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05-18-2013, 04:34 AM   #1
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Airshows and mirror lens?

I have a K30 having graduated from a K-x recently.

I have the standard 18-55 WR and also the 55-300 zoom lens. I am doing more and more airshows and need something bigger.

300 doesn't quite cut it, particularly at Duxford when you're either in the naughty field or down by the tank museum.

I'd love a sigma 150-500 or 50-500 but budget at the moment won't stretch that far.

How about a mirror lens?

less weight, and a lot cheaper.

and on ebay relatively available.

would I be right in saying that the samyang, nikor, rokinon are all made by the same manufacturer anyway? althoug I see that rokinion do two versions and F8 and an F6.3

is this a viable option?

05-18-2013, 05:14 AM   #2
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I don't know about those mirror lenses, but I can tell you my Sigma 600 has a razor thin DOF so very little is in focus and it's hard to quickly manually focus (we are talking about fast moving planes here...). I'm not too sure how efficient it would be to try and catch planes in movement. Also don't forget that mirror lenses have that funky donut shaped bokeh which may look really odd.

Have you thought of using your 55-300 with a 1.5x or 2x teleconverter?

Pat
05-18-2013, 05:14 AM   #3
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I own several mirror lenses and I'd say that you would not be happy with the results. They tend to be flatter contrast and for the birds in flight I've tried to shoot with mine, I tend to get a haloing around them. I've had better results with my DA 55-300 and a 1.5x teleconverter. Keep in mind that mirror lenses are manual focus and fixed aperture. They also have very odd bokeh's (doughnut shaped). Spend your money on a teleconverter. IMHO.

Here are a couple of my 'quality' images with a Vivitar 500mm mirror lens:






Contrast those with this shot with the 55-300 + 1.5x


Last edited by blackcloudbrew; 05-18-2013 at 05:20 AM.
05-18-2013, 05:14 AM   #4
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If on a budget, you could settle for a Sigma 170-500. It may not be as sharp as a Bigma, but I always get great results.

05-18-2013, 05:19 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by ve2vfd Quote
Also don't forget that mirror lenses have that funky donut shaped bokeh which may look really odd.
But the background will be mostly sky so that shouldn't matter much.
05-18-2013, 09:46 AM   #6
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How about a Q with a K mount adapter? Then you could use a decently cheap 135 to get a 750 equivalent, or an 80 to get 440. I've got much better results like this than with my 500 mirror on a DSLR. It is kind of hard to use the Q for action shots though until you get used to it.
05-18-2013, 09:52 AM   #7
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Here's a shot from my Sigma 600/8 ... I do not use it that much ... the Tamron Adaptall-2 500 is supposed to be one of the better mirrors ... J

05-18-2013, 11:07 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by lancer3397 Quote
I have a K30 having graduated from a K-x recently.

I have the standard 18-55 WR and also the 55-300 zoom lens. I am doing more and more airshows and need something bigger.

300 doesn't quite cut it, particularly at Duxford when you're either in the naughty field or down by the tank museum.

I'd love a sigma 150-500 or 50-500 but budget at the moment won't stretch that far.

How about a mirror lens?

less weight, and a lot cheaper.

and on ebay relatively available.

would I be right in saying that the samyang, nikor, rokinon are all made by the same manufacturer anyway? althoug I see that rokinion do two versions and F8 and an F6.3

is this a viable option?
Mirror lenses are very hard to focus on moving objects. The 55-300 would do a fine job, IMO


Adam
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05-18-2013, 12:03 PM   #9
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When my daughter was rowing in college, I used an Opteka 500/8 mirror lens for some of the race locations. Focusing wasn't too difficult because most of the shots were at infinity and for the others, catch in focus worked fairly well. Rowing shells are much slower than airplanes. The IQ of my mirror isn't all that great but acceptable if the light is good and I nail the focus. Almost all the shots needed a good bit of PP. For the most part, the crops from my Sigma 70-300 were better. With my mirror, cropping is out of the question. My investment in the lens was under $50 so I can't complain much. I still use it on occasion but mostly for artsy shots involving the donut bokeh which is one of those love it or hate it things.

One thing nice about mirrors is they are light to carry. For long shots, I'm using a K300/4 which plays very nice my Pentax A 2x rear converter. It wasn't too expensive. It is a big, heavy beast and I don't think I would want to be trying to track flying planes at an air show with it. Your 55-300 should get you some pretty good shots that will look very good even with a tight crop if you shoot at a fairly low ISO and stopped down to f/8 - f/11.
05-19-2013, 01:29 PM   #10
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from the sounds of it, a teleconverter is going to be the way to go.

now I get confused. i've looked on ebay but a lot of teleconverters seem to be old fashioned and not do AF.

the SMC Pentax 1.7x tele doesn't sound suitable as it hobbles the AF of an AF lens anyway.

a 1.5x sounds okay, a 2x fine as well.

which make and models should I be looking for in the teleconverter side of things? prices seem to vary widely from 10 upwards. I'm a big newb on those because my father's always been a bit of a camera snob and turned his nose up at tele's but I can't justify the spend on a sigma 50-500 or 150-500 as I won't use it often enough and I think my lady would probably kill me.

am I right in saying

1.5x tele x 300 lens = 450 x my K30's 1.5 ratio = the equivalent of a 675mm lens yeah?
or
2.0x tele x 300 lens = 600 x my k30's 1.5 ratio = the equivalent of a 900mm lens

I do get some good shots with my 300 at airshows, don't get me wrong, but I'd like to be able to get on aircraft from further away on their approaches and get some good 3/4 angle photos and not just stuff when they are closer in on the pass.
05-19-2013, 03:32 PM   #11
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Just be aware that TC's usually degrade IQ. Results will vary from lens to lens. Sigma had a very good one but it only works with a select few lenses. That said, probably a large percentage of forum members own one. I have 2 but they don't get much use.
05-21-2013, 04:03 PM   #12
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I think it's important to point out that the 35mm equivalents of the options being discussed are getting rather large. 500mm = 750 and that's a lot for an airshow (bearing in mind propellers need 1/250th or slower to blur). When I shot them on film I used an xx-300 zoom, it wasn't quite long enough, but the 450 equivalent from one should be the right ballpark. You'll usually get better results by cropping than waving a bulky/heavy lens about for a couple of hours.

A 500mm mirror is going to be too long for a lot of aircraft/formations - the flexibility of a zoom really helps here, a teleconverter retains this flexibility, but you may be better without one.

John.
05-22-2013, 01:55 AM   #13
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I have used FA100-300, DA55-300, DA*60-250, and Tamron 500 mirror for airshows. ( I thought they canceled all of the major air shows this year due to budget constraints). Tamron 500 mirror works OK in bright light. But it is very hard to focus and the color washes out a bit for far away objects. It is good for parachuters and steady display. It is more suitable for medium distance shots.

DA55-300 focuses a bit slow. But it is much faster than the mirror. Contrast is better than the mirror. 250-300 is not the best.

FA100-300 4.5-5.6 focuses quite fast. It does not extend when zoom. Contrast and resolution may not be as good as DA55-300, it is good enough for me. It is more heavy than DA55-300.

DA*60-250 is the most expensive and the best choice. If I do not have DA*, I would pick FA100-300 or DA55-300 as the first choice. Take the mirror as a backup. Normally, I put the mirror on my backup Kx.
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