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LENS PORN: Tamron Adaptall 38-100mm f/3.5 (CZ-38M)

Tamron Adaptall 38-100mm f/3.5 (CZ-38M)
Tamron Adaptall 38-100mm f/3.5 (CZ-38M)

Here comes a very rare lens from Tamron, from their Adaptall 1 series. The Tamron Adaptall 38-100mm f/3.5 (CZ-38M) was engineered by Tamron for the highest optical quality and to have a constant maximum aperture at a very wide zoom range.

There were actually two versions of this. The earlier one was from 1973, this one I have is the second generation with macro mode. Users usually point out that the second version is far superior and has excellent optical quality. Unfortunately, it was only in production for 2 years and they are very hard to find. If you do find one, these gems are real keepers!


1) Constant maximum aperture. Nice for shooting videos with, also nice for shooting indoor since f/3.5 is very bright.

2) At 100mm, you can sometimes get a bonus 'swirly bokeh' effect (which made Helios lenses sought after). 

3) Superb image quality (SP-like performance). Handles strong backlight very well. It was engineered to get the best contrast and color saturation. Already very sharp at f/3.5 and there has been no visible signs of color fringing or CA's. The images made with this lens look much better than today's kit lenses!

4) The appearance looks like a piece of art. Very stylish especially for 1970s standard.

5) Given the native Minimum Focusing Distance, it is nice for doing portraiture. I also like how beautiful it renders the skin. Good resolution yet also has a beauty effect.

6) A must-have collector's item.

7) Despite the flaws listed below, this is highly recommended for beginners as a training wheel. Because it will teach them the good values of patience and methodical approach to everything.

8) The veiling flares at 38mm brings life to the images, not flat and dead like newer lenses make.

9) Images have a good dynamic range. You can see details in the shadows. I remember my Nikkor 18-55mm as my first ever DSLR lens... and I hated it so much the way it renders. Everything is sharp and super contrast, yet you can't see the details in shadows, the transition from light to dark areas are abrupt. Unlike older vintage lenses that give the images a unique living breathing rendition. This is 'your kit lens but better' kind of lens.


1) It's quite big and heavy. But that means you have in your hands a lens made with top quality materials.

2) It's very rare and I only see a handful of these, not more than 5. If you DO see one, they are usually the first version and sell around a hefty price of PhP7,000.


1) It is a 'varifocal' zoom. You have to re-focus after zooming. (The opposite is 'parfocal', where the focus stays the same.) It's not a big deal if you're not using this lens in situations where you're in a hurry. Therefore, it may not be a good candidate for shooting sports. 

2) A separate switch for macro/closeup range. In normal mode, the closest focusing is 1.5 meters. This is just normal for zoom lenses of the era. By the AF era of the 1980s, it became standard for  zoom lenses to focus closer than 1.5 meters (usually 0.5 meters). Again, this will only be an issue if you're using the lens in situations where you're in a hurry.



Tamron Adaptall 38-100mm f/3.5
(Model CZ-38M is the second/last version.)

Years Produced 

Focal Range
FX = 38-100mm
DX = 57-150mm

Minimum Focusing Distance
1.5 meters at normal mode
0.2 meters at macro mode, 38mm
0.8 meters at macro mode, 100mm

Filter Thread Diameter

Aperture Run
f/3.5 - f/22 (6 blades)

This is a 'varifocal' zoom.

Broad Band Anti Reflective Multicoating

Made in Japan

Tamron Adaptall 38-100mm f/3.5 (CZ-38M)

How to read the distance at 38mm.

How to read the distance at 100mm.



Shot with Nikon D5200
Profile - Standard
White Balance - Cloudy, Preset
(This is a DX camera with 1.5x crop factor.)

Tamron Adaptall 38-100mm f/3.5 (CZ-38M)
Indoor shots at f/3.5
Outdoor shots at f/8 to f/22

All of the photo samples here
are straight from the camera.
These are unedited/uncorrected
so you can see the actual image quality.


Tamron Adaptall 38-100mm f/3.5 (CZ-38M)


Tamron Adaptall 38-100mm f/3.5 (CZ-38M)



Some of my selfies are missed and out of focus. But you can see that the areas in focus are VERY sharp and you can see the crispy details on my skin. This was already at f/3.5!

Tamron Adaptall 38-100mm f/3.5 (CZ-38M)








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