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Thread: Mirror Lens for Wildlife?

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    Mirror Lens for Wildlife?

    Hi guys I currently have a 70-300 VR and now wish I got the Sigma 50-500mm or something similar for birding and wildlife.

    But in my look around for longer lenses I stumbled onto a package on eBay for a 500mm f8 mirror lens with a 2x TC for the price of $200. I was wondering if the extra 200mm is useful or not for wildlife even with the drop in IQ. I know all about the issues of contrast, MF, vibrations etc...

    Before someone even suggests dropping 1k+ on a good super tele I'm going to go out and say this. This $200 is already at the top of the budget, if the lovely people here convince me to not get this lens I'll put the money towards probably an UWA or a short tele prime.

    As alluded to earlier, this will mainly be used for wildlife, birding and perhaps the moon and some stars perhaps.

    Also a 2nd question: Is there any good program to stack photos that can be easily integrated into a Lightroom workflow? Ta

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    Quote Originally Posted by Danylu View Post
    Hi guys I currently have a 70-300 VR and now wish I got the Sigma 50-500mm or something similar for birding and wildlife.

    But in my look around for longer lenses I stumbled onto a package on eBay for a 500mm f8 mirror lens with a 2x TC for the price of $200. I was wondering if the extra 200mm is useful or not for wildlife even with the drop in IQ. I know all about the issues of contrast, MF, vibrations etc.......
    Sounds like Nikon related gear to me, so I'll reply.

    if you want a 500mm mirror lens, then you want the Nikon version, as it can produce the 'best results' of all the mirror type lenses that I've seen.

    if the price seems a bit too high for a used Nikon 500mm mirror lens compared to the alternatives then some patience may see you find one for approx $300-500 depending on condition and completeness of the kit.
    Save an Ebay search of 500mm mirror Nikkor lens or whatever and regularly check back on it.

    I used to have the Tamron version and it was almost as good, but the Nikon is definitely better, and you'll see that in non pixel peeped images too.
    But you may need to work at getting semi decent images with even the Nikon lens.
    Things(features) like liveview(helps immensely at getting the best possible image to then work with) and probably more importantly mirror lockup(for exposure). Exposure delay, as seen on D80's and D90's may help, but even that may only really be effective at shutter speeds in the 1/100-1/500s range. Any less than that, you have two options: mirror lockup with approximately a 1-2second delay between mirror up and then the exposure, or shooting in the SAP style!.. that's Spray And Pray method I had a hiorrid time using both the Nikon and Tamron mirror lenses on my D70 where I reckon I'd have been lucky to achieve a 1% keeper ratio. On the D300 things are made easier, but not easy.
    They say get a tripod.. and get a good tripod9one that costs two arms and three legs in fact, but a breezy day(not windy, even a light breeze) will still see vibrations that will affect IQ. Then there's haze/heat haze to contend with.
    One day I was out on a medium hot day with zero breeze, and I know the lens was not affected by vibration, as I was using liveview to get focus. Using liveview highlights the infinitesimally small vibrations that affect this lens, because you can zoom in to 10x view and easily see how vibes will affect the image). but on this day I focused not to far from where I was, and could see part of a fence post, gate post, and other bits and pieces wobbling in a weird manner, like a belly dancer, and was due to heat haze.. you know, the hazy emanation of 'nothing'. Made the image impossible to get anywhere near sharp!.. but may have made for a funky arty-fartie video of a series of redgum fence posts belliedancing

    Note that with the Nikon lens, they were originally supplied in a neat hardcase that has a slot in the lid to store the supplied filters. The cheaper lenses may not have the case and or filters supplied. I went for one of them, as the filters are now superflous.
    BUT!!!! if you do go with a Nikon version, make sure it at least comes with the required L37c rear screw in filter. thay can be hard to find at a decent price, and I'm not sure if thridparty makers have them, and/or if they do the same job! This filter at least is required to get focus if you use the viewfinder(which can be a futile endeavour ) .. even on a D300. Liveview is different tho, and you can get perfect focus with or without it. The rear filter is a part of the optical formula and is required for focus.

    I got mine at a decent price and, not only carry it everywhere, but use it regularly.
    I know have a better understanding of the correct conditions for using it better.

    very briefly used a Tamron 2xTC with it once, and the images were passable for net use.
    I'm still going to try to get a 2xTC for it again, and I may hazard a chance with Nikon's latest 2xTC, the TC20E-III(which will require a mechanical modification, I'm lead to believe ).

    if there's one thing this lens is very good at, that's the ability to highlight, in no uncertain terms, the inadequacy of your tripod

    I'd avoid the cheaper versions(Tammy can be good for approx $100-150, but no more) and there is one other mirror lens that can work OK-ish, and that's a brand called MTO and you may want the 1000mm version.

    As for the lack of contrast, you edit in contrast via the Cameras Picture Control feature, or on the PC later on.

    I have a few images captured with the Nikon lens, and very few remaining taken with the Tamron(on the D70s tho!) if you would like me to display.
    Nikon D800E, D300, D70s
    {Nikon} -> 50/1.2 : 500/8(CPU'd) : 105/2.8VR Micro : 180/2.8ais : 105mm f/1.8ais : 24mm/2ais
    {Sigma}; ->10-20/4-5.6 : 50/1.4 : 12-24/4.5-5.6II : 150-600mm|S
    {Tamron}; -> 17-50/2.8 : 28-75/2.8 : 70-200/2.8 : 300/2.8 SP MF : 24-70/2.8VC


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    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    I have a few images captured with the Nikon lens, and very few remaining taken with the Tamron(on the D70s tho!) if you would like me to display.
    Yes please

    You are correct, this is Nikon related :P

    $500 is really pushing it for a mirror lens in my opinion. If I do get one I'll be getting one with a 2x TC. Should I get myself a hood as well? I can't imagine such an old design with uncoated glass would be good against flare in any respect.

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    Tammy 500 on D70s:
    DSC_5621.jpg

    IQ is right on the borderline of being OK. At 50% pixel zoom view the images look passable, and could do with a little contrast enhancement. but the images remaining this lens/camera combo are very few now.

    Nikon 500 on D300:
    1.
    DSC_0422.jpg
    2.
    DSD_8276.jpg
    3.
    DSF_7934.jpg

    Moon shots are hard at the wrong time of night. because of the framing, the black night sky against the very bright(by comparsion) moon, makes it almost impossible to use liveview to focus perfectly. If you get perfect focus and no camera shake you can get very decent moon shots using a mirror lens. The black sky which makes up for more of the scene than the moon itself, causes the camera to brighten the scene, and the moon turns into a washed out bright ball, where you can't see any detail to focus on. For those times when you can make out moon detail, liveview offers a much better manner by which you can achieve perfect focus, when compared to using the viewfinder. When I use my 300/2.8 and any TC's to achieve similar framing on the moon, I have to stop the aperture down to it's smallest value, where the increased level of contrast on the moons surface allows better focusing ability(using liveview), and then I'll adjust aperture to get the best image that the gear allows. Mirror lenses are not the ideal lens types to be shooting the moon.

    I used to have a swag of images in a specific folder to refer back too for the Tamron lens, but they were all below par quality, as either the shutter speed was too low(most likely) or I'd missed focus. The one I posted here with the D70s and Tamron mirror were the only exception, and were shot whilst traveling to function with some time to spare. All the images in that Tamron specific folder were eventually deleted due to the substandard quality.

    One of the things I always do is to test my newly acquired gear, and save the images to specific folders, that makes for easy referencing. Even if they're bad quality they get stored on my external drive for future use, but the difficulty in getting consistently OK shots was too hard for me with the D70s and Tammy(and Nikon 500 too).

    One thing to note too with the Nikon lens: For wildlife such as birds this lens is next to useless. The focus ring is very heavily dampened and makes for slow focus tracking of moving subjects. I remember the Tammy was much less dampened.

    You need to look for very high contrast subject matter when using mirror type lenses too.

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    Your photos look very nice for a lens of this grade. I know that I'll have to keep in mind the very specific conditions under which this lens will perform though. Do you think I'd be better off waiting for an old 300mm AI lens with 2x TC to pop up on eBay instead?

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    300mm Ai/Ais?? which particular model?

    There's an f/4.5 model currently for sale in the classified somewhere here??

    Not 100% sure on the absolute quality of that lens, especially with the 2xTC but form memory the most reliable source of info on Nikon specific lenses seems to think they're not too bad, as long as it's an ED lens. ED is of course the type of lens elements.

    You're in Melbourne:

    two things.

    1. if you can find the time, try to make it down to the Melb meet coming up in a few Wednesday nights, and you can have a play with the Nikon 500 mirror lens I have.

    2. if you can get into the city, check out Camera Exchange on Londsale St half way up the hill between Elizabeth and Queen Sts, and opposite JBHiFi.(number approx 380-ish???) I recall them having two copies of Nikon's 300mm f/4.5 in Ais mount, but can't recall the price they were asking.
    Their good blokes in there and will allow you to mount the lens to your camera and take some sample shots. They also had various teleconverters for sale as well. May just be the medicine you need

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    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    300mm Ai/Ais?? which particular model?

    There's an f/4.5 model currently for sale in the classified somewhere here??

    Not 100% sure on the absolute quality of that lens, especially with the 2xTC but form memory the most reliable source of info on Nikon specific lenses seems to think they're not too bad, as long as it's an ED lens. ED is of course the type of lens elements.

    You're in Melbourne:

    two things.

    1. if you can find the time, try to make it down to the Melb meet coming up in a few Wednesday nights, and you can have a play with the Nikon 500 mirror lens I have.

    2. if you can get into the city, check out Camera Exchange on Londsale St half way up the hill between Elizabeth and Queen Sts, and opposite JBHiFi.(number approx 380-ish???) I recall them having two copies of Nikon's 300mm f/4.5 in Ais mount, but can't recall the price they were asking.
    Their good blokes in there and will allow you to mount the lens to your camera and take some sample shots. They also had various teleconverters for sale as well. May just be the medicine you need
    Yes the particular lens in this forum was the one that brought my attention to the Nikon AI super teles. I should go down to Camera Exchange. I was shooting in the city on Easter Monday but being Easter Monday all the shops opened at 11am instead of the 9:00am I was expecting

    I just checked out the meet and I can't make it.. rawr

    EDIT: How long ago did you see the two 300mms for sale? Hopefully they are still there thanks to the lack of interest amongst most photographers for old school lenses

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    As much as I don't like double posting, I also don't like multiple editing. I noticed that camera exchange's website doesn't list the 300mm as for sale as a 2nd hand item - do they tend to not list stuff or do you think it has been sold?
    http://cameraexchange.com.au/index.p...ory&path=45_52

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    They have a wall cabinet chock full of older manual lenses.

    I was in there approximately 1month ago.. maybe just a tad less.

    That web age only seems to list their secondhand modern stuff, they probably don't advertise their older ais lenses. I'll probably have some time on Monday morning so I'll pop in for a quick browse too.

    Noticed those two 300's a long long time ago.. maybe 6months or more ago. They're not a fast selling type of product, so I'd be surprised to see them gone all of a sudden.. unless you make it into their store before I do.
    They also have(from memory) at least 3 or 4.. maybe more.. teleconverters as well, of which I noticed at least one to be either a TC-201 model, or maybe a TC-300.

    A trip into their store will not disappoint

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    I've also found a pretty beaten up and knocked about (many scratches and dints) 55mm 1.2 for $250. Seems like an absolute steal for what it is until you see the photos of it. This is the one time I have choice in my search for 2nd hand AI stuff lol. I think I might go with the 55mm because it is a 1.2.

    If you drop into Camera Exchange tomorrow, do share any lenses for sale that you find interesting though. Thanks

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    55mm f/1.2 is common and cheap. a badly beaten up version wouldn't fetch more than $100 on ebay.

    50mm f/1.2's are more expensive and less common and slightly better quality. Badly beaten up version approx $300(possibly slightly less)

    58mm f/1.2 are rare as hens teeth, a totally flattened(by a road roller), unrepairable version would fetch over $10K on ebay

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    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post
    55mm f/1.2 is common and cheap. a badly beaten up version wouldn't fetch more than $100 on ebay.

    50mm f/1.2's are more expensive and less common and slightly better quality. Badly beaten up version approx $300(possibly slightly less)

    58mm f/1.2 are rare as hens teeth, a totally flattened(by a road roller), unrepairable version would fetch over $10K on ebay
    What's the reason for such a huge price gap between the 3?

    Edit: On ebay the 55mm 1.2s are fetching $240 USD :/

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    Quote Originally Posted by Danylu View Post
    What's the reason for such a huge price gap between the 3? ..
    Quality. The 58/1.2 called the Noct is a Nikon legend, and generally sells in the $3-4K price range!.... For a 20+ year old manual only lens

    .... Edit: On ebay the 55mm 1.2s are fetching $240 USD :/
    That'd be for a good one. Sounds about right. the money I estimated for the 55/1.2 is for a badly knocked about version with scratches and dints. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

    Check ebay thoroughly too .. use the international search, not just the local search.
    Those 55's are very common. Some seem to produce very good results, but bokeh looks very ordinary, on both the 55mm and 50mm versions.

    Secondhand 50mm lenses can be found in the $600 price range in excellent condition, and that particular lens still retails new! Expensive though .. in the $1K range new.

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