Alternative to Canon 5.6/500 IS - which sharp, manual lenses?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by cmo, Dec 8, 2008.

  1. cmo

    cmo Member

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    Canon has such wonderful lenses... but at a price. I love the stabilizer in my 2.8/70-200 lens, but everything beyond that gets really expensive.

    On eBay you find a lot of cheap telephoto garbage, typically no-name 500mm/1:8 lenseswith a T2 adapter, and some terrible mirror lenses, many of them from Russia with love but no quality control. That's not on option.

    Adapting OLD telephoto lenses like in the good old days might be an option. What kind of lenses would you recommend if sharpness and contrast are the main issues?
     
  2. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    I tell you what, I have used a mamiya 645 format 500/5.6 on various 35mm bodies and I like it a lot. The Nikon F adapter cost me maybe $20, the lens itself maybe $500 or so. The lens construct is excellent.

    A TC on your 70-200 or on a 300/4 is also perhaps not a bad idea.
     
  3. cmo

    cmo Member

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    Nice idea. Mamiya has always made great lenses...

    In case others have proposals, everything between 400mm and really long might be interesting.
     
  4. Klopstock

    Klopstock Member

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    What about Leitz Telyt lenses for the Leica R system?
     
  5. Fotoguy20d

    Fotoguy20d Subscriber

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    I have the EF Canon 70-200 f2.8L IS, 300mm f4L, 1.4xTC and 2x TC. You don't want to rely on the 2x TC for any serious work. You lose too much contrast and sharpness. The 1.4x is okay though.

    I see the Canon FD L lenses on ebay fairly often (Adorama seems to have one or two listed there almost constantly lately) at a significant savings over the EF lenses. The catch is that I don't know if you'd get infinity focus without an optical adapter and then you lose quality. There are FD to EF adapters though that allow for focus confirmation.

    Dan
     
  6. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The FD 500/4.5 L was one of the latest designs of the big teles for the FD system, and was in fact the same lens as the first version for EF mount. Given the cost of these lenses, it would be worth purchasing an FD body just for use with this lens.

    Canon did make an FD-EOS converter, which acts as a 1.2X extender, for lenses longer than 200mm, but these are expensive and hard to find, though I do have one, and it's not for sale.

    I use the FD 600/4.5, which some people think isn't as good as the L lenses in the FD line, because they have never actually used it and are only looking for the red stripe. The only problem I've had with this lens is some chromatic aberration that can be visible in high contrast scenes with a 2X extender. This isn't an issue that I can see with the 1.4X extender. Here are some typical shots with the FD 600/4.5--

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The FD 500/4.5L is probably a sharper lens, being of later design, but for birds I'll take the extra 100mm.

    With any of these lenses, the tripod and head are more important in terms of sharpness than the lens, so I think it makes sense to save some money on the lens and put it into a tripod and a head like a Wimberley or Arca-Swiss B2. The manual focus versions are also considerably lighter in weight than the autofocus versions, even more so if they have IS, and a good tripod is better than IS, presuming you don't have to handhold it on a boat.
     
  7. donbga

    donbga Member

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    As David said these tele extenders are quite rare and weren't sold directly to the public according to this source:

    http://photonotes.org/articles/eos-manual-lenses/

    As a practical matter I would work with an FD body unless you are lucky enough to find and buy one of these converters. Compared to the modern EOS teles the prices of these optics are comparatively cheap but of very good quality.
     
  8. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    I'll second the recommendation of a Leica Telyt (400mm or 560mm).

    While not perfect (doublet schemes with significant curvature of field), they can deliver absolutely top-notch results, especially with wildlife photographs.

    With luck, you'll also get the shoulder support, which closely emulates IS-type vibration reduction.
     
  9. Klopstock

    Klopstock Member

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    You might also adapt manual Nikon or Contax lenses.
     
  10. cmo

    cmo Member

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    I have a Leica Telyt 6.8/560mm, a 5.6/400mm Noflexar head, and a 1.5x and 2x converter. Not bad, but I am still looking for alternatives. Especially with the converters this equipment is quite difficult to handle.
     
  11. cmo

    cmo Member

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    Are there any mirror lenses with a very high quality? Sometimes I wish I had a compact 500mm lens that I can carry in my camera bag instead of carrying a steamer trunk... unfortunately most mirror lenses are neither sharp nor do they have a lot of contrast which adds to the basic disadvantages of such a design like 'no aperture, donut bokeh, no AF' etc.
     
  12. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    What about a Nikon 400mm f/5.6 on an adapter? Not 500mm, not AF, but a good long lens for a nice price. I would not even bother with the adapter, personally, and just get another body. In that case, there is the Canon 400mm f/4.5 as well.

    The Mamiya 500mm sounds like a good option, but will it have the resolution of a lens made for 4x5 format? I don't know.
     
  13. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Member

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    I use a Nikon 300mm f2.8 AI-ED with a Nikon TC-301 2X converter on my Olympus Digital bodies. The Nikon lenses are easily adapted to work manually on a Canon EOS mount. You can often find the Nikon manual 300mm f2.8 lenses for under $1000. I luckily found one with a busted auto-diaphragm (which isn't used anyways in these manual adaptations) for $320.