Tamron SP 500mm f/8 55BB

Very good mirror lens, color and sharpness just excellent. Hand held shoot not easy because focal length is 500mm and max aperture only f/8, but usable. This lens almost same light weight than any normal objective this means, convince to bring anywhere. 

Rotating tripod ring can only apply to the earlier model 55B, the ring being absent on the 55BB. 

Vendor name
Type name
Product year
 Tamron SP 55BB  
Focal min (mm)
Focal max (mm)
Focus min(cm)
 500  500  170
Aperture maxAperture min
Lens size (mm)
 8  8  91.5 x 84
Diaphragm ACTION Weight (g)
7 elements in 4 groups    535
Filter size (mm)
Body mount
 82  5  Adaptall-2



User opinions:

I tried it once because I like the donut spread inherent to reflex lenses. But returned it after one roll. First of all, 500mm has narrow depth and is certainly not easy to focus. But the main reason is the image quality. It is very soft, totally out of my expectation. Consider the construction, the lens is light and the handling is requires large hand. All in all, I found my non-reflex lens has more crisp images and the focusing seems easier.

Kwan Cheung


This is a popular "moon lens" because you can take great shots of the moon with it. There is no equivalent with a 4/3rds mount---the 4/3rds lens with the longest focal length is the Zuiko Digital (ZD) 300mm f2.8 ED lens. Since this Tamron is not a 4/3rds lens, you must operate your camera in either Manual or Aperture Priority mode and focus manually. This, along with its modest aperture, make it a poor choice for action shots that require fast shutter speeds and rapid changes in focus (although an E-1 equipped with a third-party split-prism focusing screen can help quite a bit with focus). Even still, I wouldn't recommend this lens if you plan to snap quick shots of moving critters owing to its manual focus.
One of the big advantages of a catadioptric lens is its small size and light weight. This makes this lens very comfortable to shoot by hand. However, with such a long focal length and a 2x focal length factor on a 4/3rds camera, you would need to shoot at about 1/1000th second or faster in order to avoid motion blur. That will be very difficult with its fixed f8.0 aperture unless you are outdoors in very bright sunlight. Therefore, a tripod or monopod will be needed most of the time with this lens.

This is a well-made super-telephoto lens with a strong metal body, no CA, low distortion and low vignetting. It accepts both front and rear filters. The small size of the rear filters can save money. Some kits include a 2x teleconverter. It has a built-in rotating tripod mount and nice metal hood.

James Harris 


Sample pictures:


Pbase.com (Hqdesign)

Related resources:


Bob Atkins Tamron SP 500 vs Canon 500/4.5L 


ebay.com | ebay.co.uk | ebay.de



Comments (1)
One of the Best 500mm Mirrors Ever Made
1Friday, 13 January 2012 17:16
First of all, I feel I should point out that the lens James is referring to is the 55B and not the 55BB. Tamron dropped the tripod mount with the 55BB. It's also worth noting that the 55BB is a redesigned optic and that Tamron claimed it's even sharper than the 55B. Well, I don't know about that -- I've seen some very sharp photos taken with the 55B.

I've only recently acquired my 55BB. Most of the shots I've taken have been of the moon. I was actually surprised at just how sharp this lens is -- very nearly as sharp as my Century Precision Optics 500mm f/5.6, which is a very sharp telephoto. The difference in sharpness between the two lenses is, in fact, negligible. I am very impressed.

A couple of capabilities of this lens that didn't get mentioned: its close-focusing ability and the degree of rotation of the focusing collar. This Tamron lens is labeled as a "macro" for good reason. It focuses so closely that it can be used for macro photos, but at a very comfortable distance from the subject. Also, the focusing collar rotates through almost 360 degrees. Unlike some cheaper mirror lenses that rotate through maybe 1/4 a circle. Having such a long "throw" to the collar enables the photographer to more easily nail focus. And let me say that, when photographing the moon using a DSLR with Live View and the image magnified 10x, even with the lens's long focusing throw, focusing still takes a gentle touch. With a short-throw mirror, trying to accomplish the same thing is an exercise in frustration.

The Tamron 55B or 55BB are usually fairly expensive when they show up on eBay. I got lucky and bought mine at a local camera shop for less than half of what they typically sell for online. Woot!; It came originally with a hood, a case, and a set of filters. Ideally, you want all three items and if they aren't shown, you should at least ask if they aren't included. Sometimes the person placing the auction forgets to mention these items.

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