
3

The AF was nearly impossible during this shot. I suspect that this lens would benefit from the AF sophistication of the 7D however.
4

Its great for environmental portraits as depicted here.
5

Did I mention it flares like a mad man?
6

And the final sample I have included is to show that at 17 it looks pretty decent. Just make sure you back the focus off one stop for these kind of shots

I hope it helps and didn't bore you.

HumphriesBunch wrote:

I currently use the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 NON-Stabilized on my 50D, and I'm finding that my hands aren't quite as steady as they should be. Camera shake prevents me from shooting at speeds less than 1/40. So, I'm looking to move into one of the lenses mentioned in the title.

Has anyone had real-world experience with comparing these lenses for IQ, AF, etc., vs the non-stabilized versions? I understand that part of this problem is the somewhat poor performance of the 50D in high ISO situations, but I'm probably holding off for 7D2 or 70D releases before upgrading bodies. Full frame is out of the budget for a couple of years at least.

Thanks for any help / suggestions

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Keith Z Leonard
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Re: Photozone tests do not show reality here
In reply to zalle, Apr 22, 2012

As I stated earlier in this thread, I also shot these 2 lenses head to head for a week and it was a toss up. Nothing wrong with the Canon, but it isn't magically better because it says "Canon" on it either. I have and enjoy some L lenses, but Canon isn't the only company in the world capable of producing top notch glass.

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Peter 13
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Re: Canon 17-55 vs Sigma 17-50 vs Tamron 17-50 - all stablized
In reply to HumphriesBunch, Apr 22, 2012

I have experience with the 17-55 only. One thing that is not mentioned here is AF consistency. The 17-55 was spot on my 350D, and later on my 50D. None of other lenses that I own/owned/tired showed such consistency, and this includes one Sigma.

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Keith Z Leonard
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Re: Canon 17-55 vs Sigma 17-50 vs Tamron 17-50 - all stablized
In reply to Peter 13, Apr 23, 2012

I know it's illegal to say this here, but I've had no AF consistency issues with my Sigma 18-50 on XTi or 7D, same goes for the 17-50 on both cameras. Now the Sigma 50 f1.4 had some issues, I sent it into Sigma and had it fixed up.

I'm not saying that the lenses focus perfectly every single time, but neither do my 70-200 f4 L or 100-400 f4.5-5.6 L, I see no real difference in the performances of the lenses. I miss a lot more with the 50 f1.4 @ f1.4, but that's not really shocking now is it??

Others may experience actual problems with their Sigma lenses, I suspect that they do have worse QC than Canon, probably more like 90% good vs 95% good, but it's an overblown issue here.

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Fra_Pe
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Re: Canon 17-55 vs Sigma 17-50 vs Tamron 17-50 - all stablized
In reply to HumphriesBunch, Apr 24, 2012

HumphriesBunch wrote:

I currently use the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 NON-Stabilized on my 50D, and I'm finding that my hands aren't quite as steady as they should be. Camera shake prevents me from shooting at speeds less than 1/40. So, I'm looking to move into one of the lenses mentioned in the title.

Has anyone had real-world experience with comparing these lenses for IQ, AF, etc., vs the non-stabilized versions? I understand that part of this problem is the somewhat poor performance of the 50D in high ISO situations, but I'm probably holding off for 7D2 or 70D releases before upgrading bodies. Full frame is out of the budget for a couple of years at least.

Thanks for any help / suggestions

I have the Sigma 18-50 F2.8 (old version non-Macro) and the Sigma 17-50 F2.8.
I use both on 400D and also on 50D.

The difference in terms of IQ are only very small - both are very sharp on both bodies also with F2.8. Normally I am not able to find out which image has been taken with which lens when I don't read the Exif data.

The AF is much faster with the 17-50 - especially on the 400D which is not very accurate in terms of AF. On the 50D the AF also with the 18-50 is very fast but the HSM of the 17-50 gives the value of being silent here. Beside that my 50D does not show any poor AF performance also in the worst low light situations.

In addition the 17-50 brings 3-4 F stops in terms of stabilization. With the 18-50, on 50mm, I am able to get sharp images with up to 1/25. With the 17-50 stabilizer I am able to get sharp images up to 1/8.

The negative point of the 17-50 compared with the 18-50: It is much larger and heavier and therefore better handling on the 50D.

Kind regards, Fran Peterz.

Please visit my gallery:
http://fran-peterz.com/fotograf/Photos/album/index_en.html

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ultimitsu
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Re: Canon 17-55 vs Sigma 17-50 vs Tamron 17-50 - all stablized
In reply to Fra_Pe, Apr 24, 2012

what it comes down to in practical terms is that you pay the premium on canon 17-55 for its AF - it is the fastest and most accurate in this line up. I own 60D which doesnt have MFA, so to avoid having to return and try multiple copies of 3rd party lenses, I just bite the bullet and bought 17-55. I have since shot many many frames of moving subjects, it rarely misses, you can check my gallary for "boobs on bikes" parade, NSFW.

007Peter's comment on zoom creep is correct, dont hang the camera on your neck when you have this lens on. personally i hate hang them on my neck to start with so I dont have this problem.

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HumphriesBunch
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thanks!
In reply to HumphriesBunch, Apr 24, 2012

Thanks all for your input ... looks like I'm gonna save $$$ and get the Canon in a couple of months. Now to sell off the lenses I don't / won't use anymore

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Jerry-astro
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Wow... must be lucky
In reply to ultimitsu, Apr 24, 2012

Never had an issue with zoom creep on my 17-55. Same goes for dust collection as well. Based on comments here, I guess I'll regard myself as being lucky.

The lens is a fantastic performer -- fast and accurate AF, excellent color and contrast, and very sharp. That said, the images do benefit a bit from the built-in correction in LR particularly on the edges when shooting wide.

ultimitsu wrote:

007Peter's comment on zoom creep is correct, dont hang the camera on your neck when you have this lens on. personally i hate hang them on my neck to start with so I dont have this problem.

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ultimitsu
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Re: Wow... must be lucky
In reply to Jerry-astro, Apr 24, 2012

Jerry-astro wrote:

Never had an issue with zoom creep on my 17-55.

do you mean it doesnt bother you or it doesnt zoom creep?

I have a hard time believing it doesnt creep, this lens has a very heavy front element and fairly smooth and loose zoom ring, so when facing down it has to creep a bit, unless it is very tight which I dont think it would be.

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Jerry-astro
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Re: Wow... must be lucky
In reply to ultimitsu, Apr 25, 2012

Honest to goodness... it doesn't creep and never has. And, I do tend to carry the camera with lens around my neck, particularly when playing tourist. I haven't noticed any unusual tightness on the focus ring either, at least as compared to other lenses I own.

Interesting...

ultimitsu wrote:

Jerry-astro wrote:

Never had an issue with zoom creep on my 17-55.

do you mean it doesnt bother you or it doesnt zoom creep?

I have a hard time believing it doesnt creep, this lens has a very heavy front element and fairly smooth and loose zoom ring, so when facing down it has to creep a bit, unless it is very tight which I dont think it would be.

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victorian squid
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Lens creep
In reply to Jerry-astro, Apr 25, 2012

I'm wondering if some of the newer ones are built to less exacting tolerances. I've heard complaints about this only recently with new buyers.

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