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Tamron Adaptall-2 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 (59A and 159A) Review RSS Feed

Tamron Adaptall-2 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 (59A and 159A)

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6 27,543 Sun March 14, 2021
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
67% of reviewers $21.00 6.67
Tamron Adaptall-2 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 (59A and 159A)

Tamron Adaptall-2 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 (59A and 159A)
Tamron Adaptall-2 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 (59A and 159A)

Late model adaptall-2 - hence the largely plastic construction. An economy varifocal 2 ring consumer mid-range zoom with an approx 1:3 "macro" mode sold from 1988 to 1991. It was succeeded by the remodelled 159A (pic 2, no separate listing).

Optics: 9 elements/8 groups.
Aperture range: f3.5/4.5 - 22 (f32/AE)
Iris: 6 blade iris.
Focus: ~ 1/4 rotation.
CFD (normal): ~ 0.7m/23" (70mm); ~1.1m/4' (28mm).
CWD (macro): ~ 16cm/6.3".
Length: ~ 6cm.
Weight: ~ 290g lens only.

This lens does NOT accept the 01F 2x TC or the 014F 1.4x TC without modification of the rear baffle. Mounting these tc's and then trying to zoom to 28mm the rear element on the lens will collide with the tc. Also the only rear lens caps that conveniently fit are the original tamron ones.

Original user manual here.
Mount Type: Third-party (adapter required)
Price History:

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New Member

Registered: March, 2021
Posts: 1
Lens Review Date: March 14, 2021 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $20.00 | Rating: 6 

Pros: Very cheap, light, macro mode
Cons: Average IQ, soft wide open, plastic everywhere
Sharpness: 6    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 6    Handling: 6    Value: 7   

I had this lens (59A) in my Adaptall collection for a while and I gave it a chance to impress me in many occasions, but at the end I didn't like it.

The feel is rather cheap (ok, i know this actually is a very cheap lens.. but i think there are much better alternatives in this price range). It's all plastic construction, unlike other Tamron Adaptall lenses. Focus is smooth, but short.
IQ is ok, but average, nothing to write home about. I found it to be rather soft wide open and even stopped down 1 or 2 stops. Only at about f/8 sharpness is acceptable.

It's really compact and the all plastic construction makes it very light.
CA is well controlled across the zoom range.
Macro mode is actually good. IQ in macro (70mm) improves a lot and it's sharp! Unfortunately at f/4.5 is also rather slow, but it still delivers some good background blur with a quite pleasing bokeh (but not impressive).

So, in general it's not bad, it can be found really cheap and the macro function is, for me, the only good thing about this lens.
New Member

Registered: February, 2017
Posts: 3
Lens Review Date: February 16, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $15.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: cost (secondhand), lightness
Cons: plasticky
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 6    Handling: 8    Value: 8   

Comparison picture of the two lenses side by side. I find the 159A a lot more "fragile and plasticky (horrible word i know)"

059A on the left 159A on the right

Tamron 59A

Tamron 159A



  • Packaged Quantity - 1
  • Diameter- 2.6 in
  • Length - 2.5 in
  • Weight- 6.84 oz
  • Manufacturer -Tamron USA, Inc
Lens System

  • Special Functions - zoom
  • Intended For - 35mm SLR, digital SLR
  • Lens Aperture - f/3.5-4.5
  • Magnification - 1 / 4
  • Min Focus Distance - 13.4 in
  • Focus Adjustment - manual
  • Max View Angle - 75 degrees
  • Min View Angle - 34 degrees
  • Filter Size - 52 mm
  • Diaphragm Blades - 6
  • Mounting Type - Tamron Adaptall II
  • Type - zoom lens
  • System Type - lens
  • Min Focal Length - 28 mm
  • Max Focal Length - 70 mm
  • Group Qty - 8
  • Element Qty - 9

15/03/2017 - update

Time to post an example shot from this "bargain basement" lens.
I am impressed by the sharpness captured by what was such a cheap lens for me to acquire

New Member

Registered: February, 2012
Posts: 15
Lens Review Date: January 2, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $10.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: OK image quality, compact, light
Cons: There are better alternatives
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 10   

I find the 59A images to be quite similar to those from the 35-70mm 09A, with the added benefit of 28mm, but the images are not quite as good as those from the 44A. So, in the same ball park as the Pentax kit lenses.

I find it hard to accurately manually focus with f3.5-4.5. The 17A, with its constant f3.5, or or the 01A, f2.8-3.8, and the QZ-35M, f2.8-3.5 are more easily focused, but none of these faster Adaptalls go to 28mm.

However, the images produced by the 59A don't look like those produced by the Pentax kit lenses.

The 44A isn't exactly expensive, but my personal experience suggests that they haven't worn well, so whilst I wouldn't suggest going out of one's way to hunt down a 59A, should one present itself, don't hesitate to pick it up.

Registered: September, 2013
Location: Toronto
Posts: 2,017
Lens Review Date: September 26, 2013 I can recommend this lens: No | Price: $50.00 | Rating: 5 

Pros: Cheap (sort of), light, macro mode
Cons: Flare, rotating front element, cost of a PK/A adapter, bit slow
Sharpness: 6    Aberrations: 5    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 7   

(My price listed for this is, admittedly, a bit on the high side. I was buying it for the PK/A adapter the seller included, which I wanted for another lens. Really you should pay no more than $20 to $30 for this, particularly if it has a regular PK adapter.)

The pluses first: it's got a macro mode that, while it can't compare to a dedicated macro lens, is adequate for those moments when you want an extreme close-up of something but don't want to (or can't) swap lenses. It's not terribly heavy, being largely plastic, and the handling is remarkably good. The lens itself can also frequently be found for fairly cheap.

On the minus side: flare, flare, flare. Looking at some test pictures I took, I was amazed at the situations where flare and contrast washouts were appearing. You'll probably want a hood for this one.
The lens is also, at least to me, a tad slow for using its macro mode efficiently. Exposure times were frequently getting a bit long for me to hand hold the lens when I took some test shots. That may just be a consequence of where I take macro pictures more than anything though.

Final big minus is the cost of the PK/A adapter. While the PK adapters can generally be bought for cheap, if you want to use the anything other than stop-down metering on a newer camera then you're going to need the PK/A adapter. Those will cost you several times the lens itself, thereby destroying whatever price bonus the cheapness of the lens held.

Finally, image quality is neither a plus or a minus; about on par with a kit lens, which means you probably don't need to buy it.
Site Supporter

Registered: November, 2012
Location: North Wales
Posts: 2,413

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: March 7, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $10.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Dirt cheap, nice handling 2 ring zoom, nifty macro mode, decent IQ at long end and close up+= kit....
Cons: ..which isn't saying much, not parfocal; long cfd and weaker IQ at short end; exc value by itself but not if PKA mount factored in.... lots of alternatives.
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 8    Camera Used: Pentax K-r, Lumix G1   

pacerrr makes the points in regard of the desireability of a vintage mid range zoom: really it needs to offer something in comparison to your kit lens, which is already ahead with AF and genuine wide angle (I assume the typical 1.5 crop factor making 28mm only borderline WA 42mm equivalent). That something is hopefully higher IQ, though that is probably achieved best with primes.

So here is my weighing up. Do I keep this one? Also the 28-70mm 44A that preceded this lens has acquired a good rep and provides another point of comparison.

Comparing walkaround snaps on my K-r I did not find 59A to be obviously inferior to 44A, although it wasn't noticeably better either. I didn't find it to be mediocre below f8 at 70mm: in fact I thought its performance was rather consistent and actually quite good, with just a modest improvement in sharpness from f4.5 to f5.6 to f8. At 28mm however, I felt the lens really needed to be stopped down, and the performance even stopped down was a substantially below that at 70mm - 6/10 vs 8/10 at 70mm (=7/10 overall). Colours I thought were fine, contrast OK, bokeh really not to complain about. Like its plastic sibling the 58A, 59A seemed relatively well corrected for fringing/CA. Overall I would tend to echo pacerr: decent IQ (most specifically at 70mm) but not spectacular. Better than kit? Hmmm I think that's one you have to figure out for yourself by trying it out and seeing how you and your camera work with it, comparing the results and the look, and making your choice. These test pics are 100% crops at 70mm, f4.5, 5.6, 8, OtC jpg's.

On my Lumix, IQ was of a similar nature, and comparing side by side walkaround snaps with a 28mm prime (Hexanon 28mm f3.5) 59A may have been consistently trumped but was not disgraced. However my G1 did highlight a couple of things: the longer CFD at 28mm (more like 1.1m than 0.7m, hopeless in comparison with the close focus on the hexanon), and the lens' vari-focus (ie focus changes with zoom) nature. By way of example, the change in focus from 70mm to 28mm using a wall poster approx 10m away was from midway between 6m and infinity on the distance scale at 70mm to between 1.2m and 1.5m on the distance scale at 28mm. The compact 70-210mm 58A also proved to be distinctly varifocal, however on a two ring zoom I am more critical of this technical point, and I have marked the lens down.

I was quite enamoured of the macro mode. This offers quite close working distance- just over 6"/15cm, labelled up to 1:4 but with the focus rotated to cfd as well looked nearer 1:3 - a tad closer than 44A. It's rather crude (see pic), the focus group slides forward when the zoom is rotated to M, and in practical terms works best with a macro rail ie focussing by moving the camera position (44A also offers 1:3.15 macro at 70mm with extended focus throw - a classier solution). Certainly adds to the utility of the lens and compensates somewhat for the poor CFD at 28mm. Example crops at f5.6 and 1:4: I don't see 59A being inferior to 44A, and in fact with a later close focus test of several mid range zoom adaptalls, between 59A, 44A and even the SP 27A I thought 59A edged it.. Got a stamp collection to catalogue?

Overall although of itself IMO this lens does offer enough to merit consideration - specifically at the sort of price I acquired mine for and with a PKA mount already in hand - unless you are specifically interested in an adaptall the alternatives include numerous lenses from tokina, sigma etc with PKA mounts already. For Pentax users the film era kit lenses SMC-F/FA/FAJ mid range zooms are cheap, of similar IQ, and have AF and one of those would be a preferred, practical choice.

ADDENDUM. copy of original user manual (also for 70-210mm 58A) posted here PDF 7mb.
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: January, 2008
Location: Paris, TN
Posts: 3,102

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 30, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 7 

Pros: Small, light
Cons: only average optical quality

This lens doesn't appear on the Adaptall-2 site. It was reported discontinued in 1991 and an unverified report states there were 27,000 of these produced. My guess is this was produced during the 1988-1991 period when Tamron was producing plastic body Adaptall zooms at a price point that would make them attractive as "step-up kit lenses" before the market for consumer auto-focus SLR bodies fully developed. It seems more common in the European used market and forum talk than in North America although it isn't uncommon on eBay.

Its compact size, light weight, Adaptall versatility and low cost make it a good companion lens for a light P3n, ZX-M or istDS/DL as a casual, day-time, MF snap-shooter. Build quality is typical of the early econ plastic bodies but it does have rubber zoom and focus rings. The aperture ring is "notchy" but would most likely be used in the AE mode as a P&S substitute anyway. Uses 52mm filters.

Image quality is mediocre below F8 with some flare and lack of contrast wide open but results are "kit lens" quality in the daylight, snapshot mode. The lack of AF probably won't attract the P&S shooters. It has a slight macro/close-up capability at the 70mm end of the zoom range that's adequate for the typical flower shot.

Given the need to also have a relatively expensive PK/A adapter to make it a P&S substitute it doesn't seem to be particularly useful today although I do leave it in the bag with non-AF film bodies if there's an adapter along anyway in case I need an "expendable" lens for some risky but irresistible shot.

It used to live on a P3n until I found a more useful application for its PK/A adapter. I played with it for a day on an istDS and it was a convenient package to carry around. It's too light to feel balanced on a heavier MX or K1000.

I wouldn't go out of my way to buy this, but if it came with a older body at a bargain price I wouldn't discard it either and it looks better than a body cap on the MX sitting on the shelf.

Add Review of Tamron Adaptall-2 28-70mm f/3.5-4.5 (59A and 159A)

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