The Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 400mm f4 LD IF (65B) is a professional grade, compact and reasonably lightweight fast 400mm super-telephoto lens. It features internal focusing and two low dispersion lens elements. It accepts 43mm rear filters and can be turned into a 560mm f5.6 with the Tamron SP 1.4x (140F) or a 800mm f8 with the Tamron SP 2x (01F or 200F).
|List Price when new||¥355,900|
|Angle of view||6.2°|
|Optical Construction (Groups / Elements)||7 / 10|
|Minimum Focus||118″ (3m)|
|Maximum Macro Magnification ratio||Unknown|
|Filter Size||43mm (rear), 112mm (front)|
Accepts Tamron SP 01F 2x, Tamron SP 140F 1.4x (included with original lens) and Tamron SP 200F teleconverters. Additional 43mm rear filters: Normal, UV, ND2, 81B, Y2 and R2. 112mm ‘Normal’ front filter was an optional extra as well.
The Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 400mm f4 LD IF (65B) 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. However, the 300mm f2.8 lens had two different variants: an earlier – very rare – white version with a red stripe 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 16-300 and 150-600.
Background and availability
The Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 400mm f4 LD IF (65B) is probably the rarest lens available because it didn’t sell very well in its day and was only produced between 1988-1995 – the time when autofocus lenses were starting to really dent the sales of manual focus lenses. The lack of availability of this lens is further hampered by its reputation as being a superb long lens – with one owner’s comments summing up the lack of 400s coming to market: ‘you’d have to pry it from my cold dead hands’.
It has a reputation for being very sharp even from wide open and handles well thanks to internal focusing and professional build-quality. They do not come up for sale very often and this makes them more expensive than the perhaps ought to be (for example, Nikon made an excellent 400mm f3.5 ED IF lens that you could probably find for similar money). Expect to pay anywhere from £650-900 – if you can find one, and what you end up paying depends on what country you source the lens from (import VAT and duty is a real pain).
It accepts the same rear filters and lens hood as the SP 300mm f2.8 LD IF (60B), along with sharing the same Tamron ‘Normal’ 112mm front filter and the very useful little palm grip. Any of these accessories add to the value of the lens, along with the very rare optional lens bag that was marketed with the lens (this bag provides a snug fit for the 400mm f4 and my Sony A6000 camera, and a nice fit for the SP 300mm f2.8 and the same camera).
Expect to pay what the seller demands, and don’t expect the lens to hang around when it is listed. I have never seen one on Ebay as an auction, so you’re unlikely to get a bargain with this lens.
Performance and Handling
If you’ve used the Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 300mm f2.8 LD IF (60B), then the 400mm f4 will feel good in the hands as they essentially share the same construction. However, the extra focal length combined with being a stop slower means that you have to up the shutter speed and the ISO in dim light. Realistically you should probably use a monopod or tripod with this lens, given that with the crop factor of the Sony A6000 this is has a full frame equivalent of 600mm. I’ve done both, depending on what I’ve been trying to photograph. Early morning trips to try and photograph dippers I’ve used the tripod to keep ISOs down in poor light, on other nature walks I’ve just carried the lens and shot handheld with the little palm grip for support.
Generally, I’ve been pleased with the results with this lens and the limiting factors so far have been a combination of my technique and shooting opportunities. I really hope to use this lens a lot this year and hopefully improve my technique and engineer better situations to really see what it can do. I have a lot more pleasing shots taken with my SP 300mm f2.8, but I feel that is only because I’ve had more luck with nature when I’ve had the 300 with me, than when I’ve taken the 400.
I hope to update the image gallery below as I get more use out of this lens.