Tamron Adaptall-2 28mm f2.5

The term “standard lens” had long been forgot since the time camera manufacturers started equipping their cameras with relatively slow (variable max. aperture f3.5-5.6) mid-range zooms like the 28-80mm (or 18-55mm for a APS-C format DSLR) instead of a much faster (at least f2 for an entry-level one), simpler and higher image quality 50mm prime. In today’s digital world, with the 1.5 crop-factor from APS-C sensors, the 50mm becomes a short telephoto more suitable for portrait shots.

Unknown to some, world famous street photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson used a Leica rangefinder with a 50mm standard lens for most of his shots. Although the 50mm (35mm equivalent) focal length is not as wide as even a 35mm wide-angle and not as long as a 90mm short telephoto, it is still preferred by many photographers even today. To get a 35mm equivalent focal length of about 50mm on an APS-C sensor, a focal length of about 35mm is needed. For me, I would prefer a slightly wider angle which some people would call a “wide-normal” lens (usually an equivalent focal length between 35 to 50mm). Thus, I picked the focal length 28mm which gives a 35mm  equivalent of 42mm. This gives me wider angle to encapsulate more of the environment while maintaining very low perspective distortion on the image. To minimize budget and on the other hand maximize image quality, I again went for a manual focus prime. Based on my positive experience with the Tamron Adaptall-2 135mm f2.5, readings from the Internet and opinion from a good friend of mine, I bought a Tamron Adaptall-2 28mm f2.5 (with a bonus Nikon F-801 body) from a local Internet classified.

Well, optically, how does this lens perform? I have to say it is really really good. It is amazingly sharp with contrast and color saturation better than the Tamron 135mm I have. However, like the 135mm, it is quite soft at f2.5 and by stopping down just half a stop to f2.8, the result is much better. The fast aperture of this lens enables me to do hand-held street shots at night with the DSLR set at ISO1600. Recently, I used this lens with my D40 on my night tram ride during a visit to Hong Kong. The results are quite satisfactory:

Of course, it is also a great lens when used for daytime street shots like this one:

Status: In Collection

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11 Responses to Tamron Adaptall-2 28mm f2.5

  1. Ryan says:

    I’m almost wildly embarrassed to ask this but could the Tamron Adaptall-2 work with a Canon DSLR if I had an adapter? I’m quite honestly not a great photographer but a friend gave me this because he found it at a thrift store and I figured I’d try it out.

    I’d greatly appreciate any input. Sorry if it’s a really silly question!

    • Ryan, there is no need to be embarrassed as we all learn new things everyday.

      Canon DSLRs use the Canon EF mount which has been used by Canon EOS film SLRs since the mid-1980s. Tamron did produce an adaptall-2 mount for the EOS cameras but it is extremely rare. If I am right, Tamron used the model name EOS-M. However, since the mount is fully mechanical but EF mount requires electronic information transfer, you will need to manually operate the aperture diaphragm plus you should probably get some sort of lens error from the camera because it “thinks” there is no lens attached.

      On the other side, depending on which Adaptall-2 mount is now attached to your lens, you might be able to get an adapter to convert that particular mount to EF mount. However, those adapters (all third-party made) vary a lot in quality and price.

      To know more, you need to dig deeply on the Internet to read about people who have such experience.

    • Peter Höffken says:

      Dear Ryan or whoever may read this after two years,
      Yes you can! It works fine! I got one Tamron 28mm 1:2,5 very cheap at ebay and I use it with my Canon EOS 500D.
      You don’t need two adapters (one touched to the lens and one to adapt it to your EOS body), it is possible with one cheap piece. You can get a direct Tamron-EOS adapter (made in China) from different sellers at ebay or amazon.
      How to work with:
      1. You have to focus manualy at the viewfinder. If you have an adapter with “autofocus confirm chip” (a little bit more expensive), it may help a little to focus, because you can (sometimes) see the red autofocus dots in the viewfinder, confirming that you focused well. Before you focus, it is recommended to turn the aperture ring wide open.(2,5) Than you have a brighter view and a smaller “depth to field” in the finder, what makes it much easier to focus.
      2. Automatic exposure is (half) possible if you turn to “AV” modus. You can turn the aperture ring to the aperture you want and the camera does the rest. The camera will meter correct and chose the right shutter speed and show the speed in the finder. You can see how it changes the shutter speed, if you turn the aperture ring. If your camera can be switchet to “Auto-ISO” it will also chose a recommended ISO setting so that you have normally no longer shutter speed than 1/45 (if possible).

      On my Camera it works also without the AF-confim-chip. The camara shows no error without electronic information transfer. I also tried it with an EOS 350D without problems. Even correct metering is no problem. I made lots of photos with correct.

  2. Hi,

    Ahhhh I must ask a stupid question, I have a Nikon D40 and I also have this lovely tamron lens and an adaptall 2 … I have fitted it and can not seem to work. The info settings just show a flashing ‘F – -‘ and it does not let me take any shots .. I have tried to rifle through the settings but I am still learning so much and can not seem to figure it out.

    If you have any helpful words on this that would be awesome as I have been quite enjoying using Manual lenses and really want to get to grips with this one too!



  3. Kieran says:

    Sorry if this is sent twice … not sure if it actually sent the first time as it asked me to login.

    Please allow me to ask and unfold my stupid:

    I recently bought this very lens and I also use a Nikon D40, I have an adaptall 2 and it fits the lens and fits the body .. but when i try to take a photo it flashes ‘F – – ‘ on the info screen and can’t seem to figure out how to make it work.

    Apologies if that sounds a bit dim, just trying to get into photography and loving manual lens so far.



    • Kieran, Nikon lens compatibility is confusing to many and there is no such thing as “stupid question” in the world.

      The D40 displays “F–” because it relies solely on electronic data transfer in lens-body communication and the Tamron Adaptall-2 28mm is a fully mechanical lens. In other words, the body does not know there is a lens attached. To shoot with this lens, you need to set the exposure mode on the D40 to manual, adjust shutter speed as usual but adjust the aperture through the lens. You need to set the ISO manually too but white balance can be auto if needed. The meter will not function and you need to use an external meter (or a point and shoot that displays shutter speed and apreture) or you can estimate the exposure using the Sunny-16 rule (just search the web on this).

      There are many info. (restrictions, limitations, body-damage risks) on using manual focus lenses on Nikon DSLRs and for starter, your user manual contain compatibiliy info. on your particular body.

      • Ahhhh thank you, gosh I still feel stupid .. if I had just played some more! But thank you for explaining and I will look up sunny 16! :)


  4. dianne says:

    You have to go in to your custom menu setting and set camera to allow use of aperture ring I couldn’t get mine to work until I googled it and got this answer.

    • I believe you are referring to a Pentax DSLR as Nikon entry to mid-level DSLRs do not have such feature. In the area of backward compatibility, Pentax sure does a better job than Nikon.

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