Tamron SP 90mm f/2.5 Macro 52B Adaptall 2 Lens Review

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: April 21, 2019
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Tamron 90mm f/2.5 Macro Lens Review

Tamron's 90mm f/2.5 SP Macro 52B Adaptall 2 lens produces sharp images at f/8 & f/11. Used on any crop body camera, at f/5.6, the soft corners won't be an issue.

There are 26 Adaptall 2 adapters that can be swapped onto the lens. Any 35mm film SLR mount can be easily found, which makes adapting the lens to a mirrorless camera easy.

The lens is only manual focus. Despite being compact, the lens is heavy. To get to 1:1 magnification, the Tamron SP BBAR MC 2X Adaptall tele-converter is required.

The teleconverter adds weight and length to the lens that makes it less desirable to carry around. Overall, a nice lens as long as you don't have to buy a Adaptall 2 adapter.

Adaptall Lens Mount Adapter Removed From Lens

Lens Specifications

ManufactureTamron
Made inJapan
Year Released19??
Original Price$???.??
Elements Groups8 ele. 6 gr.
Focal Length90mm
Aperturef/2.5-32
# Aperture Blades8
Aperture controlManual, Auto Diaphragm
Focus typeManual
Hard Infinity StopYes
Magnification1:2, 1:1 w/ tele-converter
Minimum Focus Distance39cm (15”) / ?
Working Distance23.2cm (9-1/8")
Filter Threads49mm
Weight510g (18oz)
Dimensions⌀65mm x 92mm (2.5" x 3.6")

Accessories

Adaptall 2 lenses feature a universal mount that works with adapters. The adapter on a lens can be removed and replaced with an adapter for a different lens mount.

Between Tamron and a few third parties, 26!!! different adapters exist. A comprehensive list of Adaptall 2 adapters is available here.

To get to 1:1 magnification, the Tamron SP BBAR MC 2X Adaptall tele-converter or 18F Adaptall extension tube is needed. The tele-converter and extension tube have an Adaptall mounts, so they will work with adapter.

Tamron SP 01F BBAR MC 2X Teleconvterer
Tamron SP 01F 2X Teleconvterer

Teleconverter

Using the teleconverter will change the lens into a 180mm f/5. It will have the ability to go to 1:1 magnification. The teleconverter can be found on eBay.

The teleconverter weighs 240g (8.4oz). 254g (9.0oz) w/ caps. The teleconverter case weighs 86g (3.1oz).

Extension Tube

With the extension tube, the focal length will stay 90mm and have the ability to focus to 1:1 magnification. The extension tube is rare and is difficult to find for sale. It is 45mm in length.

It is possible to use other extension tubes to add the 45mm of distance.

Lens Hood

A lens hood will be needed with the lens, but I have been unable to find the Tamron product number for the lens. Any lens hood with 49mm threading will work.

Longer lens hoods designed for use with a telephoto lens will be the best choice. Depending on the lighting, a shorter lens hood may work.

Build Quality & Design

Not including the teleconverter, the SP f/2.5 is heavier than the later, 90mm SP Di f/2.8, version. However, the 90mm SP Di is only available in 4 fixed mounts.

The focus ring has ~360 degrees of travel. In my copy, grease in the helicoid feels like it is starting to dry out. The resistance in the focus ring feels heavier that it should. Grease doesn't last forever.

Tight focus rings are a common problem with vintage lenses, especially macro lenses. The cost to regrease the lens is going to be close to what the lens is worth.

The front element is at the front of the lens. A lens hood will be needed. Other lens designs, like the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 SP Di, have a recessed front element. I prefer macro lenses that do not need a lens hood.

Removing Adaptall Adapter

A leather or rubber glove will make removing the adapter easy. Barehanded, the adapters are difficult to remove. The adapters get tightly locked onto lenses. There is not enough surface area on the edge of the adapters to get a good grip.

Macro Lens Extended to 1:2 Magnification

Usage & Working Distance

Testing was done a on Nikon D750 and a small amount of use on a Sony A7. The biggest issue with both cameras was the weight of the lens.

The lens is fine for studio use, but I would not want to walk around with it on the D750.

The weight of the lens had me concerned about damaging the mount on the A7. Unfortunately, I do not have a tripod collar for my Nikon to E-mount adapter.

Working Distance

The lens has a shorter working distance than other vintage macro lenses. This is made worse if you need to use a lens hood because of how far forward the front element is.

Lighting can be difficult to setup. Skittish insects and other small animals are going to be harder to photograph because of how close the lens will need to be.

Front Element of Macro Lens and Aperture Blades

Test Shot Sharpness Comparison

  • f/2.5 - Overall soft with a small amount of chromatic aberration.
  • f/2.8 - Sharp in the center and the chromatic aberration is gone. Corners are still soft.
  • f/4 - A larger center area is sharp. Corners are still soft.
  • f/5.6 - Corner sharpness is improved.
  • f/8 - Image is sharp. Best aperture on the lens.
  • f/11 - Similar to f/8. A small amount of lost detail due to diffraction.
  • f/16, f/22, f/32 - Diffraction gets progressively worse.
Sample Image Corner Crop at f/2.5
100% Corner Crop at f/2.5.
Test Image Corner Crop at f/8
100% Corner Crop at f/8.

Macro Test

1:2 Magnification Center Crop
100% Crop, 1:2 Magnification at f/8.

Used prices on eBay

Checking sales for the last 3 months on 1/4/19, prices ranged from $60-110. A big part of the price is what Adaptall 2 adapter comes with the lens.

Lenses that do not have an adapter are cheaper. Expect to pay more for lenses with Nikon F and Pentax K mount adapters.

Adaptall 2 adapters can be purchased on their own. Prices can range from $15-50+ depending on the camera mount.

The rarer the camera mount, the higher the price. Mounts from 35mm film SLRs will be available. (Nikon F, Canon FD, third party Canon EOS, Minolta MD, Pentax K, M42 screw mount, and Contax/Yashica).

Mounts that make up the rest of the 26 Adaptall 2 adapters will be harder to find.

Buy on eBay (affiliate link)

Comparable Lenses

Focus Ring, Aperture Ring, Focus Distance Scale, and Magnification Scale.

Lens Versions

  1. Tamron SP 90mm f/2.5 1:2 Macro 52B Adaptall 2
  2. Tamron SP 90mm f/2.5 1:2 Macro 52BB Adaptall 2 - 55mm filter threads
  3. Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 1:1 Macro 72B Adaptall 2
  4. Tamron SP AF 90mm f/2.8 1:1 Macro 172E
  5. Tamron SP Di 90mm f/2.8 1:1 Macro 272E
  6. Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di VC USD 1:1 Macro
  7. Tamron SP 90mm f/2.8 Di 1:1 Macro VC USD IS

The model number is listed on the barrel of the lens before the serial number.

Reference Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamron#Adaptall-2_lenses_and_adapters

https://www.apotelyt.com/photo-lens/tamron-adaptall-catalog

http://www.tamron-usa.com/product/discontinued.html

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