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10-24-2019, 10:30 PM - 7 Likes   #1
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How many people still shoot with mirror lens these days ?

I wonder how many people still shoot with mirror lens these days ? I like mirror lens for two reason, cost and portability. I am not a pro and will shoot wildlife occasionally, a high quality telephoto lens not only expensive but also heavy to carry. I used many different made of mirror lenses not from camera makers such as Vivitar, Soligor, Samyang/Rokinon, Tamron, Russia....etc., I found 2 made are the best, Tamron and the Russia MTO. Tamron is smaller and the color and contrast slightly better than the MTO but cost double as much depends on where you get it, where the MTO is relatively cheap and plentiful in the used market, most of them are ship from Ukraine so will take some time.

I limited myself to shoot up to 300mm (FF equiv. 450MM) for portability, but some times will shoot up to 500MM with mirror (FF equiv. 750MM), that's more than enough for a non pro and occasion bird-er. I also got a Japan made off brand 300MM mirror and it is quite good too, you won't find a bad 300MM mirror but 500MM is another story, it requires higher precision to produce. There are some new 300MM mirror made for MFT I believe they are good too, but they are smaller at f8 not the regular f5.6 further limited the usability of the 'dark lens'.

There is one note if you happen to find a Russia mirror lens, for instance the 3M5CA, you may find it blurry unclear and produces distorted image, don't return it so soon you can fix it. Early made Russia mirror lenses are not for camera but for weapon use, the mirror is mounted on the cannon for aiming, the lens is over tighten and caused the mirror to deform and produces distorted image, that wouldn't be a problem for weapon aiming but quite for photography. You can search on the internet 'relaxing the mirror lens' to find solution to fix this problem, it is quite simple and you can see the result instantly, my copy does not produce distorted image but unable to focus to infinity.

Mirror lens unlike glass refractive lenses, the infinity focus point is not locked at the far end but over-shoot, you can focus "beyond infinity", this design is to compensate for the metallic mirror expansion due to temperature, also used on early APO lenses due to rare earth glasses in use. The over shoot design actually good for adopting the lens to Pentax camera, coz there is more room for back focus correction, so that you can use any type of M42 adapter, 'sink' or 'flush' type, my lens focused properly after the above simple mod. Please note, Russia mirror uses M42 instead of the more common T mount, so be careful when using and do not force in the lens or you will break the screw thread.

Please see below some casual shots with the 3C5MA, please ignore the shaking and focus (no AF), and keep in mind that mirror lens has lower resolution and contrast than glass refractive lens, handheld shots can not produce the best result especially when shoot in the shade at high ISO, but absent or near absent of CA in long lens is the reason to give mirror lens a chance, also the vignetting on APS-C (K3) sensor is non exist, there are some other high quality shots you can find on the internet.

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10-24-2019, 11:30 PM - 2 Likes   #2
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I still have a 500 Tokina from decades ago that I rarely take out. Agreed that they are less expensive and easier to carry than regular refractive lenses. These require some experience and patience to use well as out of focus areas can look confusing to ridiculous. You have done very well taming most of the mirror lens quirks in these photos. Well done!
10-24-2019, 11:46 PM   #3
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Never used a mirror lens (yet, at least), but interesting read and lovely photos! I particularly like the second with the kingfisher, amazing shot.
10-24-2019, 11:53 PM   #4
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Thank guys, it is good to have a mirror handy for occasion tele shots

10-24-2019, 11:53 PM   #5
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I have never used one. Back in the late 60s and early 70s my friend had one on his Nikon camera. It was terrible. Since then I have had a negative opinion about them. But now that I see what you did, I will be more inclined to try one.
10-25-2019, 12:05 AM   #6
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It is easiser with a bright finder or EVF, but still takes some patience coz no AF in a long lens.
10-25-2019, 12:56 AM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by lotech Quote
It is easiser with a bright finder or EVF, but still takes some patience coz no AF in a long lens.
Unless you find the Pentax F/FA 250-600 zoom mirror...

I use a Tamron 500/8, the fixed aperture is much less of a problem on digital than it was on film. Apart from a bit lacking in contrast it's a very compact and affordable long lens. I don't mind the donut shaped out of focus highlights (as they were described in the 90s).
10-25-2019, 01:59 AM   #8
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They certainly have a distinctive look to them!

10-25-2019, 02:20 AM - 11 Likes   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by johnha Quote
Unless you find the Pentax F/FA 250-600 zoom mirror...
Are you thinking of the K series 400-600mm? I don't think the 250 -600 is a mirror.
I have the 400-600 Pentax - a lucky bid on a rare lens. Also have a Tamron 500, opteka500 and an older Samyang 500. The Tamron is the best of these three and the other two are very hard to love. But the 400 -600 is well ahead of all. These links are with the 400 - 600 on the K-1




Like all zooms it is not bleeding edge sharp but it seems to have an art to it which wins me over.
10-25-2019, 02:54 AM - 5 Likes   #10
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Nice posts.

It took 3 mirrors to find one I like. First was riddled with fungus (forget brand - but performance sucked anyway), second is a Optika 500 f8 (small even for a mirror but average IQ - still have for now) and finally a Tamron 500 SP f8.
The Tamron while not "Limited" lens sharp has pretty decent sharpness. Bokeh can be great or terrible depending on background, distance of background from subject and your opinion!

But its pretty small for a 500mm and certainly handy to have in my toolkit.

Just some quick snaps (plus corresponding flickr links):
Seagull preening | Jonathan Wilson | Flickr

500mm Bokeh | Who says 500mm mirror always have bad bokeh? A? | Flickr

Hawk in action | Jonathan Wilson | Flickr
10-25-2019, 02:57 AM - 1 Like   #11
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Great photos look like painting to me, I have only seen one K mirror zoom but longer range than the 400 I can't remember, it was f12 and tiny. Afaik only Minolta (now Sony) produced one AF mirror, it is very difficult to do AF on mirror due to the blocking at the center, and very few people like to use mirror except for star watching
10-25-2019, 03:38 AM - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by GUB Quote
Are you thinking of the K series 400-600mm? I don't think the 250 -600 is a mirror.
I have the 400-600 Pentax - a lucky bid on a rare lens. Also have a Tamron 500, opteka500 and an older Samyang 500. The Tamron is the best of these three and the other two are very hard to love. But the 400 -600 is well ahead of all. These links are with the 400 - 600 on the K-1
Thanks for the correction, yes I'd got the 400-600 & 250-600 confused.

---------- Post added 10-25-19 at 11:45 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by kiwi_jono Quote
The Tamron while not "Limited" lens sharp has pretty decent sharpness. Bokeh can be great or terrible depending on background, distance of background from subject and your opinion!

But its pretty small for a 500mm and certainly handy to have in my toolkit
Poor Bokeh is not restricted to mirrors, I have a Sigma KA 400/5.6 refractor that shows horrid bokeh - most obvious as out of focus grass/foliage in front or behind the subject. Away from birds and their habitat - it's much less evident.
10-25-2019, 03:49 AM   #13
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There was one uncommon and very special mirror lens I forgot to mention, the Vivitar 450MM/f4.5 CAT, it was very special to use a large piece of solid glass to fill up the inside to eliminate the air gap so to prevent "Newton Ring" to form, this lens is experimental type very few produced even rare in the used market, very few know of it's existence and not much info. can be found on the internet. I never have chance to get one to try out, but as far as I know it was disappointing and not as good or worse than a regular mirror.
10-25-2019, 04:34 AM   #14
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I need to work more with my Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 500mm f/8 Mirror (55BB)

one of my problems is that I rarely use a monopod or tripod so I am trying to use it hand held.

_________________________

you can find images taken with Mirror lenses in a couple different threads here:

Adaptall Mount Club (Tamron).
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/search.php?searchid=40170281

The Mirror Lens Club! - PentaxForums.com

and they can be found scattered elsewhere of course
10-25-2019, 04:43 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by GUB Quote
Like all zooms it is not bleeding edge sharp but it seems to have an art to it which wins me over.
The rendering in the last image is fantastic, I like how the donuts don't really stand out as distinct shapes but still give it a little something. How close was the background for that effect?
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