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10-12-2008, 09:44 PM   #1
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Rokinon 500mm f6.3 DX Mirror

I know this is a very niche part of the large pool of lens choices available to the K-Mount Shooter so hopefully this will add on to the knowledge available on the net. Hats off to hinman as well as others for their regular and comprehensive LBA postings!

The Long and Short of It

I used to have one of those run of the mill Vivitar 500mm f8 mirror lenses a year back and it was everything that was said and not said on Amazon reviews. Not sharp, plagued by vignetting and the list runs on. I returned it not long after.

I came across the improved 500mm f6.3 variant on ebay and while I appreciated the improvement, I remained skeptical. There's no mention of this lens anywhere on the net w/ regards to user feedback..until I came across one right here on PentaxForums.com. That cleared up alot and even though the user review gave the lens a poor score, I decided to try it out anyways.

$180US later and some anxious waiting, it came.


The lens is huge. 95mm filter size huge. Its painted white metal surface very reminiscent of that found on "white glass" telephoto lenses. Weightwise, the lens ain't bad...around 700g...though on a K200D+Grip, it feels a bit back heavy. The focus mechanism is a bit stiff but smooth. Something that gave me pause was the plastic baseplate (the bottom piece that the supplied t-mount adapter screws on to). Feels pretty tight but was a little unsettling.

While resolution/flare would certainly favour more conventional lens formulas, the merits of Mirror Lenses are not without weight. First is size...well length more so. I only have a Tele-Astranar (Spiratone) 400/6.3 for comparison here but I can certainly tell you that I don't have any bag that fits it.


Another thing, the minimum focusing distance of the 400mm is around 6-7m while the mirror can work at distances of only ~2m away! Another defining trait is the lack of chromatic aberrations in the mirror lens. This is inherent to the design of the lens in that the 2 mirror pieces cancel each other out in terms of CA shifts.


The optical quality is noticeably better than the old Vivitar 500/8 I had. No vignetting problems. Its fairly sharp. I don't really have any comparisons but its kinda like budget telezoom. Not too sharp but not too soft either. The main issue with this lens is its large diameter. The large opening + inner cavity = high susceptibility to flare. You gotta watch your position relative to the sun's position. For the most part, the photos are noticeably improved shooting while standing in the shade/back to the sun. Sometimes a small boost in contrast in pp does nicely.



Lambo w/ small contrast boost.



umm..donuts!

shot at close distance, better bokeh...for the most part.

Thus far, I've had a pretty favourable experience with this lens and while its not the sharpest assembly of glass around, it does well for its price tag and coupled with the length, would certainly satisfying the longer curiosities.

(More samples of the Rokinon 500/6.3 in action here.)



Last edited by FotoPete; 10-12-2008 at 09:51 PM.
10-13-2008, 05:23 AM   #2
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That's two mirror lens threads I've seen today with excellent photos. Makes me wanna splurge on one, though I doubt I could make full use of one.
10-13-2008, 05:52 AM   #3
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Nice lens review. Have been eyeing that lens or the 800 f8. You can improve the lens greatly by putting a lens shade on it. If you can't find one that fits just take some flexible black plastic and wrap it around lens. A Velcro strip will allow it to stay around lens. When done the flat hood will store easily. Make it a long hood. Probably 5 to 6" is fine. Enjoy the lens.
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10-13-2008, 06:33 AM   #4
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Looks like you got yourself a nice lens for those long shots. I'm also a fan of mirror lenses and find them to be an inexpensive alternative. The do-nut bokeh doesn't bother me as it can be removed/adjusted in post processing. Nice write-up, enjoy the lens.

10-13-2008, 06:53 AM   #5
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Hello, I posted the original review. I'm glad it works for you and you're happy.

Yesterday I took mine off the bag, after pretty much not using it since taking the first shots after it arrived. My opinion changed a bit regarding the image quality but still too few shots make it past the discard pile. I don't know if I'm being too picky but yours aren't much better than mine.

Someone with a good 200 or 300 prime might be better off simply cropping the picture. I have a 250mm zoom which's good but not that great but at least autofocus works and that's a BIG plus, not to mention I don't have to spend time tweaking contrast and other settings to make the picture look good.

I thought about selling my lens but so far decided against it. Will try a makeshift carton hood and if it improves things, who knows, I might even start to like it. The short DOF does have its advantages over the 250/6.3 zoom...

Here are some of my shots... I guess they aren't as bad as I make it sound, but the other lenses spoil me. Sharp observers will notice the cat picture is front focused.




Last edited by kristoffon; 10-13-2008 at 12:12 PM.
10-31-2008, 07:58 PM   #6
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I was browsing ebay and it seems there's now an 800mm f/8 version of this lens available...
11-02-2008, 06:17 AM   #7
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Hope to try the 800 f8 out soon. Ordered it. Not in stock at the moment. Will be interesting to see how it works.
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11-02-2008, 09:34 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by barondla Quote
Hope to try the 800 f8 out soon. Ordered it. Not in stock at the moment. Will be interesting to see how it works.
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I look forward to reading about your results. Will you be posting them in this same thread, or will you start a new one?

I have a Sigma 400mm f/5.6 CAT lens that I'm quite happy with. If I were to get a 2nd mirror lens it would make sense to jump to 800mm, not 500mm.

11-03-2008, 07:34 PM   #9
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Not sure where I would post pics with 800. Probably deserves its own thread. That way more people would see it. Was hoping it would be here by now. Dist. had every thing the store ordered except the 800! They will send as soon as they get it. Can't wait to try it against Celestron C5. Hopefully it is close in quality and small enough to carry in bag.
Owned the Sigma 600 F8 in OM mount. It was a good lens. If it had used T mounts I would be using it on the Pentax today!
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11-03-2008, 09:00 PM   #10
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Cool, well keep us informed. If you start a new thread (which makes sense), post a note on this one alerting us, please.
11-05-2008, 07:27 AM   #11
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I am also curious to see how the 800mm turns out to be.

I'm still not very happy with mine due to the difficulty focusing, DOF is so very small. I ordered a katz eye focusing screen, lets see if that improves my keeper-to-discard ratio.
11-06-2008, 06:01 AM   #12
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An image I took yesterday from the 10th floor of a hotel... Just converted from RAW without any adjustments, I think one of the few pictures I took with this lens that didn't require (sometimes massive) contrast boost. Makes me agree with the hood theory, I think I'll have a hood made for it. I guess it's pretty good for a $200 lens.



100% crop

11-06-2008, 06:58 AM   #13
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Kristoffon, that is a great shot of the surfer. Very hard to capture with the fast movement! Bravo. Don't think I could pull that off with a mirror. Even the 100% crop looks good. You nailed the focus.
Any lens F6.3 or darker isn't going to be the easiest to focus. Hope your new screen helps. I use the Pentax magnifying eyepiece on the DS/K10D/K20D. It helps me with all lenses. Just use standrd screens for the moment.
Have seen lens tests where a proper hood increased contrast by ~20%. Bet its that or more on a lens with such a big front element! A piece of plastic wrapped around the lens and held with tape or velcro will do wonders.
Wish the lens would arrive.
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11-08-2008, 08:08 PM   #14
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Check out the Phoenix 800mm TDX test drive in the slr lens forum.
A nice lens.
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11-08-2008, 08:25 PM   #15
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Although longer and slower, 1000mm f10. I've posted some shots from the Meade Schmidt I got a few months ago. It has it's place. In spring I have a couple of spots scouted out for deer and other wildlife. I think this lens can do the job. I've made a plastic hood for it that has made a big difference with contrast. Another benefit is the complete lack of lens flare.

If you can control the background, these are good lenses.



Point it straight at the sun without issue.




No crop:
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