The Tamron SP AF 17-50mm f/2.8 Di II VC is a standard zoom lens designed for primary shooting duties. The lens aims to stand out for its f/2.8 designation, which is a fast, open aperture designed for low light shooting.
The SP AF 17-50mm f/2.8 Di II VC is positioned as an alternative to kit lenses by first-party manufacturers like Canon, Nikon and Sony. In the case of Nikon, the Nikkor DX 18-55mm is popular choice, particularly with first-time camera owners.
Instead of combating first party lenses on price, Tamron uses quality as a way to stand out in the market. For that reason, the SP Di II is aiming for a higher-end experience over a budget lens like the Nikkor DX.
The SP Di II was tested by comparing it to the Nikkor DX 18-55mm, as Tamron is positioning the lens as an alternative or upgrade to first-party kit lenses.
The Nikkor DX 18-55mm has a basic case design that lacks a dedicated manual focusing ring. Manual focusing is done by physically turning the end section of the lens.
This design results in the lens turning while focusing, which proves problematic if using polarising filters. It is likely for this reason why it does not come with a lens hood.
The Tamron SP Di II has internal focusing with non-rotating filter mounts, so the lens does not turn while automatically focusing. It comes supplied with a lens hood, which is useful in blocking glare and lens flare.
The Nikkor DX weighs only 205g thanks to its simple design. The more intricate design of the Tamron SP Di II means it is heavier at 570g.
Out of the two lenses, SP Di II has the more premium look and feel. The Nikkor DX has a basic design, but it is functional and robust.
The Nikkor DX 18-55mm is on the left, the Tamron SP Di II 17-50mm lens is on the right. The difference in build quality is immediately noticeable.
Both lenses come with auto-fucus and vibration reduction capabilities. The Nikkor DX is mostly silent during use, though the motors in the SP Di II are audible.
Both lenses were tested with a Nikon D5200, which is positioned as a lower, mid-range DSLR camera. The photos were taken using the default factory settings, and best quality JPEG settings.
The photos were captured at 4496x3000 resolution with a file size of approximately 7MB. The resulting photos were reduced for publishing, with a sample at the original resolution included in the top corner of each image for comparison.
Photos were taken at the furthest and nearest zoom lengths, as well as a one mid-range length. The different lengths of both lenses means there is a slight discrepancy in the furthest and nearest zoom lengths.
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