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02-07-2010, 01:13 PM   #1
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Mirror lens help

So I'm going to go for a mirror lens, now I've got few questions.

First, the TAMRON 500mm f8.0 seems to get the best reviews by people, but there are a few rave ones on the Samyang (and variants) 500mm f6.3. There have been a bunch of scathing reviews on the Samyang as well. Please, lets not make this a Mirror vs. Glass debate ... I need something light and I'm short on cash, so mirror it is.

Now, where I'm looking for help is on these two questions

1) Is the variance in reviews a QC issue, or (sorry to say it) photographer error? (i.e. people not being good with a MF lens, moving it, etc). I've seen some horrid shots with the Tamron and great ones with the Samyang, for instance.
2) Is a f6.3 better than a f8.0 for these mirrors (to get more light), and how much impact does it really have on the DOF at 20+ metres?


Last edited by whelmed; 02-07-2010 at 01:26 PM.
02-07-2010, 03:32 PM   #2
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You might want to check out the Mirror Lens Club for more opinions and examples.

I think there can be no question the Tamron is a lot better than the Samyang (? not sure they are the ones that make this one) 500/6.3. But you're right, there are a *lot* of variables that come into play. Not just sample variation, but technique - including PP technique - too. And also unreasonable expectations. It's not easy to get great shots at 500mm, period. Throw in slow shutter speeds from small apertures, or the need for higher ISO to combat this, plus the need for manual focus, plus the strange bokeh and reduced contrast from the secondary mirror, and mirror lenses make it even harder. Typically, people buying the cheaper mirror lenses may not fully appreciate all this and maybe quicker to blame the equipment than those serious enough about this to be willing to seek out and pay more for the Tamron.

Shots I've seen suggest the 500/6.3 is contrastier than the cheaper 500/8's, and probably sharper at short focus distances too. But still, not as good on either countas the Tamron. Some of the shots in the Club thread should help you decide for yourself - it's as good a collection as you'll find anywhere, I think.
02-09-2010, 04:09 AM   #3
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Yeah, I had a look through there and it's really tough to see for sure. Too bad there hasn't been a 'mirror lens roundup' review or something of the sort. I.e. a standard test done on all the mirrors. The only such test I found online was for the Tamron SP 55BB, which shows that while not quite as good as the Canon 500/4.5L it was in the same ballpark.

So I've manage to pick up one and it should be here in a few days. Hazah!
02-09-2010, 10:49 AM   #4
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I have a Samyang (Opteka) 500mm/f8 and have had enough good shots to say the lens isn't junk. There just isn't much room for error when using it. You have to nail the focus perfectly. You need to hold it rock steady. While it is quite light, I find I need a monopod or tripod. Best results will be in bright strong, light. I bought mine used for a very good price. Judging from the photos posted, I think the Tamron is the one to buy if you can find one. I'm looking forward to using mine more in the coming year. We had a long stretch of dreary weather from late summer through late fall and I haven't had much opportunity to use it.

02-09-2010, 02:27 PM   #5
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If you google, you might find discussions about other mirrors that are nearly or as good as the Tamron.
Try the Sigma 600mm
Tokina 500mm
Soligor C/D 500mm
It is actually also good to find affordable mirror lens now of an unknown brand and discover that it has good optics before the prices shoot up.
The ones that have already been discovered to provide good optics have become expensive like the Tamron.
When I was thinking of buying the Tamron, its price was only touching the $100s.
Now the Tamrons command around $150 average.
The Sigma and the Tokina prices have also shot up and now the Soligor is also shooting up.
Sooner or later, we might be surprised to find out that even the Samyangs prices would be too high!
02-10-2010, 12:05 PM   #6
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Congratulations! It's a fun lens and capable of great results with determination.

Some suggestions:

(1) shoot RAW. Even the best mirrors don't give you great contrast. Start with RAW so you can eke the best out of your image in post processing

(2) don't be tempted to shoot handheld even though the size and weight of the lens will try their best to persuade you otherwise! Your success rate will be low unless you are shooting at faster than 1/250 even with SR switched on - unless you are an incredibly steady shooter

(3) try using with a monopod (even a cheap one is good enough for this purpose) and leave the SR on

(4) the catch in focus option can work surprisingly well if you've set your camera to do it

(5) you'll avoid donut bokeh if you manage to find subjects that are not set against a busy background (even leaves will do it), and try and avoid highlights behind the subject too

First picture I got into PPG was taken with the Tamron mirror:

Have fun....

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