Tamron 17-50mm tested VS Nikon 17-55mm

Started Jun 8, 2006 | Discussions thread
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Ben Seese Veteran Member • Posts: 3,367
Tamron 17-50mm tested VS Nikon 17-55mm

Today I had a chance to test the brand-new $450 Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 versus the $1300 Nikon 17-55mm f/2.8. Punch-line: Just like the older 28-70, it's optically just as good its Nikon equivalent at a fraction of the cost. Tao has had me pining for the Nikon 17-55 as long as I can remember, but I think this test just saved me $850.

My test method:

D2X
Manfrotto Neotec tripod
Manfrotto 3437 pan-tilt head
JPG Large Fine, quality-optimized
ISO 100
sRGB
White balance locked on "cloudy"
In-Camera Sharpening: +1
Tone Comp: Normal
2-second self-timer
Exposure delay mode (aka mirror lock-up)

Three different focal lengths (17mm, 28mm, 50mm) and two different f-stops for each (f/2.8--1/200sec and f/5.6--1/50sec).

Focused on a brick wall about 15 feet away. For each exposure, I shot with two different auto-focus modes, and chose the sharper picture of the two.

I went in and picked corner, center, and edge crops for each focal length, then stretched each one out to 200% with 'nearest neighbor' to make the pixel-level detail visible.

Here are the results, in huge JPGs (sorry dialupers):

http://www.flickr.com/photos/benseese/162794265/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/benseese/162794441/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/benseese/162794603/

I stared at these long enough to conclude that both lenses must have a fairly badly curved focus plane at 17mm f/2.8. Turns out I'm not the only one:

http://www.photozone.de/8Reviews/lenses/tamron_1750_28/index.htm (about 2/3 down the page, they talk about the plane curvature).

Both lenses seem to slightly vignette the corners at f/2.8 at all focal lengths, but the Tamron is a little better in this respect.

All twelve full-resolution originals (with EXIF) are available for you to download at my flickr photostream:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/benseese/with/162791800/

-Ben

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