The Tamron Adaptall-2 28mm f2.5 (02B) is a moderate wide-angle lens that is around 25% faster than the standard f2.8 lenses of the same focal length. It is a very lightweight and compact prime lens.
|List Price when new||¥28,000|
|Angle of view||75°|
|Optical Construction (Groups / Elements)||7 / 7|
|Minimum Focus||9.8″ (0.25m)|
|Maximum Macro Magnification ratio||1:5.8|
Optional screw-in type lens hood, model #22FH.
Background and availability
The Tamron Adaptall-2 28mm f2.5 (02B) was first introduced in 1979 and was in production until 1992, which means many were made and sold and they are common on Ebay and good value. It is a compact lens and is a fraction faster than the more common f2.8 28mm lens. It generally receives mixed reviews around the Internet, some people are very happy with the performance, whilst others suggest that there are better options at 28mm and the Tamron 24mm offers significantly better performance (albeit they are harder to find and more expensive).
A Tamron Adaptall-2 28mm f2.5 (02B) in good condition should set you back between £15-20, but don’t expect it to come with an Adaptall rear lens cap (these are extremely rare full stop). You can pay a bit more to get one with its original box (the long production run makes boxed copies more common than other adaptall lenses) or case. This is a good value lens and the faster f2 28mm lenses available generally go for a lot more (and even most f2.8 28mm lenses fetch slightly more depending on make). There are always plenty for sale on Ebay, so don’t feel rushed to buy the first you see – unless the price and condition is right.
The original lens hood is very rare (because it was optional when the original lens was sold) and when available often costs more than the lens itself – I have yet to see the lens for sale with its hood. Any 49mm screw in lens hood works fine – I use a 49mm rubber lens hood that came with a 50mm lens that I sold on.
Performance and handling
The Tamron Adaptall-2 28mm f2.5 (02B) is very compact and keeps the NEX 5N a compact unit – but still feels solid with its metal build, smooth, well damped focus and positive aperture selection. The 28mm focal length makes a lot of sense on the 1.5x crop sensor used by the NEX series cameras and equals 42mm on full frame – not far off of the classic 50mm standard lens on full frame cameras. The bright maximum aperture of f2.5 combined with the NEX 5N’s high ISO capabilities means you can take plenty of photos indoors without using the flash (and the fixed focal length of 28mm means you can use the auto-ISO function on the NEX 5N because this aims to keep the shutter speed at around 1/60 second which is fine for most portraits as long as the person isn’t moving around too rapidly).
I have used this lens fairly frequently for taking photos of my baby daughter in artificial light indoors of an evening and the lens produces very pleasing results. Wide open it isn’t overly sharp, but you have to remember that you don’t need – or even want – a lens to be sharp when photographing people / skin because this can make images look overly clinical. Furthermore, without using a flash it is likely that in dark rooms with subtle artificial light you might be using ISO 3200/6400 which reduces sharpness as the camera smooths out noise – negating the natural abilities of the lens anyway. I find images produced with the NEX 5N at ISO 6400 provide a very pleasing grain when made into black and white – certainly this lens is fast enough to take such images in very low light – and the manual focus makes taking these sorts of images far easier than an autofocus system that might struggle under such circumstances.
The front lens element is very recessed, so whilst a lens hood (very rare as discussed above) is useful in challenging situations I find the lens resistant to flare indoors and have never needed to use the lens hood indoors. This is not the case for all 28mm lenses as the Kiron 28mm f2 lens proved extremely susceptible to flare indoors even from fairly weak light sources and was almost unusable without a hood if the room contained multiple light sources (I did not have a hood to try it with).
I have used the lens for some landscape work and it proved sharp when stopped down and handled a sunset well – flare could be avoided with careful movement when taking photos into the sun. Because of the size of the lens, it is good for hiking or just sticking into your bag on the off-chance you want to take some pictures. Obviously it is not as compact or nearly as wide as the Sony 16mm pancake lens, but I find the 28mm focal length far more useful if I had to carry just one prime lens around with me.
Comparing the Tamron Adaptall-2 28mm f2.5 (02B) to the kit lens, the larger maximum aperture of f2.5 vs f3.5/4 makes this lens far more useable indoors irrespective of overall image quality. As a prime lens it is much cheaper than the nearest NEX autofocus alternative which is the Sigma 30mm f2.8 – although the Sigma receives very high praise for its sharpness across the frame which stands up well to the Carl Zeiss 24mm f1.8 lens for Sony NEX at a fraction of the cost. The Sigma 30mm is the one modern lens that has tempted me to part with £99 – certainly it would be interesting to compare it to some of the cheap 28mm manual options available.