The Tamron Adaptall-2 135mm f2.5 (03B) is a compact moderate tele lens that is around 25% faster than the standard f2.8 lenses of the same focal length. It is a relatively lightweight and compact prime lens.
|List Price when new||¥|
|Angle of view||18°|
|Optical Construction (Groups / Elements)||4 / 4|
|Minimum Focus||47.2″ (1.2m)|
|Maximum Macro Magnification ratio||1:7|
Background and availability
First introduced in 1979 and discontinued in 1984 the Tamron Adaptall 2 135mm f2.5 (03B) is not as freely available as others in the Adaptall-2 line. It is compact, relatively light weight and offers a fast maximum aperture of f2.5 – vs the more common f2.8 / f3.5 at this focal length. The Tamron Adaptall 2 135mm f2.5 is a decent performer, whilst the compact nature and speed of the lens make it a very useful lens for portrait work in low light – or to achieve a very shallow depth of field to isolate subjects. It normally offers very good value for money compared to other 135mm lenses.
It is not the most common lens, but nor – it seems – is it particularly sought after either. Therefore, the copies that end up on Ebay normally sell for only modest amounts and you shouldn’t need to pay much more than £25-40 for a good copy. Needless to say, the buy-it-now listings are normally priced quite some distance above this, however, some patience will normally be rewarded by one or two being listed with a modest starting price.
The Tamron Adaptall 2 135mm f2.5 (03B) has a built-in retractable hood and is often available with its original case.
Performance and handling
I have mainly used the Tamron Adaptall 2 135mm f2.5 for indoor photography of my baby as the lens is as fast as my Tamron Adaptall-2 28mm f2.5 lens but offers a very different focal length to play around with. What is worth bearing in mind when using this lens with a NEX is that you should really choose the ISO manually with this lens because auto-ISO only aims to keep shutter speeds at around 1/60 of a second, which is fine for the 28mm lens, but not for the 135mm which on the Sony cropped sensor is equivalent to just over 200mm. As a rule of thumb your shutter speed should at the very least match or excel that of your focal length. So, for this lens you should be looking at keeping shutter speeds above 1/200 sec. This will obviously require a significantly higher ISO in dark situations.
Whilst the 28mm lens is nice for getting in groups of people, the 135mm is great for individual faces. The shallow depth of field created through large aperture and the medium telephoto length works well even in cramped environments – like a living room – to throw the background smoothly out of focus.
The Tamron 135mm f2.5 (03B) handles very nicely on the NEX and feels positively featherweight when compared to some of the heavy lenses in the Adaptall-2 line – it really is compact for the focal length. Focusing is smooth and precise – but be aware that faces at f2.5 will not be entirely in focus due to the shallow depth of field.
It is sharp wide open, but when stopped down to f4 the lens becomes very sharp – at least to my eyes and other users have had good results using this lens as a short nature zoom (suited to zoos where animals are close by and aren’t shy).
For indoor work in poor light the need to keep shutter speeds above 1/200 sec. to compensate for the focal length means that often you might be using a higher ISO than you would like and you might prefer a faster lens with a shorter focal length – which costs a little less (say the Canon 50mm f1.8) or a much shorter focal length and same speed which can produce sharp images at slower shutter speeds (say the Tamron 28mm f2.5).
As a lens to take out and about it has good qualities: large maximum aperture means shooting in low light is fine; it is sharp enough to use at f2.5 (for me, at any rate); at f4 the lens is beautifully sharp; it is compact, light and has a built-in hood so it is a good lens to pop in a small bag. The only drawbacks are: fixed focal length that is quite long on the NEX, only focuses down to 1.2m (it is branded as ‘close focus’ but this was relative to lenses of this focal length at time of launch).
Whilst I have enjoyed using this lens I cannot help but think I’d probably reach for the Tamron SP 90mm f2.5 macro lens over this lens 95% of the time. However, when I want a bit more reach I don’t think I’m sacrificing too much quality to reach for this lens.