Retro Macro: Tamron SP 300mm f/5.6 Adaptall 2
It all started with a Tamron 70-150mm f/3.8 CZ-715 Adaptall lens I got thrown in as a freebie when I bought my Nikon F-301. Although I had a vague idea of the Adaptall technology, I knew nothing about this particular lens. While doing research on the lens, I discovered that Tamron had a strong product line of the SP series Adaptall 2 lenses targeted at serious amateurs and professional photographers. One lens, in particular, piqued my interest: Tamron SP 300mm f/5.6 Adaptall 2 54B. While this model is a bit slow, it has an impressive 300mm focal length and features 1:3.3 macro capabilities. More importantly, the lens is rather inexpensive, and I’ve managed to find a unit in excellent condition at a very reasonable price on a local online auction.
Tamron also produced a 2x converter for use with Adaptall 2 lenses, and I was lucky to find one on eBay. This converter doubles the focal length, but it does so at the expense of the aperture. So the converter transforms a Tamron SP 300mm f/5.6 into a 600mm lens with the maximum aperture of f/11. Tamron lenses with the Adaptall 2 adapter for Nikon F mount are compatible with Nikon’s analog and digital SLRs. When bolted onto a Nikon DSLR with a DX sensor, the lens’ focal length equals 450mm. Add the 2x tele converter, and you get an whopping 900mm focal length.
To test the lens, I went to our local botanical garden. I started with my Nikon F-501 film SLR loaded with Fujifilm Fujicolor C200.
I also tried the lens with my trusty Nikon D90 DSLR. Using Tamron Adaptall lenses on a modern DSLR is only possible in the Manual mode. The camera can’t read aperture values either, and you have to switch to manual focusing. In other words, shooting with the Tamron SP 300mm f/5.6 Adaptall 2 lens is a full-manual affair. On the positive side, focus confirmation seemed to work just fine.
So how did the lens perform? For its age, the lens did admirably well. Sharpness is good, and the lens produces pleasing and creamy bokeh. Overall, it’s not so shabby for a twenty-something-year old lens, especially considering the price.
By the way, if you are looking for information about Tamron’s Adaptall lenses, the Adaptall-2.org website got you covered.