When it comes to midrange lenses, there’s a few different approaches. Of course, a lot of people start at the low end with an 18-55mm kit or so, but eventually most people graduate and there are pretty much two ways to go:
- A small range, high-quality, high-aperture zoom.
- A large range ultrazoom with (usually) lower quality and smaller aperture
One of the advantages where ultrazooms seemed to gain the leg-up on large aperture zooms was in the image stabilization department, where nearly every single ultrazoom lens does, but up until recently only one large aperture crop lens (Canon’s $1000+ 17-55mm f/2.8 IS) did.
That left just one (very expensive) option for Canon users, and Nikon users completely out in the cold (they pay $1300 for a 17-55 f/2.8 without VR). Third party manufacturers, have as always had cheaper alternatives, such as Sigma’s 18-50mm f/2.8 and Tokina’s 16-50mm f/2.8, but all of these lacked any sort of stabilization as well.
Now finally, Tamron has gone ahead and introduced their VC stabilization to their flagship crop standard zoom, the 17-50mm f/2.8 (or rather, Tamron SP AF 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di II VC LD Aspherical [IF]), which finally delivers a large aperture, image-stabilized standard zoom for an affordable price ($650 currently).
It’s only knock is that it doesn’t yet have the fast USM or SWM-based autofocus of the Canon or Nikon models, although it’s a feature I’ve long-regarded as over-rated for standard zooms for most people’s actions.