Tamron SP AF 90mm F/2.8 Macro 72E

Macro lens • Film era • Discontinued


Sample photos



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.
MACRO Macro lens. Designed specially for shooting close-ups of small subjects but can be also used in other genres of photography, not necessarily requiring focusing at close distances. Learn more

Model history (6)

Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 Macro 72B [Adaptall-2]1:1A10 - 90.29m⌀55 1996 
Tamron SP AF 90mm F/2.8 Macro 72E1:1A10 - 90.29m⌀55 1996 
Tamron SP AF 90mm F/2.8 Macro 172E1:1A10 - 90.29m⌀55 2000 
Tamron SP AF 90mm F/2.8 Di Macro 272E1:1A10 - 90.29m⌀55 2004 
Tamron SP AF 90mm F/2.8 Di Macro 272EN II1:1 2008 
Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 Di Macro [VC] USD F0041:1A14 - 110.3m⌀58 2012 
Tamron SP 90mm F/2.8 Di Macro [VC] USD F0171:1A14 - 110.3m⌀62 2016 

Features highlight

Macro 1:1
Focus Clutch
Focus limiter
9 blades


Production details:
Announced:February 1996
Production status: Discontinued
Original name:TAMRON SP AF MACRO 90mm 1:2.8 72E
Optical design:
Focal length:90mm
Maximum format:35mm full frame
Mount and Flange focal distance:Canon EF [44mm]
Minolta/Sony A [44.5mm]
Nikon F [46.5mm]
Pentax K [45.5mm]
Diagonal angle of view:27°
Lens construction:10 elements in 9 groups
Diaphragm mechanism:
Diaphragm type:Automatic
Aperture control:None; the aperture is controlled from the camera (Canon EF, Minolta/Sony A)
Aperture ring (Manual settings + Auto Exposure setting) (Nikon F, Pentax K)
Number of blades:9 (nine)
On Canon EOS APS-C [1.59x] cameras:
35mm equivalent focal length:143.1mm (in terms of field of view)
35mm equivalent speed:F/4.5 (in terms of depth of field)
Diagonal angle of view:17.2°
On Sony DSLR-A/SLT-A APS-C [1.53x] cameras:
35mm equivalent focal length:137.7mm (in terms of field of view)
35mm equivalent speed:F/4.3 (in terms of depth of field)
Diagonal angle of view:17.8°
On Nikon D APS-C [1.53x] cameras:
35mm equivalent focal length:137.7mm (in terms of field of view)
35mm equivalent speed:F/4.3 (in terms of depth of field)
Diagonal angle of view:17.8°
On Pentax K APS-C [1.53x] cameras:
35mm equivalent focal length:137.7mm (in terms of field of view)
35mm equivalent speed:F/4.3 (in terms of depth of field)
Diagonal angle of view:17.8°
Closest focusing distance:0.29m
Closest working distance:0.095m
Maximum magnification:1:1 at the closest focusing distance
Focusing modes:Autofocus, manual focus
Autofocus motor:Micromotor (Canon EF)
In-camera motor (Nikon F, Minolta/Sony A, Pentax K)
Manual focus control:Focusing ring
Focus mode selector:Sigma Dual Focus System (Canon EF)
Focus Clutch Mechanism (Nikon F, Minolta/Sony A, Pentax K)
Manual focus override in autofocus mode:-
Focusing distance range limiter:FULL;0.29-0.43;0.43-
Vibration Compensation (VC):
Built-in VC:-
Physical characteristics:
Weight:403g (Nikon F)
Maximum diameter x Length:⌀71×97mm (Nikon F)
Weather sealing:-
Fluorine coating:-
Filters:Screw-type 55mm
Lens hood:C9FH - Bayonet-type round
Teleconverters:<No data>
Source of data:
Manufacturer's technical data.

Manufacturer description #1

PMA '96, Las Vegas, NV -- Tamron Industries, Inc., the U.S. division of Tamron Co., Ltd., Japan, announces a remarkable new lens that features 1:1 life size macro and achieves superior image quality in a compact chassis. The new SP 90mm F/2.8 lens is available in both autofocus (model 72E) and manual focus (model 72B) versions.

The AF SP 90mm F/2.8 is available in Canon EOS, Minolta Maxxum and Nikon-D models and is designed to be completely compatible with all the camera's features. The manual focus model comes with Tamron's exclusive Adaptall interchangeable mount system which means this superb lens can be used on an extensive variety of manual focus cameras.

Design engineers at Tamron were faced with the daunting task of improving their own design of the legendary SP 90mm F/2.5, which set the world standard of medium telephoto/macro lenses. Improving the performance to exceed the standard was just one of several key goals Tamron's engineers set for this new lens design. They wanted to make the lens more compact and lightweight for increased portability which is essential for location shooting. A manual focus override feature was also critical because the autofocus feature can be limiting when subtle and exact focusing is required. It was also important to achieve the 1:1 life size macro capability deemed necessary by most photographers. The new SP 90mm F/2.8 is the pinnacle of achievement. The lens delivers higher image quality while remaining compact and lightweight.

The SP 90mm F/2.8 offers a variety of optical features which give the lens outstanding performance:

  • 1:1 Macro in a compact chassis. Generally a larger stroke of movement of the lens groups is required to achieve 1:1 life size. However, this new 90mm from Tamron is designed to suppress the movement of such groups of elements to a minimum, resulting in overall compactness of the lens barrel.
  • Superb image quality with high contrast. Using a sophisticated optical design approach, high contrast is attained in the low frequency range, which contributes to delivering excellent resolution and crisp images all the way across the film plane from center to corner.
  • Soft out-of focus background effect. The combination of a nine-blade diaphragm construction and aberration compensation in the total optical system creates an ideal blurred effect in the background; a feature that made Tamron's 90mm so highly reputed as a superior portrait lens.
  • New BBAR coating. A new BBAR (Broad-Band Anti Reflection) coating is applied, improving the transmission in the shorter wavelength range while expanding the dynamic range toward the longer wavelength range. This results in a razor sharp image with excellent color saturation and balance.
  • Lens Hood designed to accommodate use of filters. By virtue of the lens construction, shading effect is provided in conjunction with the barrel extension. An exclusive bayonet hood is supplied in order to insure efficient cut-off of harmful stray light when using filters such as a polarizer, particularly when in macro.

Tamron's design engineers made significant improvements to the optical design to insure outstanding optical performance. Integrating the optical design into a package that was portable and easy to handle was also important to the overall level of lens performance. New and improved mechanical features help the lens achieve its lightweight and compact size while also making the lens easier to operate.

  • The lightest in its class: 14.6 oz. (410g). This lens was designed for active field use as a major macro lens and light weight was essential. Achieving the lightest weight in its class was made possible by the use of ultra-high-precision engineering plastic components; the same type of materials employed in aircraft because of their durability and reliability.
  • New mechanical construction makes it easier to use manual focus. A newly developed focusing ring mechanism allows switch over between Autofocus and Manual focus. Sliding the focusing ring forward cuts off access to the focusing ring rotation while in Auto Focus operation which significantly improves the overall holding balance of the lens. When combined with the sufficient width of the focusing ring itself, focusing is steady and secured.
  • Smooth focusing ring operation. By using a linear helicoidal cam mechanism, the lens focuses smoothly while at the same time prevents the focusing ring from sliding downward when it is set up on a copy stand to shoot documents and/or flat art.
  • New rubber pattern on focusing ring for better handling. A new rubber pattern is employed on the focusing ring to insure a steady and secure grip. Based on human engineering concepts, the pattern was selected to respond to subtle finger movement in the radial direction or AF-MF switch movement in the thrust direction.
  • Focus range selector. A Focus Range Selector switch is incorporated for quicker AF response. The focusing range can be set between 16.9" (43cm) and 16.9" - 11.4" (29cm).

All of these outstanding features make the SP 90mm F/2.8 a remarkable lens in quality and performance. To signify the designation of this lens to the Tamron SP line, a gold line was added to the lens barrel; a mark of distinction that means this lens meets the "gold standard" of higher performance and quality.

Manufacturer description #2

The SP90mm 1:1 macro lens retains the outstanding optical quality provided by the highly rated Tamron SP90mm it succeeds. With emphasis on portability, the lens is now considerably smaller and lighter, measuring 97mm in length and weighing only 403g. It boasts high resolving power and sharp image depiction with ideal background blur. The lens has a new focusing ring clutch which engages and disengages the focusing gear. Now the switch between AF and MF is a simple slide of the focusing ring forward or back. This mechanism and a wide, smooth focusing ring make delicate manual focusing in the macro mode easy and precise.

Focusing Clutch Mechanism

Connection and disconnection of the focusing gears is done by sliding the focus ring back and forth, leaving the ring properly positioned for focusing.

From the editor

The overall length of the lens increases considerably with focusing from infinity to the closest distance.

Canon EF mount version of the lens features Dual Focus for switching the lens between autofocus and manual focus modes. Please refer to the article dedicated to the Sigma 20mm F/1.8 EX DG Aspherical RF lens for more information on Dual Focus system.

The front element is deeply recessed inside the lens barrel which eliminates the need for a lens hood. Nevertheless, Tamron offered a deep circular lens hood as a part of the package.


  • The autofocus will not be available with Nikon D40, D40X, D60, D3000-D3500, D5000-D5600 digital SLR cameras.

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Macro lens

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Professional model

  • Combination of focal length and closest focusing distance meets professional demands

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35mm full frame

43.27 24 36
  • Dimensions: 36 × 24mm
  • Aspect ratio: 3:2
  • Diagonal: 43.27mm
  • Area: 864mm2


In-camera motor

In-camera motor

In-camera motor

Focusing distance range limiter

The lens features focusing distance range limiter which allows to choose between the following focusing distance ranges:

FULLFull range of focusing distances.
0.29m - 0.43mRange of focusing distances suitable for shooting nearby subjects.
0.43m - ∞Range of focusing distances suitable for shooting distant subjects.

By setting the suitable focusing distance range, the actual autofocusing time can be shorter.

Sigma Dual Focus System

A combination of focus clutch mechanism and a focus mode switch:

Position of focus clutch Position of focus mode switch Lens focus mode
AF AF Autofocus mode. The focusing ring is disengaged from the focusing mechanism and does not rotate during autofocus
M AF Autofocus mode. The focusing ring rotates during autofocus
AF M Focusing is completely disabled
M M Manual focus mode

For switching from AF setting to M, pull the focusing ring back (towards the camera). To return from M setting to AF, the ring should be pushed forth.

Focus Clutch Mechanism

Focus Clutch Mechanism allows the photographer to switch between AF and MF simply by snapping the focus ring forward for AF and back toward the camera to focus manually.

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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.

Original name

Lens name as indicated on the lens barrel (usually on the front ring). With lenses from film era, may vary slightly from batch to batch.


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 can also be different.

The flange focal distance (FFD) is the distance from the mechanical rear end surface of the lens mount to the focal plane.

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.

Focal length

The focal length is the factor that determines the size of the image reproduced on the focal plane, picture angle which covers the area of the subject to be photographed, depth of field, etc.


The largest opening or stop at which a lens can be used is referred to as the speed of the lens. The larger the maximum aperture is, the faster the lens is considered to be. Lenses that offer a large maximum aperture are commonly referred to as fast lenses, and lenses with smaller maximum aperture are regarded as slow.

In low-light situations, having a wider maximum aperture means that you can shoot at a faster shutter speed or work at a lower ISO, or both.

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. For example, 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".

Manual focus override in autofocus mode

Allows to perform final focusing manually after the camera has locked the focus automatically. Note that you don't have to switch camera and/or lens to manual focus mode.

Manual focus override in autofocus mode

Allows to perform final focusing manually after the camera has locked the focus automatically. Note that you don't have to switch camera and/or lens to manual focus mode.

Electronic manual focus override is performed in the following way: half-press the shutter button, wait until the camera has finished the autofocusing and then focus manually without releasing the shutter button using the focusing ring.

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.

Fixed diaphragm

The aperture setting is fixed at F/2.8 on this lens, and cannot be adjusted.

Automatic aperture control

Nikon F

For Programmed Auto or Shutter-priority Auto shooting, lock the lens aperture at its minimum value.

Pentax K

For Programmed Auto or Shutter-priority Auto shooting, set the lens aperture ring to the "A" position.

Number of blades

As a general rule, the more blades that are used to create the aperture opening in the lens, the rounder the out-of-focus highlights will be.

Some lenses are designed with curved diaphragm blades, so the roundness of the aperture comes not from the number of blades, but from their shape. However, the fewer blades the diaphragm has, the more difficult it is to form a circle, regardless of rounded edges.

At maximum aperture, the opening will be circular regardless of the number of blades.


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.


Teleconverters increase the effective focal length of lenses. They also usually maintain the closest focusing distance of lenses, thus increasing the magnification significantly. A lens combined with a teleconverter is normally smaller, lighter and cheaper than a "direct" telephoto lens of the same focal length and speed.

Teleconverters are a convenient way of enhancing telephoto capability, but it comes at a cost − reduced maximum aperture. Also, since teleconverters magnify every detail in the image, they logically also magnify residual aberrations of the lens.

Lens caps

Scratched lens surfaces can spoil the definition and contrast of even the finest lenses. Lens covers are the best and most inexpensive protection available against dust, moisture and abrasion. Safeguard lens elements - both front and rear - whenever the lens is not in use.