Tamron 60B SP 300mm f/2.8 LD IF — a Bargain Pro Telephoto

Well, if you don’t mind shooting with a manual focus lens, that is. And I don’t, cuz that’s how I got started in photography, and I’m still really used to cranking on the ol’ focusing collar. The Tamron 60B compared very well against its Canon and Nikon 300/2.8 contemporaries. If you visit the website, you’ll find the 60B listed there, along with a set of resolution and contrast tests performed by Modern Photography. As the tests show, the lens scores quite high. And as a bonus nowadays, the Tamron 60B can often be found for surprisingly reasonable prices if one is patient or willing to put a bit of work into the lens after buying it. Take this one, for example.

Tamron 60B 300mm f/2.8

I spotted it on eBay and what attracted me to it was its low opening bid: $499.00. It’s more typical finding this lens on eBay in the $700-900 range, often for more, but I don’t think the sellers with high asking prices are having much luck selling their 60Bs at those higher prices. So anyway, this lens had been placed up for a 7-day auction, no Buy-I-Now. So I waited, biding my time. As the days ticked off, nobody bid on it, which I found mildly surprising. I write “mildly” because the seller did an outstanding job of documenting the lens’s defects, most of which was some light fungus on the inside of the front element. It was also missing a few items that would have come with it originally: its case, a 1.4x teleconverter, and a set of rear-mounted filters. It did include the hood and the front cap, plus a Nikon Adaptall-2 mount, the latter of which was actually an option. I didn’t really need the case, I already have a Tamron 1.4x teleconverter, and the filters are mostly just used for B&W photography anyway, so it had all the stuff that mattered to me. But I suspect it was the photos of the fungus that kept other bidders away. Photographers tend to run in the opposite direction when the word “fungus” is mentioned. I wasn’t too concerned, though, because I’ve disassembled lenses before and cleaned fungus out of them, and removing this lens’s front element is a very straightforward procedure. So anyway, the clocked ticked down on the auction and I ended up getting the lens for the opening bid amount.

When the lens arrived, I was pleasantly surprised. The fungus was actually much lighter than I had been anticipating, and the other defects shown in the photos were much more minor in person. Good news all the way around, so I immediately grabbed my EOS DSLR, mounted a Nikon-to-EOS adapter on the lens, and took it outside for some shots.

It’s been stinkin’ hot here in Houston for the past couple of months and I really didn’t feel like dealing with the heat to much of an extent, so I just shot some more pics of the birds that hang around here to eat my dog’s food and drink his water.  Here’s a shot of a grackle perched on a branch in an oak tree in our front yard, followed by a 100% crop of the bird.

Common Grackle

100% crop of above image

The DSLR I used is a 10.1mp APS-C Canon EOS.  So, figuring in the 1.6x crop factor, the effective focal length of the lens was 420mm. Exposure info: ISO 400, 1/250 second, lens set wide open to f/2.8.  I did not use Live View to confirm focus.  Too bright outside.

The Tamron 60B, having internal focusing, is a fast-handling optic, which is very useful. With a bit of practice, a photographer can approach autofocus speed focusing one of these lenses.  That’s because focusing is light and quick, and it’s all because the lens has IF.

This is the second one of these lenses I’ve owned. I bought a very clean used one back in about 1989. It was complete as supplied by Tamron, too. I took it to a number of air shows and auto races, and had a great time with it. Here are a few scans of some slides I took at a couple of air shows during the early 1990s.

Lockheed P-38 Lightning — Fujichrome 100

A rare North American P-51B Mustang — Fujichrome 100

Curtiss P-40 Warhawk

Grumman TBF Avenger — Fujichrome 100

Unfortunately, I sold my old 60B during times having plenty of photo gear but not enough money.  I’m determined to hang onto this one quite a bit tighter this time around.

So, to sum things up, if you don’t mind handling the focusing chores yourself, instead of shelling out $6,000+ for a latest generation AF 300/2.8 wonder, you can pick up one of these that still does a bang-up job.

Reader Feedback

9 Responses to “Tamron 60B SP 300mm f/2.8 LD IF — a Bargain Pro Telephoto”

  • thomas from hong kong says:

    still no reply from you about the price and delivery, please send me an email

    • admin says:

      Sorry, but the Tamron 300/2.8 is not for sale. It took me too long to find a decent one at the right price.

  • thomas from hong kong says:

    interested in your tamron 300mm f2.8, will you consider to ship to hong kong

  • Victor Nguyen says:

    Michael, I was reading one of your lens article and you said you were taking pictures in Houston. Do you live in Houston though? I would love to meet up with you to talk about lenses. Please email me back as soon as possible.

    • Michael says:

      Hello Victor. My apologies for it taking so long to respond to your question. My blog software crashed and I was not able to get inside to the Admin space, so I was unable to read or respond to messages, among a great many other things. Finally got it running.

      Yes I live in Houston. Sure, we can meet up some time. Do you attend any of the local photo-related meet ups? I’ve joined a few, but I haven’t been to any yet. I don’t know a lot about autofocus lenses, to be honest. I have a decent sized collection of manual focus lenses. I use them on my film cameras and my DSLR. Get back with me and maybe we can meet up somewhere.

  • Rex Deal says:

    I am trying to find out what the 60B is made of. I have had guesses of brass and cast aluminum. In need to know exactly.

    I am going to recondition my 60B that I have had for 15 years. I have it all masked out and ready to paint but I don’t know the best type of paint to use I plan on painting it a flat black ( 2 or 3 light coats”Sand it one more coat and 3 coats of clear and hand buff.

    This will be my second time painting this lens. Any IDEAS.

    Rex Deal
    Bartlesville OK

    • admin says:

      Hi Rex,

      I don’t know for certain, but if you look at almost all other lenses out there, they are made from machined aluminum, not cast. The original billet may have been cast, but then it was machined to precise, exacting tolerances. If there are any brass components, they are most likely internal.

      As for paint, hrm . . . I’ve never painted a lens, but I’ve painted metal surfaces before, both aluminum and steel. My recommendation is to go with, at the very least, some sort of durable enamel. You might even be able to find something more exotic the would work even better — an epoxy based paint, for example. The epoxy paints are two part paints. If you’re gonna be shooting a two-part paint throug a spray gun, be sure to wear a good respirator — this isn’t a suggestion, it’s a requirement. And be sure to thoroughly clean your gun afterward. Because if that paint sets up in your gun, it’s toast. The two-part paint does work well for tough duty though.

      Your best place to find the two-part stuff is at an automotive paint store. Good thing about automotive paint is its available in any color you can imagine. You want to spray in several light, even coats, wet-sanding between coats. It’s time consuming, but worth it, I think.

      Then there’s another alternative that might work for you — truck bedliner coating. Talk about tough. But it’s also usually pretty think too, but maybe you could put on thin coats of it? I dunno.

  • Prashanth says:

    Mike -

    I would like to buy this lens for my Nikon D7000 and would want to understand if the following lens will provide all information or i need to use it only in complete manual mode

    • admin says:

      Hi Prashanth, sorry for not answering sooner. I’m not all that acquainted with what each Nikon camera offers when it comes to using manual focus lenses. To me, it’s quite confusing and since I don’t shoot Nikon digital, I don’t even try to keep it all straight. But there are places out on the net that should be able to provide the information you need. For those cameras that support it, this lens, using an AIs Adaptall-2 mount, should provide you with both shutter and aperture priority exposure, but of course there is no AF. The Tamron 60B is a manual focus lens only. Tamron did make an AF version of this lens briefly — I see it on sale on eBay from time to time. Because it’s AF, it also carries quite a premium too.

      One nice thing about this lens, though, is it has internal focusing, which makes for a very fast focus, so even though it is a manual focus lens, at least it’s a quick one.

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