EF S17-85mm f4.0-5.6 IS USM or Tamron AF17-50mm f2.8


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Feb 14, 2005
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#1
Just got my first SLR cam today...the 400D...:) with a 50mm prime lens. I also wanted to get the Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 as I heard that this is a very good lens but unforunately almost the whole Singapore no stock (those with stock are selling very x). While waiting for the lens, I came across the Canon 17-85mm f4-5.6 IS USM which cost ard $900+. Need some expert advise here...which is better?
I found it very interesting, both Tamron f2.8 and Canon IS is actually to improve the low light condition (hope i'm not getting it wrong...as I'm a new baby for SLR cam..paiseh..:embrass: ), so which can give me a better IQ? Lower aperture value is better or with IS is better (not forgetting it also cover till 85mm)?
Your advise is much appericated.
Thanks!
 

Redsun

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Nov 27, 2005
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#2
Well,IS allows you to shoot at slower shutter speeds handheld but you wont be able to freeze action since you're shooting at a slower shutter speed.The fast aperture F2.8 allows you to shoot at a higher shutter speed which in turn allows you to freeze action.It really depends on if you shoot fast moving action often or you need to freeze motion in low light situations.For me,i would probably pick the IS coz im a sucker for IS.Of cos you can consider the 17-55 IS F2.8 as well if you don't mind the price
 

Feb 14, 2005
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#3
Well,IS allows you to shoot at slower shutter speeds handheld but you wont be able to freeze action since you're shooting at a slower shutter speed.The fast aperture F2.8 allows you to shoot at a higher shutter speed which in turn allows you to freeze action.It really depends on if you shoot fast moving action often or you need to freeze motion in low light situations.For me,i would probably pick the IS coz im a sucker for IS.Of cos you can consider the 17-55 IS F2.8 as well if you don't mind the price
Thanks..I will very much like to shoot at slower shutter speed handheld..hate the tripod..;p ..but isnt with lower aperture vaule, it will increase the speed as well so I can shoot at higher speed compare to the Canon lens? Or there's some other factors which I'm not aware....
Btw, which can produce better IQ? Canon?
p/s: I do mind the price...that's why I choosing btw these two..below 1K...
 

calebk

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Jul 25, 2006
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Clementi
#4
Thanks..I will very much like to shoot at slower shutter speed handheld..hate the tripod..;p ..but isnt with lower aperture vaule, it will increase the speed as well so I can shoot at higher speed compare to the Canon lens? Or there's some other factors which I'm not aware....
Btw, which can produce better IQ? Canon?
p/s: I do mind the price...that's why I choosing btw these two..below 1K...
IS is Image Stabilizer. It stabilises image. No more, no less.

It doesn't do anything to your aperture value or shutter speed. It DOES NOT increase your shutter speed, nor does it widen your aperture. (With me so far?)

It merely allows you to shoot at a slower shutter speed, and still get a sharp photo, by "stabilising" the lens, where most of the time with that same shutter speed, your image will be blur due to camera/hand shake. That's it.

As for a choice, I'd pick the Tamron. f/2.8 wins over IS for me.
 

scoobydoo

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Mar 21, 2007
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#5
how about trying out the ef 24-70mm f2.8L. Short term pain...long term glory...hehehe;p
 

Feb 14, 2005
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#6
IS is Image Stabilizer. It stabilises image. No more, no less.

It doesn't do anything to your aperture value or shutter speed. It DOES NOT increase your shutter speed, nor does it widen your aperture. (With me so far?)

It merely allows you to shoot at a slower shutter speed, and still get a sharp photo, by "stabilising" the lens, where most of the time with that same shutter speed, your image will be blur due to camera/hand shake. That's it.

As for a choice, I'd pick the Tamron. f/2.8 wins over IS for me.
Yes..I do understand..thanks...but my question is which lens can give me a better IQ under low light condition (which is the most important factor for me).
With my limited knowleage, below is what I presume...pls correct me if I'm wrong..:embrass:
Tamron f2.8 = can take in more light = higher speed setting = can take a sharp photo under low light conditon
Canon f4-5.6 IS = stable the lens = can handle slower shutter speed = can take a sharp photo under low light condition
So seems like both can do the job, but which is better?
btw, can you explain why you prefer Tamron f2.8 over IS?
Thanks.
 

scoobydoo

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Mar 21, 2007
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#8
ef 17-40? well..it depends what you are shooting...sometimes i feel the composition is more important than the iq since now we're in the digital age...;) just my opinion..
 

calebk

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Jul 25, 2006
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#9
Yes..I do understand..thanks...but my question is which lens can give me a better IQ under low light condition (which is the most important factor for me).
With my limited knowleage, below is what I presume...pls correct me if I'm wrong..:embrass:
Tamron f2.8 = can take in more light = higher speed setting = can take a sharp photo under low light conditon
Canon f4-5.6 IS = stable the lens = can handle slower shutter speed = can take a sharp photo under low light condition
So seems like both can do the job, but which is better?
btw, can you explain why you prefer Tamron f2.8 over IS?
Thanks.
IQ-wise, the Canon lens is actually softer (!!) than the Tamron. The Tamron has really usable sharpness across the frame wide open, and gets really sharp from f/4 onwards.

Yes you are right in saying both can do the job, but remember that at a slower shutter speed, you cannot stop motion, so IS is only effective if you're not shooting much quick-moving stuff.

Basically, with f/2.8 you get a faster shutter speed that can stop motion. With the Canon IS lens, you're getting a stabilised slow shutter speed which will not be able to stop motion, but will be (almost entirely) free from handshake/camerashake (YMMV).
 

thw

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Dec 21, 2004
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#10
If you plan to do some low light shooting, watch out for AF problems with the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 lens. It's all over the place. Problem is common to both Nikon and Canon mounts, regardless of camera used:

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1029&message=22999608

http://www.pbase.com/lightrules/t1750qt

Does not matter how great the optics are, if a lens cannot focus properly, it's useless. I went through 5 copies of the Tamron 28-75 f/2.8 and not one of them could focus properly at 28 mm. Sigh...
 

tony_teo

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Feb 10, 2005
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#11
Let me add my two cents worth! I'm also considereing these two lenses. Have been going over reviews and asking around for the last few weeks. I'm almost certain I will get the EF-S17-85mm f4.0-5.6 IS USM. Reason,

a. While the F2.8 of the Tamron is tempting, I don't usually need to 'stop action'.
b. The Canon has a slightly longer focal length, making it a bit more useful as a walk-around lens.
c. The IS of the Canon is deal maker. It will allows hand held shots at lower speed or smaller apeture setting. Hence, on occassions where I forgot (or too lazy) to drag a tripod, I will not miss a photo op.

Now, where can I get a reasonably price one....
 

unseen

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Dec 14, 2004
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#12
a. While the F2.8 of the Tamron is tempting, I don't usually need to 'stop action'.
Oh really? well, different people, different requirements.

b. The Canon has a slightly longer focal length, making it a bit more useful as a walk-around lens.
I agree about the focal length, but it should be noted that most people are unwilling to compromise image quality for convenience. You just have to see which camp you're in.

At 50mm the Tamron is almost 2 stops faster than the Canon. Given that the Canon lens uses older IS tech, it's good only for 2 - 3 stops, the lenses are in fact, similar. However, IQ of the Canon lens is rather poor wide open, so at 85mm, F5.6 with hand holdable speed, you're not going to get good images. If you bump up 2 stops to F8, very often it sinks to the unholdable speed region in poorer light.

Personal experience is that I can crop from a 17-55 f2.8 image the equivilant of a 85mm for the 17-85 mm , AND actually have more details, sharpness and better contrast than an actual 85mm image from the 17-85. Feel free to try the same thing and verify for yourself.

c. The IS of the Canon is deal maker. It will allows hand held shots at lower speed or smaller apeture setting. Hence, on occassions where I forgot (or too lazy) to drag a tripod, I will not miss a photo op.
You are going to be in for the disappointment of your life. IS is not the shortform for tripod or magic, you know. It is most definitely not a replacement for tripod.
 

Jul 17, 2005
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Clementi
#13
i agree with unseeen. i happen to think the 17-85 f/4-5.6 is one of the impractical lenses canon has ever made. starting at a dark f/4 and compensating with IS is not a good compromise.

IS is not magic. plus IQ of the 17-85 isn't exactly stellar. the average zoom lens has to be stopped down to get good results and when u consider f/4 & f/5.6 as your starting points, stopping down can only lead to lower and lower shutter speeds.

the tamron 17-50 is sharp, and light and starts at a good f/2.8. personally, its the 17-50 for me anytime.

just my 2 cents :)
 

calebk

Senior Member
Jul 25, 2006
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#14
i agree with unseeen. i happen to think the 17-85 f/4-5.6 is one of the impractical lenses canon has ever made. starting at a dark f/4 and compensating with IS is not a good compromise.

IS is not magic. plus IQ of the 17-85 isn't exactly stellar. the average zoom lens has to be stopped down to get good results and when u consider f/4 & f/5.6 as your starting points, stopping down can only lead to lower and lower shutter speeds.

the tamron 17-50 is sharp, and light and starts at a good f/2.8. personally, its the 17-50 for me anytime.

just my 2 cents :)
Yes. Why on earth they start a standard lens at f/4 and end it at f/5.6 (at 85mm) puzzles me to no end. It's like trading versatility for a horribly unusable aperture (so they threw IS into the picture, hoping people would buy it, and some people did).
 

thw

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Dec 21, 2004
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#15
I have BOTH 17-55 f/2.8 IS and 17-85 IS.

Why on earth do people think that f/4-5.6 is unusable??? Have you ever gone into a museum (or any dark place during your travels), tried to use your ultrafast non-stabilized lens for non-flash photography, only to realize that f/2.8 (or faster) has too short DOF???

I do not challenge the usefulness of a fast lens... after all, I got the f/2.8 lens myself for short DOF or to freeze action in low-light. But to dismiss a slow IS lens so quickly really demonstrates how limited your photography experience has been. IS is FAR more useful than any of you realize.

As for the cropping of 17-55 f/2.8 that gives better sharpness than 17-85... we shall see. My 17-55 f/2.8 is at Canon for focus calibration and when it's back we'll see how true this is. :) I can tell you this much: if you get a GOOD copy of the 17-85 lens, the centre sharpness is quite remarkable. As a matter of fact, I used it in the past to check how sharp the 85 f/1.8 lens was at f/4. Yes, that's how good it can be. :) I do admit, however, the 17-85 is weak at the edges unless stopped down.

Let me reiterate this: no matter how great the optics are, if a lens cannot focus properly, it's USELESS. I have VERY little confidence in the low-light focusing abilities of the Tamron 17-50 f/2.8 lens. Adam-T and Lightrules also happen to be some of the most experienced and reliable lens testers around.
 

totoro17

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Nov 6, 2006
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#16
by the way what do you mean 2 stop etc?
 

thw

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Dec 21, 2004
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#17
I shall now back my statements with some REAL photos:

17 mm, f/4, 1/13s, ISO 400:


17 mm, f/4, 1/20s, ISO 800:


17 mm, f/5.6, 1/13s, ISO 800:


17 mm, f/8, 1/8s, ISO 400:
 

thw

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Dec 21, 2004
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#18
by the way what do you mean 2 stop etc?
Unseen means you can break the 1/f sec hand-holding rule by 2 stops. That is, of course, NOT true 'cos the 17-85 IS lens is relatively 'new', as compared to the 28-135 IS. It is therefore rated at 3 stops, same as the 17-55 f/2.8 IS. Only the more recent 70-200 f/4L IS is rated at 4 stops (although some magazine tests have indicated it is only good up to 3.5 stops).
 

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