Thursday, August 16, 2007

Tamron 500mm f/8 SP: A tiny super-telephoto

I was lucky enough to be given a mint Tamron 500mm f/8 SP by my girlfriend's boss; he was cleaning out his basement.

Tamron 500mm f/8 SP with lenshood

Adaptall2 to EOS:

The Tamron 500mm f/8 SP is an adaptall2 lens and thus requires an adapter to mount on a Canon EOS body. After looking for the original adaptall2 to EOS adapter (which is quite rare) and losing to two auctions on Ebay I decided to buy a third party adapter from China. It fit my cameras (20D, Elan II) snuggly but the fit to the 500mm lens was a little sloppy. I found this annoying when focusing. So I wrapped non-waxed dental floss around the adapter and volia a tight fit ( just like teflon tape on pipe threads). Also, the adapter is purely mechanical (i.e. has no electrical connection or optics) so the lens is alway at f/8.

Some thoughts:

After taking the 500mm out for a test shoot, I'm quite happy with the lens:

After work
After work

  1. Focusing ring is smooth.
  2. The 500mm is light, small, and does not attract attention compared to my canon 70-200 f/2.8, making it great for street photography.
  3. Manual focusing is not as hard as I thought it would be. Generally before I would take a photo I would preset the focus with my best guess on the distance scale and then fine tune once I brought the camera to my eye. Of course this only works for stationary or very slow moving objects.
  4. The lens is f/8. During my test shoot it was overcast which meant ISO 1600 to get a shutter speed of 1/500 to 1/640 to prevent camera shake from becoming a big issue. For me ISO 1600 is not a big deal as a little noise does not bother me.
  5. On a 20D (1.6x crop factor sensor) 500mm has the effective framing as a 800mm on a std. 35mm frame. The 500mm has a min focus distance of 1.7m which gives you the ability to fill the frame with some fairly small objects.
For a more in depth review of this lens checkout Bob Atkins Photography