Last Updated on 11/10/2023 by Chris Gampat
I’ve looked at the press release for the development announcement of the Tamron 17-50mm F4 Di III VXD a few times now. And still, I’ve got so many more questions than I do answers. I’ve been doing photography for almost 20 years now, and when I look at the focal length, I’m reminded of an 18-55mm lens. That was the standard kit lens for APS-C cameras for a very long time. However, the Tamron 17-50mm F4 is a full-frame lens. No one has made one before — and I’m trying to understand why Tamron thought someone needed a lens like this. Despite that, it still has a really great feature that will make it stand out.
My thoughts on this lens will probably change when I actually use it. After all, the Tamron 17-28mm f2.8 is a great lens — and I ended up buying one. I also questioned the need for the Tamron 20-40mm f2.8, but I ended up really liking it. Even now, as I look at images from that lens shot during its review period, I’m still enamored with what I made with it.
But this is an odd one. Why a Tamron 17-50mm F4 Di III VXD? I’ve got so many questions. Years ago, Tamron had the 17-50mm f2.8 for APS-C cameras, and it was pretty great. Sigma had an 18-50mm f2.8-4 lens. This new one, however, is a full-frame lens. That part makes sense, as Tamron has made a bunch of really steller lenses already for APS-C cameras. They don’t really need any more.
Why not make it an f3.5 lens instead and make it really stand out from all the competition? Why these focal lengths?
Then I read an important detail that otherwise could be missed in the press release: it’s got an internal zoom. That’s all on top of the built-in USB port for firmware updates, the weather resistance, and the standard 67mm filter thread that everyone loves.
The problem here, though, is that Tamron has given us photographers so much in terms of versatility and variety. This is especially the case with zoom lenses. So again, I’m really trying to understand why these focal lengths?
The press release states that it’s going to be optically sharp from corner to corner. I’ve got no doubt about that, and every press release more or less says that these days. To be honest, I’m not very concerned about the optics. I’m moreso trying to understand why someone would buy a lens like this when the brand has a bunch of other great options. More importantly, other brands have better serving options. Sony and Nikon both have a 24-70 mm f4 lens. They’re both probably nowhere as good as what the Tamron will offer, with a wider end that doesn’t have as much reach.
The brand is billing it as a perfect walkaround lens. Still, though, is an internal zooming function enough to make someone want to get it? to be fair, I thought the same thing about the 20-40mm f2.8. After trying it, though, I totally understand why someone would want to get one.
It’s tough for me to get excited about f4 lenses in general, though. Without trying it, I wish that Tamron had made the lens either an f3.5 or longer out to 70mm. The company already has a 17-70mm f2.8 for APS-C cameras. An f4 would’ve been incredible for full-frame.