Review: Tamron 17-35mm f2.8-4 Di OSD (Canon EF)

The Tamron 17-35mm f2.8-4 Di OSD is a lens that just didn’t do it for me.

When the Tamron 17-35mm f2.8-4 Di OSD was offered to us for review, I have to say that with all honesty I wasn’t all that excited. Zoom lenses are very useful, but primes are where my heart is. Tamron’s zoom lenses have traditionally been very good since their rework a few years ago to include the silver mount ring, but a zoom lens with a variable aperture and that isn’t a telephoto zoom lens to the nigh equivalent of going on a date with someone that you’re not all that excited about but do instead just to see if you can give it a shot. The first thing that you’re thinking is “Who the hell does that?”

And the answer: A reviewer whose job it is to review lenses. Like most of modern dating, it just seems like this isn’t the one for me despite just how good it really is.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Weather sealing
  • Fast autofocus
  • Nice bokeh
  • Small
  • Lightweight
  • Very affordable

Cons

  • I’m not sure that I can quite understand the need for a variable aperture wide angle zoom when in reality the depth of field changes will only only give you the same amount of bokeh.

Gear Used

The Tamron 17-35mm f2.8-4 Di OSD was used with the Canon EOS R via the EF to RF control ring adapter. Despite warnings of autofocus performance from Tamron, I didn’t see any problems that hindered my usage.

Tech Specs

Taken from the Tamron listing page

Model A037
Focal Length 17-35mm
Maximum Aperture F/2.8-4
Angle of View
(diagonal)
103°41′-63°26′ <for full-frame DSLR cameras>
78°46′-43°29′ <for APS-C format DSLR cameras>
Optical Construction 15 elements in 10 groups
Minimum Object Distance 0.28m (11.0 in) Full zoom range
Maximum Magnification Ratio 1:4.9 (f=35mm)
Filter Size Φ77mm
Maximum Diameter Φ83.6mm (3.3 in)
Length* 92.5mm Canon (3.6 in)
90.0mm Nikon (3.5 in)
Weight 460g Canon (16.2 oz)
460g Nikon (16.2 oz)
Aperture Blades 7 (circular diaphragm)**
Minumum Aperture F/16-22
Standard Accessories Lens hood, Lens caps
Compatible Mounts Canon, Nikon
Nikon Z compatibility

Ergonomics

The Tamron 17-35mm f2.8-4 Di OSD is a pretty small lens. You can see it in the above photo attached to an adapter and the Canon EOS R. There are three big areas: the switch area on the side, the back zooming ring and the smaller, more forward focusing ring. Of course, this is one of Tamron’s newer lenses and that can be told by the silver ring.

The front element on the Tamron 17-35mm f2.8-4 Di OSD is pretty big. And for what it’s worth, I’d also probably keep the lens hood always attached.

On the side of the lens you can find the switch for the focusing type. That’s really all that there is here.

Build Quality

The Tamron 17-35mm f2.8-4 Di OSD isn’t really said to be weather and dust resistant, but instead is said to be moisture resistant. Indeed, we took it out into the rain during a light drizzle and it survived with no issues at all. Part of the design that helps this is the rubber ring around the mount.

Ease of Use

Thankfully, the Tamron 17-35mm f2.8-4 Di OSD is pretty simple to use. Just mount it to the camera, point, shoot and enjoy. This is a variable aperture lens, and so you should note that it’s perhaps best to leave it on Aperture priority and just shoot away unless you’re in full manual and are stopped down beyond the maximum aperture allowed at the longer end of this lens. For the person that is locking it to f5.6 and shooting away in nature, you’ll have a blast. But be sure that the dust getting kicked up from the dirt bike trails along your hiking grounds doesn’t get up into the lens.

Autofocus

When Tamron issued a notice about some lenses not working with the Canon EOS R, I was delighted to know that my copy of the Tamron 17-35mm f2.8-4 Di OSD didn’t face any problems. In fact, it’s a pleasure to use. I see folks using this lens mostly for landscape and travel work. For that, the Tamron 17-35mm f2.8-4 Di OSD will focus more than fast and accurate enough.

Image Quality

The Tamron 17-35mm f2.8-4 Di OSD has fine image quality, but it offers nowhere near the characteristic look that I’ve gotten from many of Tamron’s other lenses. Their 35mm f1.8 Di VC USD is still one of my favorites, and perhaps that is what is putting me off. It’s standard–I hesitate from saying that it is vanilla because I love the hell out of vanilla, but it is instead just plain. Optically, it can offer the user some beautiful images, but I feel like you’ll be relying on the sensor output to get the most from the Tamron 17-35mm f2.8-4 Di OSD.

Bokeh

To get the best bokeh with the Tamron 17-35mm f2.8-4 Di OSD, you should zoom in on your subject, focus up close and personal and shoot wide open. Then you’ll get some nice bokeh–abiet not earth shattering. Even so, I’m not sure that you should purchase this lens based on just the bokeh.

Color Rendition

Perhaps my favorite thing about the Tamron 17-35mm f2.8-4 Di OSD is the color rendition. It’s lovely and not quite lifelike but instead it does its own thing. This tends to give the scene that you’re shooting some extra character when you’re underexposing–which is where I saw the color consistently to my liking.

Chromatic Aberration

Besides some issues with distortion that will be obvious based on how close you are to your subject, the chromatic aberration isn’t really worth talking about. I couldn’t find any purple fringing in my tests.

Sharpness

Stop the lens down and you’re going to get images that are noticeably sharper than this lens can deliver wide open. At f9, I found a whole ton of sharpness on the Canon EOS R. For what it’s worth though, I still found Canon’s native lenses to be sharper.

Extra Image Samples

Conclusions

Likes

  • Rain resistant
  • Autofocus speed
  • Colors
  • Small size

Dislikes

  • There’s nothing particularly special about it

The Tamron 17-35mm f2.8-4 Di OSD isn’t at all a bad lens. In fact, it’s a very good lens. But I have no real reason to want a wide angle variable aperture zoom lens–though that could be a very personal statement. I’d prefer a prime lens or I’d prefer a constant aperture zoom lens. This would mitigate any sort of exposure issues and take me out of the need to shoot in aperture priority or with the lens stopped down quite a bit. If it were a constant f4 lens, I’d probably be completely okay with it. Tamron would have been able to make it smaller and perhaps even make it dust resistant too. If that were the case, I’d honestly think that this lens would be a solid buy.

But as it is, I have to be honest and say that there are better lenses on the market with better bokeh, more consistent light gathering abilities, better sealing, etc. They’ll be more pricey, but they’ll surely be worth every penny.

The Tamron 17-35mm f2.8-4 Di OSD receives four out of five stars. Want one? They’re on Amazon for $599.99.