A while back when I was buying my D90 (like many others) I picked up an 18-55mm VR/55-200mm VR kit for my hello into photography. These are still the only two lenses and I have gotten a lot out of them but now I have a big event comming up and am looking to upgrade my kit. I love my 18-55mm for all that it is worth and I have gotten a lot of use out of it but I am ready to get something a little more flexible for that focal range.

I've researched it as best as I know how and it looks like the most flexible option for a zoom within my budget is an F-mount Tamron 17-50mm 2.8 Di-II sans VC. (Never used VR on my kit anyway) The thing is, it looks like a $350 lens posing as a $2,000 one. I know the reviews indicate otherwise but I don't want to have the same experience with it as my little kit lens.

I'm not talking about my experience specifically but are third party lenses generally solid enough choices to keep in your bag?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Relevant: Thom Hogan's review -- "this lens is smaller and lighter than the Nikkor, yet except at 17mm, holds its own against that lens." \$\endgroup\$
    – Evan Krall
    Commented Apr 16, 2011 at 1:34

3 Answers 3


I like mine a lot for indoor-shooting of parties. Nice and bright, have to step down a bit for max sharpness, but even then it will be brighter than your current 5.6 at the long end of 50mm.

At a wedding I saw it been used by the professional hired there for the people-shooting too (note 1: it was our wedding-photographer too, but we weren't the one who recommended him; note 2: he really wanted to have mine, because his looked looked a bit worn ;) ). Mine and his being sans VR, because VR does not help with the other people moving (stills of the surrounding best be done before night).

Generally I think that third-party-lenses can be a nice compromise between high prices and quality - and sometimes even the better choice if you don't find a prime fitting your niche.


Slrgear.com have this to say about the lens

This was another lens that was a really pleasant surprise when we ran it through its paces in our test lab; its performance was really excellent in practically every parameter, and it sells for a very attractive price.

At its maximum aperture (a very wide and constant f/2.8), it's blur plot is remarkably flat across almost its entire focal length range, softening a bit overall and more in the corners at 50mm. One stop down to f/4, and its sharpness is very good to excellent across the entire frame at all focal lengths.

The sharpness test results are impressive.

See also the customer reviews on bhphotovideo.com


For me it was a huge leap forward. When I bought my first Canon DSLR several years ago the EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 II that came with the Rebel XTi was horrible. At that point in time my budget was extremely limited and the solution for me was the Tamron AF 17-50mm F/2.8 XR Di-II. Tamron had an instant rebate going at the time and I picked mine up for about 15% less than the current market price. In terms of optics it is every bit as good as a couple of subsequently purchased lower tier "L" lenses (much more recently purchased). I got a lot of great images with that lens for several years. If it weren't more or less on permanent loan to my brother-in-law I would still use it occasionally when the need to shoot in that focal length range on a crop body arises. The biggest downside was that it got me addicted to constant aperture f/2.8 zoom lenses!

Some people complain that the Tamron's focus motor is noisy and slow. It does make a unique sound while focusing, but I think the sound it makes fools a lot of folks into thinking it is slower than it really is. It focuses about as fast as any Canon lens in the same class that I have used.

Third party lenses need to be evaluated just as lenses from the camera manufacturers are: on a lens by lens basis. All of them have made a few dogs. That includes Canon, Nikon, Minolta/Sony, Pentax, as well as the third party vendors. Most of them, including Tamron, Sigma, and Tokina have made some excellent lenses as well. I heartily recommend the Tamron AF 17-50mm f/2.8 Di II!


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