The Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 60-300mm f3.8-5.4 (23A) is a versatile 5:1 zoom lens featuring a macro function at 60mm that allows focusing down to 1:1.55. It’s lengthy production cycle – launched in 1983 and not discontinued until 2000 – is indicative of its optical quality and versatility. In 1999 the lens retailed for £389.95.
|List Price when new||¥69,000|
|Angle of view||40-8°|
|Optical Construction (Groups / Elements)||11 / 15|
|Minimum Focus||74.8″ (1.9m) [normal], 11.8″ (0.3m) [macro @ 35mm]|
|Maximum Macro Magnification ratio||1:1.55|
Lens hood, bayonet type #48FH.
I no longer own this lens, and did not photograph it in the time that I did own it. I will add images if I ever pick up another copy.
Background and availability
The Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 60-300mm f3.8-5.4 (23A) was first introduced in 1983 and was finally taken out of production in 2000 – which means that this lens is widely available and can be found in very good condition. Whilst most zooms from this period are generally derided, this lens has achieved a cult status as a fine lens for use on digital cameras and receives generally positive reviews. Obviously, such reviews are normally aware of the inherent limitations of zoom lenses, in particular those offering such a wide range.
A Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 60-300mm f3.8-5.4 (23A) in good condition can be picked up for between £30-50 and price variation depends on what accessories are bundled with the lens. The original lens hood costs around £13-25 if bought separately and the case can be found for around £15, so a lens bundled with both is worth paying a little bit extra for. The lens accepts 62mm filters and a screw-in rubber hood works fine if you don’t want to track down the original hood.
Be wary of the buy-it-now listings which regularly demand a premium for this lens; clean copies appear fairly frequently for low starting prices and represent much better value for money.
Performance and handling
The Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 60-300mm f3.8-5.4 (23A) – like most Tamron SP lenses from this era – suffers from purple fringing wide-open in tough situations, but used in good lighting conditions the lens performs very well wide open – even at 300mm. It is beautifully built and matches the design of the SP 35-210mm (26A) and SP 70-210mm (19AH) – if you have used either of these lenses you’ll feel right at home with it. Macro mode is very strong in the centre of the image, with only mediocre performance in the corners. I could imagine this lens proving very versatile on a full frame camera, offering an almost standard focal length at 60mm, with strong telephoto ability at 300mm.
At shorter focal lengths – outside of the dedicated macro at 60mm – the inability of the lens to focus closer than 1.9m can prove frustrating. However, conversely, focusing down to 1.9m at 300mm is actually pretty impressive and allows decent shots of butterflies and other larger insects – the dedicated SP 300mm f5.6 (54B) flatfield macro lens focuses down to 1.4m in comparison. I have always heard good things about this lens, and it did impress me in use. However, I have owned so many lenses in this range that I could not justify keeping it.