Spiratone Minitel-M 500mm f/8 mirror lens (T-mount)

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by jdm_von_weinberg, Sep 23, 2013.

  1. Spiratone Minitel-M 500mm f/8 Mirror lens

    Strangely enough (these were a quintessential Spiratone item), Kadlubek Objektiv-Katalog (2. Ausgabe) does not yet list the mirror lenses.

    As most of you who hang out here on classic manual forum are probably aware, I tend to be "binge" collector, and one of my first binges was a quest for a decent mirror lens ( http://www.photo.net/classic-cameras-forum/00RaKy , and many other posts).

    One of the first ones I found that was decent was the Spiratone Minitel-M 500mm f/8.

    Here is an Spiratone advertisement for it from 1984:
    00c1BM-542675584.jpg
     
  2. Now, for the next part of this story.
    Several years ago I bid at the last minute on an oddball assortment of lenses, having noticed that there was a lens that was fairly hard to find in the congeries. Of course, when it came, not only was that lens broken with the diaphragm blades literally falling out of it, but everything in the kit was covered with dust of long standing - must have been in a garage or attic or some such. I think that the seller was genuinely naive, but it's always hard to tell, isn't it? Anyhow, I let her down easy, I thought, although I don't think she agreed with that and I was left with a box of mostly junk, separated filters, and all. The one halfway decent item, after being cleaned up considerably, was a Spiratone Minitel-M 500mm lens.

    I already had one in, and the focus movement on this one was a stiff. However it still seems to be optically OK.

    Here are two views of that very Minitel-M lens:

    00c1BO-542675684.jpg
     
  3. The following pictures were taken today with the lens above on my Canon 5Dii with a T>EF mount at high ISOs (it was dusk by the time I got to this today).
    And here is a shot at dusk at high ISO and hand held of, of , ....... yes, that one:

    00c1BP-542675784.jpg
     
  4. And the other one too. Also handheld and at high ISO
    00c1BS-542675884.jpg
     
  5. Now, for the pay-off for your sticking with this introduction or recap of the Spiratone mirror lens.
    FREE
    The first person who wants it, who posts here on this thread , and is in the USA [I've not done well on the customs declaration front, sorry], can have this lens, postpaid. FREE, that is.

    The catch:
    You will, however, need to find a T-mount that will fit whatever camera you want to use it on.
    The mount on this lens is T-mount and cannot be interchanged with M42x1 (Pentax/Praktica.Contax) screw threads. It looks the same, but the threads will be destroyed on the lens, or body, or both without the T-mount converter.

    This is my little "pay-it-forward" for the recent good deed of Kris, and for all the others who have contributed to me and others on this forum.
     
  6. Oh, just to anticipate, the very best catadioptric lenses I have found so far are the Sigma 600mm and the Reflex-Nikkor 500mm. There are posts on each of them by me on this site somewhere.
    The manual, such as it is, for this lens in various formats can be found at http://www.photo.net/casual-conversations-forum/00bExR )
     
  7. When I said above that the "focus movement" was "a stiff" - that was a typo, not a subtle joke. It works (not dead) but is a little stiff in action...Sort of the Gore or Romney of mirror lenses.
     
  8. I've got the 300, is the 500 better?
     
  9. I think that the Spiratone 300mm is better optically, although the 500mm is better at doing 500mm focal length, of course.... :)
     
  10. Since I'm not a very fast typist, and I didn't want to shout Me, Me, Me... I would love to try that one. I don't have anything to pay it forward with yet, but there might be some Canon FD in the future. I'll send you a private message soon.

    Thank you
     
  11. Very cool post. I still have Spiratone products scattered here and there around the house. I'd like to see you shoot that 500 on a tripod at say , ASA 200 and post the results here.
    Thank you JDM.
     
  12. Peter has it.
    I'll let him do the post with the tripod and ISO 200 (I still think in ASA too, though). :)
     
  13. That's mighty nice of you, JDM. I will resist the temptation* as I have accumulated too many mirror lenses after reading your essays on the topic. I have lived by WWJ(DM)D when it comes to "cat" lenses, to my financial detriment.

    So far the standouts, a relative accolade to be sure, are the compact Reflex-Nikkor 500/8 (latest model with the orange distance stripe) and, among the short cats, the Rokkor 250/5.6. Have not tried the Sigma 600/8. To my surprise the Nikkor yielded better results than the storied Questar 700/8, but before Dan Fromm issues a correction I will stipulate that it's possible that my copy needs a tune up. Or my technique is crap, which is also quite possible.

    @Peter: I haven't compared the 300mm and 500mm Spiratones directly, but certainly 300mm mirror lenses command a premium price on the big auction site for some reason. I thought it would be fun to use a short cat on the Nikon V1, but between the 2.7 crop factor and the lack of focus confirmation or peaking of any sort, I've found it quite challenging.
    *I should note I actually started typing this right after Peter's first response, but hacked around trying to find the photo for an ungodly amount of time.
    00c1CO-542676784.jpg
     
  14. OMG
    WWJ(DM)D ! ! !
    That's like the old maps with "here be dragons" in the unknown places. ;)
    This sort of staggers me. Perhaps I need to be more careful in future?
    My presentation of the Spiratone 300mm mirror lens is at http://www.photo.net/classic-cameras-forum/00bS7P
     
  15. Decent? Not really, but to be fair JDM's prize may be a newer improved version of the one for which I have test results from Modern Photography. Here's a tabulation of mirror lens test results from MP:
    Mirror lenses, by focal length and date within focal length:

    Date Resolution Contrast
    Ctr Edge Ctr Edge

    Minolta 1600/11 10/82 44 36 30 20

    Celestron 1250/10 2/77 64 56 44 40

    Meade 1000/8 3/82 50 44 38 32

    Minolta 800/8 RF 5/73 44 44 n/a n/a
    Minolta 800/8 10/75 45 32 42 30
    Minolta 800/8 10/82 51 40 38 30

    Honeywell Lumetar 750/6 7/75 64 44 48 38

    Questar 700/8 1/77 64 60 40 37

    Vivitar 600/8 10/76 34 27 38 38
    Sigma 600/8 11/81 50 40 37 29

    Minolta 500/8 1/79 48 42 44 34
    Spiratone 500/8 1/79 44 36 42 34
    MTO 500/8 (new) 3/79 54 42 40 28
    Tamron 500/8 SP 6/79 48 36 44 28
    Soligor 500/8 CD 10/80 44 32 36 25
    Tokina 500/8 RMC 10/80 44 32 34 24
    Olympus 500/8 10/84 40 40 58 55

    Pentax 400-600/8-12 @400 10/82 40 36 35 27
    @500 45 40 35 27
    @600 40 32 33 28

    Spiratone 300/5.6 11/83 44 39 44 31

    Minolta 250/5.6 2/80 44 40 44 33

    The general conclusion is that few mirror lenses produce outstanding image
    quality. About the only really good ones are the Questar 700 and the two
    Celestrons (1250/10 and 750/6 sold as a Honeywell Lumetar). It is a pity that
    MP published no tests of mirror lenses after 1984. Refracting lenses seem to
    have improved markedly during the '80s. It seems reasonable to hope that
    recently designed mirror lenses would perform better than the oldish ones for
    which I found tests, but there's no way of knowing.
     
  16. AFAIK, there are very few, if any, "recently designed" catadioptric lenses. The Korean-made ones variously branded as Vivitar, Quantaray, etc. seem to be much worse than the old Spiratones they so closely resemble. One is far better to buy one of the 'classics' off eBay than waste the $100 or so on the new ones.
    I've got the entire range of Spiratone mirror lenses by now (I know, sad, ain't it?) and the Minitel-M version for the 500mm is superior, although the original MTO one was actually pretty good.
    As I said before, one of the key problems with any mirror lens is flare, and a lens hood is crucial to get higher contrast images.
    Did I mention that one either likes mirror lenses or not?
    Dan, what's the issue of MP that test was from? Nice of you to provide the data here.
     
  17. Be careful what you wish for Gene, I might be in your back yard next month with the lens on a tripod. I had to take out my 300 to see if the T adapter would come off without a fight, so I threw it on the D7000 and pointed it out the window. The focus confirmation doesn't seem to work (I thought it worked on the D40), and shooting through three panes of dirty glass gets me something I can work with.
    Michael, Nice shot of the greenhouse. You have to search for the donut highlights, where they usually jump out at you. The 500 might be a bit much on a V1.
    Dan, I know they aren't great, and some might not even be considered decent, but this one comes in at the budget my wife allows, and I just need a little more reach to get some pictures of a beaver family working on their lodge. I have a feeling I won't be shooting that at ISO 100.
    00c1Ge-542684884.jpg
     
  18. JDM, month and year published, as mm/yy, are in the table after the lens' focal length/maximum aperture.
    Formatting tables on p.n is too much work, sorry.
     
  19. The Minolta 500/8 AF lens is somewhat unique as it is an AF lens and it's quite good, but these lenses really need good
    technique, they're really long especially with APS cameras. You need a tripod really and a good stable one. Plus I notice
    contrast isn't fantastic (but that's what Aperture/Lightroom/etc. are for right?)
     
  20. Thanks, I'm afraid I missed that in the jumble of numbers.
    As a tip, but it doesn't always work exactly right, you can format the numbers in Excel and copy and paste (making sure to have an extra column on the left for adjustments) into P.net.
    You got to get it right the first time, however, since like contact cement, you really don't get a second chance with it in the P.net editor.
    Here is my effort at it, which is a little easier to follow, but not perfect.

    Mirror lenses, by focal length and date within focal length:
    Mirror lenses, by focal length and date within focal length: Date Resolution Contrast
    Maker FL-Aperture m/y Mod Ph Ctr Edge Ctr Edge
    Minolta 1600/11 10/82
    44​
    36​
    30​
    20​
    Celestron 1250/10 2/77
    64​
    56​
    44​
    40​
    Meade 1000/8 3/82
    50​
    44​
    38​
    32​
    Minolta 800/8 RF 5/73
    44​
    44​
    n/a n/a
    Minolta 800/8 10/75
    45​
    32​
    42​
    30​
    Minolta 800/8 10/82
    51​
    40​
    38​
    30​
    Honeywell Lumetar 750/6 7/75
    64​
    44​
    48​
    38​
    Questar 700/8 1/77
    64​
    60​
    40​
    37​
    Vivitar 600/8 10/76
    34​
    27​
    38​
    38​
    Sigma 600/8 11/81
    50​
    40​
    37​
    29​
    Minolta 500/8 1/79
    48​
    42​
    44​
    34​
    Spiratone 500/8 1/79
    44​
    36​
    42​
    34​
    MTO 500/8 (new) 3/79
    54​
    42​
    40​
    28​
    Tamron 500/8 SP 6/79
    48​
    36​
    44​
    28​
    Soligor 500/8 CD 10/80
    44​
    32​
    36​
    25​
    Tokina 500/8 RMC 10/80
    44​
    32​
    34​
    24​
    Olympus 500/8 10/84
    40​
    40​
    58​
    55​
    Pentax 400-600/8-12 @400 10/82
    40​
    36​
    35​
    27​
    @500
    45​
    40​
    35​
    27​
    @600
    40​
    32​
    33​
    28​
    Spiratone 300/5.6 11/83
    44​
    39​
    44​
    31​
    Minolta 250/5.6 2/80
    44​
    40​
    44​
    33​
     
  21. Great to see the water tower back! Always interesting to see these unusual lenses, even though I could never get on with them. Sure they are very compact, but those doughnuts really give me the heebie jeebies.
     
  22. Here were the minimum standards for various classes of lenses as set by Modern Photography in 1984 (1984-06 MP). Note that the minimum standard for 500mm lenses at the time is lower than achieved by nearly all the lenses in the chart above.
    00c1JL-542688784.jpg
     
  23. The Spiratone lens in the test chart above, is actually a different, and I think, slightly inferior version of the many Spiratone catadioptrics, but it still came in for a pretty positive recommendation from Modern Photography, giving it resolution ratings of "Excellent" both in center and corner.
    Here is a fairly compressed pdf version of the full review.
     
  24. I remember back in the day craving one of these, or one like it, but I was continually disappointed because virtually no third-party cat lens would clear the meter head of a Nikon Photomic. Much later I finally found one whose name is not on the tip of my tongue and I'm too lazy to go look, and it was a disappointment in sharpness. I'm not sure it was any worse than the Spiratone, but it certainly was no better. I soon set it aside in favor of the bleeding-razor-sharp Nikkor 400/5.6 refractor, which is way sharper even with a 1.4X converter.
    But I still have a sort of soft spot for mirror lenses. It seems such a grand idea.
     
  25. As long as I'm doing this, although my main point here was to give away the lens, I will admit that this is not my first post on mirror lenses and other long lenses.
    Here is the sad tale from the beginning:
    • 500mm lenses - a cautionary tale of an obsession? http://www.photo.net/classic-cameras-forum/00RaKy
    • Reflex-Nikkor 500mm f/8 lens (non-AI) http://www.photo.net/nikon-camera-forum/00Pzdv
    • Sigma Mirror Telephoto 600mm f/8 http://www.photo.net/classic-cameras-forum/00XSrL
    • Zoomar Sport-Reflectar 500mm f/5.6 http://www.photo.net/classic-cameras-forum/00bbMF
    • Maksutov lens - MTO 500mm f/8 http://www.photo.net/classic-cameras-forum/00bVwA
    • Spiratone Minitel-M 500mm f/8 mirror lens (T-mount) http://www.photo.net/classic-cameras-forum/00c1BM?unified_p=1 (this post)
    • Spiratone 300mm http://www.photo.net/classic-cameras-forum/00bS7P
     
  26. The lens showed up around an hour ago, it might be worth $.03 more for a stamp next year, with USPS being able to deliver a package halfway across the country in just a couple of days.
    Yes JDM, the focus is stiff, but I don't think it will unscrew the adapter while focusing. So I grabbed the tripod, ran outside, and then remembered they put a new building between me and the local water tower. My cosmos are finally starting to bloom, so I was able to see how the close focus was working.
    Sorry Gene, with a fixed aperture of f8, and the wind blowing a little, I used ISO 640. (Actually, I forgot to reset it after its last use.)
    Interesting tidbit, both serial numbers start with 82, the 500 has 6 digits, and the 300 has 7. I wonder if that designates the manufacturer, similar to the Vivitar Series One lenses.
    I'll have to find a good angle and time to shoot my water tower, but until then,
    Thank You JDM,
    Here's one of the first shots of the cosmos (flower, not night sky)
    00c1f2-542730084.JPG
     
  27. I had forgot to mention that a number of these mirror lenses do well (albeit with extremely shallow depth of field) at 'close focus'.
    In fact the only decent shots I got with my cheap Korean one were of some butterflies where the "soft focus" was unobjectionable.
    I am pleased to have it go to someone who will have fun with it.
     
  28. I tried to find my mirror lens tonight, but it seems to be hiding temporarily. I keep throwing T mount adapters on it and thinking to go out and use it with some oddball camera, and keep not bothering. I guess it's gotten lonely. I can't now remember whether it was a telesor or a telesar. It had the rare advantage of a neck long enough to clear a Nikon F Photomic finder, and built in filters, and it is very nicely, robustly made. Anyway, I did not use it for long, and because I was shooting almost exclusively slides at the time, found very few worth scanning. I finally dug up one from around 2004. It's marginally not bad at 700DPI but annoyingly soft higher, and that's about the best I could get.
    00c1pU-542757784.jpg
     

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