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Tamron SP AF 17-50mm F/2.8 Di II VC DSLR lens

Patrick Budmar | March 6, 2014
The Tamron SP AF 17-50mm f/2.8 Di II VC is a standard zoom lens designed for primary shooting duties. The lens aims to stand out for its f/2.8 designation, which is a fast, open aperture designed for low light shooting.

The first set of photos was taken during bright daytime lighting conditions. The second batch of photos was captured at night with reduced lighting conditions.

Nikkor DX at 18mm

SP Di II at 17mm

Nikkor DX at 35mm

SP Di II at 35mm

Nikkor DX at 55mm

SP Di II at 50mm

Nikkor DX at 18mm

SP Di II at 17mm

Nikkor DX at 35mm

SP Di II at 35mm

Nikkor DX at 55mm

SP Di II at 50mm

Both lenses performed well during daytime shots, and the Tamron SP Di II slightly edged out the Nikkor DX in quality. This is good performance for the third-party SP Di II, though the budget Nikkor DX also did well.

The difference between the lenses is more apparent during the night shots. Thanks to the f/2.8 aperture, the SP Di II surpassed the Nikkor DX with images that are crisper and contain more detail.

Value for money

Lens selection will depend on your needs and the way the camera is purchased. You have the choice of buying a DSLR body alone or with a bundled kit lens, and the type of body (entry-level, mid-range, and beyond) may dictated what lens is needed.

For example, purchasing an entry-level Nikon D3200 body and a Nikkor DX 18-55mm separately costs $500 and $200, respectively. If purchased as a bundle, the discounted price is $650.

The Tamron SP 17-50mm f/2.8 Di II retails for $700, which is more than three times the cost of the Nikkor DX lens. The high quality and construction of the lens is aimed to justify this higher price tag.

Unsurprisingly, the lower entry point of the Nikkor DX has made it a popular choice for first-time camera buyers, particularly those of lower-end DSLR bodies such as the D3200. The only problem with this approach is there is no real room to grow.

Camera bodies become obsolete every few years as the technology improves, but lenses mostly stay the same. That means a high quality lens can get many years of use simply by upgrading to better camera bodies.

Final thoughts

On both a design and quality level, the Tamron SP 17-50mm f/2.8 Di II is a step ahead of the Nikon Nikkor DX 18-55mm. At the same time, the Nikkor DX is a decent budget lens that produces good shots.

The budget nature of the Nikkor DX 18-55mm means it may not get much use beyond the initial camera it is bought with. Better camera bodies will be overkill with this lens, and you'll likely want to invest in a different, better lens instead.

The Tamron SP Di II is more flexible in this respect. It is a good choice for entry level DSLR bodies, and it can be carried over to better camera bodies when the time comes for an upgrade.

 

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