Outlandish lensesTamron Adaptall 2 SP 70-150mm f/2.8

Tamron Adaptall 2 SP 70-150mm f/2.8 lens mounted on a Pentax K-3II cameraHere you can see the Tamron Adaptall 2 SP 70-150mm f/2.8 lens mounted on a Pentax K-3II camera

Starting in 1979, and continuing well into the 1990s, Tamron procuded a huge number of lenses for their amazing Adaptall 2 interchangeable mount system. Adaptall 2 mounts allowed the lens to communicate with the camera in much the same was fixed mount lenses could. So long as you have the appropriate mount on your lens you had access to all your camera's metering and expoure modes. And there were a number of side benefits. Because Tamron didn't have to establish new productions lines for dozens of lenses each time they introduced a new lens mount they found it economical to support a much wider range of lens mounts then most other independent lens makers. If you have a camera with an obscure lens mount, such as a Fujica or Konica, Tamron was there to help you out!

What's more when camera makers introduced updated lens mounts with new features (for example when Pentax updated their Pentax K mount to the KA mount to add electronic communication contacts) you didn't have to sell and re-buy all your lenses to take advantage, you just had to buy new mounts. The system is quite magical... it's a shame that when the camera makers started to introduce body-integral autofocus to their camera even Tamron's genius engineers were defeated, and they switched to fixed mounts like everyone else.

The lens you see here, the Tamron Adaptall 2 SP 70-150mm f/2.8, was introduced in 1979 as oe of the first Adaptall 2 lenses. Because of this, by adding a Pentax KA mount with electronic contacts I am able to mount a 4 year old lens on my Pentax K-3II camera and get access al all my exposure and metering modes almost as if it was made the lens was made yesterday! Of course that doesn't transform this lens into a autofocus lens, but still, you gotta admit, that is pretty amazing! Unfortunately Tamron Pentax KA mounts have a deserved reputation for unreliability. If you're planning on buying one don't hesitate to pay a little extra to get it from a reputable dealer who you know will not quibble about returns.

But what about the lens itself? The Tamron Adaptall 2 SP 70-150mm f/2.8 was part of Tamron's 'SP' line of Adaptall 2 lenses. These were Tamron's more specialised lenses and most of the SP lenses have special features such as unusually long zoom ranges or very fast apertures. Tamron introduced this lens as their specialised portrait lens. As far as I am aware it is the only soft focus zoom lens, and the soft focus feature is combined with a fairly fast f/2.8 constant maximum aperture for shallow depth-of-field. There is a ring on the lens to adjust the soft focus effect from 0 (no soft focus effect) to 3 (strong soft focus effect) and the aperture you select will also change the effect with faster apertures giving a softer effect than slower apertures.

If you like lenses that give a completely unique, but highly controllable, effect that is impossible to reproduce in Photoshop, then this may just be the lens for you! But there is no doubt that it is a metter of taste. I have ad a great deal of fun with this lens, but in all honesty it doesn't come out of the cupboard all that often. I don't often get the chance to shoot portraits, but I have found that the unique bokeh of this lens (bokeh is a word that refers to the out-of-focus portions of the photograph) can be applied with interesting results to all sort of photographs, and the reasonably close focusing certainly (maximum reproduction ration of 1:4.6) comes in handy for plant photography. Extreme and unique flare and chromatic aberration effects will also be seen in many photographs taken with this lens.

As is always the case, you have to decide for yourself if you like the effect (samples coming up in a moment!) but you have to bear in mind that this is a rare lens... expect to pay £250-350 depending on condition.

Examples

Click on any image to make it bigger.

This sample photographs were all taken on a Pentax K-3II DSLR as I haven't yet tried this lens on my Sony A7 mirrorless camera. These first 3 photographs were all taken with the soft focus ring set to 2 or 3. Check out the crazy chromatic aberrations and flare, and the way the soft focus feature causes the sky to bleed into the branches. Are these flaws or features? You decide!

Tamron Adaptall 2 SP 70-150mm f/2.8 gallery - Image 1 Tamron Adaptall 2 SP 70-150mm f/2.8 gallery - Image 2 Tamron Adaptall 2 SP 70-150mm f/2.8 gallery - Image 3

The next eight photographs were all taken at the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh and show the sort of results you can expect for close-up plant photography. The black and white conversion were done in Silver Efex Pro (as usual).

Tamron Adaptall 2 SP 70-150mm f/2.8 gallery - Image 4 Tamron Adaptall 2 SP 70-150mm f/2.8 gallery - Image 5 Tamron Adaptall 2 SP 70-150mm f/2.8 gallery - Image 6 Tamron Adaptall 2 SP 70-150mm f/2.8 gallery - Image 7
Tamron Adaptall 2 SP 70-150mm f/2.8 gallery - Image 8 Tamron Adaptall 2 SP 70-150mm f/2.8 gallery - Image 9 Tamron Adaptall 2 SP 70-150mm f/2.8 gallery - Image 10 Tamron Adaptall 2 SP 70-150mm f/2.8 gallery - Image 11