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02-25-2014, 04:56 PM   #1
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Mirror lenses for tele work?

Hi anyone have experience with mirror tele lenses? for use on K5II like Samyang or? need for closeup of birds(not so much in flight)
Thanks alot

02-25-2014, 05:06 PM   #2
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I would not buy it.

02-25-2014, 05:11 PM   #3
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They were a novelty item long ago. The selling point was that they provide long reach without all the weight. But the downsides are pretty spectacular: the bokeh is doughnut shaped and really awful to look at. They are also of fixed high f-stop (usually f/8 or f/10), so most autofocus systems don't work with them. Even focusing manually is hard because the image is so dim.
02-25-2014, 05:26 PM   #4
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I am a big fan of mirror lens and I use 3 of them from 250-1000mm. They are CA free, close focus (relatively), compact, cost-effective and with care you can avoid the doughnut effect (e.g. use solid background). Although that would be difficult in wildlife photography. Thanks to modern in-camera OS and PP software, I can get acceptable IQ even with the cheaper mirror lens now. That was impossible with film camera.

The biggest drawback to me is the really small aperture, which make all of them useful only on a sunny day. Like all other long tele-lenses, tripod or monopod is a must.


Last edited by MJL; 02-25-2014 at 05:43 PM.
02-25-2014, 05:34 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by MJL Quote
I am a big fan of mirror lens and I use 3 of them from 250-1000mm. They have no CA, close focus (relatively), compact and with care you can avoid the doughnut effect (e.g. use solid background). Although that would be difficult in wildlife photography. Thanks to in-camera OS and modern PP software, I can get acceptable IQ even with the cheaper mirror lens now. That was impossible with film camera.

The biggest drawback to me is the really small aperture, which make all of them useful only on a sunny day. Like all other long tele-lenses, tripod or monopod is a must.
sun is always a problem here!! never enough..do they work OK with say ISO 1600-3200 on K5II? as that's realistic for what I shoot...have DA*300 +1.7TC soon will get the HD 1.4TC,but would like the extra reach of 500 or 800 if the IQ is good enough..for this task mostly bird portraits in trees/feeders,open landscapes..
02-25-2014, 05:55 PM   #6
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Oh, if you have a DA*300 with a TC, don't bother with 500mm mirror lenses.

The 1000mm mirror lenses usually are f/10 or darker, so it will not be very useful for you even at ISO 1600. I live in Canada, so I know what you mean. ISO 3200 with a soft mirror lens image would not be very pleasing either.
02-25-2014, 06:22 PM   #7
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Many are tried, few are kept.
02-25-2014, 06:23 PM   #8
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I would simply save your money and get something like the Sigma 150-500. Even the Sigma 170-500 (which pops up for under 400 off and on here) is going to give better IQ than a mirror lens.

02-25-2014, 06:57 PM - 1 Like   #9
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I've tried many before settling on the Russian-made Tair 3M-5CA 500/8, which is a fine performer. Here's a few I shot with it:






A couple of nice things about a mirror lens are of course the compact size and light weight, but also they have no chromatic aberration.

The Tair is definitely a keeper, IMO. The Tamron 55B or 55BB are also good. In my experience, these three are the only ones I'd care to use. The rest I've tried have varied from lackluster to awful.
02-25-2014, 07:05 PM   #10
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I have used a Tamron 500mm f8 (Adaptall mount) for years and enjoy the performance. It is very close focusing and should come with a nice long lens hood. As stated, other than the donut Bokeh (keep the background clean), the lightness of it is a big plus. If the lighting is right, control the exposure with shutter speed and ISO, something you could not do with film (the ISO that is).

Regards,
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