Nikon Reflex-Nikkor lenses - pros/cons

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by scottyhoffo, May 31, 2013.

  1. scottyhoffo

    scottyhoffo Member

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    Hi, it's been a while since I've been here but figured this would be the best place to post this query.

    I'm interested in lunar photography, and a book I have on the subject of astrophotography has pointed me in the direction of either a 500 or 1000mm Reflex-Nikkor. My budget has me leaning toward the 500mm... as well as its usefulness outside the realm of astro/lunar photography. I primarly shoot landscapes, nature, and old buildings / faded advertisements.
    What are the pros/cons of these lenses? Any particular ones to avoid?

    My current shooter is a Nikon FG, and my very limited lens selection for it includes the Micro-Nikkor 55mm, Nikkor 24mm wide, and Zoom Nikkor 80-200mm. I don't have a teleconverter etc.

    Thanks for your time and any help you can provide.
    Cheers,
    Scott
     
  2. Nick Merritt

    Nick Merritt Member

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    The "doughnut" effect is very distinctive, and some folks don't care for it. Also, the mirror lenses have a fixed aperture (typically f8 or f11) so you will be limited in your shutter speeds, if you're using the lens handheld with slower film.

    I got pretty inexpensively the newer 500/8 Reflex-Nikkor, and I like it a lot. It focuses very closely, which gives it a great deal of versatility, and is quite lightweight, so may be a nice fit with the FG.
     
  3. Nick Merritt

    Nick Merritt Member

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    One more thing -- I believe the FG (like many of the Nikons) has a split-screen focusing aid. I think you'll find that will black out with an f8 or f11 lens, so you'll need to use the rest of the viewfinder in order to focus.
     
  4. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    They are cheap and compact for the reach you get, they are soft... donuts love or hate.
    Nuf said. Older refractive Nikkor 300 2.8 and f4.o are cheap also with a converter and tack sharp even if there are some coating/cleaning marks.
    I agree with desertratt they have their sweet spot when you have a subject and vision that works with them.
     
  5. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    I have used both the Nikon 500mm and the Vivitar 450 4.5 Series 1 and like the Vivitar as well as the Nikon, Vivitar also marketed a 600 and 800 F 8 and F 11 but I dont how good these were compaired to either Nikon or the earlier series 1. I have been thinking about picking up a older 450 in a K mount.
     
  6. rolleiman

    rolleiman Member

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    The main problem you will find with a mirror lens on your FG, as has been mentioned, is the fixed aperture of f8, which will be impossible to focus using the standard split-image/microprism screen. You really need one of the Nikons that takes interchangable focussing screens. The all over plain focussing screen or the one with grid lines are the ones that work best with a 500mm mirror lens. Using a x2 converter is not a particularly good idea with a fixed aperture mirror lens if you want any knid of a quality result.
     
  7. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    Images from my old Nikkor 500mm mirror lens have a central hot spot in addition to the out-of-focus donuts which I don't like. I've switched to traditional telephotos for larger apertures, variable apertures for increased depth of field, and better image quality. Anyone who insists on those donuts can attach an opaque object to the center of a clear filter on other lenses and get somewhat the same affect. That object need not be circular, for a variety of effects.
     
  8. scottyhoffo

    scottyhoffo Member

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    Wow, thank you all for your help! I didn't realize these lenses were fixed aperture - and yep, the FG does have that split ring. I am familiar with those donuts - I don't mind them. Looks like a decent lens to play with provided I can get a good deal, and it's off to save for a larger telephoto. (and another Nikon body which supports the interchangeable screens)
    On the subject of larger telephotos which work with the FG, what's out there beyond the 1000mm? What can be had for a somewhat not-wallet-busting amount?
    I've never even considered Vivitar for lenses, of those 600 and 800s, what's out there to be wary of/avoid? Certain models with more issues than others?

    Thanks again for all your help!
     
  9. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Your enthusiasm is wonderful but you have a bit to learn.

    Long lenses punish the least unsteadiness severely. To use even a 500 mm lens with any hope of getting the best it can give you'll need a very sturdy tripod.

    I had severe sharpness problems with my 700/8 Questar 700 (the best mirror lens of its time, only the 750/6 Honeywell Lumetar came close) on a Bogen 3021 tripod. I borrowed two more Q700s from a friend, shot all three. Mine was slightly the best of the lot, and I localized my sharpness issues to the tripod. Now I use a Berlebach 8023, get adequate results consistently. Before the shootout I shot my Q700 against a 55/2.8 MicroNikkor at 1:2; shots at f/8 (KM, flash illumination) taken with the two lenses couldn't be told apart. It is a good lens, not cheap even nowadays. There's one on ebay now, the example shot in the listing is just terrible. A good 'un will do much better.

    There's a law of nature to the effect that good long lenses are very expensive. The longer, the more so. The old Celestron 1250/8 wasn't at all bad, used to be relatively inexpensive. I have no idea what current prices are, if you really want a longer lens -- try out the 500/8 Nikkor, if you get one, first -- it is worth looking for. If you have the money and a strong back, look into apochromatic refracting telescopes.

    Lenses to avoid? Inexpensive long zoom lenses are dreadful. The old 1000/11 Celestron C-90 -- I bought one in 1977 -- was absolutely horrible; there's a new version that I understand is much better.
     
  10. LumbisK

    LumbisK Member

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    One other Nikon option to look out for is the f5 version of the 500 mirror lens. I've found this especially useful in lower light wildlife photography. Of course it has a narrower depth of field.