Spiratone Sharpshooter 400

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by JDMvW, Apr 11, 2021.

  1. Spiratone Sharpshooter 400mm f/6.3
    Kadlubek Objektiv-Katalog (2. Ausgabe) SPI0190

    Cheap. simple formula 400mm lenses can be pretty good while still being very affordable. I personally feel (and lots of contemporary reviews agreed) that one of the best of these was the Spiratone 400mm. It is often confused with another 400mm* and miscalled a "Girl Watcher" but Mr Spira had more class than that even way back in 1961. In the ad, that table is from a Modern Photography test. This was also early on in the history of teleconverters, or TelXtenders™ as Spiratone later called them.


    *There is a review comparing the Astranar and the Spiratone: A tale of two teles: 400mm Astranar & Spiratone: Adapted Lens Talk Forum: Digital Photography Review in DPrevew. It's a good review but I'd take the Spiratone every time. I've bought the Spiratone for several friends and given others away as "party favors".
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2021
    James Bryant likes this.
  2. "I'm sorry, JDM, I can't do that"
    4 Spiratone 400mm f6,3.jpg
    It's a very simple T-mount so it will mount on almost anything with the proper adapter. Its length is a little awkward but it's very light weight and no trouble to carry and shoot hand-held.
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2021
    James Bryant likes this.
  3. The lens, interestingly enough, is a simple Petzval design. The images taken below reveal the interesting bokeh that this brings on.


    I'm easing back into my play with my old cameras and gear now that I have my vaccine shots, and feel a little easier in getting out. I've still got a backload of new, old cameras and will try to get to them as time passes.
  4. This is not the 2X teleconverter offered with the 400mm, but a similar 3X version from a year or so later.
    TelXtender 3X​
    These work better than you'd think, although Spiratone's suggestion that they could be stacked for even great extension is not the best idea.
    The introduction of TTL metering made using these much simpler, of course.
    James Bryant likes this.
  5. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    There were a variety of interesting threads and articles about the company, its founder and its trials and tribulations. If interested, search here, DP and Peta. Worth the effort, IMO.
  6. The Seimar 400mm f 6.3 (sold by Kalt) looks almost identical to the Spiratone lens. I bought mine in the late 70's and still use it from time to time. Being a lightweight lens one does have to be wary of mirror vibration at the medium slow shutter speeds so mirror lock up or tripping by self-timer helps. I was given a 400mm f 6.3 Tele Astronar by a friend a few years ago so I gave that one to my oldest son to use in his Minolta SRT. Another friend gave me a 500mm f 8 Tele Astronar which is also a surprisingly good performer.
    Spiratone probably provided the most complete line of accessories for the 400. Thanks for sharing, JDM.
  7. SCL


    I have one which I’ve used for bird photos for years. I converted mine to use with a Leica visoflex and other bodies for which I have viso adapters. I. Like its light weight and central sharpness.
  8. For binocular users the 400 is a good companion as the magnification it delivers through the eyepiece is about what you'd get with 8X binoculars. Of course, viewfinder magnification varies so it might be slightly different. The way I use preset lenses is to stop down to minimum aperture (f 32 on the 400) and turn the open/close ring to wide open. I then turn it until the meter needle is centered or the desired shutter speed is set if using on an aperture priority camera. Thanks for starting this thread, JDM. It reminds me of how much fun this type of lens can be.

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