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The Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 80-200MM F2.8 LD Model 30A is truly quite a lens to behold. On the Exterior, the moment you pick it up the thick metal barrel and solid dense weight, it feels very substantial like a tank. Even the lens hood is very thick metal and heavy. The Push-pull zoom and focusing ring is very wide and focuses buttery smooth, essential for focusing precision. Zooming with the ring doesn't creep on my example and it is old school compared to modern separated two touch designs. I don't mind at all but some may find the old Push-pull a finicky proposition. The large 77mm front barrel rotates which can pose a problem for polarizing filters and extend when focusing. The barrel does't extend when zooming. The MFD is 1.5m, which is generous for this type of zoom but don't expect pseudo-macro capabilities or a dedicated macro mode on this lens. The Adaptall quick mount system works well and permits the use of other lens mounts with a simple quick adapter swap at the rear of the lens. A truly ingenious idea of Tamron. Find one with the tripod collard ring to use it on a tripod of monopod because this lens is heavy but it is definitely worth it for the optical quality alone.
Optically, this lens is where it excels. Very, very sharp and contrasty wide open at f2.8. From 80, 135, and even 200mm the images are extremely consistent and holds well for an early f2.8 zoom. One look at the front element holds that light sucking f2.8 glass and the special glass used to make that all possible. This lens uses one Low-Dispersion element designed by Tamron to compete against the big guns at Canon and Nikon at the time. Color and contrast pops out and sharpness excels on this lens signifying where the "SP" or Super Performance designation came from. The LD element to help control lens deficiencies and increase image quality but one area of concern in this particular model is the tendency of introducing purple fringing in high contrast areas at f2.8. Sometimes the purple fringing appears and depends on the shooting angle and light intensity of the subject. Best to stop it down to f4 and it almost disappears completely. If you need f2.8 then the fringing is a slight trade-off otherwise using this lens at f4 is still excellent and can beat other lenses at this aperture. The fringing can easily be corrected in Lightroom but it proves how far lens designs had mature since then with newer designs and more exotic glass elements. Utilizing 9 aperture blades, the bokeh is very smooth when stopping down and it is a great portrait lens for stationary, composed subjects.
For the excellent performance for the time and even today, universal adaptall mount system, build and image quality, this lens has become a true gem in the Tamron's history. The great price of this fast telephoto glass also comes into consideration because they go from $150-$300. These lenses are not getting any younger and they're becoming rarer.
I am a proud owner of this lens for almost 6 weeks and I have given this lens the nickname "my little monster", because it weighs almost 1.5 kg, it is large, heavy and looks very professional. The only reason such a lens to lug is high speed and the play with focus and blur, and I use this in full, because I never take pictures with smaller apertures than F 2.8 or 4. In situations of spontaneous portraits of people at events and festivals images are not only incredibly sharp, contrasty, but also with an incomparable style and fantastic bokeh. The high speed of 2.8 makes it easy to focus and gives the pictures a great depth. Compared with the Canon FD 80-200 zoom L, which I had before, this zoom weighs twice, but this lens does not need a comparison, it is pure magic, what it is performing on the film. It's an old scool lens, for people with old style to use such a lens!