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Samyang 500mm F6.3 DX

Sharpness 
 8.0
Aberrations 
 9.0
Bokeh 
 7.0
Handling 
 8.3
Value 
 9.3
Reviews Views Date of last review
6 52,719 Sat October 4, 2014
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Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $147.00 8.17
Samyang 500mm F6.3 DX

Samyang 500mm F6.3 DX
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Samyang 500mm F6.3 DX
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Description:

This is a 500 mm mirror reflex manual focus lens. It covers the 24x36mm full-frame format. It comes with a T-mount, so a T-mount to K-mount adapter is required in order to mount the lens on a Pentax K-mount camera.

The lens aperture is a fixed F6.3, it has no aperture control. It can be used in Av and M exposure modes.

It came branded as Samyang, Rokinon, Kenko, Bower, and other names as well. It is no longer available (2016).


Samyang 500mm F6.3 DX
Image Format
Full-frame / 35mm film
Lens Mount
Third-party
Aperture Ring
No
Diaphragm
None
Optics
7 elements, 6 groups
Mount Variant
Max. Aperture
F6.3
Min. Aperture
F6.3
Focusing
Manual
Min. Focus
186 cm
Max. Magnification
Filter Size
95 mm (Rear: 34 mm)
Internal Focus
Yes
Field of View (Diag. / Horiz.)

Full frame: 5 °
Hood
Case
Lens Cap
Coating
Weather Sealing
No
Other Features
Diam x Length
98x120 mm (3.86x4.70 in.)
Weight
705 g (24.9 oz.)
Production Years
N/A
Notes
Discontinued. A T-mount to M42 or K-Mount is required in order to use the lens on a Pentax SLR/DSLR.
Variants

The lens was marketed under several brand names: Rokinon, Kenko, Bower, Samyang, and possibly other names as too

Buy Lens: Buy the Samyang 500mm F6.3 DX
Price: 139
Mount Type: Pentax KAF3 (in-lens AF only)
Price History:



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Author:
Sort Reviews by: Date | Author | Rating | Recommendation | Likes (Descending) Showing Reviews 1-6 of 6
Senior Member

Registered: May, 2014
Posts: 138
Lens Review Date: October 4, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: price, size, reach, overall quality
Cons: colors, sharpness
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: K-50   

This is a great lens for its price, probably the best mirror lens still under manufacturing (10.2014).

I noticed it works best for distances up until ~20m. Beyond that - mine is unusable.
Focus is very smooth but hard to nail and you will get lots of missed photos - compensate by shooting more.
Colours are washed out - compensate in software.

Size, weight, price - very good!
   
Site Supporter

Registered: June, 2013
Location: Montreal, Canada
Posts: 361
Lens Review Date: September 28, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $80.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Cheap, compact lightweight
Cons: thermal cooling required
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 6    Handling: 8    Value: 9   

Great lens for the price. Beware though, if outside temperature is 20F degrees below inside, you need to let the lens cool for 30 min or so before it is usable.

Focus is indeed difficult to achieve, it takes many shots to get it right.

The lens is small enough I can carry it pretty much everywhere I go.


   
New Member

Registered: February, 2012
Posts: 15

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: April 17, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $120.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Hand-holdable, sharp, no CA
Cons: Donut bokeh can be a problem
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 5    Handling: 9    Value: 9   

Mine is branded as a Falcon.

In spite of the focal length, with a Samsung GX20 and Shake Reduction, the lens is hand-holdable at ISO 100 in bright sunlight, and I have obtained acceptable shots of goalmouth action from the top of a stadium under floodlights at ISO 800.

Mine focuses way past infinity, to the extent that it still focuses to infinity with a 13mm extension tube. But then vignetting becomes apparent.

It works well with 1.5x (the Kiron Matchmate 1.5x works better for me than DOI), 2x (the Kiron MC7 working best for me on this lens; the Kenko MC7 and Komura Telemore 95 MC7 II not being quite so good, then the DOI and Soligor C/D MC7 (which appear to be the same) then the older Telemore KMC7 and the Kenko MC4) and 3x (a Soligor working better for me than a Kenko) teleconverters, and it can still physically be hand held. But a tripod and mirror lockup or remote firing improve the hit rate.

Although my images (of distant wading birds or buildings) can sometimes appear lacking in contrast, this seems to mostly be down to haze, since the contrast does not appear better on pictures of the same scenes taken with my refractive telephotos (which range up to 425mm without teleconverters). However, the saturation is definitely lower with the mirror lens.

Manual focus can be tricky. The viewfinder isn't that bright at f 6.3, and the Depth of Field is thin. And not all of a butterfly on a bush at 3 metres will be in focus if the insect is large and not more or less square on to the lens; you cannot stop down to increase the Depth of Field. Catch-In-Focus and the Pentax-F Autofocus don't work because the T-mount doesn't feature an aperture lever.

However, I don't want to overplay the brightness issue. Using this lens I have succeeded in taking pictures of rabbits and hares on hillsides in the late evening (using a tripod, remote and mirror lockup) that I couldn't see at all with my naked eye; the camera/lens combination is like a spotting scope.

The donut bokeh is distracting if there are bright out of focus highlights in the frame, but not otherwise.

In conclusion, I'm very pleased with it.

UPDATE: I recently paid $20 on eBay to add a hood. The hood is solid aluminium, doubles the length of the lens when deployed, and when it is deployed it prevents the use of the lens cap. So the hood detracts somewhat from the handling. But it reverses over the lens in storage, and most importantly, improves the saturation and contrast by a worthwhile amount. So recommended.


FURTHER UPDATE: Bob Atkins has this excellent review.

http://www.bobatkins.com/photography/reviews/pro_optic_500_f6-3.html


Of particular note is the comparison with the Tamron 500mm SP Mirror which I have now got hold of myself. The Tamron:

  1. Is smaller
  2. Is the same effective speed as the Samyang
  3. Has a larger depth of field
  4. Has slightly better sharpness
  5. Has much better contrast
Hand held I'm hard to pressed to see evidence of point 4, and shooting raw and boosting contrast my pictures from the two lenses become virtually indistinguishable, but points 3 and 5 translate to easier manual focusing. Finally, the Tamron Adaptall mounts have (non-functional for this lens) aperture levers, and this means that, unlike any other mirror lens I have used, Catch-In-Focus and the Pentax-F Autofocus adapter do work with this lens if the light is good enough and there is sufficient contrast in the target.










   
Junior Member

Registered: August, 2009
Location: Lexington, KY
Posts: 29

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: October 24, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $180.00 | Rating: 9 

 
Pros: Short & light, well built, very close focus
Cons: Bokeh, hard to hand-hold, unscrews during focus

I have the Bower-branded version, but I believe these are all really the same Samyang-made lens.

This lens has a huge diameter, but is quite short and light without feeling the least bit flimsy or loose. The lens easily fits in a camera bag with other lenses and isn't heavy enough to be a pain to carry. Focus is very smooth, if somewhat tight... which can be a slight problem in that it is easy to unscrew it during focus.

Speaking of focus, this isn't a macro lens, but it's close. Oddly, mounting the lens on a 36mm extension tube further improves close focus -- without sacrificing infinity focus! (Normally, it can focus way past infinity.) Even without a tube, it's a good lens for small wildlife. Here's some rather tiny "wildlife" (a silk on my wall) shot at about 1:5 magnification without even using an extension tube:



The IQ at all focus distances is very good; really excellent for this type of lens. For example, the shot above is very crisp to the edges, showing no major defects of any kind... but it was a flat scene shot close-up with a flash. Really distant objects suffer atmospheric distortions, depth of focus is very thin making any 3D features blurry, and the chunky lens shape and relatively modest weight don't help you hold it steady enough. Sensor stabilization would help, but you need a chipped adapter with the correct focal length for that on my Sony A350 (note that this lens is really a T mount, and none of the adapters they sell with it are chipped). In summary, it's easy to get slightly blurry images that are not the fault of the lens, especially hand-held.

Then again, it's not that hard to get the focus right. Here's a shot of a very live and fast moving animal at the Louisville Zoo, taken without the aid of focus confirm:



Focus is relatively easy to judge in the finder: I don't get many near misses with this lens. That said, I've recently installed a double split 45-degree screen in my camera, and that makes focus MUCH more reliable. Incidentally, the split works nicely despite f/6.3; the microprism surround isn't quite so useful at that aperture. The depth of focus is so shallow that the AF sensor is overly touchy and hand-held shake makes focus confirm unstable, whereas minor shake that still keeps the subject overlapping the split doesn't prevent use of the focus screen.

Under good conditions, sharpness is better than most conventional 400mm+ lenses at a similar aperture. Of course, conventional lenses get somewhat better if you stop them down, but this lens cannot stop down. Contrast is low, but no worse than other 400mm+ lenses. Flare control is good, with loss of contrast more common than flare patterns; this is actually fairly impressive considering the glass is not recessed and there is no hood.

Like any good mirror lens, bokeh are big, perfect, doughnuts. Most of these rings are small, but a single distant point light source in the background when you're focused really close can create a ring larger than the APS-C frame. These rings, of whatever size, can be quite annoying, and they will be present in most shots. The rings also show-up as classic double-line artifacts (nissen bokeh). In summary, this is a very serious issue, but it is an inherent characteristic of all mirror lenses, not a flaw of this lens.

One last note: when you first mount one of these, the lens will probably be rotated somewhat from having the markings on top. This can be adjusted using the T adapter set screw; T mounts are designed to rotate and lock.

Summary: recommended iff you really want a mirror lens. If you're not sure you want a mirror lens, you don't want this or any other one.
   
Veteran Member

Registered: February, 2007
Location: Toronto
Posts: 1,710
Lens Review Date: October 11, 2008 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $180.00 | Rating: 8 

 
Pros: Compact, Larger Aperture, Build Quality, Image Quality, Minimun Focus Distance
Cons: 95mm Filter Size, Flare

I bought it because of a past unfavourable experiences with the Vivitar/Phoenix/Samyang 500mm f8 mirror lens. Reading the user review above gave me hope.

The newer f6.3 design has resolved vignetting issues and the lens is sharper and better built...though I can't totally agree with the plastic base plate. lol....
The resolution is pretty decent for 500mm ..thought the caveat being you can get the focus right. The depth of field is very very thin and its easy to miss your subject. Contrast is alright, not really that high. (a small boost helps alot)

Another bonus is its size. While the 95mm filter size is alarming to most photographers, the public accepts the mirror as something short and its relatively discreet profile enables street photography like you can't imagine. (that's not to say I haven't gotten weird looks..lol) Also, the minimum focus distance is a comfortable 2m vs the 6-7m you find on long extreme telephoto primes.

One issue that should be taken note of is flare. The large front element and large inner cavity aggravates the problem. Image contrast is totally destroyed. A hood of some sort, even your hand or the shade under a tree is almost a necessity if the sun is out. However, if you shoot with your back against the sun, then this is not really a problem.

That being said, this lens does its intended job and if used within its limits, does a good job!
   
Veteran Member

Registered: August, 2008
Location: Brazil
Posts: 532
Lens Review Date: August 20, 2008 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $175.00 | Rating: 7 

 
Pros: Compact for focal length and aperture, good image quality
Cons: Very difficult to achieve precise focus due to very small DOF, donut-like bokeh typical of mirrors, low contrast

I'm updating my previous review after using the lens for a while more. I've been able to get some good shots although paper thin DOF means sometimes the focus will be on something other than your subject even if it looks good on the viewfinder. This lens is for bright days, limit ISO and shoot RAW. Below is my original review, and some shots.

Here are some more pics I took with it: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cdallacosta/sets/72157610342970934/

________________________________

I bought this lens off of eBay. The image quality is OK with no visible aberrations or vignetting, an advantage of mirror lenses in general. The aperture is large enough and the viewfinder brightness OK also. This is one of the more expensive mirrors, the f/8 mirrors are cheaper but the smaller aperture would certainly hurt. It seems rather well built but the focus mechanism has a little play.

It looks a bit ridiculous mounted on the camera, this lens is HUGE. The weight is not excessive though, certainly less than a traditional lens of same quality and focal length and mounted on the K200D it is easy and natural to handle.

It's quite difficult to get sharp focus (DOF is small) and contrast is rather low - not a problem if you shoot RAW, or crank up the contrast in the picture settings.

On the K200D it can be used on Manual, pressing the green button to meter each shot. Left on P it has a tendency to underexpose, setting compensation to +1.5 will give good results most but not all the time. I think it's the same lens being sold under the Kenko brand.

After using it for a while, I feel I could have spent about the same and bought a quality 2X teleconverter for my 250mm lens. Image quality would probably be somewhat better, and autofocus would work. That alone would be worth it because very few of my shots with this lens are useable due to focusing difficulty.


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