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Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 400mm f/4 LD IF - 65B Review RSS Feed

Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 400mm f/4 LD IF - 65B

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5 31,746 Sun June 7, 2020
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100% of reviewers $831.25 8.80
Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 400mm f/4 LD IF - 65B

Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 400mm f/4 LD IF - 65B
Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 400mm f/4 LD IF - 65B
Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 400mm f/4 LD IF - 65B

"An exceptionally sharp long telephoto lens with internal focusing and very robust internal construction. This lens features two low dispersion (LD) elements, internal focusing (IF), and a spherical aberration compensator group (the doublet in the middle of the optical layout) which assures crisp images at close focusing distances. The model 65B was manufactured by Tamron for six years (1988-95), but not very many were sold." - Normally came with a soft carry case and the 014F teleconverter.
Same hood, filter sizes as the 300mm f2.8 60B.

A long plate (arca, diy'ed) is beneficial to balance the lens on a tripod - otherwise quite strongly front heavy.

Focal Length: 400mm
Aperture Range: f/4 ó 32 (PK/A adapters limit smallest aperture to f/22)
Angle of View (on 35mm): 6.2į
Optical Construction: 10 Elements in 7 Groups
Min. Focus Distance: 118" (3.0m)
Filter Size: 43mm (rear), 112mm (front)
Length (w/ front cap and PK/A adapter w/ rear cap): 13" (33cm)
Weight 80.1 oz. (2270g)
Production was discontinued in 1995.

Accepts all adaptall teleconverters: SP 2X tele-converter #01F, SP 1.4X tele-converter #140F, SP 200F 2x tc. Note: TC's are reviewed in miscellaneous lenses - TC's.

WPRESTO has done a careful test chart comparison of this lens with DA 300mm f4, DA 150-450mm, DA*60-250mm, and with tc's, starting post 18877 in 300mm lens club.

Comparison test pics with 300mm f2.8 -
Mount Type: Third-party (adapter required)
Price History:

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Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: February, 2014
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 1,572
Lens Review Date: June 7, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $800.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharpness, BOKEH!!, Color rendition
Cons: Aberrations, weight, clockwise focusing, Adapters
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 8    Value: 9    Camera Used: K5iis, K3, KP   

Iíd wanted a copy of this somewhat legendary, always hard to come by lens for quite a while. Finally, last fall one came up here on the Forum Marketplace and I took the plunge. Iím at least the third owner and the lens is still nearly as tight and smooth as factory new. Truly ďbuilt like a tankĒ, with the weight to match. A monopod is your friend with this one.

As others have reported, the A series Adaptall-2 adapters can be problematic. I have three, all expose properly at f/4-5.6, then underexpose by .7 to 1.3 stops, consistently, from f/8-14. Also, the adapters can lose aperture communication with the camera if you apply any rotational force to the camera body while holding. Focusing is smooth and quite precise, just in the anti-Pentax direction. Color rendition is fine. Sharpness is good at f/4, and excellent starting just half a stop down! Bokeh is truly outstanding. Smooth, creamy perfect bokeh. Using a modern DSLR with great high ISO performance such as the KP, the lens shines in open shade and overcast lighting. A fine birding lens. Iíve tried it with the Tamron 140F 1.4X flat field converter and there is minimal IQ loss. It also works with the Pentax HD DA 1.4X. Stopped down to f/8 (11) either is excellent.

A single foible keeps the 65b from being truly great, chromatic aberration. Bright, high contrast lighting leads to fairly heavy green-purple fringing around bright highlights. Post processing can remove the aberrations in most, but not all instances. Also, the deep bayonet Mount lens hood is a definite must to keep side lighting from killing contrast.

Iíve already taken many truly fine photographs with my 65b. Considering the cost of Pentax alternatives, Iím glad to have the old school Tamron in my lens arsenal. If you come across a clean copy of this lens, it is well worth up to $1,000.
Senior Member

Registered: June, 2008
Location: Grimsby UK
Posts: 224

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 17, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Bokeh, sharpness, fast aperture
Cons: heavy
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 8    Value: 10   

I have waited and waited for one of these lenses to come up for sale, they pop a couple of times in the states but due to the weight the postage becomes cost prohibitive.

Having missed out on one on ebay over two years ago the same lens recently came up for sale and I finally bagged it.

My main reason for wanting a lens this length and aperture was for concert photography, more and more I am shooting from the soundboard at the back of arenas and unfortunately a 300mm with a 2x teleconverter just wont cut it.


Bokeh is creamy and very nice


Tack sharp

And finally in a concert setting

More from this concert here
Loyal Site Supporter

Registered: September, 2011
Location: Nelson B.C.
Posts: 3,777

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: September 30, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $875.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, quick focus, nice colors and bokeh
Cons: Heavy and CA at wider apertures
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 6    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 9   

This has become my walkabout wildlife lens. It is heavy, and you need a tripod or monopod. Stopped down to f8 it is sharp and no aberrations. In lower light or low contrast situations a wider aperture gives very nice results. The focus mechanism is nice, maybe a bit too sensitive. A slight touch at low depth of field situations makes the difference in focus, but the fast action also permits quick focus.

I use it on a gimbal either on monopod or tripod. A 6" arca swiss plate will allow balance. The Adaptall mounts are a weak point, I've graduated to the simple PK without aperture lever type of adapters. They are simple and solid.

I like this lens. There is a 6 month learning curve to master the length and manual focus, but you will be rewarded with very nice results. If I could change anything it would have better control of the light wide open. In high contrast, very sunny days in the summer, f8 and smaller are required. Other than that it is a nice handling lens that if handled skillfully will give very good results.
Site Supporter

Registered: December, 2009
Posts: 45

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 21, 2010 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $750.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: sharp and contrasty
Cons: weight and balance point

The copy I have was bought from the owner of the website as he was thinning his personal collection. He went through the lens to improve the working of the focus mechanism and address a few issues these lenses sometimes have. It is by far the smoothest operating Tamron SP lens I have. Looks practically brand new. This lens is very close in performance to the 60B 300/2.8 lens as they share a similar optical formula. Unlike the 300/2.8 it is the only one of these I have ever had to either test or own. I am very impressed with the overall performance but have not had a chance to do a complete workup of it. But early test and outdoor images tell me its a keeper.
Kent Gittings
Veteran Member

Registered: May, 2008
Location: Region 5
Posts: 2,539

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 1, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $900.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Sharpness, Bokeh, Build, Price.
Cons: Manual Focus, Weight/Balance

I recently acquired this lens, so this represents my initial impressions after a couple weeks of use. The only lens I can compare it to with regard to focal length is the Sigma 50-500mm Bigma, so I'll make those comparisons when I can, but unfortunately I can't compare it with any of the Pentax or Sigma fast super-telephotos...

Wide open, the lens is quite sharp in the center, probably comparable to the Bigma wide open (I didn't do any head to head comparisons though). The, the advantage of course is that you are 1.7 stops faster than the Bigma is at 400mm. Corner performance is weaker than in the center, but the application of sharpening in post processing makes even corner crops crisp.

Stopping down, improves sharpness across the board, with the corners at f/5.6 matching the center at f/4, and sharpness appearing uniform (and still slightly improved) by f/8.

Even using the Adaptall-2 1.4x tele-converter (#140F) for the equivalent of 560mm f/5.6 the center sharpness holds up fairly well, and while may be slightly softer wide open than the Bigma @500mm, only 1:1 pixel peeping would tell it, and I think the difference would be slight. The application of sharpening (USM) in post processing makes even the corners (on APS-C) usably sharp wide open, even with the 1.4x TC.
Colors, Contrast and Bokeh:

Colors and contrast are very good at all apertures, though the slight softness at f/4 is visible as a slight loss of contrast on a small scale. It might be said that micro-contrast is what is hurt at wide aperture, more than resolution and that's why the sharpness benefits so much from sharpening (but I don't really know the validity of that, so perhaps it shouldn't be said ).

I find the bokeh produced by this lens to be very nice... very smooth, and of course with the shallow DOF generated by wide apertures at this long focal length, the bokeh is plentiful - it's easy to isolate your subject from the blur obliterated background with this lens.

Fringing and Chromatic Abberation:

Yes this lens does exhibit both CA and PF, but not to the extent that I'd even list it as a "Con".

CA seems very well controlled, and can be virtually eliminated using a "CA tool" like that found in Lightroom. When using the teleconverters, CA is more apparent when pixel peeping, but still the Lr CA tool does a great job minimizing it.

"Non-Destructive Purple Fringing" (to coin a phrase) is fairly prevalent in the dark sides of high contrast areas when using the TCs (it exists to a small extent when the lens is used alone, but it becomes more prevalent with the teleconverters). I'm calling it non-destructive because detail is still preserved, it's just purple rather than the dark color it ought to be... In 99% of my shooting with this lens, there is no purple in the shot, so removing this PF is as simple as desaturating the purple channel, and darkening it somewhat and calling it a day. I've created a Lightroom preset that does this, and I can apply it to troublesome photos as needed. If the shot contains a bunch of purple flowers as well as PF, then I have to go into Photoshop and use masking to selectively desaturate the trouble spots.

Auto Exposure with the PK/A adapter seems spot on when the lens is wide open, and needs -0.7 EV compensation when stopped down at all. Luckily, the -0.7 seems to hold true from f/5.6 through at least f/11 (I've rarely ventured above f/11 so I can't say for sure beyond that).
Build Quality, Finish and Usage:

This lens is built like a tank (right down to the color scheme ). The metal body feels quite solid. The paint scratches fairly easily, when compared with something like Sigma's "EX Finish" or the finish of my Pentax DA*, and modern plastic Tamron lenses - luckily any copy you find of this lens is likely to be pre-scratched by the previous users, so it's not so painful when you add your own.

The action of the focus is silky smooth and very light (basically perfect in my opinion). Focus force can be increased by setting the focus preset detent ring in a fixed position. This ring allows you to preset a focus point, and the lens will "snap" into it when you move the focus to this point, while still allowing you to focus throughout the full range. I haven't used this feature yet as I don't like how stiff the focusing action becomes, but it would be supremely valuable to keep the focus fixed on a point (a birds nest for instance) and resistant to being bumped out of focus.

When my copy of this lens arrived, the portion of the lens behind the tripod collar (where the adaptall adapter mounts) was slightly loose - not good - I found that this was caused by looseness in the six screws which hold the spacing between this rear portion and the main body of the lens. These screws can be accessed through the 3/8" hole in the tripod mount (turning the mount allows you to access each screw in turn), and once snugged, the lens is solid again. I did have these screws work loose a couple times, but I recently bought a proper jewelers screwdriver, and torqued them down with a small drip of loctite each, and so far this has held. Incidentally, I found that positioning this ring at maximum extension made the lens focus accurately at the infinity stop rather than focusing past infinity as it did when the ring was more forward.

The weight of this lens is a lot to hand hold, but it's doable with practice (I've captured birds with it in flight - some are even in focus ). It really doesnít weigh much more than the Bigma, though of course itís bulkier. The lens seems a bit nose heavy when mounted on a tripod even with the battery grip on my K20D. I heavy duty tripod/head combo is mandatory, and a gimbal style head would be ideal. I've had good success using this lens on a monopod as well.

I often find manually focusing is necessary when photographing wildlife, even with AF lenses, as often branches or other objects are present to confuse the AF system, so the MF only aspect of this lens doesn't bother me much, though of course AF does often allow you to get some "snap" shots you might miss having to manually focus - I find my speed and accuracy is improving the more I practice, and I'll probably be super fast by the time I can afford an AF super-tele like the APO EX 500/4 or an FA* 600/4 or similar .

Overall I'm very impressed with this lens. Now to hire a Sherpa to carry it around for me ....
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