I currently do mostly travel and fine art photography, including a lot of HDR work. I have a number of different lenses in my kit including some very expensive Canon L series f2.8 ones. But lately I’ve been considering downsizing my bag to lessen the weight load a bit without giving up too much on the speed end (staying with f4 lenses). One lens that I will most definitely be keeping in my bag though is the Tamron 17-35mm f2.8-4.
I shoot with the Canon 5D Classic body, which is a full frame DSLR body, so the 17mm is a true 17mm lens on my camera. Tamron also makes Nikon mounts for all their lenses so this all applies to Nikon shooters as well. If you shoot with a DSLR that is not a full frame camera, then you may wish to choose something a bit wider like the Tokina 11-16 that Sean has reviewed. If you’re not familiar with this term basically what it means is that many of the DSLR’s on the market have a digital sensor that is smaller than a frame of film used to be, so in effect you’re only using a portion of the image or “cropping” part of it out. You may have heard the term “1.5 or 1.6x lens factor” before. If you have such a camera then a 17mm becomes essentially about a 25mm lens.
There are not that many full chip bodies and the ones that are on the market are generally over the $2000 price tag for the body alone – so if you paid less than that you likely do not have a full chip body. The Canon full frame or full chip bodies are the 5D line and the 1ds line. In the Nikon full frame lines include the D700, D3s and D3x models. All others are not full frame.
I love to shoot wide and super wide images for the distorted perspective and unique angles they create. HDR lends itself well to wide images. The already potentially distorted reality and look of HDR images work well with the added affect of a super wide angle of view.
My lens of choice was the Tamron 17-35mm f2.8-4 (now replaced by the 17-50mm f2.8), for a few reasons. First, while Canon makes some outstanding lenses, they're also often are outside the budget with outrageous price tags. While the Tamron lens with image stabilization comes in around $650, the Canon version (not even an L series, their top of the line) comes in around $1100. Secondly, Tamron makes some excellent lenses also. This one is lightweight at just over a pound, comes with a lens hood (Canon ones don’t unless you get L series), and has a closer minimum focus distance than the Canon does (good for macro work).
I’ve carried this lens in my bag for a few years and when I travel I always have an internal debate over which lenses to bring or not bring, but the 17-35mm always ends up on my bag because I have nothing else that can take its place. For the money, it’s a good value and as far as quality goes I’ve made large canvas prints of images shot with it (up to 60” wide) and the image quality stands up to extreme enlargement no problem. At least my customers that have bought those canvases certainly didn’t have any complaints.
So if it’s good enough for this pro, it might be a lens you want to take a look at for your bag too.
- This lens has actually been replaced by the 17-50mm f2.8 XE Di II LD lens
- You can get a VR (vibration reduction) version for a little bit more