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12-16-2019, 09:57 PM - 1 Like   #1
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Takumar/Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 500mm F4.5 VS. 500mm Mirror Lens

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I just purchased a used Pentax Takumar/Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 500mm F4.5 lens from a PF member. I paid $200 for it. It's a nice clean copy.


A few months ago I purchased a Kalimar MC 500mm F8 mirror lens. I also paid around $200 for it.


Today I took them both out and shot some photos with them on my Pentax K-1 to see which one I prefer the IQ on.


Obviously, the bokeh balls produced by a mirror lens are an acquired taste. I happen to like the little donuts for certain scenes.


From a color stand point it's very close, maybe the Takumar is a tiny bit better.


From a contrast standpoint , the Takumar is clear the winner.


The Takumar is know for CA, but seeing it was cloudy today, I was not able to provoke any CA out of the Takumar.


Also, in the below photos, please note the "halos/double-image" around the snow on the traffic lights in the mirror lens photo. This abberation does not exist in the Takumar photo.


And from a sharpness standpoint, again the Takumar is the clear winner (see the 2 photos below - the mirrorless lens is the first photo). Note, I focused on the fence and tree branches. They were about 200 yards away. JPGs right out of camera. Obviously, the Takumar was shot at f/8. Used a heavy Gitzo tripod with 3 second delay and remote release.


So, my conclusion is, if you've only got a couple of hundred to spend on an extreme telephoto, as long as you are OK with manual focus and the huge size/weight of the Takumar, the Takumar definitely produces the better images.


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Last edited by Fenwoodian; 12-16-2019 at 10:10 PM.
12-16-2019, 10:23 PM - 1 Like   #2
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$200 for a clean SMC Tak 500/4.5 is a very nice price.

I've been shooting the K-mount version since the spring, and I, too, find it to be a good value from a sharpness and reach perspective.
12-16-2019, 10:41 PM - 1 Like   #3
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Honestly …...learning from past experience I would pass on any Mirror lens. Just too many issues.
The 500mm Takumar on the other hand can produce some really nice images and the PF cleans up easily in post.
12-16-2019, 10:51 PM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Ronald Oakes Quote
learning from past experience I would pass on any Mirror lens. Just too many issues.
Owning a mirror lens is like owning a convertible. One has to own one once in one's life, because it's fun, in spite of all it's issues. But then at some point the issues outweigh the fun and one moves on.

12-17-2019, 12:30 AM   #5
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This is nice comparison. If a Takumar 500/4.5 (or K version) came up near me for around that price I think I would grab it.
12-17-2019, 01:25 AM - 1 Like   #6
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Thanks for doing the comparison. It seems to me that mirrors only have a size/weight advantage going for them and not much else.
12-17-2019, 06:20 AM   #7
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I have a Tokina 500/8 Mirror and it is very sharp when shots are up close and personal but it is terrible past about 150ft. Since it only cost me $25 bucks, it stays in my collection. Guess I may have to hunt for a reasonably priced SMC Takumar or K 500/4.5 too.
12-17-2019, 10:21 AM - 1 Like   #8
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Now that we are all looking for a Takumar 500mm the price will go up. Argh!

12-17-2019, 12:18 PM - 4 Likes   #9
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12-17-2019, 12:55 PM   #10
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Original Poster
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Nice photo.

Indeed, this is an outstanding "looking" lens. The blueing on it is among the best I've seen (deep/dark/rich). Be sure to bring along a clean cloth to regularly wipe the fingerprints off of this "looker".

If you can find a minty copy and take it out to a site where the BIF photographers hang out, I guarantee that it will get some unsolicited comments on how nice it looks (although the folks shooting fast/expensive/auto-focus Nikkors and Canons will get many more keepers than you will ).

P.S. I thought that I'd mention that the balance of this lens with a Pentax K-1 (without a grip on it) is almost perfect. Because of that, it's not at all awkward to handle on a good tripod/head.

P.S.S. Put one of the longer extension tubes on it and it's closest focus point goes from 30 feet to about 10 -12 feet - plenty close for some serious butterfly photography.

Last edited by Fenwoodian; 12-17-2019 at 01:09 PM.
12-17-2019, 02:00 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by pentaxus Quote
Now that we are all looking for a Takumar 500mm the price will go up. Argh!
Don't worry about me. I already have an A 400mm f/5.6. I might get a 500mm or 600mm mirror if one crosses my path at the right price. Just too see what they're really like.
12-17-2019, 02:27 PM   #12
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Thanks for sharing.

A lot depends on what mirror lens too. I purchased a second hand Tamron SP 500 f8 (I think it was about $100) and I was pleasantly surprised by how it performs. I had previously tried a Samyang mirror and was not very impressed (mind you it was not a perfect copy to start with). The bokeh from the Tamron does not seem as extreme as the samples I have seen from other mirrors and can actually be quite good behind closer subjects but yes you will get donuts for bright highlights in some screnarios (which can look good or bad depending on the scene). Another plus, is for a 500mm lens is still relatively compact and is more often in my bag because of its size.
12-17-2019, 03:02 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by kiwi_jono Quote
Thanks for sharing.

A lot depends on what mirror lens too. I purchased a second hand Tamron SP 500 f8 (I think it was about $100) and I was pleasantly surprised by how it performs. I had previously tried a Samyang mirror and was not very impressed (mind you it was not a perfect copy to start with). The bokeh from the Tamron does not seem as extreme as the samples I have seen from other mirrors and can actually be quite good behind closer subjects but yes you will get donuts for bright highlights in some screnarios (which can look good or bad depending on the scene). Another plus, is for a 500mm lens is still relatively compact and is more often in my bag because of its size.
Good points! Obviously I'm only comparing one single Mirror lens to one single Takumar 500mm f/4.5 lens. I have no doubt that there might be a mirror lens out there that I didn't test that has better results than the one I used in the above test.
12-18-2019, 02:23 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Fenwoodian Quote
Good points! Obviously I'm only comparing one single Mirror lens to one single Takumar 500mm f/4.5 lens. I have no doubt that there might be a mirror lens out there that I didn't test that has better results than the one I used in the above test.
For sure. The Takumar is relatively fast though and so if you have a good way to cart it around, I'm sure you will get some great shots!
12-18-2019, 06:22 PM - 1 Like   #15
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FWIW, up until recently I had the well-regarded MTO 500mm Maksutov mirror lens, and the 500/4.5 was sharper and had more contrast.
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