Jonathan Fleming's Blog

A Photography Blog

Posts Tagged ‘16-85

Tamron SP 17-50mm f/2.8 Di II VC

with 27 comments

Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC Mounted on my Nikon D300s

Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC Mounted on my Nikon D300s

____________________

I’m extremely excited to have received my brand new Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC. VC, or Vibration Control, is Tamron’s version of optical image stabilization, which compensates for camera shake while taking photos, allowing more flexibility in low light photography. I previously owned the non-stabilized version of the Tamron 17-50mm, which I sold my cousin in order to nab this one. So, as a former owner of the last lens, there are some differences other than the new VC feature that I can note between this updated version and the older Tamron 17-50.

First of all, this new VC version seems very slightly larger and heavier, but the difference is hard to really feel in practice. To me, the construction/build quality of the lens looks and feels superior to the older Tamron, though still not as rugged as my Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8. The VC lens also takes 72mm filters instead of the 67mm ring size of the older lens, which means I’m gonna have to go filter shopping now.

My new Tamron seems to make lots of interesting noises during shooting. First of all, while the zoom ring operated quietly on the older 17-50, the zoom ring on the VC version makes a strange sound that I can’t seem to describe any other way than as the sound of zipping up the zipper on a camping tent. Not sure if that description makes any sense, but the sound doesn’t really bother me and may fade in time. Focusing sounds are noisy like the older lens, and while this lens seems to focus very fast on my D300s (I never had a chance to mount the old one on my new camera), the noise that the non-silent wave motor makes during operation seems similar to the old one: noisy, but not objectionably so in my opinion. Then, of course, there is the noise coming from the VC system. You know the sound that a conch makes when you put your ear up to it? Yeah, kinda sounds like that.

About the VC system. I’m used to using optical stabilization on my longer Nikkor 70-300mm lens, where hand holding the lens racked out at 300mm and activating VR reduces the shake in the viewfinder significantly but not completely. When I look through the viewfinder with the Tamron mounted and VC active at these shorter focal lengths, the image in the viewfinder looks dead still….like scary still. It’s pretty awesome.

While out on the town this evening I decided to do a little practical test of the VC’s effectiveness. Here’s a shot I took on a tripod tonight with the new lens:

Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 18mm f/18, 8 Seconds ISO200

Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 18mm f/18, 8 Seconds ISO200

During the same shooting session, I took two shots from the same spot, but hand-held. One shot was taken with VC active and one without. Here’s a crop from each (cropped from the center window on the Castro Theater). Both these images were shot in RAW and converted to JPEG in Adobe Lightroom without any adjustments made. Note the camera settings in each shot:

Without VC:

Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/ 2.8 VC at 20mm f/8.0, 1/8 Sec ISO 800 (VC OFF)

Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/ 2.8 VC at 20mm f/8.0, 1/8 Sec ISO 800 (VC OFF)

With VC:

Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 20mm f/8, 1/8 Sec ISO 500

Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 VC at 20mm f/8, 1/8 Sec ISO 500

I made a little mistake in this test that actually made it turn out a little better in a way. Notice that the settings are identical in each shot except for the ISO settings. The non-VC shot is set at ISO800 while the VC shot is at ISO500. This is because when I took the camera off the tripod to start shooting hand-held, I instinctively set the camera to auto-ISO, so the camera started changing the ISO from one shot to the other (auto ISO effected not only by what the meter is seeing but also by whether or not VC is active). If I had manually kept the ISO the same in both shots, the blur in the non VC shot would have been more exaggerated.

But as you can see, even with a higher ISO sensitivity, the shot with VC off shows significant blur from camera motion compared to the shot with VC on at a lower sensitivity setting. These shots were taken at a pretty small aperture considering they were both taken at dusk, and the fact that the shot with VC was sharp down to 1/8 of a second combined with a pretty low ISO in this case is really promising. For static, low-light subjects (which make up a lot of the shots I take), the optical stabilization will allow me to take more usable photos when I don’t have a tripod. The VC will also give me more usable apertures in low-light, which is great if I decide I want more depth of field or sharpness in a hand-held low-light shot, rather than having to resort cranking up the ISO, shooting at f/2.8, and hoping the shutter speed is high enough to stop the shake.

Here’s the non-cropped version of the hand-held photo of the Castro Theater with VC active:

Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 VC at 20mm f/8, 1/8 Second ISO 500

Nikon D300s + Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 VC at 20mm f/8, 1/8 Second ISO 500

Overall I really look forward to using this Tamron. My favorite lens has still got to be my Tokina 11-16 f/2.8, but this one will probably come to be a very close second, and will probably be on my camera 90% of the time I shoot. Well, I don’t know about 90%…..we’ll just have to see!

Update 11/20/09:

Check out a few shots I took at a recent wedding with the Tamron 17-50 VC here.

Check out more hand held low light shots at a museum with the Tamron here.

Or, just click the 70-50 tag to see all the photos I’ve taken so far with the Tamron 17-50 VC.

New Lens! Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 ATX PRO

with 5 comments

Nikon D90 + Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 at 13mm f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/125 Second

Nikon D90 + Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 at 13mm f/5.6, ISO 200, 1/125 Second

Panasonic Lumix LX3, 5.1mm f/2.0, ISO 320 1/30 Second

Panasonic Lumix LX3, 5.1mm f/2.0, ISO 320 1/30 Second

Well, after wanting an ultra wide angle zoom lens for months and months, I finally bought one today. I’ve been scouring around trying to find the sold-out-everywhere Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 ATX PRO DX lens for some time now, and until today was considering just going for the highly praised 12-24 f/4 from Tokina as it is readily stocked by many dealers. I’ve been checking back at places like B&H every morning for a few weeks (that’s how I was able to snag my hard to get AFS 35mm 1.8G), with no success in finding the 11-16 in stock. This afternoon I did a search for Tokina dealers in the San Francisco bay area, and found that there’s only ONE in San Francisco. Not expecting much, I called and asked if they had any 11-16’s, and WHAT!? One Nikon mount left!

Nikon D90 + Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 at 11mm f/11, ISO640, 1/60 Second (cropped slightly to straighten)

Nikon D90 + Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 at 11mm f/11, ISO640, 1/60 Second (cropped slightly to straighten)

I rushed over and picked it up without hesitation. While I was there the guy at the shop (really cool staff there) let me try a bunch of lenses while he rang up the bill. I tried the Tokina 12-24,  and while I liked that it extends out to 24mm, I was more swayed by the 1mm extra on the wide end of the 11-16 AND the 2.8 constant aperture, despite it’s very limited zoom range. I tried the very interesting (and very new) Tokina 16.5-135mm lens, as well as Nikon’s highly regarded consumer lens, the 16-85mm 3.5-5.6 VR, which I found of similar to size to the 18-70 I used to use on my D70, but it felt much heavier! I really liked the 16-85mm’s range and the fact that it has built in VR, and I may want to pick that lens up for travel when more money comes in.

But back to the important lens! My wife and I (and doggie) strolled around downtown after leaving the shop and I got to snap off a few shots before the sun went down (I really wanted to get some sunset and dusk shots but we hadn’t eaten dinner!). Initial impression is veeery favorable. I am absolutely floored at the sharpness of this Tokina, even at its widest aperture. The build quality is outstanding as well, and overall I am really excited about putting this thing to use. I’m going to bed with a huge grin on my face! More shooting tomorrow!