Comparing a $340 lens to a $1250 lens

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by ksmattfish, Feb 6, 2009.

  1. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    I just got my 5D back from getting a tune up, so I thought I'd do some comparison shooting in the backyard. I got out my Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 and my Canon L 24-70 f/2.8, and picked a scene with lots of very fine detail. I was mainly interested in how they did at f/2.8 at the long end of the focal length range. I shot a series of pics, and then got down to some serious pixel peeping. I compared them with my normal sharpening, and then I compared them over-sharpened.

    The first thing I noticed is that with the same ISO, shutter, and aperture the Canon L was at least 1/3rd stop darker.

    The second thing I noticed is that both lenses were razor sharp at f/2.8. Once I adjusted the exposure to match I could not see any difference at 100% magnification (20x30+ print size). I had to increase magnification to 400%, and seriously oversharpen/clarify to see any difference. Pushed to extremes the Canon appeared to have a slight edge, but it was still so close that I wondered if it were my imagination. The differences were so slight that there's no point in even posting the photos.

    The Canon L's AF is much faster, but while pokey in comparison I've found the Tamron to be just as accurate. My subjects never move fast enough for it to matter.

    Anyway, for those who are worried that there must be a big difference in image quality for the $900+ price tag difference I can assure you there isn't. It does appear that the Tamron is slightly faster even though f/2.8 should be the same for both.
     
  2. Phranquey

    Phranquey TPF Noob!

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    Good observation. As Big Mike put it in another thread, with the cost & quality of most lenses these days, "you are paying about 50% for the first 90% of quality, and another 50% for that last 10% of quality". I couldn't find the thread, so that is what I remember of the quote...it's close.
     
  3. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Interesting comparison; now, how does the build quality compare? I know that most of the third-party glass I've looked at feels light and cheap compared to my Nikkor 24-70 2.8, which is one of my major concerns.
     
  4. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    First impressions are that the Tamron has a typical, modern lens build: a lot of plastic, but it seems solid and works smoothly to me. While the Canon seems much beefier and heavier. The Canon definitely seems better built.

    Here's my opinions on it:
    1) Lighter is better. I carry cameras for 8+ hours a day, and it's much nicer carrying the Tamron.

    2) How hard do you think you have to bash either to break the glass? The Canon body may hold together, but the amount of force necessary to bust up the Tamron would break the lens elements in either.

    3) The Canon has a 1 year warranty. The Tamron warranty is 6 years. After 2 years of hard use an internal part in the Tamron broke, and I did have to get it repaired (covered by the warranty). I've only had the Canon for a year. My Canon warranty is up, and I've got three more years covering the Tamron. Also consider that I could buy 4 Tamrons for the price of 1 Canon. I bet I don't break the Tamron four times before the Canon breaks once. I've got several Tamron lenses that are even older that have never had any problems.

    I'm not trying to say there aren't good reasons for going with the Canon. The AF is noticeably faster for one. I think though that for most photographers image quality is the main concern, followed by price tag. The Tamron is a heck of a deal, and for real world use it's completely capable of matching the image quality of the top-o-line Canon (it may even be 1/3rd stop faster!).
     
  5. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I say it all the time... there are times to go OEM, and there are times to go 3rd party. The majority of the time OEM is of superior quality and final results... but not all the time. Look at the Sigma 18-50 vs the Nikkor 17-55 Gold Ring glass... at 3 times the price, it could not beat the Sigma once in 3 independant tests by 3 inedpendant and separate sources.

    These are more rare occurrances than the norm, becuase if it was the norm, neither Canon or Nikon would ever sell a lens over $200.

    Knowing whent to buy OEM and when not to... that is the sign of a knowledgeable buyer that has done their homework.
     
  6. Ejazzle

    Ejazzle TPF Noob!

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    jerry, you must get all the ladies, dont you?
     
  7. rubbertree

    rubbertree TPF Noob!

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    I appreciate this post very much and it is perfect timing. I have been lusting after the Nikon 28-70 f/2.8 for several months and am building it into the budget for this spring. But I keep wondering, especially after the price of it just went up again last week, do *I* really need to spend nearly $2000 on a lens at this point?
    I will continue my research and I will put this bit of information in my info folder.
    Thank you.
     
  8. EOS_JD

    EOS_JD TPF Noob!

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    The canon will focus much faster in low light that the Tamron.

    My 24-105 f4L IS focuses faster than the Tamron and is the only reason the Tamron is my backup lens. It does get used when I can't use f4 though but that is rare these days.
     
  9. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    If it were not the norm then Canon and Nikon wouldn't have to spend millions on advertising. When's the last time you saw a Tamron ad on TV? I wish they (C and N) were actually better; then Canon and Nikon wouldn't have to spend so much money, and maybe the price would go down. Hah!

    Advertising budget needs to be increased in direct proportion to the lack of difference between products. Build a mousetrap that actually works better, and there's not much need for ads; the people will come and buy and tell their friends. Build a mousetrap that's pretty much the same as everyone elses' and the seller needs to convince the buying public there's a significant difference.

    I agree that the Sigma 18-50 f/2.8 is a great bargain. The edge/corner sharpness in mine blows the Canon L's edge/corner sharpness away (although that may have a lot to do with comparing APS format to 35mm).
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2009
  10. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    I agree, but is the split second difference worth $900? Everyone has to decide for themselves. For my photography it makes no difference, and I shoot moving subjects (just regular people moving speeds, not sports or race cars...) in low light most of the time.

    EDIT: This is a good example of leverlers vs. sharpeners (as in the recent theonlinephotographer.com post). I think the more common attitude among photographers of all skill levels is that there is a significant difference between the two lenses (sharpener). I'm a leveler; I see a difference, but it doesn't matter for my photography. If anything I think at the end of the day the lens weight affects affects me more. If the Tamron really is 1/3rd stop faster that might be something that I'd be concerned with.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2009
  11. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I understand where the OP is coming from on this one. I own the 24-70 and is lives on one of my bodies. It is a day to day work horse that personally I would not give up. I don't own the Tamron that the OP does, but do own the Tamron 17-50 f2.8. It was one of the first lenses I bought when I went digital. It is the only Non Canon lens I still own. It was just too good to give up.

    The differences that I found between the two, besides the obvious build differences, were subtle differences. The Canon has a nicer bokeh, important to me when shooting portraits etc. The colors tend to be just a touch more vibrant with the Canon. Hard to detect unless you are shooting something with a lot of color and contrast.

    Plus, If I am shooting indoor sports, and want to set up a static, remote operated camera, such as at the ceiling over the basket I feel better hanging that lens on my third body than the 24-70. I use super clamps, friction arms and saftey cables for everything, but I still am not going to hang a $1200 lens 30 feet in the air when the $400 lens will do. I have never had a camera come loose and never intend to, but there is no reason to tempt the Gravity Gods with the 24-70 either. :lol:
     
  12. shivaswrath

    shivaswrath TPF Noob!

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    The OP is speaking about comparison's to a Canon 24-70 to a Tamron 24-70.

    The Nikon 24-70 is going to be a different comparison.
     

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