June 19, 2008 at 6:50 am #1332
So I’m headed off to vacation, didn’t feel like carrying around both the kit lens(non-IS) and the old cheap 80-200mm f/4.5 since I’ll also have a macro and the 50 with me. So I got the Tamron 18-200 as a walk around. Well, it’s going back to the store(pending my question). The Autofocus always comes close(agonizingly slowly) but very rarely achieves a good focus, the kit lens and the 80-200 are both faster and better at focusing. I assumed incorrectly that it would would be a better lens optically or at least on par with the cheap lenses I already had. Not the case, both cheap Canon lenses are noticeably sharper even if I do the best possible manual focus. I invested in Hoya filters for it, and unfortunately opened them so I will have to try selling them on eBay as I can’t return them.
My question is did I get a bad copy, or is this just a bad piece of glass?June 19, 2008 at 1:53 pm #17217
I did a search for that lens and found several reviews of it that were decent and some that said it’s soft. Here’s the PhotoZone review of it (incidently, that site has an awesome collection of lens reviews):
They specifically mention barrel and pincushion distortion, vignetting wide open at 18mm, and extreme softness at the edges (though center image quality looked good). But like I said, I also found mention from other folks (informal stuff posted on forums, not formal tests) that it can be soft overall. It does sound like it’s possibly missing AF, which might not mean it’s a bad copy, but it might need to be “rechipped” or calibrated at Tamron for your camera specifically. This would take awhile, though, and you might not want to mess with it.
Keep in mind that any time you squeeze that many focal lengths into a single lens, you are going to have to make some compromises. You can have good build quality, good image quality, or lots of focal lengths in one lens. Rarely do you get all three, and definitely not all three for less than $400. I have the Canon 75-300mm (the older design, not the newer 70-300mm), and it’s definitely meh, especially at 300mm, so this isn’t just a 3rd party lens issue, just an optical fact that it’s difficult to get fixed-focal-length-lens quality at all focal lengths in a zoom lens (especially mega zooms like 18-200).
That said, depending on when your vacation is and how much you want to mess with things, you could shoot some focus charts and see if the lens focus is off (do a search on back focus and/or focus chart and you should find some charts to print out with instructions for how to set up the shots. If it turns out the lens itself isn’t focusing properly, you could send it to Tamron, or you could just send it back. Other things to consider is whether you’re shooting wide open or stopped down. Most lenses will have a sweet spot aperture where they’re at their sharpest and beyond that, you won’t see improvement. If you haven’t already done so, try shooting at f/8 or f/11 and see if your results are better.
Hope something in here helps.June 19, 2008 at 2:13 pm #17218
btw, if you’re looking for a good walk around lens, the reviews of the Tokina 50-135mm f/2.8 have been good. It’s a crop-body lens (isn’t compatible with full frame), and it doesn’t have the reach of the 18-200mm, but it’s a good range of focal lengths (good for a walk around/general purpose lens), has good image quality, and a fast f/2.8 constant through the zoom range. Sigma also has a 50-150mm f/2.8 (also a crop-body only lens) that has gotten good reviews, though sometimes their quality control isn’t as good. Just some thoughts…June 19, 2008 at 3:31 pm #17219
Thanks, looks like I’m going to return it as it isn’t really an upgrade on what I already have.June 19, 2008 at 5:12 pm #17220
Tokina 50-135mm f/2.8
I love my Tokina 12-24, but the 50-135mm length strikes me as really random. The f/2.8 is nice, but for the money, I’d go with the Canon 70-200 f/4 L, which, if I ever get around to having enough spare cash to buy another lens, will most likely be my choice.June 19, 2008 at 5:22 pm #17221
I dunno, it’s kinda like the equivelent of 80-200 something in 35mm when you figure for the crop factor. That constant f/2.8 is pretty tempting, though I don’t know about limiting myself to digital only lenses (though I did that with my Tokina 12-24 which I love)June 19, 2008 at 5:41 pm #17222
I don’t think of things in equivalents, I guess, because when I first got serious with an SLR, it was a digital with the crop factor. I had a K1000 in college with a couple of lenses, but I have no idea know what they were.
I use my Tokina 12-24 on my EOS film body. It may be crop factor only, but it’s not like the mirror hits or anything. It vingettes all to hell & back at the wide end, but even that can be useful
But the other thing for me is that I’ve got a great 28-75 zoom. So I wouldn’t think of getting a zoom that started at 50 and only went to 135 if I could have 70-200. A 50 f/1.4 prime is another story.June 19, 2008 at 5:52 pm #17223
Yeah, one reason that I went ahead and got the Tokina 12-24 is that I knew it could still mount to a full frame even if it vignetted (and I also figured that vignetting might be a fun effect at times). I also have a good 28-75 (Tamron, f/2.8 ), so I’m torn on the Tokina 50-135, but it would be a useful walk around lens for going to the zoo or walking around downtown or something if I only wanted to take a single lens.
Now if money were no object, I’d be getting the 70-200 f/2.8 IS. MmmmmmJune 19, 2008 at 6:07 pm #17224
Have you looked at the 70-200 f/4 L non-IS from Canon? It’s less than the 50-135 and from everything I have read, is as sharp or sharper than the f/2.8 versions.
One thing I’ve noticed, you show up with one of those white lenses, everybody immediately assumes you’re from the press or some official reason. It’s fun.June 19, 2008 at 6:28 pm #17225
Yeah, it’s on my short list of lenses I’m drooling over. I just don’t know about the lack of IS and how do-able that would be to handle. I’d also rather have the f/2.8, but I’ve heard that one’s a beast to carry without IS and that the f/4 is quite a bit lighter.June 19, 2008 at 7:57 pm #17226
I’ve got no problem hand-holding my 100-400 in daylight hours, even with the IS off. This was taken at about 150mm, f/7.1, in a small boat, handheld.
400mm is a hell of a lot harder under those circumstances, but doable. This was handheld at f/5.6, 400mm on a small boat. Absolutely all the shots didn’t come out like this, but enough did.
If I can do that in a boat at 400mm, I’m confident 200mm without IS on dry land is doable.June 19, 2008 at 8:34 pm #17227
Well damn, that might have just sealed the deal for me!June 19, 2008 at 8:54 pm #17228sleepingParticipant
I love my Tokina 12-24, but the 50-135mm length strikes me as really random.
I don’t know, it seems like it would make a pretty 2 lens pair with something like a 17-35mm for a small sensor DSLR. I probably wouldn’t miss having the 50-70mm range myself, but if you do a lot of people shooting you might find yourself missing the shorter end with a 70-200 (think full frame 85mm).June 21, 2008 at 5:39 am #17229
Thanks for the advice everybody, I ended up returning the lens and they even took the filters back. So no harm done. The kit lens is still better then most P&S cameras anyway so I’m not too broken up about not having some shiny new glass to take with me. I’ll pick up a polarizer for the kit lens and go have fun.
My camera bag to Japan is probably going to contain:
sigma 28-90 “macro”
A point and shoot to be decided, probably the SP-550 cause it takes decent videoJune 21, 2008 at 1:38 pm #17230
That sounds like a pretty good kit to take along. Glad things worked out for you.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.