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Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 90mm f/2.5 (52B/52BB)

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33 161,749 Tue February 16, 2021
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
97% of reviewers $118.87 9.06
Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 90mm f/2.5 (52B/52BB)

Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 90mm f/2.5 (52B/52BB)
Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 90mm f/2.5 (52B/52BB)
Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 90mm f/2.5 (52B/52BB)

"A very good 1:2 macro lens with above average resolution and contrast. Performance is fairly similar to Kiron's 105mm F/2.8 macro lens. Contrast is noticeably improved by using the accessory lens hood to control stray light since the front elements are barely recessed in the front of the lens. The model 52BB is merely a cosmetically redesigned version of the original 52B. Tamron made an optional accessory 1:1 extension tube (018F) for this lens. -

"Cult classic" macro lens with a great reputation. The first all metal version was replaced by the 52BB, with a redesigned barrel, in 1988 (pics 2,3).
Both versions can occasionally be prone to sensor reflections due to the flat rear element - causes a purple "spot". Also the 52BB can be prone to a lazy iris, most noticeable when using with eg mirrorless with an adapter in stop-down-Av mode. The iris will close to about f8 with the aperture ring but then tend to stick. See here for disassembly/fix.
Full 1:1 magnification can be achieved with the 018F extension tube or with the 01F 2x teleconverter. An alternative to the 018F is a deglassed 01F TC. Mount specific extension tubes and tc's can of course also be used, with a matching adaptall mount.
The 52B/52BB was replaced by the similar but 1:1 macro 90mm f2.8 72B in 1996 (separate review here). This was produced into the 2000's but faded in competition with optically identical (72E) AF versions.

Specifications: 52B (pic 1); 52BB (pics 2, 3)
Focal Length (mm) 90
Aperture: f2.5 - f22
Field of view: 23deg horizontal full frame; 14.9deg APSC sensor.
Optical construction (elements / groups): 8/6
Coatings BBAR Multi layer
Minimum focus distance (from film/sensor plane) 39cm
Focus throw: ~360deg; ~330deg
magnification ratio 1:2
filter diameter: 52B = 49mm (screw in hood 23FH); 52BB = 55mm (bayonet hood 98FH)
"length ( at infinity): 66mm; 74mm
maximum diameter: 64.5mm
"weight" 440g; 410g

"kido" on mflenses has done a nice comparison of IQ with both the 01F 2x teleconverter and/or the 018F dedicated 1:1 extension tube here (update no pics any more but comments are still useful).

Accepts both 01F 2x TC and 014F 1.4x TC's. Note: TC's are reviewed in miscellaneous lenses - TC's.

Review by Prarie Rim of 52B.
Mount Type: Third-party (adapter required)
Price History:

Add Review of Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 90mm f/2.5 (52B/52BB)
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New Member

Registered: February, 2020
Posts: 1
Lens Review Date: February 16, 2021 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $260.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very sharp lens with beautiful bokeh
Cons: Increasingly rare to buy at a low price
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: Nikon D800E and Sony A7   

The super manual lens for both macro shots is very sharp, and also great for portrait photography due to its extremely beautiful bokeh and ideal length of 90mm. I have a nikon version which is great both for use on DSLR and also on mirrorless cameras. Particularly surprising is the really excellent resolution that the lens achieves on the a7R2, completely comparable to top ZEISS lenses. I recommend!
New Member

Registered: December, 2017
Posts: 15
Lens Review Date: July 10, 2020 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $125.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp; flat field; beautiful bokeh; compact & light
Cons: Focus action a little unpolished;
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 6    Value: 10    Camera Used: Nikon D810   

I have the 52BB version. This lens doesn't need my review; enough has been written about its excellence. I just want to add a piece of information for anybody who may be thinking of using this lens with the Nikon adapter and an aftermarket CPU installed (on the adapter). I have installed a Dandelion chip on the adapter attached to my copy of this lens, and I can regretfully report that the lens is NOT a true AI-S lens, despite the presence of the telltale AI-S "divot" in the bayonet ring.

This means that if you control the aperture using a command dial on the camera instead of the lens's aperture ring, images taken at apertures smaller than wide open will come out overexposed. See Richard Pindelski's page on this topic for an explanation of why this happens when the Dandelion is used on an AI (but not AI-S) lens.

Fortunately, the Dandelion CPU can be programmed to support using the aperture ring. You also have to set up the camera to use the aperture ring. Then you can enjoy some of the other benefits of the chip, just not camera control of aperture or the enabling of the autoexposure modes that require it (the S and P modes).

One other criticism of the lens I have is that the focus action, at least on my copy, is not as wonderful as that of many other manual-focus lenses. There is a dry, undamped, plasticky feel to it, and turning the focus ring is accompanied by whispery noises. The turning resistance varies with the angle you're holding the lens at. (If you're pointing the lens up, focusing from far to near requires more effort than focusing from near to far.)

Otherwise, it really is an excellent lens.

Site Supporter

Registered: April, 2015
Location: Wisconsin, USA
Posts: 2,757
Lens Review Date: December 1, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $150.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: BOKEH, sharp, colors
Cons: none
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-1   

I'll make this review brief..

I have tested dozens of lenses in this range. I like the rendering of this lens better than any Pentax/Zeiss/Leica in this focal range!

Outstanding BOKEH wide open.

I own 1 of the older versions, and 4 of the newer versions! That's how much I LOVE this lens.

I disagree with the previous poster - this lens is definitely NOT heavy. It's a quality lens that is maybe a bit heavier than cheap plastic alternatives. But compared with other "comparable" lenses, this lens is fairly light weight. To me, the best comparables are the Zeiss ZF 100mm f/2 (classic version) and the Leica R 90m f/2. I like this lens better than either of these two lenses.
Forum Member

Registered: September, 2019
Posts: 69
Lens Review Date: October 3, 2019 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $110.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Fast, great on digital and film
Cons: Heavy, 1:2
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 7    Value: 8    Camera Used: K3, MEsuper, MZ-3   

I have the 52BB version with KA adapter. Maybe my favorite lens.

It's sharp and has a beautiful bokeh; good the max aperture at f2.5 (on digital sometimes misspelled to f2.4), useful even with portraits; only 1:2 macro.
Cons.. it's heavy and you have to be very accurate with MF. Needed a hood due to flares
New Member

Registered: June, 2018
Posts: 4
Lens Review Date: June 20, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very sharp, good bokeh, can fit very camera
Cons: 1:2, bulky and heavy, adaptall adapters are expensive
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 7    Value: 9    Camera Used: A7, Nex 6   

Had two samples of this lens. The first one had been used and probably abused, it was good but with a noticeable lack of contrast. The new one is almost mint and performs much better.

Love the fact that an adaptall lens can fit every camera mount, even if the adapters are usually expensive and sometimes really difficult to find.

Sharpness is excellent even at f/2,5. It has minor chromatic aberration at full aperture but nothing to worry about. It can flare a little bit and it's better to use a lens hood. Tried the much more regarded Vivitar series 1 90mm f/2,5 "Bokina" and I sharpness seems to be on par with the Tamron, the only differences beeing weight and slightly smoother bokeh for the Viv.

Tamron's bokeh is good, I like my portrait lens 85mm f/1,8 better in this regard but it's nice. It has more aperture blades than most vintage lenses, this helps when stopped down.
The lens is only 1:2 but I'm not annoyed with that.

Handling is good, the lens is really build like a tank. I own several old lenses and most of them are all metal and durable, but the Tamron is especially heavy and feels almost indestructible.

Value is good as this Tamron 90mm f/2.5 adaptall is excellent and can be found for about 100 in good conditions. It rises a bit but still cheaper than the later plastic version.
Site Supporter

Registered: December, 2016
Location: Silverstone
Posts: 242

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 15, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $75.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharpness, construction
Cons: Sensor reflection on APS-C
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 9    Value: 9    Camera Used: K-S2   

I have had the 52B version of this lens from new.

I settled on the Tamron after an extended shoot-off with a Vivitar Series 1 90mm macro, which was a serious competitor back in the day. The Tamron handled better, had less diffraction after f/16, better colour rendition and contrast.

It still holds its own against more modern designs, and APS-C can offer a new lease of life as a fast telephoto .
New Member

Registered: September, 2012
Location: Belo Horizonte
Posts: 17
Lens Review Date: March 17, 2016 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 10 

Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: 125   

superb lens even at 2.5 , much used for portraits.
The macro is incredibly detailed
New Member

Registered: July, 2008
Location: Budapest
Posts: 2

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 4, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $100.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharp at almost all apertures, Lovely bokeh, Built to last.
Cons: Only 2:1 macro, Back element can cause reflections (purple "hotspot")
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: Sony A7ii   

I had a chance to grab a 52BB with the 1:1 tube for only 72 and since this lens was longtime on my wanted list I finally got this lens. First expressions were really good, handling is easy, the focus ring is very smooth. It's a bit strange first that from infinity to about 1 meter you only need to turn a little and then from 1 meter to macro range there is a lot more turning required. I suppose it's due to being a macro lens
As a macro lens it really excels I'd say f8-f11 being the sweet spot. At 1:2 macro (without the tube) you have a lot of room, the distance from the subject is like 40 centimeters, which drops down to 20 centimeters at 1:1, which is still a plenty of room to be able to apply ring lights for example.
What I rarely see in Macro lens reviews is the mention of the Raynox DCR-250, which makes almost any lens into a macro lens and achieves even higher magnification with macro lenses. With the Raynox (without the tube) you can get about 1.5:1 magnification and 2.5:1 with the tube. So if you have this lens the Raynox DCR-250 is a very good addition.
But this lens is not only about macro. It is really good for portraits, the bokeh it gives is creamy and dreamy, even at f2.5 it's sharp already to bring out fine details, but from f4 to f11 it's a monster I really love this lens and what it brings to the table... and for the price I got it... it's a steal.
But let this little test show you what the lens is capable of. Shot with Sony A7ii and zero post process were done. You can see the "scene" as it was and where the 100% crops are taken from. As you can see at f16 diffraction kicks in but it's still acceptable quality. Tamron SP 90 f2.5 (52BB) test
New Member

Registered: October, 2011
Posts: 5
Lens Review Date: April 18, 2015 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $25.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great For Macro, Amazing For Portraits
Cons: None
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: K5-IIs   

52B version as pictured, easily my favorite and most versatile lens. The close-focusing ability creates more opportunities for macro and portrait work.

The focus throw is perfect, neither fast nor slow. Very easy to nail focus on the subject's eyes despite MF only. The ease of focus is a boon for handheld macro shots.

This one more than lives up to its name (SP-Super Performance), absolutely love it and highly recommend.
Junior Member

Registered: October, 2012
Posts: 28
Lens Review Date: February 14, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $118.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Very sharp, solidly built, quality, fairly fast
Cons: none of consequence
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

I have, because of a curious mind, in my collection the 52B, 72B. 272E, the Samsung D-Xenon f2.8 100mm, Pentax 50mm f4 and f2.8 and all get used frequently. The 52B stands up well against the others and I do love using it with my K5. I find that having a solid, reasonably heavy lens with a good sharp glass in my hands when taking a shot steadies my hand and eye and lends a sense of confidence while doing so.. Although I have had no problems previously with lens flare I do use a lens hood as it has a secondary use of protecting the lens when I'm poking it into undergrowth to take a shot of an insect etc. I also have got into the habit of using the front and back mounts of a tube on the 52B to extend the ratio approximately from 1.2 to 1.1. which works for me. It was one of the first Tamron macro's in my collection and using it was a good learning base giving me the experience when using the other macros. It has a good bokeh, is easy to handle, and has given me some great images. I would definitely recommend it for those wanting to take macro shots with a seriously good lens. I've used it quite often at full aperture when taking shots in shadow and I find it forgiving and sharp, it's obviously sharper a couple of stops up but it delivers good sharp images at full aperture. I'm not a pixel peeper so rather than getting technical with the comparisons, vices and virtues of the different macro lens let me say that when picking up the 52B I get that sense of enjoyment and confidence knowing it's an excellently sharp, dependable lens and it's not outclassed greatly by the others. Having said that I do think the Pentax 50mm f2.8 and f4 have the edge in IQ. If you can get one for a reasonable price then get it......and you won't regret it.
Veteran Member

Registered: August, 2009
Posts: 392
Lens Review Date: October 29, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $100.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: bokeh, resolution
Cons: long focus throw
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

I realise this is probably my "best" lens, as I run through the rating toggles, on a ratings basis. Its bokeh is very pleasing, and sharpness is excellent. An additional advantage is the Adaptall mount, which means that this can be used on other camera mounts other than PK...I use this lens as a benchmark across camera systems. It even gets a special mention in Barry Thornton's book called Elements in the 35mm section at the back. Interestingly, he also used Pentax in 35mm. Some of the photographs I have produced of my toddler pick up very fine detail in his skin, when we were mucking about in the garden this summer. Looking forward to printing them soon. Whether or not this is sharper than the Pentax M 50mm f4 is open to debate, on test targets I don't think you would see a difference, and the Pentax M also has a nice bokeh.

I note someone with shots of a church in their review reports their lens is soft wide open...there must be something wrong...mine is literally at peak sharpness from wide open. Note I am using this on film, capable of 150lp/mm.

When you consider this is a 85mm portrait lens with macro capabilities, it makes the Pentax M 85mm f2 look like a waste of money.

I have owned a Kiron 105/2.8, ironically never shot with it, as I accidentally bought an OM mount version. The Kiron is substantially larger and heavier, as it can go to 1:1. I sold the Kiron for USD 300. Its basically the same as the Lester Dine and Viv S1 105mm. Its not fair to compare the Tamron with such a lens, as they are in a completely different price bracket, the Tamron changing hands for an average of GBP 80 with postage nowadays.

Registered: April, 2011
Location: Lost in translation ...
Posts: 18,004
Lens Review Date: April 20, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, f 2.5, build, bokeh ...
Cons: Only 1:2 ...
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 10   


My copy of this lens is the later "52BB" version, pics above, which according to the Adaptall site is optically identical to the previous version, the 52B.

All of the previous reviews have said enough about the good quality of this lens.
Junior Member

Registered: August, 2009
Location: Lexington, KY
Posts: 30

5 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 18, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $97.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Bokeh, sharpness, color, build, f/2.5
Cons: Sensor reflection and flare, only 1:2
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 9   

This review is based on use with an APS-C sensor.

This lens is a cult classic. The design is very clever: rather than a typical telephoto design, this is essentially a double Gauss normal that floats relative to a correcting rear group. This gives it the speed and nice bokeh of a fast normal combined with excellent correction at any focus distance. It was marketed as both a portrait and a macro lens, and it earns both titles. Here's a simple example:

Notice that the focus point is perfectly sharp, but before and after the focus point are both very smooth. Sharpness is very good wide open, but becomes outstanding (even for a macro) by f/8-f/11. What's more, unlike most macros, it's that good at any focus distance.

Color is quite good, but this is a lens that can show veiling flare. The front element is nearly flush with the front, so a 49mm threaded hood would be a good idea. There is also an infamous problem involving sensor reflections; the rear element is nearly flat, easily causing a purple spot in the center of the frame from bright reflection off the sensor. This sensor reflection happens very frequently -- maybe even all the time -- but usually isn't particularly visible. One needs to watch for it, but even when it is bad, it usually looks a lot like a regular flare spot... that always happens to be in the middle of the frame.

An addition: I now have the matching Adaptall 2X teleconverter. It is widely held that this 2X works exceptionally well with this lens, producing very good IQ one stop down and avoiding the flare spot. Well, the flare spot is gone and bokeh are perhaps even prettier. However, sharpness is really sacrificed unless the lens is stopped down a bit more, which makes hand-holding the lens with 2X difficult. I also tried this 90mm with a generic FD-mount 2X... and IQ was at least as good as with the matching converter. Ok. I didn't really expect a miracle....
Senior Member

Registered: February, 2011
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 123
Lens Review Date: July 21, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $60.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: cost, sharpness, build quality
Cons: weight
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 8    Value: 10   

So this lens is incredibly sharp. I've only recently acquired it but I've used it alone (mostly), with tubes, and with the 01F 2x teleconverter (which cost another $30). I agree that it achieves optimal sharpness between f4 and f11. The build is great, but the PK/A adapter does have a bit of funk associated with it such that you have to wiggle it at times to get the aperture reading in Av mode (it's the adapter's problem; not the lens - keeping the adapter contacts clean is a big help here).

Color rendition is incredible.

The sensor reflection problem is real and is exacerbated when you point the lens into a backlit scene. This is why I give it low marks for aberrations (but it wasn't designed for use with DSLRs, so you can't fault Tamron). See below for a typical problem, as well as a serious problem caused by long exposure time. If you work around this, i.e. don't use the lens with a digital SLR for this type of photography, it's an awesome lens for the money. It's primary purpose is for macros so just use it for that!

The lens, particularly with the 01F teleconverter, is extremely heavy. Here are some shots:

1. With extension tubes (dandelion):

Model for Death Star by zot0 (too busy), on Flickr

2. By itself:

Bugs and Buds by zot0 (too busy), on Flickr

3. With 01F Teleconverter (and flash):

Che-er-ry, Cherry Macro by zot0 (too busy), on Flickr

4. Subtle sensor reflection - note the purple in the middle of the rose (but otherwise note the beautiful color rendition):

Ramble On Rose by zot0 (too busy), on Flickr

5. Extreme sensor reflection, long exposure:

Extreme example of Tamron SP 90mm (52B) Sensor Reflection problem by zot0 (too busy), on Flickr
Veteran Member

Registered: July, 2009
Location: 14er Country
Posts: 323

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: July 12, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $105.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp stopped down, Excellent Build, Wonderful Colors, 9 Blade Diaphragm (52BB)
Cons: Soft Wide Open, 1:2 Macro w/o 2x or Extension Tube
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

I had been looking for a longer macro to compliment my Mamiya Sekor 60mm f2.8 for awhile. I didn't have a lot of money to sink into a newer autofocus lens, so I was watching for something like an M 100mm f4, or one of these Tamron Adaptalls. When I found a 52BB model in excellent condition at a good price, I jumped on it.

This lens seems to be one of the most popular Adaptall primes for people to buy. I've had good luck with the "SP" (Super Performance) line of Adaptalls in the past. The SP 180mm f2.5 and SP 300mm f2.8 are two of my favorite lenses. The 180mm is essentially faultless and the 300mm is almost perfect (occasionally, it would suffer some nervous bokeh which was the only downside I could find on that one optically).

The SP 90mm f2.5 isn't quite up to the level of those two lenses, but it isn't far behind. I think the biggest thing that surprised me about the lens was how soft it was wide open. With the two Adaptalls I listed above, I never hesitate to shoot wide open if I have to. I don't feel that way about the 90mm. It's better to stop it down to at least f4 if possible. That being said at f4 it's a sharp lens, and by f5.6, it's outresolving the K-5's sensor.

The lens makes up for it's wide open softness in other ways, though. The colors are very, very nice indeed. Keep in mind that this is a lens that you really need to use a deep hood for, though. Flare can rob contrast and color "punch" if you're not using a hood. Despite the good reputation of Tamron's BBAR coating, I've noticed that this lens needs its hood much more than other Tamron optics.

The bokeh is also very pleasing from the lens. I think it helps that I got the 52BB model that features a 9 bladed diaphragm (as opposed to the 8 blades of the 52B model).

The lens only goes to a 1:2 macro reproduction ratio by itself. It plays well with both teleconverters or extension tubes, though. It does very well with the SP 140F 1.4x teleconverter and good (but not great) with 2x teleconverters (I've tried it with both the SP 01F 2x and RMC Tokina Doubler 2x). For 1:1 reproductions, I'd suggest using an extension tube unless you need the extra working distance that a 2x teleconverter will allow. The lens works very well with extension tubes.

While I haven't owned this one very long, I've already gotten some memorable images with it. Here are a few of my favorites:

Flickr Link

Flickr Link

Flickr Link
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