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Tokina TM500/RMC 500mm F8 Mirror Lens

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10 55,608 Fri May 25, 2018
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $140.00 8.00
Tokina TM500/RMC 500mm F8 Mirror Lens

Tokina TM500/RMC 500mm F8 Mirror Lens
Tokina TM500/RMC 500mm F8 Mirror Lens

Tokina's 500mm F8 Mirror Lens. TM500 ref and technical specs from a 1984 tokina brochure.
Fixed mount. Because mirror lenses normally do not have an iris, there are no aperture connections or aperture ring.
Due to the presence of the secondary mirror, the actual light transmittance is less than the indicated f8 f-stop ie the t-stop is larger ~9.5. This also causes the famous "donut" bokeh typical of mirror lenses.

Optics: 7 elements/2 groups
Filter: 35.5mm rear
Weight: 485g
Length: 87mm

Guide to mirror lenses - Wayne Grundy.
Mount Type: Pentax K
Price History:

Add Review of Tokina TM500/RMC 500mm F8 Mirror Lens
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New Member

Registered: March, 2014
Location: New York
Posts: 9
Lens Review Date: May 25, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $60.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Fun and different, cheap and relatively compact way to get long reach
Cons: Difficult to get in-focus handheld shots
Sharpness: 6    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 9    Camera Used: K-5, K-01   

I picked this up for $60 (or $50? can't remember) just because it was there at the camera shop I happened to be visiting last year, and I figured - sure, why not.

The donut bokeh isn't to everyone's taste. I think it's kind of neat and fun for a change of pace.

I have difficulty hitting the focus. Others have mentioned a long throw, and my eyesight isn't perfect so that's probably a factor too. On the K-01, the focus peaking is helpful.

Even shooting in bright daylight, it can be hard to get sharp handheld shots. Tripod is definitely helpful and possibly necessary unless one has a rock-steady hand.

All that said, I'm taking this out for fun, not for high-stakes shooting, and therefore I can recommend it.
Site Supporter

Registered: February, 2011
Location: Niagara
Posts: 3,086

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 28, 2018 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $75.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Big reach in a small package
Cons: Short focus throw for a manual lens

It was so cheap I couldn't pass it up. Accordingly, great value for money. I've shot it hand held and on tripod. I've used a 2x rear converter and with out. This is a very economical way to get some reach.
The donut bokeh can be distracting but that just goes without saying for a mirror lens. Good composition, and smart shooting yields fin results.
I complain about the focus throw because it can be very difficult to nail focus, and very miniscule adjustments of the focus ring result in the in focus area moving feet (not inches).
Focussed in live view, on a rest.
Too late to the party... by Matt, on Flickr

Hand held... and a miss (with 2x TC)
A near miss by Matt, on Flickr

Tripod mounted with 2x TC (prefocused on the suet cage)
Big red stopped by too by Matt, on Flickr

Tripod Mounted - a usual test subject
Test Subject by Matt, on Flickr
New Member

Registered: February, 2012
Posts: 15
Lens Review Date: June 16, 2017 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $40.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Very compact
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 6    Handling: 10    Value: 10    Camera Used: Samsung GX20, Pentax KX   

I already owned the Samyang 500mm f6.3, which is really excellent, so the only reason to buy this was curiosity.

The Tokina appears to have a built-in Pentax mount rather than an exchangeable T2 mount, so it isn't as flexible as the Samyang in this regard.

Because the Samyang is half a stop faster, it is more easily focused, and less prone to camera shake. Hand-held my shots with the Samyang are slightly sharper, but the differences are slight. The Tokina must have a greater depth of field, but I can't say I notice.

The Samyang doesn't weigh much, but it is bulky; there's a 95mm front element.

Next to it, the Tokina is tiny.

The design of the Tokina hood is brilliant. It stows backwards over the lens and screws in, and was sold with the lens. The Samyang lens hood had to be purchased separately, and just isn't as neat. Both lenses need their hoods.

The Tokina comes with a set of filters which screw in the back; a UV and some ND filters. On inspection, it appears that filters could similarly be fitted to the Samyang, but it takes a different size.

Everything about the Tokina screams quality.

For me, the half stop speed advantage enjoyed by the Samyang (that my cameras treat as a whole stop, leading to increased darkness for the Samyang image) gives the Samyang the edge, but the Tokina is a nicer object aesthetically speaking and far less bulky. It's recommended.

I've now acquired a Tamron SP 500mm f8 55BB as well. This lens is not as compact as the Tokina, but it is smaller than the Samyang, as fast as the Samyang, superior to the Samyang, and due to the aperture lever on the Adaptall PK mounts can make use of Catch-In-Focus and the Pentax F 1.7x Autofocus Adapter. So I have to say, if you have the choice, go for the Tamron every time. But the Tokina (and the Samyang) aren't by any means bad.
Senior Member

Registered: May, 2010
Location: Poland -> Kraków
Posts: 199
Lens Review Date: October 25, 2014 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $200.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: size, special effect lens
Cons: microconstrast and contrast
Sharpness: 4    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 9    Value: 7    Camera Used: K-5   

I bought that lens to go further than on DA*60-250. I previously have DA 55-300.
It is special lens with special effect. Love it or hate it.
DA is ultra sharp so if you have K3 its better to crop photo if you like to have zoom.
you had to have skill to use it properly. I use it mostly for sport and for concert photos.
Yes concert. Even if you think that on stage there is lack of light in some places there is enough for this lens.
And with K5 SR I could make good photo hand held time of 1/40s (that is brilliant for my shaky hands).
So some of my best photos for that lens:
Sport: Tour the pologne, final in Krakow
Veteran Member

Registered: February, 2011
Posts: 673

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 1, 2013 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $155.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Light, sharp, easy to use
Cons: Mirror lens bokeh, fixed f8
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 6    Handling: 10    Value: 9   

Bought this lens in mint condition (with leather case) without high expectations, I was aware of the peculiar bokeh of mirror lenses.
Without the hood it's wery compact, on the other hand the hood protects well.

The idea of a mirror lens is the size, considering this the tokina is nice. The overall grade "9" is for a mirror lens, you can not compare it with the Sigma EX 500mm by any means.

Site Supporter

Registered: April, 2011
Location: Lost in translation ...
Posts: 17,903

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 8, 2012 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Small & compact, hood, close focus
Cons: Bokeh and other defaults of a mirror lens
Sharpness: 7    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 7    Handling: 8    Value: 8   


I would agree a lot with all of the previous reviews, and what amazes me the most is the compact size of this lens ... much smaller than my Sigma 600 f8 mirror lens (seems like half its size) and about a third larger my DA 18-55 WR!

Close focus is very respectable given all of the defaults inherent in mirror configurations and IMHO the bokeh is acceptable ... the Sigma 600 wins this category hands down (including the "dough nut" look).

A good light and small mirror that I am happy to have come across. Below are additional images of this lens, etc.

Salut, John le Frog

Senior Member

Registered: July, 2008
Location: Arizona
Posts: 283

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: October 12, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $100.00 | Rating: 7 

Pros: Light weight and portable
Cons: Poor bokeh and contrast

I simultaneously acquired both a Tokina 500mm and the Tamron Adaptall version and while I owned them both, did some comparison shots. The differences were small and sometimes subtle, but I gave a slight advantage in contrast and color rendition to the Tamron.

The Tokina is well built and heads above some of the cheap versions that you'll find all over auction sites and, at around $100 is a great value for a long easily carried lens.
Senior Member

Registered: August, 2007
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 233

2 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: August 8, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: None indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Surprisingly small and light. Reasonably good sharpness. Nice easy to carry hood.
Cons: Shallower depth of view than other f8's. Donut bokeh. Lower contrast and saturation.

First off, all mirror lenses share several characteristics you should be aware of before purchasing one (some of which are easily compensated for, some of which are not):

1. Donut shaped bokeh. (Use Gaussian blur and a mask to fix.)

2. Low contrast and color saturation. (Just pump up the contrast and saturation settings on camera if using jpegs otherwise fix in postprocess.)

3. Shallow depth of field as compared to refractive (regular, non mirror) lenses at comparable aperatures. (This compounds the bokeh issue.)

4. Hotspots on high contrast reflective surfaces. If you have say sunlight reflecting off of leaves this gets blown out easily.

5. Sensitivity to sudden temperature shifts. The mirror will distort slightly if coming from a cool place to a hot place and if not given enough time to adjust, which may cause your images to have issues. (Just wait and it will fix itself)

6. Generally darker than comparable aperature refractive lens. I feel an f8 mirror lens feels more like a f10 refractive lens.

On the positive side, they are much, much lighter, compact and cheaper than most long glass. They are still able to take sharp, pleasing pictures. The compact nature allows you to bring it with you wherever (a so-so lens in hand is much better than a superb one that is always at home). I'm not a big telephoto person but felt that I needed something long, but I didn't want to pay a fortune for something halfway decent. This fitted the bill perfectly.

Concering this Tokina specifically, I have the M42 screw mount version which functions the same since the aperature is fixed anyways. I find the reversable hood to be great. It is long and complete. In fact, if you are in a hurry, you don't even need to take the hood off to focus with this lens. It features a good grip and you can do handheld shots (ideally you prop your elbows against something) at 1/250, although a sturdy tripod of course would really be best. It should really be noted that this is definitely a fair-weather lens and is difficult to use in darker conditions.

Some people complain that good focus is hard to achieve, but I haven't found this to be a problem myself. The focus ring throw is very long so you can really fine tune your focus perfectly, although I would not recommend this lens if you want to capture fast moving objects.
Senior Member

Registered: May, 2009
Location: Newbury, Ontario
Posts: 268

3 users found this helpful
Lens Review Date: June 29, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $400.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Small, compact,
Cons: Narrow DOF, fixed aperture setting

I bought my 500mm mirror lens many years and payed a lot for it compared to the used prices I have noted. I liked compact size that this lens offered. I could carry it in my camera bag without worrying about the weight and space that a regular type lens of the same focal length had. I used it for things like air shows and shots that needed the compressed look. I found I could hand hold this lens down to about 1/125th of a second if I took measures like bending down to let my body act as tripod. It helped brace the camera from body shake although a mono pod really helps out to get sharper images. A note on the price paided. I bought this lens new in 1985 so the price paided reflected the price when this was still out new.

The pictures are fairly sharp although there is the problem of the dougnut out of focus highlights and narrow DOF once you start getting into the closer focus range of the lens. There is some light falloff at the edges but this is the nature of this type of lens.

I have used this lens on my older pentax film cameras like the ME-Super, MX, and SF-10. When used on my new D-slr K-m, the smaller senser makes this lens act like a 700mm lens. With a little help in post product with various graphics programs, small changes can help some of the small problems like sharpness and contrast to get a nice looking print out of this lens. Once you get past some of the limits this lens has, it offers a great long lens for your new D-slr or old but new to you film slr to get things like birds or other subject matter that you can not get close to.

Registered: March, 2007
Location: chicago burbs
Posts: 3,381

1 user found this helpful
Lens Review Date: January 3, 2009 I can recommend this lens: Yes | Price: $90.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Well built & very light. Tripod mount. Close focus. Reasonable sharpness
Cons: 'Doughnut' bokeh. Fixed aperture. Shallow DOF

Size, weight, very good IQ (i'd rate it 8.7) and low-cost focal length are the main advantages of ownership. Image quality is very good with a somewhat low color/contrast (easily fixed in post processing). The built in lens hood and tripod collar are a plus. Doughnut shaped highlights/bokeh may show up in the background of high contrast shots and I find it almost impossible to shoot handheld and regularly use a monopod/tripod.

For wildlife shooters on a budget, this lens is worth having (provided you have the patience to deal with its quirks).

Sample pics can be seen here:
Add Review of Tokina TM500/RMC 500mm F8 Mirror Lens

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