The Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 300mm f2.8 LD IF (Model 60B) is a professional grade, compact and fast 300mm telephoto lens featuring low dispersion glass and internal focusing. It accepts 43mm rear filters and can be turned into a 420mm f4 with the Tamron SP 1.4x (140F) or a 600mm f5.6 with the Tamron SP 2x (01F or 200F).
|List Price when new||¥372,000|
|Angle of view||8°|
|Optical Construction (Groups / Elements)||7 / 10|
|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 300mm f2.8 LD IF (60B) 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 availability
The Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 300mm f2.8 LD IF (60B) is generally well-regarded, although one prominent review that you are likely to find through Google does conclude – after detailed testing – that it ‘barely manages to earn a “good” rating’. The issue the reviewer has with the lens is that you have all of the weight of the fast 300mm, but if you want sharp pictures you cannot use it wide open. However, the 7 reviews on the Pentax Lens Review Database give it an average of 9/10 for sharpness (8.86/10 overall). Certainly, that one review aside, there are a lot of happy people shooting on digital with this lens and plenty of sample images around to judge for yourself.
These are often available through Ebay and other online used camera retailers, although sometimes you’ll have to look outside of the UK if you don’t want to wait. Expect to pay anywhere from £250-700 depending on condition and accessories. The lens originally came with the Tamron SP 1.4x (140F) extender and a hard case (with room, I believe, for the Tamron SP 2x extender as well) so do expect some of them to be bundled with it. The 1.4x (140F) is worth considerably more than the very common Tamron SP 2x (01F), but not as much as the exceedingly rare Tamron SP 2x (200F) – which is unlikely to ever be bundled in a sale.
The original Tamron 112mm ‘Normal’ filter was an optional extra originally, so not all lenses will come with it, so pay extra for those that do. One sought-after original accessory is the little palm grip – which comes in very useful for this lens and the 400mm f4. Make sure it has a rear filter in place – it forms part of the optical path – and be aware that Tamron did produce a full set of rear filters for this lens that are very hard to track down (although I have a new factory sealed set after much searching).
Always thoroughly check the pictures to see exactly what you’re getting, as the little extras are worth it.
Performance and handling
The Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 300mm f2.8 LD IF (60B) is a superb lens. It handles beautifully and is light enough to hand-hold for extended periods – unlike the Tokina AT-X SD 300mm f2.8. It is, in my opinion excellent wide open and I have certainly owned some fine alternatives at this focal length to compare it to. For example, if I wanted a lighter f4 lens (if the Tamron really was useless wide open) I had the Canon FD 300mm f4L lens, one of the finest 300mm lenses around. However, if I was going out in the evening or in shaded woods (and I wanted to shoot handheld) I always took the Tamron as that extra stop does make a big difference in balancing shutter speeds and ISOs.
The Tamron – like a lot of lenses of this period – does suffer from purple and green fringing in high contrast areas (although less than others thanks to its two Low Dispersion elements) as a result of being used on a digital sensor. However, most of the time this is easily sorted in Lightroom with the drag of a slider. Used with a 1.4x or 1.5x extender the lens becomes a very useful 420mm f4 – with decent close focus abilities ideal for dragonflies and butterflies and performs reasonably well even wide open. I’ve yet to use it with the 01F 2x extender as I’ve been using the longer 400mm f4 with the 140F 1.4x instead.
If you want a fast 300mm I don’t think you’d be dissapointed if you found this one for a decent price. Take a look at my images (I rarely sit and test lenses, I am only interested in getting out there and taking real photos) and judge if you’d be happy with it.