Well, now THAT's disappointing lens behavior...

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Well, now THAT's disappointing lens behavior...

Postposted on Mon Apr 04, 2011 12:56 am

My Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di-II just lost its zoom ring :evil: I was practicing more indoor photography with my new (to me) 7D at the Denver Auto Show on Saturday. After the first hour or so, the zoom ring started to get rough on the Tamron. By that evening the lens would not zoom past 35mm and the zoom ring would occasionally break free and spin. Barely eight months old and never dropped. According to some quick web searching, this is not an unusual issue, both on the model I have, and on the VC version. That's a real bad habit in $400+ lenses.

Time to find out how efficient Tamron's warranty service happens to be. That "six year warranty" sticker on the box had better be worth something.
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Re: Well, now THAT's disappointing lens behavior...

Postposted on Mon Apr 04, 2011 1:50 am

Wow. That's, uh, Not Good. My mostly-subjective (and possibly dated) ranking of the major 3rd party lens mfrs has always put Tamron in the middle, below Sigma but above Tokina. This might change my opinion somewhat. Given the other reports, clearly there's a design flaw here.

Let us know how the warranty process goes. Hopefully it will be as quick and painless as possible.
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Re: Well, now THAT's disappointing lens behavior...

Postposted on Mon Apr 04, 2011 4:16 am

Now you're making me nervous. I just bought that lens 2 weeks ago! (I got a 5 year warranty instead of 6, though)

pls keep us updated on how it works out with Tamron's service.
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Re: Well, now THAT's disappointing lens behavior...

Postposted on Mon Apr 04, 2011 1:30 pm

UberGerbil wrote:Wow. That's, uh, Not Good. My mostly-subjective (and possibly dated) ranking of the major 3rd party lens mfrs has always put Tamron in the middle, below Sigma but above Tokina.

Oddly enough I would rate my Tokina 12-24mm f/4 DX as physically superior to the Tamron 17-50mm and has a much quieter focus motor as well. The Tokina 28-80mm f/2.8 which I don't yet have looks similarly solid, and my rocket launcher (a very old Tokina 80-200mm f/2.8 ) is an even heftier chunk, whose only flaw is a moving/rotating front-focus mechanism and not quite enough travel at infinity when the weather is really cold. Where the Tamron 17-50mm really excels is image sharpness; for the sub-$500 pricepoint there is nothing to complain about in the optics.

I guess it may be time to start saving for the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM.
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Re: Well, now THAT's disappointing lens behavior...

Postposted on Mon Apr 04, 2011 2:32 pm

No news on the warranty events yet?
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Re: Well, now THAT's disappointing lens behavior...

Postposted on Mon Apr 04, 2011 6:45 pm

Heiwashin wrote:No news on the warranty events yet?

Status is that Tamron-USA apparently doesn't have a formal RMA system, you simply download an appropriate PDF form, type in the details, print it, and ship the lens to Tamron for an estimate. If the lens has warranty coverage remaining, then a copy of the receipt must be included to show evidence of purchase from an authorized dealer.

I've got the paperwork together but probably won't have time to get it packed for shipping until tomorrow evening earliest.
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Re: Well, now THAT's disappointing lens behavior...

Postposted on Wed Apr 13, 2011 8:54 pm

So far, so good. FedEx delivered the package to New York yesterday (Tuesday) a little after noon, according to online tracking. Today, I got an email from Tamron showing the complete repair estimate and the authorization of full warranty coverage for said repair.
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Re: Well, now THAT's disappointing lens behavior...

Postposted on Wed Apr 13, 2011 9:34 pm

ludi wrote:That's a real bad habit in $400+ lenses.

Not saying it's acceptable or anything like that, but dude - $400 for a camera lens? That's a low price. Most of my lenses are worth well over $1200; one was over $2000 new.

It's like saying "that's a bad habit in a $5000 car" - sure, it sounds like a lot, but you look at the market, and it's dirt cheap.

Still, here's hoping it gets sorted out sooner rather than later - cheap lens or not, it's not acceptable behaviour.
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Re: Well, now THAT's disappointing lens behavior...

Postposted on Wed Apr 13, 2011 9:43 pm

sjl wrote:
ludi wrote:That's a real bad habit in $400+ lenses.

Not saying it's acceptable or anything like that, but dude - $400 for a camera lens? That's a low price. Most of my lenses are worth well over $1200; one was over $2000 new.

It's like saying "that's a bad habit in a $5000 car" - sure, it sounds like a lot, but you look at the market, and it's dirt cheap.

Still, here's hoping it gets sorted out sooner rather than later - cheap lens or not, it's not acceptable behaviour.


Wow, did you just post to brag how expensive your lenses are? :roll:
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Re: Well, now THAT's disappointing lens behavior...

Postposted on Wed Apr 13, 2011 10:08 pm

etilena wrote:
sjl wrote:
ludi wrote:That's a real bad habit in $400+ lenses.

Not saying it's acceptable or anything like that, but dude - $400 for a camera lens? That's a low price. Most of my lenses are worth well over $1200; one was over $2000 new.

It's like saying "that's a bad habit in a $5000 car" - sure, it sounds like a lot, but you look at the market, and it's dirt cheap.

Still, here's hoping it gets sorted out sooner rather than later - cheap lens or not, it's not acceptable behaviour.


Wow, did you just post to brag how expensive your lenses are? :roll:


He's just saying that $400 is not a lot of money for a lens, and that one should not be expecting Canon L or Leica M levels of build quality in these things.
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Re: Well, now THAT's disappointing lens behavior...

Postposted on Thu Apr 14, 2011 2:37 am

Voldenuit wrote:He's just saying that $400 is not a lot of money for a lens, and that one should not be expecting Canon L or Leica M levels of build quality in these things.

Unfortunately, I also detected a bit of bragging. $400+ is still a lot of money for a lens, especially since I bought that one new, and there are other good options in the $600-and-under range, for those of us who can't afford to be purchasing Porches all day long. His comparison was to a used car, which is bupkus -- when you buy used, you get used, and must accept wear-and-tear risk. A plastic body, no weather sealing, and a noisy focus motor, versus buying a Canon XYZ f/2.8L and removing all of those limitations, sure, those feature differences are expected. Zoom rings that go from smooth to rough and then break in the span of a couple hours, after just 8 months of casual use, no, not expected. That's a bad habit in $400+ lenses.

Interestingly, I was sorting some photos from that event this evening, and noticed that the EXIF-reported focal length locked up at 32mm about thirty minutes before I started detecting a noticeable roughness in the zoom. So it looks like the failure probably originated in or around the focal-position brushes.
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Re: Well, now THAT's disappointing lens behavior...

Postposted on Thu Apr 14, 2011 5:09 am

ludi wrote:I guess it may be time to start saving for the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM.
Unless you're already saving for the EOS 5D Mark II, in which case the EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM would be the logical replacement. :lol:

Seriously, Tamron's lens warranty is much longer than Canon's. You should be able to get your existing Di-II 17-50mm f/2.8 lens repaired at no charge. Noisy focus motor or not, you won't find a better zoom lens for $460 minus rebate.
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Re: Well, now THAT's disappointing lens behavior...

Postposted on Thu Apr 14, 2011 11:58 am

JustAnEngineer wrote:Seriously, Tamron's lens warranty is much longer than Canon's. You should be able to get your existing Di-II 17-50mm f/2.8 lens repaired at no charge. Noisy focus motor or not, you won't find a better zoom lens for $460 minus rebate.

Ayep, as noted above, they have confirmed warranty coverage. Just waiting to hear back on turn-around, now.

Meanwhile, I'm eyeing an EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM on eBay. They usually go for around $275 in good condition, and now that I have two camera bodies, I wouldn't mind having a second general-purpose zoom as a backup. And IIRC the one time I played with one, the 17-85mm doesn't telescope the way the EF 28-105 and EF 28-135 IS sometimes do.
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Re: Well, now THAT's disappointing lens behavior...

Postposted on Thu Apr 14, 2011 4:09 pm

ludi wrote:
JustAnEngineer wrote:Seriously, Tamron's lens warranty is much longer than Canon's. You should be able to get your existing Di-II 17-50mm f/2.8 lens repaired at no charge. Noisy focus motor or not, you won't find a better zoom lens for $460 minus rebate.

Ayep, as noted above, they have confirmed warranty coverage. Just waiting to hear back on turn-around, now.

Meanwhile, I'm eyeing an EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM on eBay. They usually go for around $275 in good condition, and now that I have two camera bodies, I wouldn't mind having a second general-purpose zoom as a backup. And IIRC the one time I played with one, the 17-85mm doesn't telescope the way the EF 28-105 and EF 28-135 IS sometimes do.


Wait are you seriously going to buy a lens for only 275, you realize that's dirt cheap right? Sorry i'll leave now. :(
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Re: Well, now THAT's disappointing lens behavior...

Postposted on Thu Apr 14, 2011 10:05 pm

Sucks that the lens broke, but that's par for the course, in my experience. There are certainly good samples produced of third party lenses but there are many more horror stories than of genuine Canon/Nikon/etc. lenses. For the price, though, you can argue that they're worth the effort of getting a working one, but it is a shame to pair one with a camera like the 7D. I break that rule by pairing my 7D with some inexpensive lenses, but it's like night and day when I use an L. But I digress.

Are you planning on testing the lens when they return it to make sure they didn't mess anything else up in the repair process?
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Re: Well, now THAT's disappointing lens behavior...

Postposted on Thu Apr 14, 2011 11:00 pm

ludi wrote:I'm eyeing an EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM on eBay.
The EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM is a much better performer than the 17-85.
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Re: Well, now THAT's disappointing lens behavior...

Postposted on Sat Apr 16, 2011 1:25 am

FireGryphon wrote:Sucks that the lens broke, but that's par for the course, in my experience. There are certainly good samples produced of third party lenses but there are many more horror stories than of genuine Canon/Nikon/etc. lenses. For the price, though, you can argue that they're worth the effort of getting a working one, but it is a shame to pair one with a camera like the 7D. I break that rule by pairing my 7D with some inexpensive lenses, but it's like night and day when I use an L. But I digress.

The Tamron's problem is not image quality. I got vivid proof of this at the aforementioned auto show. I was shooting the 7D at 1600 ISO, Aperture Priority, and mainly using the Tamron, a friend borrowed my 40D and shot at 1600 ISO, Aperture Priority, using mainly the EF 28mm f/1.8. My shots were uniformly better in terms of noise performance, which is one of the main reasons why I bought the 7D, and the sharpness was excellent.

JustAnEngineer wrote:
ludi wrote:I'm eyeing an EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM on eBay.
The EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM is a much better performer than the 17-85.

If I had EF-S 15-85mm money, I'd just keep saving and go straight to the EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8, and then push the Tamron to backup status. IMO the 15-85mm costs way too much for being both EF-S and variable aperture.
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Re: Well, now THAT's disappointing lens behavior...

Postposted on Sat Apr 16, 2011 4:18 pm

the 15-85mm costs way too much for being both EF-S and variable aperture.

I haven't handled one, but according to the sharpness comparisons on Lenstip, the 15-85 is ludicrously sharp wide open, sharper than the 17-55 at equivalent apertures. In other words, you'll probably be shooting the 17-55 at the same apertures as the 15-85 anyway (in bright shooting conditions), and still be getting less-sharp results. Of course, that's just a sharpness test; there may be a dozen superior qualities to the 17-55 that I wouldn't know about, having never handled either.

On the other hand, if you know you're gonna be shooting at 2.8... well, then you need 2.8 and that's all there is to it. That's why I got Tokina's 11-16 instead of the 12-24, f'rinstance.
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Re: Well, now THAT's disappointing lens behavior...

Postposted on Sat Apr 16, 2011 7:51 pm

ludi wrote:
Voldenuit wrote:He's just saying that $400 is not a lot of money for a lens, and that one should not be expecting Canon L or Leica M levels of build quality in these things.

Unfortunately, I also detected a bit of bragging.


Which wasn't my intention. All I intended to say was that $400 is very much at the low end of the price bracket for a camera lens. When you're talking about an f/2.8 zoom, it's extremely cheap. My first reaction upon seeing an f/2.8 zoom for that sort of price would be, "So what's wrong with it?"

$400+ is still a lot of money for a lens


In absolute terms, looked at from the point of view of "what else can I spend this money on"? Yeah, it's a lot of money to spend on one item. In relative terms? Considering the amount of precision that goes into producing a camera lens - even a cheap one - no, it's not (although it does depend upon what exactly you're buying, for a fast zoom [which f/2.8 definitely is], it's right there at the bottom end.)

His comparison was to a used car, which is bupkus -- when you buy used, you get used, and must accept wear-and-tear risk.


Okay, then, try a Daewoo Kalos versus a Tata Nano. Or maybe the Toyota Yaris (Vitz) versus the Kalos would be a better comparison.

Zoom rings that go from smooth to rough and then break in the span of a couple hours, after just 8 months of casual use, no, not expected. That's a bad habit in $400+ lenses.


Not expected, and definitely not acceptable, but certainly not particularly surprising - when you're paying one third the price of the equivalent Canon or Nikon lens, you're getting something that's going to have a tradeoff, and there's no surprise that the build quality (or maybe just the quality control) is one of them. Granted that the Nikon and Canon lenses have a fair amount of "brand" pricing built in, you're probably still paying - at best - half the price.

I'm not saying "don't buy a third party lens" - there are some beauties out there, and the Tamron 17-50mm is, from all I've seen, one of them. I'm simply saying that issues are to be expected, and you have to decide whether those issues are ones you can live with. A busted zoom ring? That's definitely a case of ship it back, get it repaired, and consider whether it was a one off (more likely with a first party than a third party, but still more likely than not even with the third party) or symptomatic of quality control issues that may lead you to not buy third party again. Noisy AF, on the other hand (which this lens - again, from all I've seen - has in spades) would be an inherent part of the tradeoff.

Hopefully, it's a once-off issue, and it's resolved without too much trauma or turnaround time.

As for the 17-85mm - it's not a bad lens, but be aware that there's a hell of a lot of barrel distortion produced by this lens (very noticeable, especially at the wide end.) If you have a software package that can correct for that, great. If not, you have to decide whether you can live with that issue.
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Re: Well, now THAT's disappointing lens behavior...

Postposted on Sat Apr 16, 2011 10:26 pm

ludi wrote:The Tamron's problem is not image quality. I got vivid proof of this at the aforementioned auto show. I was shooting the 7D at 1600 ISO, Aperture Priority, and mainly using the Tamron, a friend borrowed my 40D and shot at 1600 ISO, Aperture Priority, using mainly the EF 28mm f/1.8. My shots were uniformly better in terms of noise performance, which is one of the main reasons why I bought the 7D, and the sharpness was excellent.


You realise that noise is caused by the sensor, not the lens, right? Also, Aperture Priority won't make any difference to noise levels, so I'm not sure why you refer specifically to that?

Apologies if you realise all this, but I can't quite make out what point you are making when comparing noise on shots on two different bodies/sensors with two different lenses.
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Re: Well, now THAT's disappointing lens behavior...

Postposted on Sat Apr 16, 2011 10:46 pm

ludi wrote:I'm eyeing an EF-S 17-85mm f/4-5.6 IS USM on eBay.... If I had EF-S 15-85mm money, I'd just keep saving. IMO the 15-85mm costs way too much.
How does that saying go? "The poor man buys twice." Fortunately, camera lenses can usually be re-sold to recover most of what you spent for them.
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Re: Well, now THAT's disappointing lens behavior...

Postposted on Sun Apr 17, 2011 1:38 pm

Not expected, and definitely not acceptable, but certainly not particularly surprising

I've really gotta disagree, man. What you're saying may have been true ten years ago, but times they are a-changin': Third-party lenses have improved drastically, to the point where there are some examples that are clearly superior to their Canikon counterparts in at least a couple crucial ways. The first-party lenses remain popular with pros because Canikon's professional services add a huge amount of trust and reliability (what? Your lens busted a few days before your big job? They'll give you a loaner while they fix yours, that sort of thing).

So... no, a zoom ring that goes from functional to failure in such a brief span of time is VERY surprising.
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Re: Well, now THAT's disappointing lens behavior...

Postposted on Sun Apr 17, 2011 3:29 pm

sjl wrote:Which wasn't my intention. All I intended to say was that $400 is very much at the low end of the price bracket for a camera lens. When you're talking about an f/2.8 zoom, it's extremely cheap. My first reaction upon seeing an f/2.8 zoom for that sort of price would be, "So what's wrong with it?"

I'm with Spoofe, that's becoming an outdated prejudice, although not all of the third-parties have resolved their issues (e.g. Sigma, as far as I know, still has random build and image quality problems to this day).

Also, there's some additional context that you might be missing: First, the Tamron Di-II lenses are crop-factor lenses. There's exponentially less glass required for a given focal length and aperture value. Second, the rest of the cost savings is in features. The closest Canon equivalent is the 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM. Tamron doesn't presently offer an ultrasonic motor system, so that's one trade-off, and the other is IS -- Tamron does offer that feature (they call it VC) but that lens is around $650 instead of $450. Canon simply won't sell you an f/2.8 wide zoom for EF-S unless you buy the 17-55 at about $1300, but a good part of what you're paying for is the Canon name and service, the IS, and the USM. Discount for those, and what are you left with? Probably a high-quality $500 lens that looks suspiciously like the Tamron.
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Re: Well, now THAT's disappointing lens behavior...

Postposted on Sun Apr 17, 2011 3:56 pm

$1159 Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM
http://www.usa.canon.com/cusa/consumer/ ... 2_8_is_usm
This is the best wide-normal zoom lens available for Canon EOS cameras with APS-C size sensors, but it's not the only f/2.8 option.

$459 -25MIR Tamron Di-II 17-50mm f/2.8
http://www.tamron-usa.com/lenses/prod/1 ... I_a016.asp

$649 -50MIR Tamron Di-II 17-50mm f/2.8 VC
http://www.tamron-usa.com/lenses/prod/1750_vc_b005.asp

$669 Sigma DC 17-50mm f/2.8 OS HSM
http://www.sigmaphoto.com/shop/17-50mm- ... -hsm-sigma

$849 Tokina DX 16-50mm f/2.8
http://www.tokinalens.com/products/toki ... odx-b.html
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Re: Well, now THAT's disappointing lens behavior...

Postposted on Sun Apr 17, 2011 4:02 pm

ludi wrote:Tamron doesn't presently offer an ultrasonic motor system...
Tamron's new PZD Piezoelectric drive first appeared in an 18-270mm ultra-zoom, but it hasn't made it to the rest of their lens lineup yet.
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Re: Well, now THAT's disappointing lens behavior...

Postposted on Sun Apr 17, 2011 5:53 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:Tamron's new PZD Piezoelectric drive first appeared in an 18-270mm ultra-zoom, but it hasn't made it to the rest of their lens lineup yet.

Interesting, did not know Tamron had finally gotten onboard. Wonder what the holdup was, Sigma has been offering their own version (HSM) for some time now.
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Re: Well, now THAT's disappointing lens behavior...

Postposted on Mon Apr 18, 2011 12:09 am

Anomymous Gerbil wrote:You realise that noise is caused by the sensor, not the lens, right? Also, Aperture Priority won't make any difference to noise levels, so I'm not sure why you refer specifically to that?

My bad,I was unclear. Yes, the noise is a sensor function. The comment I was responding to was going in the direction that a high-dollar camera body should be paired with high-dollar lenses. Implied: some sort of waste otherwise. I was counter-arguing that the 7D is fulfilling exactly the purposes for which I bought it, and the Tamron lens is not hindering it from doing those things, even when pitted against one of Canon's sharper non-L primes.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I came to take pictures, and I'm not getting paid for my trouble. Correspondingly, I pair up whatever works for whatever I'm doing now within whatever budget I have.
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Re: Well, now THAT's disappointing lens behavior...

Postposted on Wed Apr 20, 2011 9:28 am

SPOOFE wrote:
the 15-85mm costs way too much for being both EF-S and variable aperture.

I haven't handled one, but according to the sharpness comparisons on Lenstip, the 15-85 is ludicrously sharp wide open, sharper than the 17-55 at equivalent apertures. In other words, you'll probably be shooting the 17-55 at the same apertures as the 15-85 anyway (in bright shooting conditions), and still be getting less-sharp results. Of course, that's just a sharpness test; there may be a dozen superior qualities to the 17-55 that I wouldn't know about, having never handled either.

On the other hand, if you know you're gonna be shooting at 2.8... well, then you need 2.8 and that's all there is to it. That's why I got Tokina's 11-16 instead of the 12-24, f'rinstance.

I always take theoretical results with a pinch of salt, 3Dmark does not tell me if a game will run smoothly on my comp, nor does DXO and the likes on optics quality.

I have not used the 15-85, but I have used a Canon 17-40L and at F4 the Tamron and Canon are at par on IQ. The Canon ofcourse has the L build quality, plus a faster/accurate/quieter USM motor. But IQ is at par, the Tamron lens is a piece of gem for that price.
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Re: Well, now THAT's disappointing lens behavior...

Postposted on Wed Apr 20, 2011 4:55 pm

Too true, but theory is all I've got at the moment. :)

On the other hand, I will point out that there's been a very impressive trend with newer lenses to exhibit better and better sharpness, especially at the widest apertures. Nikon and Canon's updates have been very impressive, and the third-party guys are really stepping up the game as well. Prices are tending to reflect this, but you can still find some gems for not very high prices. Good time to be a shutterbug, that's for sure.
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Re: Well, now THAT's disappointing lens behavior...

Postposted on Sat Apr 23, 2011 1:40 am

Update: Tamron made good on their warranty. The lens arrived today completely cleaned and refurbished, and seems no worse for the wear. Door-to-door turnaround was just a hair over two weeks (out via FedEx Ground on the 6th, back via UPS 3-day on the 22nd), which is reasonable enough.

I also found an EF-S 17-85mm with a Canon lens hood on eBay last Sunday evening for $265 shipped. That arrived last Wednesday, and other than being moderately worn (some minor dust inside the front element) it is clean, smooth, and fairly sharp (improves just a hair when going from f/4 to f/5.6 at 17mm, and has just a very slight amount of falloff in the corners). So right now I've got that set aside with the 40D, and will use that combination for backup work and inclement weather shooting.

All's well that ends well, or at least I hope so.
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