Tamron SP 500mm F/8 55B

Super telephoto prime lens • Announced in 1979 • Film era • Discontinued

SP Professional lens with high quality optics and robust build. Meets the highest standards and provides excellent performance and flawless image quality unachievable with traditional optical technologies.

Model history

Tamron SP 500mm F/8 55BBAdaptall-2--7 - 41.7mE82 1983 
Tamron SP 500mm F/8 55BAdaptall-2--7 - 41.7mE82 1979 


Optical design
Maximum format: 35mm full frame
Diagonal angle of view: (35mm full frame)
Lens construction: 7 elements - 4 groups
Mechanical design
Mount: Interchangeable mount
Interchangeable mount system: Adaptall-2
Diaphragm mechanism
Diaphragm type: Fixed
Number of blades: -
Closest focusing distance: 1.7m
Maximum magnification ratio: 1:3 at the closest focusing distance
Focusing method: <No information>
Focusing modes: Manual focus only
Manual focus control: Focusing ring
Physical characteristics
Weight: 576g
Maximum diameter x Length: Ø84×87mm
Filters: Screw-type 82mm
Screw-type 30.5mm (rear)
Lens hood: Screw-type 28FH (round)

Manufacturer description

The world's lightest and smallest 500mm featuring a Tele-Macro capability of 1:3 at 1.7 meters

500mm Ultra-Telephoto yielding sharp images from infinity to the really close minimum object distance of 1.7 meters through the use of newly developed special silver-coated rear reflex mirrors

Due to the fact that conventional mirror lenses incorporate, for their main and auxiliary mirrors, surface reflex mirrors whose surfaces are coated with aluminum, they have been unable to compensate for changes in aberration caused when focusing. One of the characteristics of the new optical system of the Tamron SP 500mm F/8 lens is that it employs rear reflex mirrors for its main and auxiliary mirrors: since each rear surface mirror is composed of a mirror and a lens in a monoblock, the spherical aberration caused on the mirror surfaces is compensated for at each of the reflex mirror surfaces, and changes in aberration caused when focusing are kept to the absolute minimum. Thanks to this innovative optical configuration, in spite of the fact that it is a 500mm ultra telephoto, it has outstanding performance throughout its entire focusing range from infinity to the amazing minimum object distance of 1.7 meters. Also, the combined effect of providing a main reflex mirror with strong condensing power and the auxiliary reflex mirror with sufficient diverging power only extends the lens barrel a mere 7mm for focusing, resulting in an ultra-small 500mm lens which measures only 87mm in overall length.

Silver-Coated Reflex Mirror incorporated in the SP 500mm F/8 have a reflection value of 95% or more, comparable to a lens in a dioptric system. This is a significant increase over conventional mirror lenses whose surfaces are coated with aluminum.

The spherical surfaces of the mirrors maintain an accuracy of curvature as high as Lambda/4 per one colour. The SP 500mm lens also features high durability of the silver coating applied on the reflex mirrors; the durability exceeds the requirements contained in the American military standards thanks to the combined effect of Tamron's original silver-sputtering coating technique and a combination of a single layer of metallic coating and two layers of high molecular films. This results in achieving the most ideal colour contribution value of 12-0-2 and providing the lens with good colour balance and highly accurate colour rendition.

Ultra-Compact, Lightweight Mirror Lens measuring only 87mm in overall length and weighing only 575 grams - Handheld photography is possible

The combination of a wide range focusing capability permitting focusing as close as 1.7 meters while maintaining outstanding image quality, an auto flash and 400 ASA film make handheld photos a possibility with a 500mm telephoto lens.

Constant F-Number - There is no change in the F-number due to focusing

Since there is no change in the F-number irrespective of whether the lens is focused at infinity or at the minimum object distance of 1.7 meters, troublesome calculations of exposure multiples has been eliminated. The optimum exposure time can be obtained without any correction in auto flash photography, which previously required obtaining a corrected value by means of the actual effective F-value.

Tele-Macro Capability

The SP 500mm lens features a "tele-macro" capability which permits photographing an object in a 1:3 magnification ratio at a minimum object distance (MOD) of 1.7 meters, while maintaining a working distance as long as 1.56 meters. The lens has opened up new vistas of macro photography which have been almost impossible in the past: you can photograph objects which are restricted distance-wise such as insects, timid animals, etc. Since an auto flash can be used with ease, photos of such high speed phenomena as the exact moment a balloon bursts can be taken without any special complicated technique.

Exclusive Filter Set

Specially amde filters are supplied with the lens to enhance your photography: Normal, ND4X, Y52, O56 and R60. These 30.5mm size filters screw onto the rear element thread.

Tripod Mounting Ring

The detacheable tripod mounting ring is a convenient way to give the SP 500mm added stability when shooting. It attaches directly onto a 360-degrees rotating ring which is provided with locking screws.

Typical application

distant subjects, distant landscapes with perspective compression effect, wild nature, travel

Your comment

Copy this code

and paste it here *

Copyright © 2012-2021 Evgenii Artemov. All rights reserved. Translation and/or reproduction of website materials in any form, including the Internet, is prohibited without the express written permission of the website owner.

35mm full frame

43.27 24 36
  • Dimensions: 36 × 24mm
  • Aspect ratio: 3:2
  • Diagonal: 43.27mm

Travellers' choice


Among autofocus lenses designed for 35mm full-frame mirrorless cameras only. Speed of standard and telephoto lenses is taken into account.

One of the best slow super telephoto primes

According to lens-db.com; among lenses designed for the same maximum format and mount.

Unable to follow the link

You are already on the page dedicated to this lens.

Cannot perform comparison

Cannot compare the lens to itself.

Mirror/Reflex lens

A lens based on design principles used in large astronomical telescopes. It is a combination of mirror and lens elements. Incoming light is reflected twice on the mirror surfaces, resulting in compactness of the lens barrel and light weight relative to the focal length.

To adjust image brightness, neutral density or other filters are used, because lenses of this type are not equipped with diaphragms.

Sharpness of the focused image is unsurpassed because of the use of reflecting surfaces which do not cause any chromatic aberration.

Taken with this type of lens, the subjects in the out-of-focus range may appear as blurred rings or separate blurred lines.

Quality control issues

The manufacturer of this lens does not provide adequate quality control. If you do decide to purchase this lens, do not order it online, but choose the best copy available in the store. In any case, there may also be problems with the build quality, and warranty repairs can take months.

Model produced in a small batch. It is collectible and can only be found on the secondary market.

Image stabilizer

A technology used for reducing or even eliminating the effects of camera shake. Gyro sensors inside the lens detect camera shake and pass the data to a microcomputer. Then an image stabilization group of elements controlled by the microcomputer moves inside the lens and compensates camera shake in order to keep the image static on the imaging sensor or film. The technology allows to increase the shutter speed by several stops and shoot handheld in such lighting conditions and at such focal lengths where without image stabilizer you have to use tripod, decrease the shutter speed and/or increase the ISO setting which can lead to blurry and noisy images.

Classic focal length

Standard focal length of super telephoto lenses for 35mm full-frame cameras. Lenses of this class are designed primarily for sports and wildlife photography.


Sorry, no additional information is available.


Format refers to the shape and size of film or image sensor.

35mm is the common name of the 36x24mm film format or image sensor format. It has an aspect ratio of 3:2, and a diagonal measurement of approximately 43mm. The name originates with the total width of the 135 film which was the primary medium of the format prior to the invention of the full frame digital SLR. Historically the 35mm format was sometimes called small format to distinguish it from the medium and large formats.

APS-C is an image sensor format approximately equivalent in size to the film negatives of 25.1x16.7mm with an aspect ratio of 3:2.

Medium format is a film format or image sensor format larger than 36x24mm (35mm) but smaller than 4x5in (large format).

Angle of view

Angle of view describes the angular extent of a given scene that is imaged by a camera. It is used interchangeably with the more general term field of view.

As the focal length changes, the angle of view also changes. The shorter the focal length (eg 18mm), the wider the angle of view. Conversely, the longer the focal length (eg 55mm), the smaller the angle of view.

A camera's angle of view depends not only on the lens, but also on the sensor. Imaging sensors are sometimes smaller than 35mm film frame, and this causes the lens to have a narrower angle of view than with 35mm film, by a certain factor for each sensor (called the crop factor).

This website does not use the angles of view provided by lens manufacturers, but calculates them automatically by the following formula: 114.6 * arctan (21.622 / CF * FL),


CF – crop-factor of a sensor,
FL – focal length of a lens.


A lens mount is an interface — mechanical and often also electrical — between a camera body and a lens.

A lens mount may be a screw-threaded type, a bayonet-type, or a breech-lock type. Modern camera lens mounts are of the bayonet type, because the bayonet mechanism precisely aligns mechanical and electrical features between lens and body, unlike screw-threaded mounts.

Lens mounts of competing manufacturers (Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Sony etc.) are always incompatible. In addition to the mechanical and electrical interface variations, the flange focal distance from the lens mount to the film or sensor can also be different.

Lens construction

Lens construction – a specific arrangement of elements and groups that make up the optical design, including type and size of elements, type of used materials etc.

Element - an individual piece of glass which makes up one component of a photographic lens. Photographic lenses are nearly always built up of multiple such elements.

Group – a cemented together pieces of glass which form a single unit or an individual piece of glass. The advantage is that there is no glass-air surfaces between cemented together pieces of glass, which reduces reflections.

Closest focusing distance

The minimum distance from the focal plane (film or sensor) to the subject where the lens is still able to focus.

Closest working distance

The distance from the front edge of the lens to the subject at the maximum magnification.

Magnification ratio

Determines how large the subject will appear in the final image. A magnification ratio of 1:1 means that the image of the subject formed on the film or sensor will be the same size as the subject in real life. For this reason, a 1:1 ratio is often called "life-size". A lens is not considered to be "true" macro unless it can achieve at least life-size magnification.

Electromagnetic diaphragm control system

Provides highly accurate diaphragm control and stable auto exposure performance during continuous shooting.

Convex protruding front element

The convex front element protrudes from the lens barrel, making it impossible to use filters.

Fixed diaphragm

The aperture setting is fixed at F/8 on this lens, and cannot be adjusted.

Manual diaphragm

The diaphragm must be stopped down manually by rotating the detent aperture ring.

Preset diaphragm

The lens has two rings, one is for pre-setting, while the other is for normal diaphragm adjustment. The first ring must be set at the desired aperture, the second ring then should be fully opened for focusing, and turned back for stop down to the pre-set value.

Semi-automatic diaphragm

The lens features spring mechanism in the diaphragm, triggered by the shutter release, which stops down the diaphragm to the pre-set value. The spring needs to be reset manually after each exposure to re-open diaphragm to its maximum value.

Automatic diaphragm

The camera automatically closes the diaphragm down during the shutter operation. On completion of the exposure, the diaphragm re-opens to its maximum value.


Excluding case or pouch, caps and other detachable accessories (lens hood, close-up adapter, tripod adapter etc.).

Maximum diameter x Length

Excluding case or pouch, caps and other detachable accessories (lens hood, close-up adapter, tripod adapter etc.).

For lenses with collapsible design, the length is indicated for the working (retracted) state.

Weather sealing

A rubber material which is inserted in between each externally exposed part (manual focus and zoom rings, buttons, switch panels etc.) to ensure it is properly sealed against dust and moisture.

Lenses that accept front mounted filters typically do not have gaskets behind the filter mount. It is recommended to use a filter for complete weather resistance when desired.

Fluorine coating

Helps keep lenses clean by reducing the possibility of dust and dirt adhering to the lens and by facilitating cleaning should the need arise. Applied to the outer surface of the front and/or rear lens elements over multi-coatings.


Lens filters are accessories that can protect lenses from dirt and damage, enhance colors, minimize glare and reflections, and add creative effects to images.

Lens hood

A lens hood or lens shade is a device used on the end of a lens to block the sun or other light source in order to prevent glare and lens flare. Flare occurs when stray light strikes the front element of a lens and then bounces around within the lens. This stray light often comes from very bright light sources, such as the sun, bright studio lights, or a bright white background.

The geometry of the lens hood can vary from a plain cylindrical or conical section to a more complex shape, sometimes called a petal, tulip, or flower hood. This allows the lens hood to block stray light with the higher portions of the lens hood, while allowing more light into the corners of the image through the lowered portions of the hood.

Lens hoods are more prominent in long focus lenses because they have a smaller viewing angle than that of wide-angle lenses. For wide angle lenses, the length of the hood cannot be as long as those for telephoto lenses, as a longer hood would enter the wider field of view of the lens.

Lens hoods are often designed to fit onto the matching lens facing either forward, for normal use, or backwards, so that the hood may be stored with the lens without occupying much additional space. In addition, lens hoods can offer some degree of physical protection for the lens due to the hood extending farther than the lens itself.