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LENS PORN: Tamron Adaptall 135mm f/2.8 BBAR Multicoated (CT-135)

Tamron Adaptall 135mm f/2.8 BBAR Multicoated (CT-135)
Tamron Adaptall 135mm f/2.8 BBAR Multicoated (CT-135)

In the old days of film, when zoom lenses were uncommon, people usually kept a set of primes with them -- a wide 28mm, a normal 50mm, and a telephoto/portrait 135mm. It was even a common kit lens that people loved to use for portraiture because of the subject isolation and wide aperture. 

Here is the Tamron Adaptall 135mm f/2.8 (CT-135) from 1976. It's a budget prime lens that can be easily have on a shoestring budget. This is the first generation Adaptall. They came up with a second generation with a max aperture of f/2.5. On DX cameras, this focal length is like 210mm and makes nice head and shoulder of half-body shots.


1) Relatively common and cheap to find.

2) Treated with Tamron's BBAR Multicoating.

3) Looks very stylish! It probably looked modern or futuristic in the 1970s when it was made and sold.

4) Excellent subject isolation even on APS-C cameras.

5) Decent sharpness, nice colors for portraiture, soft skin tone. Portraiture. That's where people will use this lens anyway, and it is not for macro, so understandably you don't want too high resolution for portraiture (softer is better).

6) Image quality is already acceptable wide at f/2.8 and no color fringing was visible in high contrast or sunlit areas. Again, this is not intended for macro, so people should stop pixel peeping and bitching about such things.

7) It has a convenient built-in hood.


1) Slight loss of contrast at f/2.8 when shooting in bright outdoors. But that is not a huge issue for me.

2) 135mm is a bit long on crop-sensor cameras. 135mm is considered an orphan focal length because people usually use primes up to 105mm, then the next lens they use to begin with telephoto is 200mm. This I feel is true even on my DX camera.

3) Another minor issue is that the focus and aperture rings turn the opposite directions.

4) The A/M switch. It seems to get in the way when I'm turning the aperture ring. Again, this is just a minor issue that I can live with.

5) A 105mm has a minimum focusing distance of 1 meter, while a 135mm has MFD of 1.5 meters. At that range, 105mm gives bigger magnification. But if you usually shoot longer distances, it shouldn't matter. For portraiture with a 105/135mm, you will usually shoot the subject at 2 to 3 meters from you.

Not So Good...

1) The colors seem to have a greenish bias. Most lenses I've used usually just look right with my usual settings. With this lens, the white balance never seems to get right (my WB usually either Cloudy or Preset on the Nikon D5200).

2) 6 blades is conservative. I think that the longer the focal length, the more blades (at least 8) because bokeh bubbles will appear larger than on wide angle lenses, thus the hexagonal shape of the bokeh bubbles look more obvious. This hexagonal shapes are only obvious if you shoot stopped down, so it shouldn't matter if you always shoot f/2.8. I'm very particular with blade count from 85mm or longer.



135mm f/2.8 (CT-135)

Model Number:

Years in Production:

Focal Length:
FX = 135mm
DX = 205mm

Minimum Focusing Distance:
1.5 meters / 5 feet

Focus Throw:
180 degrees

Filter Thread Size:

Maximum/Minimum Aperture:
f/2.8 - f/22

Made in Japan

Special Features:
Built-in hood.
Has Manual and Automatic aperture switch.
BBAR MC = Broad Band Anti Reflective Multi Coating

Tamron Adaptall 135mm f/2.8 BBAR Multicoated (CT-135)



Shot with Nikon D5200
Profile - Standard
WB - Cloudy or Preset

Tamron Adaptall 135/2.5 (CT-135)

Tamron Adaptall 135mm f/2.8 BBAR Multicoated (CT-135)
This is the closeup magnification I was talking about at Minimum Focusing Distance.

It makes nice low light photos and subject isolation.

With a +3 closeup filter, it also makes a crisp macro lens.

Nice vivid colors.

Fabulous bokeh. This was shot on a cloudy day, but the colors still pop.



Photo Album



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