Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Tamron SP 17mm f3.5 Adaptall

It seems like every few years, I will get a copy of this Tamron SP 17mm f3.5.  In 2007, I had the original version with built-in filters.  You can see some samples here that I took with my Canon 20D.  In 2009, I got the new version that has no built-in filter, but didn't quite like the image quality on my 5D.  I mentioned about it here.  Now for the third copy of this lens, I just received it.  It's the version two without built-in filters and by far the least expensive one I bought, at around $150 including taxes/shipping, and it came with the very hard to find lens hood.  One of the reasons I bought it, aside from the good price, is that I want to see the comparison with the Tokina RMC 17mm f3.5.  Unfortunately though, this has to be compared on the NEX-5N, since the Tokina is a Canon FD mount, which can not be used on Canon full frame.

The Tamron SP 17mm f3.5 is sort of a controversial lens.  Copy variance seems very high.  The last one I had wasn't  very good on my 5D, but the one I had before that was better (at least on the 20D).  This lens is often pitted against the likes of Olympus Zuiko 18mm f3.5, Tokina/Vivitar 17mm f3.5 and the Nikon 18mm f3.5, and to lesser degree, the Canon FD 17mm f4 and Minolta MD 17mm f4.

The Zuiko, without doubt, is the most expensive of the lot; often costing 3X or more of that of the Tamron 17mm f3.5, and it vignettes much worse than the Tamron, and has a bulging front element and kludgy lens hood, but possibly has better distortion control.  You can see the test results of the older version with built-in filters by Modern Photography against other similar lenses by OM, Minolta & Nikon here.  From the test, we can see that the Tamron should be a good performer.

Be My Valentine - Canon 20D & Tamron Adaptall 17mm f3.5 [2007].  Click for larger.

Gooderham Flatiron - Canon 5D & Tamron Adaptall 17mm f3.5 [2009]. Click for larger.

Tiff Festival 2012 - NEX-5N & Tamron Adaptall 17mm f3.5 [2012]. Click for larger.


10 comments:

  1. I have a Tokina 17mm f3.5 AF version in Nikon mount, and I think it is probably the best ultra wide angle full frame lens I have.

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    1. I did a rough comparison today with the Tokina RMC 17mm f3.5, and the result is interesting and unexpected (to me).

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  2. Obviously not quite as wide, but I have a Sigma 21-35mm f3.5-4 (version 1) that seems a really good performer, sharp, contrasty and with a nice 'pop' to the images. There is a second optically revised version with f3.5-4.2 which is (apparently) equally good and both are available as either MF or AF. Seems a very underrated lens that can be picked up for a low price.

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    1. Steve, thanks for the information on the Sigma 21-35mm. A lot of Sigma lenses are underrated. Will definitely check one out if I ever get a chance.

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  3. I've had the second version for a number of years. I quite liked it on 35mm film and on lower-resolution digital but it just doesn't deliver enough resolution in the centre for my NEX-7.

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    1. Yup. High density sensors have much tighter demand for lenses. From experience, some lenses I absolutely loved on my old 1Ds turned out to be not so great on higher density sensors.

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  4. hello,
    i was following the comparison link. thank you. the tamron is about 300 euros @ebay now and the nikon is about 500 euros. it is used more expensive than anew voigtlander 15mm heliar? what about the canon 17mm 4. does anyone have any experiences with this lens?

    i appreciate your blog very much yu-lin
    greetings
    michael fron austria

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  5. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)

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  6. Hi all, just looking for some info about the Tokina 17mm 3.5 rmc which i'd be able to pick up at 110€ and how's that pitted against Canon new FD 17 f4 which tested yet on my NEX 5N.
    Well to keep a long story short, the Canon nFD 17 F4 in pristine condition (lens in original rigid box etc) had less resolution in the center and and zone B, less contrast and microconstrast than Sony 16mm 2,8 pancake, at any aperture except the very extreme corner where the Sony 16 2,8 falls terribly, having no resolution at all. In extreme corners nFD 17 f4 was not stellar at all, but just coherent with the rest of performance across the frame, obviously with gradual degradation from the center and zone B ...a bit poor indeed.
    With Corners checked at f8 we are talking about a really small portion of the frame, as i sayd just extreme extreme corners. That's why i returned it and pick up a nFD 20 2,8 which i consider awesome (much better than kit 18-55 and pancake 16mm) on Nex5n and it appears better on FF A7 standing with online results. So now Canon FD 20 2,8 is my choice as WA and Sony 16mm 2,8+VLC ECU1 (12mm) is my UWA tool. Does Anybody can clarify how the Tokina 17mm stands against Canon 17? Thank you!

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