Sunday, August 06, 2017

Back to Basics - Tamron Adaptall-2 Lenses

 I was at the Kiwanis Thrift shop yesterday and spied a few things that I decided to buy. One of them was a 70-210 mm zoom for $5.  Ho hum, you say.  It wasn't just any zoom, it was a Tamron Adaptall-2 lens with an Olympus OM mount.  In excellent condition.  FIVE BUCKS.  It sold for almost $300 when it was new, in the 1980s.  I have owned the very same lens model several times over the years, and I was always pleased with my results from it.  First of all, let me tell you what makes the lens so special.  It's an Adaptall-2 lens, meaning that, with the appropriate mount adapter, it can be used with virtually any 35mm SLR - Konica AR, Olympus OM, Nikon F, Canon FD, Pentax K, 42mm SM, Leicaflex,  Minolta MD, etc.
My $5 lens

Second, Tamron Adaptall-2 SP lenses are excellent, and at the time, presented photographers with a less-expensive alternative to the camera-maker's lenses.  If you changed your camera brand (and mount), you would only have to buy a new Adaptall-2 mount for the lens, which was far cheaper than buying new glass. It allows you to use the same lens with different SLR mounts, merely by having the proper adapter.  Take for instance the 90 mm f/2.5 macro lens. I have had it for close to 20 years, and it remains one of my favorite lenses. Originally, I used with a Nikon, and have used it on K-mount and Minolta MD-mount cameras, which is what it is on now. Without the matched extension tube, it produces 1:2 magnification.  With it, the lens gives you life size macro  (1:1).  It's also an excellent portrait lens.
the 90mm macro on my Minolta XG-M

The 90mm macro.  It's been used a lot.

The 28-70 lens is also very good -- low distortion at wide-angle, and a perfect range for most travel.  It's a bit weighty, with the glass and metal.  However, it will not disappoint you with the results.

Back to the 70-210mm f/4 SP zoom. -- What I always loved about this lens is that it close focuses to about 3 feet - at 210mm, it gives you quite a good magnification (1:4) of close-up subjects.    The 35-135mm is another excellent zoom, allowing you to close focus at 0.8 meters!  

Using the Adaptall-2 system gives you access to quite a few excellent lenses and allows a lot of flexibility if you use several types of SLR systems.  Sharing lenses save you some money, and the Adaptall-2 lenses really are worth trying out if you have not previously done so.  The various adapters are easy to find on Ebay, and often, they are New In Box.  Unfortunately, except for the K-Mount and Nikon mounts, they will not fit AF SLRS.  You can use them in manual  mode on your Nikon and Pentax DSLRs.  If you are using any of the mirrorless systems, you will likely find a mount that will allow you to use it in manual mode.

There are some quite good sites that feature a lot of information on the Tamron Adaptall-2 lenses, so I am not going to reproduce the information here.  My favorite site is apotelyt. Matt's Classic Cameras also has an Adaptall-2 page. There is a also a video showing how to change the adapter here.
An excellent lens with a good range.

$269.00 in the early 1980s!

the 28-70 zoom with OM adapter removed

line up the green dots when mounting the adapter

Adapter mounted and lens ready to put on the camera.

A sturdy, well-built lens.  

Finally, a couple of images shot on my Nikon D3200 with the Adaptall-2 70-210 mm lens.  Hand-held, at ISO 800.  Not too shabby for a $5 lens. For more info on using the adapters with digital cameras, look here.

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