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01-21-2010, 11:04 PM   #1
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Mirror Lenses....good or junk?

I was cruising ebay for a good telephoto and found a bunch of 500mm mirror lenses. Can someone explain these to me and are they worth me spending money on? Just seems to me as short as they are they would make for awesome birder lenses. Ive got a 500mm lens but its like 15 inches long and is a pain to carry around the woods because it hangs up on every damn bramble and bush in its path while walking.

What the hell are those rings for anyway? Everytime I see one of those mirror lenses listed its got these little colored rings to supposedly "control the apeture". So I just screw a smaller holed thing on the back for say..f/8 vs f/4 ? Why are they colored??

Do they make mirror lenses with just a normal old apeture control on them?

01-21-2010, 11:09 PM   #2
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Decide for yourself - https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/71775-mirror-lens-club.html


The main thing that distinguishes mirror lenses is the 'donut' bokeh.
Their advantage is that they are cheap and light.
01-22-2010, 10:40 AM   #3
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I bought one used off Ebay this past fall. I really haven't much of a chance to use it much as the weather was downright horrible and then winter set in. It is considerably lighter and easier to get around with than a long telephoto. The apeture on a mirror is preset. You can change exposure by screwing a ND filter into the rear of some lenses. The Korean ones sold under several brand names come with a set of filters. 500mm is still very difficult to hand hold steady, even considering that the lens is very light and small. They are mainly for use on bright sunny days with fast shutter speeds if you plan on hand holding. Focusing takes practice. The one time I got to use it was shooting some crew rowers last fall and the shots were acceptable but not great. I used trap focus as the rowers were moving targets. At this point I can say that the IQ is better with crops from my 70-300 Sigma or my 200/f4 Tak with the 2x converter. I plan to use it quite a bit this spring and will probably have a more accurate overall opinion. The day I did use it in the fall was very overcast and I shot at 800 and 1600 ISO, not good conditions to test this lens.
01-22-2010, 12:20 PM   #4
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The one from Adorama, "Pro Optics" (which I think is their house brand) looks interesting. For one, it's aperture is f/6.3 instead of f/8 like most of them. Price is always an attractive feature with these lenses, and this one is $160 brand new. Pop Photo did an article about this lens last year and gave it good reviews (of course, Adorama spends lots of money advertising in Pop Photo, so draw your own conclusions).

To me, it seems like a decent value.

01-22-2010, 12:30 PM   #5
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Some are good (not excellent compared with good straight telephotos) and some are quite ordinary.
I can only vouch for the one I have since it's a very sharp lens with moderately good colour and contrast rendition: the Tamron 500mm f/8 mirror lens (model 55BB).

As Gary says, judge this for yourself from the Mirror Lens club here.
01-22-2010, 01:24 PM   #6
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I would venture to say the Tamron 500/8 is "excellent", but most others don't match up.
01-22-2010, 01:46 PM   #7
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Tamron & Tokina

I have a Tamron Adaptall 500mm f/8 and for a while had a Tokina 500mm f/8 at the same time (since sold). I tested them side-by-side and felt that the Tamron had the edge in sharpness and contrast, but only just. They are both pretty good optically and can be had for $100 to $150. You only need the cheaper K adapter with the Tamron.

I find them best when you can shoot against sky or distant background to minimize the horrible doughnut bokeh. Hand-holding is indeed tough - you'll need a support - I use a monopod or tripod.

Light and portable, they have their uses.

Mike
01-22-2010, 01:57 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Raptorman Quote
What the hell are those rings for anyway? Everytime I see one of those mirror lenses listed its got these little colored rings to supposedly "control the apeture".
Could you post links that show what you are talking about? Most mirror lenses have no apertue control at all - not via a normal aperture ring, not via strange colored "rings".

Now, most mirror lens do take rear-mounted filters - these could be the "rings" you are referring to - but they aren't control aperture. They are for what filters are always for - to change the optical characteristic of your lens. Normally, you just use the clear filter that's installed by default, as it's actually part of the lens design and not meant to be removed entirely. But if for some reason you wanted to stick a yellow filter on your lens, or a blue one, or whatever, you take out the clear one on and install the colored one. You would be no more likely to actually do that than you would when using any other lenses - which is to say, most people would never had any reason to do this. But for whatever reason, the lenses do usually come with a set of filters.

Since most mirror lenses have no aperture control at all, there is the possibility you might want to install a neutral density filter, which wouldn't change the aperture, but would cut down the amount of light coming in. Given that mirror lenses are typically very slow already and the main problem is getting enough light, not getting too much light, it's hard to imagine a situation where one would need one an ND filter, either. Maybe with a film camera if you've got ISO 800 film loaded and you don't wish to change rolls, and then you want to take a picture of the sun.

01-23-2010, 08:18 AM   #9
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Mine came with a skylight filter and a 2x and 4x ND filter. I can't imagine using them either but I suppose I could come up with a reason.
01-23-2010, 08:41 AM   #10
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I doubt the ND filters are usefull with a modern slr / dslr but my old Zenit EM has a maximum shutter speed of 500 and I have exceeded this by quite a lot with my Tamron 55BB in bright sun at ISO200 with the GX20. To use the 55BB on the Zenit EM in the same conditions would have required an ND filter.
01-25-2010, 10:28 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by reeftool Quote
Mine came with a skylight filter and a 2x and 4x ND filter. I can't imagine using them either but I suppose I could come up with a reason.
To shoot waterfalls with silky smooth water. From very, very far away

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01-25-2010, 10:31 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by wallyb Quote
I would venture to say the Tamron 500/8 is "excellent", but most others don't match up.
I can vouch for the Sigma CATs. I have both, the 400mm f/5.6 and 600mm f/8. I've found them to perform very well within the limitations of the mirror lens format.

I'd like to find a local Pentaxian with a Tamron so we could compare the three.

.
01-25-2010, 04:00 PM   #13
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QuoteQuote:
f/8 vs f/4 ?
I don't think you will find a 500mm F4 mirror lens . I had a big Sigma mirror lens back in the 80's with a handle built on it that was a 500mm F4 but had low contrast. I have a 500mm F6.3 Rokinon that is a great low cost 500mm that can be used handheld.

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