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03-18-2010, 06:50 PM   #1
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Cheap 500 mm lenses

Is there any opinion/consensus on these cheap 500 mm mirror lenses offered on Ebay? Specifically I am looking at Vivitar, Rokinon and Phoenix lenses, typically with a fixed apperture f/6.3 or f/8.0.
Are these any better than the long tube shaped lenses of the similar origin? I am trying to find something affordable that would give me better magnification than my Tamron 70-300 lens for bird photography.
Thanks,

03-18-2010, 06:56 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by luma Quote
Is there any opinion/consensus on these cheap 500 mm mirror lenses offered on Ebay? Specifically I am looking at Vivitar, Rokinon and Phoenix lenses, typically with a fixed apperture f/6.3 or f/8.0.
Are these any better than the long tube shaped lenses of the similar origin? I am trying to find something affordable that would give me better magnification than my Tamron 70-300 lens for bird photography.
Thanks,
Just an alternative, you may want to consider just getting a 1.5x or 2.0x teleconverter to fit your Tamron.
03-18-2010, 07:22 PM   #3
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Long tubes and squat mirrors can be surprisingly good, when used right (judiciously, carefully, no expectations). Or not. My Spiratone 400/6.3 (tube) cost US$15 on eBay; I wouldn't have gone over $25. My Sakar MC 500/8 (mirror) cost all of $13. Mirrors are notorious for donut bokeh, long tubes for CA (although it ain't so bad on APS-C).

The Sakar mirror is better at f/8 -- but that's its ONLY f-stop. It's smaller, much less conspicuous, focuses close. I carry it most of the time. The Spiratone tube hasn't the best contrast but it's more flexible, aperture-wise, and less flexible, focus-wise. It's fun on certain occasions. Try to score either (or anything similar) for under US$40. For better IQ, a TC on your Tamron might be what you need.

PS: Both tubes and mirrors need hoods. Desperately. Absence is not an option.
03-18-2010, 08:33 PM   #4
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You might want to check out the Takumar 500mm f/4.5. It seems to be a pretty well regarded lens that can be had for a fairly reasonable price.

Pentax Screwmount 500 F4.5 SMC-TAKUMAR MANUAL APERTURE (49/112) WITH ADAPTER WITH CAPS 35MM SLR MANUAL FOCUS TELEPHOTO LENS - KEH.com

03-18-2010, 08:49 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nerdold Nerdith Quote
You might want to check out the Takumar 500mm f/4.5. It seems to be a pretty well regarded lens that can be had for a fairly reasonable price.
KEH lists it at US$616. That is 41x the cost of my Spiratone, 47x the cost of my Sakar. Does it have 40x+ the IQ?
03-18-2010, 10:03 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
KEH lists it at US$616. That is 41x the cost of my Spiratone, 47x the cost of my Sakar. Does it have 40x+ the IQ?
I don't know . . . how bad does the Spiratone suck? j/k
03-19-2010, 12:23 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Blue Quote
I don't know . . . how bad does the Spiratone suck?
Only about 6x, unless I forget to duct-tape on a black cardboard lens hood, in which case it sucks about 9x, according to my careless computations.
03-19-2010, 12:29 AM   #8
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Vivitar/Rokinon/Phoenix are all made by Samyang. I have not had good luck with a Phoenix 500/8 (bad IQ), so I returned it. I saw very nice images from the 6.3, however.

General consensus is that the IQ of mirror lenses is inferior, but on the bright side they are smaller and lighter, so they can be handheld and carried around more easily. I like them for their portability.

03-19-2010, 11:37 AM   #9
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I checked out one cheap (Quantaray) "long tube" teles, and can't say the results were noticeably better or worse than the cheap f/8 mirror. The mirror lens images require PP to improve contrast, but aside from that, they were fairly similar in IQ (*slight* edge to the long tube in shaprness, but it had much worse CA). See the Mirror Lens Club thread for lots of sample images from the various models. The various f/8 models sold new are all the same Samyang-made lens sold under different names, there various f/6.3 models are also all the same. I've never owned the latter, but based on careful examination of samples, would say it does noticeably better at close focusing than the f/8 version, and also has noticeably higher contrast. After PP'ing for contrast, overall IQ isn't all that different. Either will slightly beat a crop a crop from a shorter telephoto, but not by a whole lot.
03-19-2010, 11:56 AM   #10
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I have an old Sigma APO 500mm f/7.2. I have not used it much, but it seems OK. It seems to be a pretty rare lens. They did make an AF version, but mine is MF. I should do some test on it to see what kind of results I can get. I never really used it much aftrer I bought it.
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