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05-27-2008, 07:06 PM   #1
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Super tele on a budget

I'm curious... I'll probably never own a Bigma, but super-tele intrigues me. When it comes to budget stuff, there's really two options: mirror lenses and cheap, slow Phoenix crap.

I know the general downsides to mirror lenses, fixed aperture, donut bokeh, etc. But what am I giving up in contrast and sharpness with these cheap optics. Anyone own one of these and is reasonably satisfied?

Just wondering.

Joe

05-27-2008, 07:19 PM   #2
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The thing about the cheapos is that they are physically long and very lightweight in build. This means aberration at long focal lengths, even with a tripod. The slightest breeze and you're screwed. This is just an observation based on reviews I have read.
I would say the best way to use them is on a tripod with the front end of the lens resting on the rail of your deck and a sandbag over the top of it.
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05-27-2008, 08:28 PM   #3
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I picked up a 500mm tokina f8 mirror lens recently and like it a lot. The tokina, tamron and sigma all are quite sharp and inexpensive. that said, mirror lenses are quirky and not for everyone. In high contrast situations you will get dough-nut bokeh. this can be adjusted in photoshop & similar software if desired. the dof is very thin and focusing takes practice. also, exposure is controlled by shutter speed. several people claim to be able to shoot handheld; i can not and a tripod is a must. with all that, my results so far have been very good; i boost the contrast and saturation in the k20d by +1 when shooting with the tokina. i have had 2 cheap long lenses and the mirror lens cost less and provides much better resolution. I like the tokina so well that i recently picked up a sigma 600mm f8 that should be here in about a week. total expense of 2 mirror lenses was $270. if you care to look, recent mirror lens pics can be seen here:

Art by Michael Wolf - RedBubble

recent forum mirror lens link:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/27457-tokina-f8-mirror-lens.html

Last edited by ivoire; 05-27-2008 at 08:43 PM.
05-28-2008, 03:46 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by ivoire Quote
several people claim to be able to shoot handheld
I am one of those several people. I'm a big fan of mirror lenses. They have their drawbacks as outlined above, but they're capable of excellent results (in the right hands) and for the price they can't be beaten. That said, I'd avoid the no-brand ones by Phoenix and so on. The Tamron SP 500mm is very good.

When buying used mirror lenses, it's always worth checking if the mirror coating is marked or damaged in any way. Over time the mirror surface can separate from the glass and then there's nothing you can do about it.

Another alternative if you're on a budget is to look at one of the older Pentax 300mm f4 lenses. The M42 and K versions can be had pretty cheaply, and will knock spots off any xx-300mm zoom.

05-28-2008, 05:16 PM   #5
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"Another alternative if you're on a budget is to look at one of the older Pentax 300mm f4 lenses. The M42 and K versions can be had pretty cheaply, and will knock spots off any xx-300mm zoom."

Yep. I have the old SMC-P 300* f4. Slap a doubler on it and you get the 35mm equivalent of a 900mm lens in a much smaller package. Add 2 facts: 1) because of the narrower DLSR field of view you avoid the lens and (most) doubler edge defects; 2) shake reduction...and you can take shots with this combo that you would need two tripods and a beanbag for in the 35mm celluloid world. Many samples here:

Flickr: jbinpg's Photostream

Went from K10D to K20D mid-March of this year. You need a sharp lens to bring out the higher resolution of the K20D.
05-29-2008, 09:34 PM   #6
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I'm not sure if this counts as "super telephoto," but I have the Tamron 70-300 and it works fairly well in bright light.
05-30-2008, 12:57 AM   #7
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how about, xx-300 lens plus TC, not the best but certainly budget option...
05-30-2008, 07:54 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by eric_1 Quote
I'm not sure if this counts as "super telephoto," but I have the Tamron 70-300 and it works fairly well in bright light.

This seemed like a good alternative for those on a budget so i put my kenko 1.5x tc (just received it) on my tamron 70-300mm ld di macro and did a quick test. K20d was set to +1 for hue, saturation, contrast and sharpness, 1/60 second at f5.6 and lens at 200mm (its highest focal length that gives decent iq) on an overcast day and 18ft from the birds. the result (images cropped to show more detail) was quite surprising for a $130 lens (new) and an inexpensive tc ($130). At 200mm with a 1.5tc it is a 450mm equivalent in full format.


Last edited by ivoire; 04-12-2009 at 10:29 AM.
05-30-2008, 09:24 AM   #9
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The Tamron 70-300 Di LD is capable of nice pictures on the long end too. You would have to spend near triple the money to beat it:

Keep in mind this is jpg compressed for web posting.

05-30-2008, 09:25 AM   #10
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Another fan of the 500mm mirror. I have a Tamron and have taken some GREAT shots of my kids playing on the swingset with it (handheld). I also got some great shots of Andre Agassi at the Olympics (in Atlanta). They looked like I was sitting 20ft away when I was actually at the top of the bleachers. Those were all with my PZ-20 35mm. I have not tried it yet on my K200D (which will make it a 750mm!). I'm hoping the SR will still allow me to handhold.

Super tele is a ton of fun IMHO. You can get some great shots that are not otherwise possible.
05-30-2008, 02:14 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Adam67 Quote
Another fan of the 500mm mirror. I have a Tamron and have taken some GREAT shots of my kids playing on the swingset with it (handheld). I also got some great shots of Andre Agassi at the Olympics (in Atlanta). They looked like I was sitting 20ft away when I was actually at the top of the bleachers. Those were all with my PZ-20 35mm. I have not tried it yet on my K200D (which will make it a 750mm!). I'm hoping the SR will still allow me to handhold.

Super tele is a ton of fun IMHO. You can get some great shots that are not otherwise possible.
I decided to test the tokina 500mm with the 1.5xtc and got this guy from 20ft. let's see, that's about 1125mm equivalent. i'm enjoying the mirror lense, but am tied to the tripod. i did recolor the background in cs3 and touched up the image color and exposure.

Last edited by ivoire; 04-12-2009 at 10:29 AM.
05-30-2008, 10:53 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by TourDeForce Quote
The Tamron 70-300 Di LD is capable of nice pictures on the long end too. You would have to spend near triple the money to beat it:

Keep in mind this is jpg compressed for web posting.


that moon shot looks pretty good from the 300mm end. It is an amazing lens for the $'s. If I didn't have the f*300mm for comparison, i wouldn't quibble over the tamrons softness above about 210mm. below 210mm, it is surprisingly sharp. the f* btw was 5.5x the cost of the tamron (and a bargain at that). moon shot with the tokina mirror here:

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/attachments/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/12...0cropforum.jpg

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/attachments/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/12...stcrpforum.jpg

Last edited by ivoire; 05-30-2008 at 11:59 PM.
05-31-2008, 07:01 AM   #13
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Another vote for the Tamron 70-300 LD Di.. Shot these last Sunday at a local park..





05-31-2008, 07:36 AM   #14
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If you are interested in manual focus lens there are many alternatives that are easily googled and fished on the bay (ebay).
Novoflex 400mm
Enna 400mm
Tair 3s (300mm)(was used by KGB to photograph people entering our embassies, quite heavy)

Most of the 400mm and 500mm preset lens on ebay, often dismissed as junk have an optical formula leading to very good to excellent performance as rated by Modern Photog in the 80s. This includes the preset Spiratone 400 and the current Opteka 500
Russians invented mirror lens and the current Rubinar 500mm is well regarded

Another interesting option is Tamrons adaptall telephotos mated to their custom matching teleconverter, see the following link.
TAMRON 160-420mm MACRO MC SUPER-ZOOM lens: PENTAX K - eBay (item 320257071101 end time Jun-03-08 18:06:31 PDT)

And remember if you dont like a lens just toss it back in the bay.
05-31-2008, 09:41 AM   #15
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Ive used a Quantaray 70-300 (Sigma DL Super - the non APO version) matched with a 2x vivitar MF TC and have gotten decent results in the past shooting pictures of the moon. Im also curious about obtaining an expensive 300+mm lens and matching it with a TC for long shots.

While Im not expecting amazing quality shots (since most lenses in this category can be had for $100-200) does anyone have a positive experience from the long 250-500 or 300-650 type lenses from Phoenix, Samyang, etc? Or am I to assume these lenses arent even worth the $100.
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