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Thread: 500 mirror lens

  1. #1

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    500 mirror lens

    I was wondering about getting one of these. but i've seen mixed reviews about them. For instance how they are not as sharp, and lose some quality of the image compared to other lenses.

    like i said i've only seen reviews online just wanted to hear something from someone that has used ,or tried these out for more than just a test.
    are they worth using? or would a 70-210 with 2x tele work just as well?? Thanks

    best regards

  2. #2
    vpwphoto's Avatar
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    They often do have a "soft" feel even when absolutely focused. The "dohnuts" in specular highlights that are out of focus are odd to most.
    There were a lot of "off brand" lenses made.
    I have "heard" that Vivitar and Tamron made the better off branded ones.
    I had the Nikkor 500 at my disposal for years... never reached for it much, and only remember a couple memorable images made with it.

  3. #3
    Mainecoonmaniac's Avatar
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    They're called "cat" lenses or catadioptric lens. The advantage is that they're shorter because the focal length is "folded" inside the barrel and they're lighter too boot. I've see images with them and they're reasonably sharp. The disadvantage is that you can't adjust the f stop because there's only 1 aperture. You can use neutral density filters to "stop" down the lens. The images from these lenses have very distinct circles of confusion.

  4. #4
    vpwphoto's Avatar
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    Forgot to mention that the "off brand" lenses were not worth the $119 or $199 they asked for in the early 1980's when they were sold during the SLR craze. So I wouldn't think even one of those Cambron, Focal, Sears, Soligar, etc etc would NOT be worth any sum of money today.
    If you must have one snag a Vivitar Series 2, or, Nikkor, Canon, Minolta, Pentax.. not sure if some of these lines had one.

  5. #5

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    Go with brand news with this style lens.
    When I grow up, I want to be a photographer.

    http://www.walterpcalahan.com/Photography/index.html

  6. #6
    Mick Fagan's Avatar
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    I have the Sigma 600 f/8, it is not brilliant, but it isnít a slouch either. I bought mine second hand about 22-25 years ago and used it extensively to shoot kangaroos.

    It was the only way I could get a 600 mm lens, I paid $180.00 AUD for it.

    I made many a memorable slide with this lens, and squillions of colour negatives, from which I made some quite good prints.

    You donít mention what camera system you are using, but if you are in Nikon land then a reasonably cheap way to get a relatively quality lens kit is the Nikkor 300 Ais f/4.5 with internal focusing, couple this with a Nikkor 1.4 converter of the correct type and you have a reasonably compact 450mm focal length lens with virtually no degradation of image quality. This is the route I would go today.

    Mick.

  7. #7
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    I have a Tamron 500 f8 with a Nikon and a Leicaflex adapter and have had it for years. Like others said it is not the sharpest knife in the drawer but it is a 500mm. The rotating tripod colar and rear filter set came with it plus a decent storage box.

    The lens does give acceptable results for what it is. I rarely sell off lenses so I still have it. I get it out about once a year in the spring. I've been baiting tree branches with fruit and seeds trying to get a nice set of bird images. It is good for that kind of work because I can prefocus and wait. Biggest problem there is I hate to wait.

    Lee

  8. #8
    polyglot's Avatar
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    The Minolta AF 500/8 s actually very sharp, certainly compared to all of the other cats though of course it has the usual donut bokeh.

  9. #9

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    I too have a Sigma 600 for a contax mount. I use it on safari and let the automatic shutter speed determine the exposure. This worked well to late evening until the speed dropped to below 1/500. bean bags were a great help. Doughnuts are a problem only when there are specular highlights; water and man made sufraces. No such issues in the grasslands of east Africa.
    One other advantqage is the slightly lower contrast of the lens with the central obstruction of the reflecting mirror, under high contrast situations.
    Your best lens is the one you got.
    Hand held, $90, short, light, built in B&W filters, easy focus which snaps in and out of focus
    For me it was a great choice
    "There are a great many things I am in doubt about at the moment, and I should consider myself favoured if you would kindly enlighten me. Signed, Doubtful, off to Canada." (BJP 1914).

    Regards
    Bill

  10. #10

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    If you go the Cat route, make sure it comes with it's filters. At least in the case of the Nikkor's, the filter is a required part of the optics.
    As I recall, the lens was supplied with a clear filter and some ND's.

    Unless it's stuff you already have, I'd avoid a teleconverter with a zoom, if you're concerned about sharpness. The result probably isn't any better than a Cat prime, and might well be worse, depending on the specific lenses you'd be comparing.

    The nice thing about Cats is the lighness. Hand holding a straight tele of 300 and longer is challenging without extra support of some kind, but a 500 mm cat is much easier to handle, and realistically do-able without extra stuff.

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