Spiratone Minitel-M 500mm f/8 vs. Quantaray 500mm f/8 Mirror -some images

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by jdm_von_weinberg, Sep 27, 2013.

  1. Images from
    Spiratone Minitel-M 500mm f/8
    Quantaray 500mm f/8 Mirror


    In another post recently ( http://www.photo.net/classic-cameras-forum/00c1BM ), I had presented a Spiratone Mintel-M 500mm. I think this was the last incarnation of the rather long series of Spiratone mirror lenses starting with their import of a variety of the Soviet MTO 500mm Matsukov lens ( http://www.photo.net/classic-cameras-forum/00bVwA ).

    Now, the Spiratone Minitel-M looks almost identical to the still-available new lenses from Korea variously sold as Quantaray and other import names -- I think Vivitar, Bower, Opteka, and Samyang are essentially the same lens. These sell new for USD 85-140 or so.

    The Spiratone Mintel-M is sold for about the same prices as the new ones.

    So which should you get?

    I thought it would be instructive to present a side-by-side comparison of the two. I posted a few days ago on another example of the Spiratone lens than the one used here and Gene M wanted to see images at ISO 200 of my infamous water tower test image.

    These are shot on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II body on a very solid tripod with a remote release, although I did not lock up the mirror. This is a test of how most people would use these lenses, after all. I did focus bracketing on these and chose the sharpest, so far as I could tell, although objectively there was little difference from one image to the next. I had lot of practice with manual focus years ago and haven't entirely lost the touch. The tripod head was a Manfrotto 393 'gimbal' head.

    Here is the Spiratone Minitel-M showing the full sized image:
  2. And here with the Quantaray 500mm f/8 mirror lens, also on the same tripod and body at ISO200

  3. Here are 100% clips, side by side, of the two lenses - Mintel on left, Quantaray on right

  4. Although the shots are not exactly the same, here are close-ups of clods where the city sewer people have not yet finished with my front yard easement (there's still some of my lawn left).

  5. The Quantaray

  6. and here the 100% crops, side by side
  7. The Quantaray is maybe not quite so bad as I had remembered, but it is clearly inferior to the Spiratone Minitel-M. I have to admit that, while the Spiratone is usable, it is maybe not so good as its superiority, long ago, to the Quantaray had made me think.

    At less than half the price of a decent Reflex-Nikkor or Sigma mirror lens, the Spiratone is workable if your interest in mirror lenses does not go so deep as mine. It's fun, light, and-if you're shooting hand-held-a good value.

    I would avoid the Korean made lenses (I admit my sample size = 1) since you can do better for the same money if you're not afraid of eBay. None of the Spiratone versions seem to be at the stores that sell used gear - too plebian, I suppose, but the Reflex-Nikkors are offered.
    Sorry to rush ahead, and I still want to see Peter Doucette's water tower.
    Can't get enough towers in, nosiree. ;)
  8. I had the same experience with one of the Korean 500mm mirrors lenses. Mine was not usable as a camera lens. The proverbial 'Coke-bottle' lens. And I am not exaggerating. If you want a sharp, compact, not too expensive mirror lens - I had good luck with the now-discontinued Tokina. It still turns up regularly at KEH and the well known auction site.
  9. Very comprehensive JDM, you sure that you don't work for Pop. Photo? Now you need to get one of those Nikkors to compare...and you know I love that tower :)
  10. Great comparison. I've been thinking about a Tamron 500 mirror optic.
  11. I had a 500mm Vivtar mirror a few years back & it was the worst lens that I have ever owned. I never got a decent picture with it, even with a tripod. I got rid of it for a Tamron 500mm F8 SP Mirror.
    The subject of mirror lenses cropped up on a UK forum that I am a member of & I shot some test images with primes, primes with a teleconverter & finally one with the Tamron mirror.
    Here is the thread if you want to look at the images to see how the Tamron performs.
    No way would I suggest to anyone to buy a cheap mirror lens without testing it first. I have been very happy with the Tamron.
  12. Interesting comparisons, JDM. I'd have to agree that neither lens is very exciting, despite the water tower... I don't have much use for very long lenses, not being into wildlife or sports photography, but I'm more interested in the way a long lens can isolate a subject and set up an interesting background. A 500mm mirror lens is really very usable with today's gear; minutes ago I ducked outside into the never-ending spring gale with the old 500mm Matsukov strapped onto a Canon 5D, wound the ISO up to 1000 and shot some pics handheld at 1/250th. Lots of movement, but here's one sample I quite liked.
  13. Most excellent post. Thank you.
  14. Oh, I already have the Nikkor and others besides. See the list of my earlier posts at the end of the other Spiratone post (link).
  15. Almost forgot to present the lens P O R N.
    Here are the two lenses side by side.
  16. Likely the cheap 500's made in South Korea did not sufficiently correct the spherical abberation inherent in the primary
    mirrors. The better ones (like tested here) more carefully matched meniscus from element to correct primary.
  17. Some claim that the best f8 500mm mirror was made by Minolta back in the 1970s and 80s. Does anyone here have experience with it?
  18. I had the chance to try out the 500mm f8 Reflex Rokkor when a Minolta sales rep visited the family camera shop back in the late 1970's. I got to try lenses from the 8mm fisheye up to the 500mm, all on my Minolta SRT 201. He didn't have the 800mm or 1600mm Rokkors with him. As I recall the 500 delivered sharp images with minimal light fall-off. Maybe I can find the negatives somewhere.
  19. The Minitel M, third version, was the biggest pleasant surprise to me.

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