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Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 500mm f/8 Mirror (55BB)

Sharpness 
 8.3
Aberrations 
 9.1
Bokeh 
 6.5
Handling 
 8.8
Value 
 9.0
Reviews Views Date of last review
20 59,340 Mon May 28, 2018
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $164.41 8.80
Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 500mm f/8 Mirror (55BB)

Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 500mm f/8 Mirror (55BB)
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Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 500mm f/8 Mirror (55BB)
supersize
Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 500mm f/8 Mirror (55BB)
supersize
Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 500mm f/8 Mirror (55BB)

Description:
"This later version SP 500mm F/8, introduced in 1983, is an optically revised version of the original model 55B lens first introduced in 1979. The major optical design change is the switch to a constant thickness meniscus main mirror in order to reduce close focusing spherical aberration. The change in the main mirror design also necessitated changes for the two smallest lenses located within the middle of the optical design. This model 55BB also discards the earlier model's detachable tripod mount and the set of four filters for B&W photography. The later model 55BB is also readily distinguished from the original model by its diamond knurled rubber focus grip and the lack of the locking screw used on the earlier model 55B's built-in rotating tripod mount ring. Thus this lens does not feature any built-in tripod mount whereas the original lens featured a detachable tripod mount." - adaptall-2.com

Manufactured from 1983 to 2005... probably the most common 500mm cat. on the market. This and the other two tamron mirrors (55B, 06B) are designed to be used with a rear filter in situ, this screws on to the end of the rear group at the mount end.
The fixed aperture means that there is no advantage to a PKA mount. any PK mount will do and you can use Av.

Minimum aperture: fixed at f/8. Note that there is a significant difference between f stop and t-stop with mirror lenses.
Elements/groups: 8/5
Minimum focus distance: 170 cm
Maximum magnification: 1:3
Minimum length: 87.0 mm
Maximum length: 91.5 mm (dependent of the adapter)
Diameter: 84.0 mm
Weight: 0.595 kg
Front Filter diameter: 82mm
Rear Filter diameter: 30.5mm (screw-on)
Hood mount: screw-on. Normally comes with deep flock lined metal hood that inverts for storage.

Accepts SP 2X tele-converter #01F and SP 1.4X tele-converter #140F. Note: TC's are reviewed in miscellaneous lenses - TC's.

Good discussion/review of mirror lenses including 06B by Wayne Grundy. And Bob Atkins has also done a detailed comparison with a Canon 500mm f4.5.
Mount Type: Third-party (adapter required)
Price History:



Add Review of Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 500mm f/8 Mirror (55BB)
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Pentaxian

Registered: January, 2011
Location: Houston, Texas
Posts: 866
Lens Review Date: May 28, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $100.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Lightweight, very sharp, long focus throw, great hood
Cons: No tripod mount -- although not really necessary

My review is for the Tamron 55BB, but I've seen lots of photos taken with the 55B and it appears to be every bit as good.

I find this lens to be exceptionally sharp for a mirror lens, and also to have better than average contrast. I especially like the 55BB's very long focus throw -- almost a full 360 degrees.

I have found, from my early experiences with a Sigma 600mm f/8 I bought in 1984, at which time I was an advancing amateur, that it takes a fair amount of practice before one can expect to reliably produce good images with a long mirror. There were days way back then that I was convinced that Sigma was junk, but as my technique improved, my impressions of that lens's capabilities improved. You can't just expect to mount this lens and then shoot snaps with it, and expect much from the results. No you need to pay close attention to accurate focus, and because it's a 500mm lens with a fixed f/8 aperture, you need to pay extra special attention to shutter speed and sturdiness of the camera's mount. In many cases, when the shutter speed is low, if your camera has mirror lock-up, it should be used, or in the case of a digital, at a minimum, the self timer should be employed. Paying attention to anything that might induce vibration will reap rewards in the final image.

Here's a shot of the moon taken with the Tamron mirror. The camera as a Sony NEX 7, set to ISO 100. Shutter speed was 1/125. Note that this is not a grayscale image, so the Tamron allows one to see the actual colors of the Moon's surface.


Here is a double image I put together of the crescent moon, showing images taken with my old Century Precision Optics Tele Athenar II 500mm f/5.6 refractor, set to f/8 and the Tamron 55BB. I put the two images together to show how well this mirror stacks up with a very good refractor of the same focal length. There are some white balance differences, and the CPO seems to have just a bit more contrast than the Tamron, but I can't tell a difference regarding sharpness. Image size was adjusted in post processing to take into account the NEX's 1.5x magnification.


I can highly recommend this lens. It can often be found for a very good price these days, and as such, I think it should be a no-brainer since sometimes there is just no substitute for mm's.
   
New Member

Registered: February, 2012
Posts: 15

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: October 21, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $55.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Light, sharp, adaptall mount gives flexibility
Cons: None
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: Samsung GX10, GX20, Pentax K-x   

I bought this lens to fill a gap in my Adaptall collection. I didn't think I needed it, because I was happy with the Samyang 500mm f6.3.

I bought my 55BB eBay. The low price is indicative of the fungus infestation that was clearly visible in the item photos. However, even with the fungus, it was obvious as soon as I looked through the viewfinder that the lens had potential, and it turned out to be fairly easy to clean it up.

The distance scale is held on with 6 grub screws. If you undo these, the scale can be slid towards the mount, exposing the screws that hold the stop on the top half of the lens. Undo these, and the the front section of the lens can be unscrewed. Mark where the two halves separate so you can start the reassembly at the right point.

The cleaning (inside and outside the front element, and the glass over the main mirror), is simple in theory, if tedious.

Xylene (paint thinner) seems to be poisonous to lens fungus, it removes organic non-ionic material, and dries streak-free. Unfortunately it doesn't remove ionic material.

Distilled water removes ionic material, but not grease.

Alternating between the two I gradually ended up with bright clean streak-free scratch-free lens surfaces.

Reassembly was then the disassembly process in reverse. As long as you start the screw-in process from the right point, it all just works.

In addition to his review of this Tamron lens in comparison with a Canon non-mirror lens referenced above, Bob Atkins has this excellent review of the Samyang 500mm f6.3, which also refers to this Tamron.


http://www.bobatkins.com/photography/reviews/pro_optic_500_f6-3.html


The Tamron:
  1. Is smaller
  2. Is the same effective speed as the Samyang
  3. Has a larger depth of field
  4. Has slightly better sharpness
  5. Has much better contrast
Hand held I'm hard to pressed to see evidence of point 4, and shooting raw and boosting contrast my pictures from the two lenses become virtually indistinguishable, but points 3 and 5 translate to easier manual focusing of the Tamron.

I have one other mirror lens, the Tokina 500mm f8. This is the smallest, and mechanically the nicest of the three, but it is slower, and not as sharp as the Tamron; it is similar to the Samyang.

The Tamron has one further advantage over the both the Tokina and the Samyang.

All Pentax-K Adaptall mounts have (non-functional for this lens) aperture levers.

This means that, unlike the other two mirror lenses I have used, Catch-In-Focus and the Pentax-F Autofocus adapter do work with this lens if the light is good enough and there is sufficient contrast in the target.

All in all a really nice piece of kit. Recommended.
   
Forum Member

Registered: November, 2014
Posts: 70

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 28, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $150.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: sharpness, focus throw, super small, super light
Cons: none
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 6    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-3   

Spent several weeks reading mirror lens reviews on the net. Finally I decided for the Tamron because of its long focus throw.
Unlike other mirror lenses (Samyang et al), this one has a focus throw of almost 360. Still, the DOF is so thin that every milimeter on the focus ring counts.

The key is to use a tripod, mirror lockup and be very accurate with focus, then this lens provides perfect results. My first 5 shots or so were bad, then I learned that I absolutely have to use a sturdy tripod, mirror lockup, 2 second timer and remote.
Also, with 500mm, air pollution and air movement suddenly becomes an issue.

If you're doing it right, this lens provides stunning images.

My guess is that the bad reputation of mirror teles is mostly due to people not being able to use them correctly. They handle like kit lenses, that's probably why noone bothers using a tripod and then blames the mirror construction for the bad results.

   
Site Supporter

Registered: August, 2011
Location: South Florida
Posts: 30
Lens Review Date: November 6, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $200.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Very sharp for a mirror
Cons: None
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-3   

Great lens, great optics, great quality. I tried other mirror lenses and long teles and this one was light years ahead. The price was very reasonable which is good for a lens that has limited use. I put it through my usual lens tests and it performed surprisingly well, almost matching other Pentax telephotos. The colors are quite good too.
   
New Member

Registered: August, 2013
Posts: 11
Lens Review Date: February 14, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $160.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Sharpness, compact
Cons: Needs sunlight
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

What a great lens! A compact 500mm that provides great pictures with a really good IQ and sharpness. Turned into a 750mm with my Kr, it is really impressive how it can shoot far things.

The perfect condition is sunlight, a bright day so you can shoot at hogh shutter speed.



Taken at 1500m distance


Taken at 1200m distance
   
New Member

Registered: November, 2013
Location: Port Orchard, WA
Posts: 10
Lens Review Date: January 24, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $100.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Massive zoom, Small for focus, Close focus, Crisp.
Cons: Donuts, Slow aperture.
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 5    Handling: 10    Value: 9   

My copy of this lens was purchased used, but appeared near new when it arrived. I use it with a UV filter and the hood attached at all times. I don't think I would ever use the lens without the hood, as it seems a little too exposed. My lens did not come with the additional small filters and only had the normal small filter.

I have used this lens with both the K-3 and my former Canon 10D and 20D. Despite the issues that come with handling a lens like this (donuts, stabilization, and fixed superzoom), I absolutely love this lens. While it isn't especially versatile, I have such a fun time with this lens. The close focus ability makes pseudo macro shots with this lens easy. I got frustrated using this lens due to the f8 with my Canons, but I really enjoy using it with the K-3 as I have so much more ISO headroom. The internal stabilization really helps as well getting shots when it is cloudy or I am in the woods. This lens is easy to carry around, is not too large or heavy, and is reasonably easy to handle without a tripod or monopod. You will have better results with a monopod or tripod, but I have not found them to be 100% necessary--especially on sunny days. I would actually prefer to carry this lens to my 70-210 due to the weight of the 70-210.

Here are some samples:
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/members/64969-knotmetoo/albums/7767-tamro...cture68851.jpg
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/members/64969-knotmetoo/albums/7767-tamro...cture68852.jpg
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/members/64969-knotmetoo/albums/7767-tamro...cture68853.jpg
   
Forum Member

Registered: September, 2013
Posts: 62
Lens Review Date: December 26, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $150.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: short, not expensive, fast enough
Cons: "macro" option is useless
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 9   

overall everything is good. hood included.
"rings" bokeh - known and not SO MUCH bad thing.
f/8 - fast enough for mirror lens, aberration... sharpness... but:
who the hell is really need this stupid "macro" range of focusing? Mirror lens at close range is nonsense!
this option is useless, and just affecting long distance focusing, at LR distances focusing ring travel is too short.

overall not bad at all. if You need 500 mm compact and cheep lens - try it, not a big-deal.
   
Site Supporter

Registered: April, 2011
Location: Lost in translation ...
Posts: 17,316

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: December 21, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $130.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Build, small-ish, focus throw ...
Cons: F8 and usual mirror issues, but I like "doghnut" bokeh ...
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 8   

Bonjour,

Just acquired this 55BB with case, hood, cap & 01F 2x TC and like what I have seen thus far ... only a few outdoor test shots, since the outside weather is wet and cold ... will post samples later.

Giving a straight across "8" rating until more test and use can be done ...

Allez et salut, Jean le Green Frog

Here's some p0rn shots to see what the 55BB looks like on the K-5 ...





   
Senior Member

Registered: May, 2012
Location: Sunshine Coast
Posts: 113
Lens Review Date: July 3, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $450.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Small and light for its focal length, beautifully made.
Cons: Fixed F8, manual focus.
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 5    Handling: 8    Value: 9   

I bought this lens new back in 1983 for my ME Super, It was one of my favourite lenses, and I used it off and on until 2002 when I put my ME aside to do video and compact digital stuff. It was always kept in a hard case when not in use, so it still looks and works like new. Now I have my Kr I've bought it back out of retirement.to use again. I still love it as much as ever. It is good to see a bit of a resurgence in interest in these lenses. They truly were and still are, fine pieces of optical engineering. I just wish I had also bought the 350mm version as well when I had the chance.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: November, 2009
Location: Strand
Posts: 1,366
Lens Review Date: March 6, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $220.00 | Rating: 10 

 
Pros: Compact, light weight, sharp, minimum focus distance
Cons: Ring bokeh, little focus throw at near infinity
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 9    Value: 10   

Ring bokeh can be used in selected cases, not need to be negative.
Sharp overall. Very close focus distance to be a 500mm lens. Easy to focus within 20m/60feet, but harder at near infinity. SR very useful for hand held.
This lens is not for beginners.
   
Inactive Account

Registered: June, 2011
Location: Melbourne
Posts: 9
Lens Review Date: March 5, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $200.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Lightweight, sharp, contrasty lens
Cons: unusual bokeh
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 4    Handling: 8    Value: 7   

Generally it's a value lens if the price is below $200.

The best about this lens is sharpness with very little aberration and close to none vignetting. Similar to other mirror lenses, it's much lighter and more compact compare to conventional long range tele lenses. However it still needs steady support when shooting as it's not easy to focus with lenses with more than 300mm focal length.

The bad about this lens is it's donut-like bokeh that looks unusual. details in out of focused zones are almost lost. If your focusing is spot on, you'll have clear, sharp images out of the lens.

The macro function works well and this lens give you a closer focus distance when shoot in macro than many mirror lenses.

A protective filter is recommended for this lens as dust can easily fall on to the mirror.

   
Junior Member

Registered: August, 2011
Location: Baltimore, MD
Posts: 35
Lens Review Date: October 25, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: 500mm without breaking your back, donut bokeh
Cons: not amazing sharpness, donut bokeh

I don't get a lot of chances to use this lens, but when I do it's a joy.

Under the right circumstances, don't let anyone tell you it can't be used for fast action.


IMG_9657 by jerm1386, on Flickr


IMG_4729 by jerm1386, on Flickr
   
Moderator
Site Supporter

Registered: June, 2008
Location: Florida Hill Country
Posts: 17,250

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 18, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: compact, well made
Cons:
Sharpness: 6    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 6    Handling: 7    Value: 8   

I gave this a 9 overall relative to other mirror lenses. I have owned both versions of the 500mm, 55B and 55BB. The above lens formula is incorrect. When Tamron revised the lens, the formula actually went from 4/7 to 5/8. The adaptall-2.org got the diagrams right on the 55BB but did not change the numbers. The tripod mount and filters were deleted from the 55BB as well.

55BB


http://www.adaptall-2.org/lenses/images/Adaptall-2/SP500F8dot0_55BB_optics.jpg


The older 55B

http://www.adaptall-2.org/lenses/images/Adaptall-2/SP500F8dot0_55B_optics.jpg
   
Veteran Member

Registered: March, 2009
Location: Ohio, USA/ India
Posts: 475

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 31, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $200.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Light, IQ
Cons:

This is a terrific lens if you are into mirror lenses. It has fantastic IQ and is light enough for travel. I want to let the pictures taken with this lens speak for themselves:


For the above image there was minimal pp done (just a bit of sharpening and adjusted contrast I think). Here is an example with the doughnuts:


The lens is great for large birds. I think I just lucked out with the first picture. It is difficult to focus the lens with quick moving birds such as the chickadee and the like.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: March, 2009
Location: Salt Lake City, UT
Posts: 509

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: May 13, 2011 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: very well built, sturdy in hand, smooth focusing
Cons: need a tripod, low IMQ, focus ring reversed from a pentax lens, color washed out a bit
Sharpness: 6    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 8   

Construction: on par with some of the best made manual lenses including Pentax.
Image quality: OK. It is perhaps one of the best mirror lenses. Contrast is low and image sharpness is merely OK. Better to use with K5 and K7 (than say Kx) which have a better viewfinder.
Tripod or monopod is a must.
Only capable under good light. It is difficult to focus. Perhaps this is not exceptional for a long lens like this.

It is for you if you are not a frequent long shooter but would like to have one on the road just in case. It is for you if you are more concerned about portability than IMQ. It is for you if you can handle MF and if you can survive without changing aperture. It works OK for me.

Macro function is usable, but it is not a real macro lens.

Pretty hard for anything that is moving or that is not well lighted. Take a while to get used to. Need to increase contrast and saturation. But it is very light. Good for infrequent use.





Add Review of Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 500mm f/8 Mirror (55BB)



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