Nikon 17-55mm vs. Tamron 17-50mm


No longer a newbie, moving up!
Jun 17, 2013
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I'm wondering if the difference is immense (since the price difference is so huge), and who uses such a confined zoom range. I'm really liking the idea of having a constant aperture of f2.8 on a zoom lens.

I'm actually considering picking up a Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 to see if it can replace my Nikon 16-85mm f3.5-5.6... it's on sale for $520 which seems to be a good price. The resale on my Nikon lens should be around $550-$600 since I haven't even submitted my warranty yet (a month old). I have a vacation to go on coming up before I make any more serious decisions.

As a beginner the only two limitations I feel I'm running into at the moment are aperture, and ISO noise getting into 1600+ on my D5200. I *really* like my 70-300 oddly enough, even though its aperture limitations are similar to my 16-85.

I *might* just leave a purchase like this on the backburner for the somewhat further off but not-before-the-end-of-the-year future, but I'm very wary now of quality in optics & I feel like any upgrades I do from here on in shouldn't be based as heavily on price (I mean, I'm obviously not going to get an 800mm lens for shooting birds as an amateur who never intends to make a dime off of his pictures, but I do want professional-level quality out of photos when I feel like doing that).
I would also consider the Sigma 17-50. It seems to be sharp from what people have said.

Also realize that nikon warranties do not transfer, so even if your 16-85 is only a month old the buyer will have no warranty at all. Unless you give them your receipt and the receipt does not have your name and/or address on it.

I have owned the 16-85, nikon 17-55 f2.8 and the older screw-driven Tamron 17-50 f2.8. What bothered me about the Tamron was it was pretty soft at f2.8 and it had difficulty focusing at f2.8. And it didn't actually go to 50mm. It says 50 but compared to my 50mm prime and my 17-55 it's less than 50mm on the long end. Maybe the newer version has fixed all these issues.

The 16-85 is a very nice lens, it's just slow. Maybe just get a speed light for indoor shots? That's what I do. Sometimes f2.8 isn't enough anyway.
I second the sigma suggestion. I bought one about a month ago and ABSOLUTELY love it! It's sharp, the OS is excellent, and it balances on my camera well. It's price was right for me, and I'm glad i bought it. Here are a few sample images taken with it.

I was at the other day, reading a column Roger C wrote, about big blunders he has made in the of the biggest bonehead moves he made was selling off ALL of the Tamron 17-50 zooms and buying the "new" VC (Vibration Control) model to replace the older, non-VC models...big,big mistake he said...the new, VC version he said is not nearly as good as the earlier design...
I had the Tamron 17-50 f /2.8 VC and was not happy with it. Very soft on the edges on anything larger than f/5.6 My Nikon cheapy 18-55 was sharper at 3.5/5.6 than the Tamron. From what I have read, the "non-vc" models are noticeably better and the Sigma even better. How does it compare to the Nikon 17-55 f/2.8? I think it would be worth it to find a gently used Nikkor if possible.
Nikon AF-S 17-55 F2.8, Baby!!!
Get one and don't look back. It's built really well. Solid glass.
I picked up a used copy with warranty for $700.00.
But the older Tammy "non-VC" is great also, but not built as well.
Due to a crop sensor the 17-55 is like the famed 24-70 on a full frame body. I don't have experience with Nikon but the Canon version of the 17-55 was not that impressive to me. It was nice having the constant 2.8, USM, and the build quality but the IQ wasn't that impressive for me. I would suggest renting both and trying them out before you buy.
So I'm on vacation right now and I've decided I like the 16–85 a whole lot. It's great for landscape, having a sweetspot aperture around f7.1 to f11. It's sharp and gets the job done well. With a little practice I've been avoiding ugly bokeh with it, but to be honest most of my shots I just want slight dof since I want to look back on photos and be able to ddiscern ten years from now what the background is hahaha.

So with all that said, my eyes are set on an 85mm f1.8g when I get around to another purchase. It will fit nicely into my shooting style which is slowly but surely developing. I have a lot to learn and a lot to shoot but I am pretty sure it'll be the way to go, even over a 70–200mm (price aside).

I've decided the 17–55mm f2.8 and similar options aren't for me. My 35mm is already doing more than what it would do for me I think (and when I'd want 50mm on dx I'd prefer 85mm on dx and a couple steps back anyway).

So aside from a prime or two to add to the repertoire, and unless if something changes, I think I'll be just having lots of fun shooting for a year or two or three and keep the money saved for trips to shoot as well as the jump to fx or whatever the future has in store.

/bored on my vacation today so pretty much blogging...
I have 11 lenses including the 16-85 and four primes. The Nikon 17-55 would be the last to go.
+1 for the Sigma... The AF on the Tamron is horrible (slow, loud and hunts in low light). Read some of the Sigma 17-50 f/2.8 reviews.

As for the Nikon... I have a hard time spending that much $$$ on a DX lens. The Sigma is optically just as good but less then 1/2 the price... That's why people like Thom Hogan carried around the Sigma and not the Nikon (well... back when Mr Hogan carried a DX body).

An even better option if you can give up the longer side is the Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8. It's an AMAZING lens (and still cheaper then the Nikon!).

(disclaimer: I haven't used the 18-35mm f/1.8 yet... but I've owned all 3 of the other lenses. I sold the Tamron for the Nikon.. then i sold the Nikon for the Sigma.. then i sold the Sigma when i got rid of my DX lenses).
I don't know why Tamron 17-50 f2.8 is getting such bad reviews.I used to have Nikon 18-55, then 18-105 for some days but I was not happy with Indoor photography. And then somehow I got my hands on a cheap used 17-50 and the difference is there to see.

It is so good that now when I post my pics on FB, people ask me which DSLR I am using, its a great compliment in itself.

I had even used Nikon 35 1.8G for a month or so after reading great reviews but it is not Sharper than Tamron 17-50

P.S - Mine is Non VC one

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