I preface every review with the same disclosure. I am not a professional. I do not shoot test charts. I do not try every lens with every camera. All opinions are my own, and are only based upon my own experiences with the gear. I haven’t had a ton of gear, or all of the expensive gear. I won’t list every specification or test for every specification. My review is not meant for professionals – if you are a professional, you shouldn’t need a review from an amateur. The information below is simply my own observations while doing normal photography, and is for other car enthusiasts and amateurs like myself.
The part number for the Tamron SP AF 17-35mm f/2.8-4 Aspherical DI LD wide angle lens is A05. The Nikon version is A05N.
At wide open on a full frame camera sensor, it’s soft on the edges – and not just soft, unacceptably soft, even blurry on the outside edges. Crop sensor cameras wouldn’t have this issue, but full frames do – and my Nikon D600 really showed it a lot. If you stop the lens down two stops or more though, it gets sharp all the way across.
Distortion isn’t too bad, but I never have found a lens profile for it for Lightroom, so I had to find another Tamron lens profile that gets it close, then adjust from there.
The sweet spot of this lens is at 20-30mm. It performs the best for me around there.
Focusing is decent, as it will focus even when you are pretty close. Speed of focus is also decent, but once the light starts to fade, I found it does hunt a little. It usually finds focus and locks on though. If it does have an issue finding focus, its really easy to get manual focus with it.
It also has distance markings for using hyperfocal calculations.
Mine came without a hood, and I never got one for it, as the hood didn’t look like it would help a lot – it’s very shallow. I found that I would just use my hand to block light from the lens.
Speaking of that, lens flare on this lens is pretty bad – it shows flare very easily. It’ not a bad looking flare though, so I could live with it, if it wasn’t for the other issue with light and reflections, which is …. chromatic aberration. It’s bad, really bad. If I am shooting close to wide open (at any focal length), then it seems to get it a lot. Usually it’s purple fringing, but sometimes it’s green. While it is really easy to remove the fringing in Photoshop or Lightroom, I just don’t like having to do it. I shoot a lot into the sun, and that is where it would get me. Probably would be fine for most shooters, just not in my particular situations.
Filter size is 77mm. Filter ring does not rotate when focusing or zooming. This was very important to me as I use a CPL a lot. The front element is recessed so that a filter works easily on it. It’s designed well enough that I can use a CPL without vignetting. Once you stack an ND and a CPL, you do get some corner vignetting. I really like how this lens is able to work with a CPL – it really does a good job as long as you have a good CPL.
The lens does extend when zooming, but only about 1/2″ at 35mm. The focus ring and zoom ring are smooth, but have a solid feel to them. Aperture ring is smooth, and has a push button lock to keep it locked at f/22 when you want it to stay locked for autofocus.
The lens mount is metal, not plastic.
I would definitely say that it’s a good lens on a crop sensor camera, but on a full frame Nikon D600, it didn’t give me the look I wanted.
If you really need to get to 17mm, and you need to shoot at f/2.8, there are other options out there – but if you are limited on funds, then you may want to consider it for full frame.
I’ve recently sold mine and am shooting my Nikon 20mm f/2.8 when I want to go wider than 24mm. I might pick up a Tokina 16-28mm later if I need wider than 20mm.