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Thread: Experience with 500mm Mirror lenses?

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Experience with 500mm Mirror lenses?

    I have always been a fan of mirror lenses. With all the faults of F8/T11 , donut highlights and lower resolution/contrast...the 500mm is light and fits in a small bag. Living in Florida and around the water ..there is always something that needs more reach than I can get.

    I have a mirror for my DMR ..but I really don t like to take it to the beach...the electrical connections have a mind of their own and better not to chance it.

    The D3 on the other hand is a beast and can take it ....so I need a mirror for the Nikon. This is a long shot but I am comparing the Leica R(really a Minolta design in a great mount) to the last Nikkor Ais . I can adapt the Leica or buy the Nikkor. Any experience out their? I am pretty sure the minolta design is what evolved into the new Sony AF lens for the A900.

    Roger

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    Senior Member atanabe's Avatar
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    Re: Experience with 500mm Mirror lenses?

    Roger,
    I had the 2nd generation Nikon 500 Mirror AIs many years back and found it to be flat in contrast. Light yes, but the mirror lenses are subject to heat/cold issues more than the solid lens counterparts. As far as others out there, I think at the time (early 80's) Vivitar made a solid Cat lens that used glass instead of sir and the lens was rated better than the Nikon at the time if I recall the name it was marked under "Series 1".

    The Leica version of the lens was made by Minolta and could just be the same design as the one for Sony. I have never handled the Leica version so could not attest to the image quality but knowing the Leica engineers, they would not put their name on any sub par design.

    Good luck,
    Al
    Al Tanabe my website https://www.altanabe.com

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Experience with 500mm Mirror lenses?

    Al

    Thanks for the insight. I have the leica version and use it on the DMR ..so I could convert it but would prefer not to. The contrast and resolution isn t up to the prime alternatives... I am finding thought that the contrast isn t much of an issue shooting around the ocean early or late with good light. Sort of how much contrast would you like? I would like a little more resolution but for a lot of shots that not much of an issue.

    They are pretty cheap when compared to the other lenses I carry ...in the $3-500 range. Tough call ..but you are probably right ...can t imagine the Nikon being a lot better than the leica version.

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    Subscriber Member Jorgen Udvang's Avatar
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    Re: Experience with 500mm Mirror lenses?

    The Sony/Minolta is the best one that was ever made, and Sony still sells a healthy volume of them. If the Leica is the same, It's obviously good. From what I've heard, Olympus OM is a close second, and amazingly compact. I almost bought one a few months ago, but I was too slow.

    I have one of the later versions of the Nikon, and use it on my S5 occasionally. It's sharp, but low contrast, as mentioned by Al. I still find it great fun though, and will keep mine for those occasions when it's suitable.

    What I find a bit hard to get used to, is that the focusing ring turns to easily. That's particularly a problem when using the lens handheld, something I often do when there's enough light.

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    Senior Member atanabe's Avatar
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    Re: Experience with 500mm Mirror lenses?

    The advantage of using it with the D3 is that you can crank up the ISO without much penalty and get usable handhold speeds. With film you were stuck with whatever was loaded for the sunny day usually Kodachrome and had to use a tripod or get a lot of blur. That is why I never used it as much as I thought I would when I first bought the 500. Now just crank up the ISO to 1250 and shoot at 1/5000 on a bright sunny day!
    Al Tanabe my website https://www.altanabe.com

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    Workshop Member glenerrolrd's Avatar
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    Re: Experience with 500mm Mirror lenses?

    Quote Originally Posted by atanabe View Post
    The advantage of using it with the D3 is that you can crank up the ISO without much penalty and get usable handhold speeds. With film you were stuck with whatever was loaded for the sunny day usually Kodachrome and had to use a tripod or get a lot of blur. That is why I never used it as much as I thought I would when I first bought the 500. Now just crank up the ISO to 1250 and shoot at 1/5000 on a bright sunny day!
    Al

    Thats exactly why I think it can be so useful. I need to pull some shots I did with the 500 on the DMR. I shoot a lot around a pier and I found that a homemade bean bag can steady the camera . With the D3 I should be able to get the 1/2000 it needs.

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