The Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 180mm LD IF (63B) is a professional grade fast portrait lens featuring internal focusing and two low dispersion elements. It was first produced in 1988 and formed part of Tamron’s 35th anniversary celebrations. Initially only 3,000 special anniversary editions were manufactured, however, the lens is available without the anniversary badging and both lenses are optically identical.
Lens HoodBayonet type, model number 73FH, reversible
|List Price when new||¥133,000|
|Angle of view||13°|
|Optical Construction (Groups / Elements)||7 / 10|
|Minimum Focus||47.2″ (1.2m)|
|Maximum Macro Magnification ratio||Unknown|
This lens can accept the Tamron SP 1.4x (140F), Tamron SP 2x (01F) and the Tamron SP 2x (200F) teleconverters. The 35th Anniversary edition also came with a leather bag.
This lens was marketed as part of Tamron’s top tier of professional grade lenses, which were the only Tamron lenses (at the time) to feature Low Dispersion [LD] glass. The inclusion of LD glass is signified by the light green stripe on each lens. Just four lenses featured in this series: SP 80-200 f2.8 LD (30A); SP 180mm f2.5 LD IF (63B); Tamron SP 300mm f2.8 LD IF (60B) and the Tamron SP 400mm f4 LD IF (65B).
It is worth noting that the 80-200mm only includes one LD element, whilst the other lenses in the range each contain two. This exclusive range of four lenses was marketed together with the green stripe being used on each lens, but two distinctive styles split the smaller lenses from the large primes. The smaller lenses are black, whilst the large primes are olive green – and share the same lens hood. However, the 300mm f2.8 lens had two different variants: an earlier – very rare – white version with a red stripe (107B) reminiscent of Canon L telephotos and a later version (360B) which was all-black and styled according to the range at the time. It was the 360B which was eventually adapted to the autofocus model.
Whilst the 80-200mm f2.8 was replaced with an autofocus 70-200mm f2.8, the 180mm f2.5 and 400mm f4 lenses were never updated – although Tamron do currently manufacture a 180mm f3.5 Macro lens. Tamron no longer makes prime lenses above 180mm, preferring it seems to concentrate on ever greater zoom range lenses – such as the recently released 16-300mm and 150-600mm.
Background and availibility
This lens is relatively hard to track down and comes in two distinct forms: the standard SP 180mm and the Anniversary edition – which was limited to just 3,000 lenses. The anniversary lens tends to attract a premium over the non-anniversary, but optically they are indentical. Expect to see a dozen or so on sale on Ebay throughout the year in varying condition, selling for between £200-350 depending on accessories and condition. Try to ensure it has the original lens hood as I have never seen one for sale separately. This lens has an absolutely stellar reputation whether it is used on film or digital. It is widely regarded as one of the finest lenses at or around this focal length and is reknown for being a beautiful lens to handle. It is also, given its pedigree, remarkable value. Camera Weekly tested the lens upon release and claimed it could ‘comfortably outperform just about every film on the market’ and the price of the lens when reviewed was £500 ($1082) – a lot of money in 1988.
Performance and handling
This lens deserves the glowing reviews. It is beautifully balanced, the focus ring is perfectly smooth and light (but not over-light) and objects pop into focus quickly – and when you nail the focus the result is a razor sharp image. Like all Tamron lenses from this era there is plenty of Purple fringing in high-contrast situations (even two LD elements cannot eliminate this problem with digital sensors) but I’ve not encountered anything that Lightroom hasn’t been able to deal with yet. It also must be noted, that the Tamron SP glass with LD elements do fair a lot better than those without.
It is much, much lighter and more compact than the superb Tamron SP 80-200mm f2.8 LD – which means although the zoom is more flexible and covers the same focal length, you can justify owning both as the SP 180mm is a much easier lens to carry around. I find it is a good wildlife lens for when light is poor and you don’t want to carry a much heavier 300mm f2.8 lens around. I imagine it could make a stunning lens for m4/3 users, with the 2x crop factor making it a 360mm f2.5 lens.