Tamron Adaptall II SP 35-80 f/2.8-3.8

by Johan J Ingles-Le Nobel
Last updated August 31, 2017

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The Tamron Adaptall SP 35-80 f/2.8-3.8 is considered somewhat of a cult classic and at f/2.8 is one of the fastest midrange macro zooms around from the manual focus era.

It is thought to be the best zoom ever made by Tamron. But, this has become a sought after and therefore pricey lens on the used market. The Tamron 35-80 is one of many macro lenses that I use: in particular I like using this one for more conventional macro work in field macro.

Tamron Adaptall SP 35-80 f/2.8-3.8

Pentax K-7 with Tamron Adaptall SP 35-80 f/2.8-3.8 mounted. This rare to find cult lens is arguably the highest resolution zoom lens ever manufactured within its class and price point.

The lens hood is a 3rd party afterthought, but improves the image no end when shooting against bright light.

Tamron Adaptall Lenses

Yes, the label does slightly give it away. Rather than producing a line of lenses with different mounts for each brand, the Adaptall range has an adapter per mount that fits on the lens. Maybe I have a bad copy but getting this adapter to couple well with my lens and then to meter accurately does give me issues.

Specifications

The Tamron Adaptall II SP 35-80 f/2.8-3.8 has a 9 element, 8 group optical formula, with a huge front element having a big old 62mm filter thread. The magnification is 1:2.5, and its minimum focus distance from the sensor is 27.5cm.

Continuous Focusing

There is no push button or macro ring which must be turned to enter the macro mode. The user has to continuously turn the focus ring in order to focus from infinity to the minimum focus distance for macro work. Tamron calls this feature "continuous focusing" or CF. While turning the focus ring, the zoom ring will automatically turn as necessary until the zoom ring is at the 80mm zoom setting.

The lens changes direction when zooming, which as the lens ages can commonly cause it to stick at that point. The rotating front element is an issue, but I never use it for landscapes so it doesn't upset any polariser that I might have fitted.

Mine has a bit of stickyness in its focus ring, so it does not have the buttery smoothness you get with other lenses.

Macro Performance

The Tamron 35-80 f/2.8-3.8 zoom is arguably the highest resolution zoom lens ever manufactured within its class and price point.

At 80mm and f5.6 to f16 this lens is tack sharp, especially at close focusing distances which is unusual. It thinks it is a prime

Herbert Keppler wrote an article about the close focusing ability of this lens. He compared it with other standard zooms that focused close and it was greatly superior in sharpness.

The sharpness and contrast of this lens is excellent, only the similar Nikkor performs better, but not by very much.

At 80mm and f5.6 to f16 this lens is tack sharp, especially at close focusing distances which is unusual. It thinks it is a prime.

a huge front element having a big old 62mm filter thread

The main optical defect within this lens design is barrel distortion at the 35mm position. This barrel distortion disappears when zooming to 80mm. Like any lens it is a little bit soft at f/2.8.

Lens flare is potentially problematic, and an aggressive hood should be used on APSC because of the huge front element.

Comments (4)

Article: Tamron Adaptall 35-80
Miguel says...
This one is an Adaptall2 type. What about the "same" but Adapatall series. Is the same? Wich one is better or they are the same? Tamron 35-80mm F/2.8-3.5 Macro ( non adaptall 2 )
4th March 2014 11:02am
Johan says...
Miguel, whether there's a difference in the lens I don't know, but the mount does seem to differ and be mount-specific, so you'll need to do some research. have a look at this Adaptall page .
4th March 2014 11:40am
Miguel says...
I am refering to the lens quality between both models.. I have the feeling the first one ( 1978) is a completly different lens. C.ant find any solid info or opinions about the early model ( sigle adatall. not 2) anywhere.
4th March 2014 1:02pm
Tripthirtyfive says...
To answer the question, they are truly different designs. The former (QZ-35M) has 13 elements in 13 groups, while the latter (01A) has 9 elements in 8 groups and is significantly shorter and lighter.
17th July 2014 7:17pm
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