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10-16-2020, 09:21 AM   #1
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Hello again, what would be the better option for taking wildlife photos ( Pentax K100D / Super ), a 500mm Mirror reflex lense or a Zoom lens please ??

thank you.

10-16-2020, 09:31 AM - 1 Like   #2
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with a 500mm lens, you definitely need to use a tripod ... if you move around constantly it can be awkward to carry a tripod... hard to say for sure, if you have the opportunity to try both and practice will show which is more convenient for you

Last edited by Martin Stu; 10-16-2020 at 09:40 AM.
10-16-2020, 09:50 AM - 2 Likes   #3
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I find the donut bokeh on mirror lenses to be distracting.
And I like autofocus and to be able to select my aperture.
I'd suggest getting a non-PLM version of the 55-300mm for your uses.
10-16-2020, 10:03 AM - 1 Like   #4

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The big problem with a typically f/8 500mm mirror lens is getting the focus spot-on … the image can often be too dark for either the camera's sensor or the photographer's eye to confirm, unless it's a contrasty subject in good light
If you do get one, make sure it's got a tripod mount (eg. Tamron Adaptall-2). Trying to adjust a front-heavy combination can be a great source of frustration unless you've got a top-notch head on your heavy-duty tripod!

A zoom gives the opportunity to zoom out to find the subject before zooming in to frame and focus. Ergonomics can be an issue here. If the lens will "trombone" rather than having to twist a ring it'll be a lot easier

Good luck

Last edited by kypfer; 10-16-2020 at 10:04 AM. Reason: punctuation
10-16-2020, 10:11 AM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wolfestone Quote
better option for taking wildlife photos
"Wildlife" can mean different things: small birds in the back yard, birds in flight, squirrels in the park, deer in the forest, elk or sheep at extreme distance and so on.

I have owned and sold two different mirror lenses and was not happy with either. They are manual focus and extremely fussy, I failed to get any images I liked using them.

When you say 'zoom' lens do you mean an actual zoom lens such as the DFA 150-450 or a 'telephoto' such as the DA 560mm or DA*300mm. Both are excellent lenses but have different characteristics.

You do not mention budget and when you start talking long lenses that has to be a consideration. Wildlife enthusiasts will use 600mm f/4 lenses that cost a fortune. Short of that there are options such as the DA*300 or the DA 560mm. A good compromise is the DA*60-250 which I highly recommend. If budget is a restriction look at several of the older Pentax zooms like the FA 80-320, it is slow but in good light will work and the cost much lower. The various versions of the DA 55-300 are also highly recommended.
10-16-2020, 10:14 AM - 1 Like   #6
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have a read of this recent thread:

need advise on a good cheap lens for nature pictures. -
10-16-2020, 10:16 AM   #7
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first what is your budget

do you want new or " experienced "

zoom or prime
Why Not Try Out a Prime Lens?
A brief look at primes vs. kit zooms
Read more at: Why Not Try Out a Prime Lens? - Articles and Tips |

[ I was taught that zoom lenses were " compromises " ]


this tool could prove useful:

Check Lens Compatibility with your Pentax Camera
Most Pentax lenses are compatible with most Pentax cameras. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, including limitations with certain lenses. It's always a good idea to check before buying a lens.

This tool lets you check the compatibility of your Pentax digital camera with any Pentax lens or any current third-party lens. Type a partial name to see suggestions. See also: Lens Search | Camera Database

Check Compatibility


Read more at: Check Lens Compatibility with Your Pentax Camera

as well as this chart:

Pentax K-mount Lens Compatibility Chart
Copyright 2006-2020 All rights reserved.

Pentax bayonet lenses labeled "SMC Pentax" are referred to as "K" lenses in the table below. Other Pentax bayonet lenses have the lens designation as a part of their name as in "SMC Pentax-FA".
Note that "star" lenses work like their "non-star" counterparts unless they are singled out in the table below. So for compatibility of a DA* lens which is not singled out, look under DA lenses, etc.
FA and F "soft" lenses behave like M lenses in terms of metering.

Last edited by aslyfox; 10-16-2020 at 10:34 AM.
10-16-2020, 11:00 AM - 1 Like   #8
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I used to think I wanted a mirror lens until I read the reviews of several models and changed my mind. As FuzzFoster indicated, most people find the bokeh donuts pretty awful, and not being able to change the fixed aperture is quite restricting. And IQ is not going to be as good as you'd get from a good quality standard prime or zoom lens. (Some member may chime in who loves their mirror lens though.) My vote would be for a 300mm or 400mm prime, but I've seen some fabulous photos taken with the 55-300mm zoom too. You may be able to get a 1.4X or 1.5X teleconverter that is compatible with one of these lenses for more reach.

10-16-2020, 02:35 PM   #9
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mirror lenses are tricky and yes they can be used

The Mirror Lens Club! -

a lot depends on finding a good one, such as:

Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 500mm f/8 Mirror (55BB)

Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $151.90 8.79

"This later version SP 500mm F/8, introduced in 1983, is an optically revised version of the original model 55B lens first introduced in 1979. The major optical design change is the switch to a constant thickness meniscus main mirror in order to reduce close focusing spherical aberration. The change in the main mirror design also necessitated changes for the two smallest lenses located within the middle of the optical design. This model 55BB also discards the earlier model's detachable tripod mount and the set of four filters for B&W photography. The later model 55BB is also readily distinguished from the original model by its diamond knurled rubber focus grip and the lack of the locking screw used on the earlier model 55B's built-in rotating tripod mount ring. Thus this lens does not feature any built-in tripod mount whereas the original lens featured a detachable tripod mount." -

Manufactured from 1983 to 2005... probably the most common 500mm cat. on the market. Easily distinguished from its predecessor the 55B by the square dotted rubber grip and absence of a tripod mount.
This and the other two tamron mirrors (55B, 06B) are designed to be used with a 30.5mm rear filter in situ, this screws on to the end of the rear group at the mount end.
The fixed aperture means that there is no advantage to a PKA mount. any PK mount will do and you can use Av.

Minimum aperture: fixed at f/8. Note that there is a significant difference between f stop and t-stop with mirror lenses.
Elements/groups: 8/5
Minimum focus distance: 170 cm
Maximum magnification: 1:3
Minimum length: 87.0 mm
Maximum length: 91.5 mm (dependent of the adapter)
Diameter: 84.0 mm
Weight: 0.595 kg
Front Filter diameter: 82mm
Rear Filter diameter: 30.5mm (screw-on)
Hood mount: screw-on. Normally comes with deep flock lined metal hood that inverts for storage.

Accepts SP 2X tele-converter #01F and SP 1.4X tele-converter #140F. Note: TC's are reviewed in miscellaneous lenses - TC's.

Good discussion/review of mirror lenses including 06B by Wayne Grundy. And Bob Atkins has also done a detailed comparison with a Canon 500mm f4.5.

U-tube review by Gary Reed (sony apsc, kenko 1.4x tc).

Detailed comparson of 55BB with several other mirrors, including Canon and Nikon, by DCview blog (chinese - google translate)
Mount Type: Third-party (adapter required)

Read more at: Tamron Adaptall-2 SP 500mm f/8 Mirror (55BB) Lens Reviews - Tamron Adaptall Lenses - Pentax Lens Review Database
10-16-2020, 02:43 PM - 4 Likes   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by marcusBMG Quote
I agree. This was a very similar question to yours @Wolfestone. Like the poster in that thread, you need to work out what sort of wildlife you want to photograph, how much you are prepared to spend and how ambitious you are about the images you would like to get. Otherwise any suggestions will be based on guesses about these things.

I used to have a K100D Super. It produces nice images, but it is really not great for wildlife, for several reasons. First, 6mp doesn't give much scope for cropping - and even with 300mm+ lenses you often need to crop wildlife shots. Second, the autofocus is well behind more recent models - and that is a real limitation for bird photography in particular. Third, you are practically limited to 800 ISO - and that makes it hard to get the sorts of shutter speeds you often need, especially in low light. Plus, if you end up using a cheap zoom, it's likely to have a slow maximum aperture at the long end (and may need stopping down to f8 or f11 for decent resolution), so you will be bumping up against the ISO limit in all but ideal conditions.

The upshot of all this is that you might get better value from an upgraded body (e.g. K-5 series) with a cheap lens like the DA-L 55-300 f4-5.8, rather than just spending on the lens.

Last edited by Des; 10-16-2020 at 02:55 PM.
10-16-2020, 05:38 PM - 2 Likes   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wolfestone Quote
Hello again, what would be the better option for taking wildlife photos ( Pentax K100D / Super ), a 500mm Mirror reflex lense or a Zoom lens please ??

thank you.
I have never used a mirror lens, but have never read or heard anything good about them either. Since you are using a K100D and looking at mirror lenses I'm guessing you aren't going to throw a lot of money at a lens. As mentioned earlier by others, I would suggest one of the DA55-300 lenses (not the PLM because it won't work with the K100D). Or the FA80-320 can be found for good prices. If you can get your hands on a DA*300 it is exceptional. Any maybe you can find a Sigma 50-500, or 150-500, I have used the 50-500 and it's a good lens.

I'm not sure where you are shooting wildlife, but if you are in woodlands, the lighting is not the best sometimes, it's hard to get high shutter speeds, this is a consideration too. How high of an ISO are you comfortable using on your K100D? If you are shooting out in the open it shouldn't be a problem.

Of course there are a lot of manual focus lenses out there and some people are very good with them. I'm not fast enough or good enough to shoot wildlife with manual focus.
10-16-2020, 06:55 PM   #12
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From my days with the *istD (same sensor) the op can shoot ISO 400 with no loss (minimum is 200) ISO 800 has a little grain Noticeable but still useable. Iso 1600 is a bit of a push for really good images although I did shoot ISO 3200 for indoor stage productions

A flash would be a great help, but that eliminates anything without aperture contacts because the K100 does not support the older TTL flash like the *istD did.

A mirror is useable, but as some have noted the viewfinder becomes a little dark and focus confirmation may not work

For all those suggesting lenses the K100 does not support PLM lenses, screw drive only.

A good bet if available on the used market is a sigma. Screw drive zoom, 70-200/2.8, 100-300/4 or 140-400/5.6. You can match these with a sigma 1.4x or 2 x Tc (for the two shorter zooms to get you to 400/5.6 overall. I still shoot with my film era 70-200/2.8 and sigma 2x TC. It has served well from my original *istD all the way to my K1 MK2. The old sigma zooms are very sharp lenses.. the op could also look at any of the sigma zooms that reach out to 500mm.
6 Days Ago - 1 Like   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by Martin Stu Quote
with a 500mm lens, you definitely need to use a tripod ... if you move around constantly it can be awkward to carry a tripod... hard to say for sure, if you have the opportunity to try both and practice will show which is more convenient for you
I have no trouble shooting my DFA 150-450 hand-held, even at 450mm. Similarly with my son's 50-500 Bigma when he had it. I almost never use a tripod with a long lens, and get far more great shots than I would if I had to set up with a tripod. The 150-450 is a perfectly usable walk-around lens in decent lighting.
6 Days Ago - 1 Like   #14
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Mirror lenses lack sharpness, and their bokeh is generally ugly.
I own one 500mm F5.6, seldom use it.

You'd better buy a good zoom, or a vintage A* or FA* 300mm F4.5 and add a 1.4x teleconverter.

My DA* 300mm F4 and Pentax-F 1.7x AF Adapter make a great combo.
6 Days Ago   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Paul the Sunman Quote
I almost never use a tripod with a long lens, and get far more great shots than I would if I had to set up with a tripod.
well, yes, you probably have a lot of experience in this regard

but holding the camera, aiming, pressing the shutter button, not breathing, freezing ... without a good tripod and remote control, with such a long telephoto lens of 500 mm, I definitely would not have been able to take a clear picture..

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