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Which Catadioptric / Mirror lens?
  
 
JohnJ
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p.1 #1 · Which Catadioptric / Mirror lens?


A very quick browse through EvilBay has shown the following 500mm Cat/Mirror lenses with any mount that will adapt to Canon EF. I'm sure there are plenty more.

Vivitar
RMC Tokina
Tamron
CENTON
SUPER ALBINAR
Super Danubia
Kalimar
Quantaray
Spiratone
MAKINON Reflex
Samyang
Yashica
Soligor
Nikon
Opteka
Hanimex
Accura
Kenko
Hama
Pro-Optic
MTO
Exakta
Toyo
Tele Lentar
Reflex Rolleinar
Sigma
Kiev Rubinar
Olympus
Elicar
Sirius
Porst
Samigon
Leica R MR Telyt
Chinon

Are any mirror lenses sharp?

Is there much difference between the cheapest and the most expensive?

Are they a waste of money?

Any advice would be appreciated (except re bokeh, we all know it's harsh and obtrusive already).

Thanks
JJ



Jul 19, 2013 at 11:39 AM
jcolwell
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p.1 #2 · Which Catadioptric / Mirror lens?


Hi JJ,

The Vivitar Series 1 "solid cats" have an excellent reputation; 400mm f/4.5, 600mm f/8, and 800mm f/11. I owned the 600/8 and it had very nice IQ, except for the donuts, which I prefer with coffee, not in images. Otherwise, I'd still have it. The Vivitar Series 1 400/4.5 has the best reputation, but it is rare and the most expensive. The solid cats are just that, solid, with no air gaps. This makes them far less susceptible to misalignment problems than other cats, which are prone to misalignment after one or a few moderate 'knocks'. The solid cats were designed by Perkin-Elmer, who also brought us the Hubble Space Telescope.

The Tamron SP 350/5.6 Cat also has a very good rep, and it's quite small and light. Of course, it's also hard to come by, and relatively expensive, and so I haven't yet managed to snag one.

The four cats mentioned above are tracked in Lens$db; the Vivitar are at the bottom of the LNOP page, and the SP is with the other Tamron lenses.

J



Jul 19, 2013 at 12:17 PM
telyt
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p.1 #3 · Which Catadioptric / Mirror lens?


My only personal experience is with the Nikkor. I found it very sharp, contrast wasn't great and I hated the vignetting and donuts. I sold it with no regrets.

The Leica-R is a Minolta in disguise.



Jul 19, 2013 at 12:50 PM
mogul
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p.1 #4 · Which Catadioptric / Mirror lens?


I have the Sony which auto focuses with the A Mount (500 f8) which doesn't do you any good. It is very sharp; the trouble with MF on these lens, is getting proper focus with limited DOF. The Bokeh (donuts) is usually not a problem but you have to be aware of your background.


Jul 19, 2013 at 01:36 PM
AhamB
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p.1 #5 · Which Catadioptric / Mirror lens?


From what I've read when I was interested in mirror lenses:

I think the better ones are:
- Oly
- Minolta Rokkor and Leica R
- Contax Mirotar 500/8
- Nikkor
- Canon FD (maybe a bit less than the rest of this list)
- Tamron 500/8 SP probably at the bottom of this list, not sure.

Poor reputation, but cheap:
- Tokina
- Sigma 600/8
- Vivitar (not the solid cats; they are probably the best, if you have the budget)
- most of the smaller brand names probably aren't worth their money.

This might be of interest: http://photo.net/learn/optics/mirrors/



Jul 19, 2013 at 02:32 PM
ISO1600
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p.1 #6 · Which Catadioptric / Mirror lens?


Most of the ones you'll encounter are generally T-Mount (I hate T-Mounts, they utilize adapters that are usually sloppy and don't feel great). The Nikkors and Tamrons are pretty easy to find, as well.

I have had both versions of the Tamron (with and without Tripod collar). If you're getting a 500+, try to get one with a collar. Helps a lot with the FL/aperture combination. I generally enjoyed the Tamrons, but the Collared one was better IMO.
The Tamron 350's price is super inflated. Used to be <$300 if you could find it, now they pull more than twice that ($600-$750).



Jul 19, 2013 at 03:06 PM
DaveOls
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p.1 #7 · Which Catadioptric / Mirror lens?


Vivitar used to make a Series One solid cat a number of years ago that was highly regarded. I don't know how it would stack up against more modern cats. I have two Nikons: a 500mm f/5 and a 500mm f/8. I have been very happy with the images produced by both of them. Just remember to try to avoid bright points in the picture as they give you the famous donuts.


Jul 19, 2013 at 05:11 PM
Lee Saxon
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p.1 #8 · Which Catadioptric / Mirror lens?


Are you sure you want a 500? I bought one to experiment with the moon and astrophotography and kept it about a week before I started looking for a 1000.


Jul 19, 2013 at 06:46 PM
DaveOls
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p.1 #9 · Which Catadioptric / Mirror lens?


If you're going to do astrophotography, Lee, you would be better off getting a real telescope and a digital imager instead of a camera. Of course you're probably looking at $ 3,000 or more.


Jul 19, 2013 at 07:17 PM
Ed Sawyer
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p.1 #10 · Which Catadioptric / Mirror lens?


The Questar 700mm(?) is generally head and shoulders above all the others, as far as vintage cat lenses go.


Jul 19, 2013 at 08:43 PM
 

Search in Used Dept. 



JohnJ
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p.1 #11 · Which Catadioptric / Mirror lens?


Thanks Jim.

The Vivitar 600/8 solid cat sounds nice, maybe exy.

telyt wrote:
My only personal experience is with the Nikkor. I found it very sharp, contrast wasn't great and I hated the vignetting and donuts. I sold it with no regrets.
...


I never though that vignetting would be a problem but I've never used a mirror lens, interesting.

telyt wrote:
...The Leica-R is a Minolta in disguise.


And have you seen the prices on those at present!

DaveOls wrote:
... I have two Nikons: a 500mm f/5 and a 500mm f/8. I have been very happy with the images produced by both of them. Just remember to try to avoid bright points in the picture as they give you the famous donuts.


Which of the Nikon cats would you recommend or avoid?

What is the 500/5 like? There are a couple available at present.

Lee Saxon wrote:
Are you sure you want a 500? I bought one to experiment with the moon and astrophotography and kept it about a week before I started looking for a 1000.


I don't know what I want, just spitballing and trying to get the catadioptric lay of the land. I am biased towards the longer end, beyond 500, but not willing to commit any money until I know what's what.

Ed Sawyer wrote:
The Questar 700mm(?) is generally head and shoulders above all the others, as far as vintage cat lenses go.


Interesting.

Thanks all.



Jul 19, 2013 at 10:36 PM
DaveOls
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p.1 #12 · Which Catadioptric / Mirror lens?


The Nikon 500mm f/5 is a beast in size and weight. You have to use it on a tripod. the f/8 is a lot smaller and lighter and might be able to be handheld. I wish the big one had been an f/5.6 instead.
You might just pick up a used third party brand to just try it on for size.



Jul 19, 2013 at 11:51 PM
phuang3
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p.1 #13 · Which Catadioptric / Mirror lens?


I have a question. Since mirror lens has no CA, why didn't people rate it APO or Superachromat?


Jul 20, 2013 at 12:02 AM
sebboh
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p.1 #14 · Which Catadioptric / Mirror lens?


i've only tried two: a celestron c-90 1000mm f/11 and the super cheap quantaray 500/8. the quantaray was useless, i'd have been better off upressing crops from 100mm lens. the celestron was decently sharp (and i was using a NEX-7), but the low contrast and narrow dof made it difficult to work with for small birds at near range (my reason for trying it). the low contrast with these cats is particularly annoying given the high iso and high shutterspeed often necessary to use with such long lenses.

anyway, here's a couple of examples from the celestron on a NEX-7:












Jul 20, 2013 at 07:09 AM
artur5
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p.1 #15 · Which Catadioptric / Mirror lens?


My five cents:
Stay away from ANY mirror lens.



Jul 20, 2013 at 09:11 AM
AhamB
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p.1 #16 · Which Catadioptric / Mirror lens?


phuang3 wrote:
I have a question. Since mirror lens has no CA, why didn't people rate it APO or Superachromat?


I don't know, but nearly all photographic mirror lenses actually do have some lens elements to make the optical construction shorter, so they could theoretically have some amount of CA. But there is more to apochromatism than just CA correction. I think spherical aberration and coma are usually part of the qualification too. Maybe it just doesn't make sense to label them apo because mirror don't have color aberrations, so they would always be apochromats?


sebboh wrote:
the celestron was decently sharp (and i was using a NEX-7), but the low contrast and narrow dof made it difficult to work with for small birds at near range (my reason for trying it). the low contrast with these cats is particularly annoying given the high iso and high shutterspeed often necessary to use with such long lenses.


Did you use a hood? I've read that using a hood of proper length makes quite a difference.



Jul 20, 2013 at 07:37 PM
morpheus2891
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p.1 #17 · Which Catadioptric / Mirror lens?


I had a C-90 as a telescope for a short while (into observational astronomy as well) and it was quite disappointing. Very low contrast and didn't hold up to magnification well at all. Orion telescope makes a series of rather affordable maksutov cassegrain scopes which walked all over the C90. I believe they can be adapted for photo use with a T- ring adapter but unfortunately they're quite a bit slower (somewhere around F13ish)


Jul 20, 2013 at 08:12 PM
sebboh
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p.1 #18 · Which Catadioptric / Mirror lens?


AhamB wrote:
Did you use a hood? I've read that using a hood of proper length makes quite a difference.


nope.



Jul 20, 2013 at 08:47 PM
phuang3
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p.1 #19 · Which Catadioptric / Mirror lens?


AhamB wrote:
Maybe it just doesn't make sense to label them apo because mirror don't have color aberrations, so they would always be apochromats?



That makes sense, thanks.
I'd love to try mirror lens also. Sometimes, speed is not my concern, but focal length is (angle of view).



Jul 22, 2013 at 03:32 AM
Svenning
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p.1 #20 · Which Catadioptric / Mirror lens?


Dear JohnJ,
I have the Tamron 500mm SP f/8 and use it on a Canon 5D MKII.
I use a Fotodiox adapter with focus confirmation.
There a many things to say about the mirror lenses - both pro and cons.
On the pro-side I can mention:
I like that the Tamron 500mm SP focuses down to 1,7 meters distance, which makes it useable for close-up photography.
I like that the mirror lens delivers true colors.
I like that the small dimension & light weight of the mirror lens.
On the con-side I can mention:
The Mirror lens is slow by its fixed aperture of F/8.
Focussing of the mirror lens is picky - very picky - however the live-view of the Canon EOS 5D MKII makes it possible to nail the focus accurately.
To get the best sharpness out of the mirror lenses you need to tripod mount your camera and use remote release when shooting.
When shooting hand-held Pictures in bright sunlight the ISO-speed has to be raised to 500 in order to get a proper fast shutter-speed.
Anyway - I can recommend you to buy a Tamron 500mm SP F/8 mirror lens.



Jul 22, 2013 at 07:21 AM
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