Long Lens - Any suggestions?

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Hi Guys!

Do any of you have any feedback on 500mm lenses? Is a mirror the way to go or one of those LOOOONG Standard lenses? Any manufacturers I should look at (or avoid). I see that a Vivitar 500mm mirror lens is available for only $99.00 at several dealers.

Obviously the best way to go would be a Hexanon but I can't afford that - I'm looking at eBay but don't know what anyone's experiance is with these lenses.

Thanks

Lee

-- Anonymous, December 11, 2000

Answers

Long lens recomendations

Hi Lee,

I presume you want a lens to use with your Konicas. That limits things a lot (Canon & Nikon both offer excellent 500mm non-mirror lenses, but you'll need to trade in a car or house or something to buy them, and, of course they won't work with your Konica without an adapter).

I have a Tamron SP 500mm f/8 and am totally "sold" on it! IMHO, all mirror lenses are a little inconvenient with the fixed aperture and this one is no exception. Plus, to add neutral density filters, you need to remove the K/AR Adaptall 2 mount (other mounts may allow you to add the filter without removing the mount, I don't know for sure). I am considering getting a set of 82mm ND filters to use on the front of the lens instead.

I think the sharpness of this lens is fantastic, it has excellent contrast and color rendition and it close focuses to less than 6 feet, making it truly a macro capable lens as well! I've even used extension tubes with it, to get a bit closer.

One of the major complaints about mirror lenses is the weird backgrounds and highlights, the little "donuts". The Tamron seems to minimize this effect and I've found the shallow depth of field very useful. It is very well made and a nice size package. Expect to pay about $200 for a good used one. Hopefully it will come w/the right mount, but if not Adaptall 2 K/AR mounts are pretty easy to find used for about $20.

If you decide to get one of these, try to get the matched lens hood and 30.5mm filters with it. They are a bit expensive to buy separately (about $40 and $30 respectively). With color film you'll find the "normal" (which should come w/the lens) & ND filters most useful. The other 3 filters in the accessory kit are for B&W, primarily. The lens should have a tripod mount on it, too.

Let's just say that my experiences with this lens and my other Tamron, a 90mm f2.5 macro, have me looking for additional Tamrons: especially the 300/2.8 and 180/2.5!

Oh, and you might be tempted to try to hand-hold the Tamron 500/8... one word... don't. I've been using 200 ASA Ektachrome mostly with this lens, which give 1000th sec. exposures in bright sunlight, 250 or 500th in overcast or shade. (I'm underexposing the film about 1/3 stop) I try to avoid using a 2X converter on it (and other long lenses), but have gotten acceptable shots in combo with a Konica TC.

To get quality pics, the only Vivitar 500 & up I would consider at this point is one of the old Series 1 "solid cats" from 15 or 25 years ago. These would definitely be more than $99. ISTR they made a 450mm and a 600mm.

I have an old Vivitar 400mm f5.6 t-mount "preset" that is a big, heavy monster and only gives moderate quality pics. But the price/quality ratio was great when I bought it and I've recently seen the same lens offered used/excellent condition at a local camera shop for $275 (they're dreamin'). I've been trying to find a good fitting metal 82mm tele lens hood for it for ages, but can't justify the $40-60+ (Heliopan or B+H or Tamron's 500/8 hood are the options) with what I paid for this lens. Now that I have the 500/8, I can use it's hood on the 400, unless I am using both lenses at the same time.

Hope this helps. Happy holidays!

Alan

-- Anonymous, December 11, 2000


Long telephoto lenses.

Hi Lee,

Alan has some good advice on the mirror lenses. I just bought a 1000mm f10 mirror lens that I am excited to try out for astrophotography with a x2 TC on my Konica.

Here is some suggestions that I can give you. I have owned a "stove pipe" 500mm f8 / 1000mm f16 looooong non-mirror lens (about 14" long) and was happy with it. I didn't use it a lot at 1000mm because the f16 wasn't too bright in the viewfinder and my Nikon didn't support non-AF lenses. Other than that, you can find them used for $100usd and these types of lenses have gotten excellent reviews over mirror lenses, so it is something to look into. You can get a new one for $145 or so at www.ritzcamera.com check out the Quantaray 500mm f8 lens there. You also get a matched x2 teleconverter for it too!

Its lucky you own a Konica because I know of no other system that can use as many different lens adapters! If you can get a Praktica to Konica II AR lens adapter you can use M42 screw mount lenses, and you will find most of all these 500mm lenses are M42 mounts so you don't need a T-Mount. (ofcourse, you can get the T-mount rather than the Praktica adapter)

Hope this helps.

Mike

-- Anonymous, December 11, 2000


Long Lenses

Hi Lee, The answer, as always, depends on the final use you will put the lens to. It used to be you had several options (refracting long-focus, refracting telephoto, and mirror) that were reasonably priced. Today, the choices are limited somewhat by price considerations. Cheapest is the "old-fashioned" long-focus (and long-barreled) two-element type. These lenses when done right are surprisingly sharp and contrasty. I have one I bought many years ago for large aquatic bird photography. It is quite useful under many conditions, especially when it is used in a correct manner (with lens hood and tripod, always!!) The biggest drawback with these types is the longish close-focus. In the case of my 500mm it is about 33 ft. However, this is not always a problem even with small-bird photography. Avoid paying much more than about $50 to $70 US for one of these used in perfect condition. You would be better off buying one with or without multi-coating from Cambridge Camera, new. The Korean factory these lenses come from has marketing agreements with many people, so brand is pretty much unimportant. So is multi-coating with this type of lens. Remember, there are only two elements in the front of the tube. One other possible sour note is that this type of lens is pre-set. There is no auto stop-down of the diaphragm. A second option would be something like Sigma's 500mm f/7.2 tele lens with auto aperture stop-down just like regular Hexanon lenses. This particular beauty is sharp, lightweight, and easy to focus, as well as being of manageable length. Still need a tripod, though, for best results. You also need deep pockets. Long lenses of this type are becoming scarce as well as pricey these days. The third type is the ubiquitous mirror lens. Compact, lightweight, and close-focus of around 10 ft. for most. Biggest drawback is low-contrast results. Other, less serious, problems are hot-spotting (relatively rarely seen, these days) and lower-than-stated light transmission (closer to f/11 most times than f/8). Stay away from really low priced mirror lenses. These are generally formulae and building technology of the past. Newer types are much superior, in general, than old-tech. Tokina makes a nice, bright 500mm mirror lens. Close focus is around 10 ft. Small, light in weight, tempting to use hand-held. However, like all mirrors I have handled, it is a tad low in contrast. The best one I have ever worked with was an old Quantaray "Black Cat" I bought back in the late 70's. But, I would not recommend buying one used in less than perfect condition for more than about, maybe, $90 US. I bought mine for $125 way back when. In general, I would avoid buying a mirror lens used. Too fragile to stand up to any real abuse. The exception here, if you have the bucks to do it, is to get hold of the old "solid cat" lenses. Very durable, they were the tech leaders of their day in ruggedness and sharpness. Still are, really. Another way to go, if you are an adventureous type, is to get hold of one of the former Soviet MTO-type mirror lenses. Quality can be variable, but a good one is great. Have patience whatever route you take. Lenses of this focal length require something of a different mind-set than other lenses. It takes some commitment to use them effectively. Not just in your shooting regimen, but also in what you use them for. Me, I like sloshing around in swamps or even in deep woods fending off rattlers and water moccasins. Keeps me young.

Jon from Deepinaharta, Georgia

-- Anonymous, December 11, 2000


Uses for the long lens

Very good point Jon - I should have started with the uses.

I live next to a nature park and a Girl Scout camp so I was interested in some nature photography from deer to birds. Also I would like to take some close up shots of High School Soccer games. Another VERY important consideration is price - as low as possible!

So far it sounds like to me to go with the long focus pre-set as you all feel that the contrast of the mirror lenses leaves something to be desired.

Thanks All for the help!

Lee

-- Anonymous, December 11, 2000


Uses for the long lens

Lee, Don't feel that I am downing mirror lenses. They are perfectly fine for telephotography. They have unique characteristics that I find are most useful. Not the least of which is their ability to close-focus at around 10 ft., sometimes closer, depending on brand. But, by the same token, they are different enough to require an approach much different from traditional refracting lenses. As far as the contrast "problem" is concerned, that is sometimes rendered moot by the choice of film. For most nature work, where it is next to impossible to get close to your subject, a lens that focuses "only" to 30 ft. or so works just fine. However, as you become more proficient at stalking your prey, you will inevitably encounter times when your subject is oblivious to you until it literally walks on your foot. This happened to me once when a Great Horned Owl landed on a branch not 6 ft. above me and I DIDN'T HAVE MY MIRROR LENS WITH ME!!! Just my long-focus 500. Needless to say, the moment I moved to get further away, he took off, silently. As the saying goes, I never leave home without it (my mirror lens). Now, as to price, I still say you are better off getting a lens new. Long teles tend to be abused by their owners. I don't know why, but it seems to be a general trend. I suspect a learning curve is involved, since using these lenses is not an immediately intuitive excercise. It takes patience and keen observation of what you are doing and how you are doing it. A lot of lenses get dropped when they drag the tripod over with their length and/or weight. Also, many times, as funny as it sounds, the user is unaware of a branch or other obstacle nearby and whacks it with the lens when they pan the camera looking through the lens. I have seen that happen and did it myself. So, you see, the life of a long tele is not an easy one. Caveat emptor!! After all is said and done, if it comes down to price alone, go for the long-focus over similarly-priced mirrors. You will be much happier with the results and learning will be easier. Another plus will be the ability to use aperture stops. Believe me, you will find times to use f/11 or f/16.

Jon from Deepinaharta, Georgia

-- Anonymous, December 12, 2000



Uses for the long lens x2

I used my 500mm f8 14" long nosed lens with the x2 TC on it for Astrophotography and very long distance shots. The resolution, sharpness and contrast was good on it.

As mentioned by another Konica user, the MTO mirror lenses are excellent. They generally have the same resolution per millimeter as a 200mm prime lens. Not bad at all for a 1000mm mirror. This information is what I have read on the internet about them, and what others have told me, the MTO mirrors are very fine lenses. Take a look into getting one of those used.

Mike

-- Anonymous, December 11, 2000


MTO lenses

Mike, Finding an MTO mirror lens, old or new, is a frightening experience. They are quite scarce on the used market and the new versions are not, I believe, made by the same people anymore, and go by a different name or designation. Prices will make your hair stand on end (and will probably uncurl your nose hairs, to boot). If you go seeking one, all I can say is, God Bless Ya, Lad.

Jon from Deepinaharta, Georgia

-- Anonymous, December 12, 2000


MTO mirror lenses available in Britain

Mike (and others who are interested),

I have been picking up a photo magazine here in Britain Called "Amateur Photographer" for some time, and in it is a company called SRS Ltd. which imports and sells the 350mm (f/4.5), 500mm f/5.6 and f/8), and 1000mm (f/10) Russian mirror lenses. If memory serves, the 1000mm lenses are about 250 sterling (approx. $600 Canadian) or a little less, brand new, and occasionally they come up second hand. the 350mm and 500mm lenses are somewhat less. I think the 500mm f/5.6 is about $170.

SRS doesn't have a web page, but I'll include the address:

SRS Ltd. 94, The Parade, High Street, Watford, Hertfordshire, WD1 2AW. United Kingdom

As well, there is an e-mail for their company: sale@srsmicrosystems.co.uk

SRS Ltd. has been around for a long time, and although I have not purchaed anything from them (yet) they have been really helpful when I have spoken to them on the phone. Best of luck, and let the message board know how you fare! T.D. Hulit

-- Anonymous, December 13, 2000


slight correction

Sorry about the confusion: I think that the 500mm f/5.6 lenses are 170 U.K. pounds sterling, not $170. Sorry about raising your hopes with that typo! T.D.Hulit

-- Anonymous, December 13, 2000

Another correction!

Hi again, I went home and checked the prices for the mirror lenses. They are as follows: 300mm f/4.5 99, 500mm f/8 89, 500mm f/5.6 149, and 1000mm f/10 169. These prices are all in British Pounds Sterling and were advertised about 2 weeks ago, but haven't changed for at least the last 6 months, so they should still be the same. Be forewarned though, that postage from Britain to North America on a heavy (and delicate) mirror lens might be pretty high. Best of luck! T.D.Hulit

-- Anonymous, December 13, 2000


Okay, last bit of info!

One note: all the mirror lenses listed here are in the standard M42 screw mount. Get those adapters out, eh!

-- Anonymous, December 13, 2000

Just got my MTO 1000mm f10 today in the mail!!

Hey gang!

I just got my new 1000mm f10 mirror lens in the mail today! Boy, is it BIG. At F10 it isn't that bad in the view finder either! I am going to have a ball with some moon shots when I get my camera. I also put a x2 Telelconverter on it (like 1000mm wasn't enough eh?) and it still is fine to focus with in the day. Wow, is 2000mm A LOT! Just for kicks, I added another x2 Teleconverter to it and made it a 4000mm f40 lens! Ok, a little too dark. haha.

I used it on one of my not working Konica's to try it out by a M42 Screw mount to Konica adapter. The lens even comes with 3 116mm filers!! A Green one, Orange one and a 81A warming filter. (HUGE sized).

Mike

-- Anonymous, December 13, 2000


Lee, Go to "Jeff Albros Impact Guide" using your search engine. At the menu "click" on "Camera Repair Resources" and just below that you'll find Bob Monaghans lens page. For a discussion and recommendations on the 500mm lens you're interested in "click" on "Cult Classics in Third Party Lenses." Scroll all the way down to locate the info you need. Off Bobs main page scroll down to the bottom of the page where you'll find two listings of "1600" 3rd party lens manufacturers by brand or focal length. I checked out the prices from McBrooms(95-96)camera price guide for 500mm mirror 8's and came up with a starting low price of $140 for a Tokina (ex. cond.) to a Vivitar Series 1 600 listed at $550 (OUCH!!)(mint cond.)(Jon Harts suggestions) I would definitely bookmark this site since it contains tons of info and resources. Hope this helps you out or maybe it would just add to the confusion. Good Luck, Dave

-- Anonymous, December 12, 2000

Bob Monaghan's Mega-Site

Folks, I have to agree with Dave. This site is invaluable for photographers of all stripes, although its main thrust is medium-format. You will find info unavailable anywhere else listed here. There are new articles posted constantly. If you haven't seen it, get your fanny over there, NOW!!

Jon from Deepinaharta, Georgia

-- Anonymous, December 12, 2000


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