Vivita 500mm f8 Lens on Nikon D3200

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by jennifer_hammen, Dec 27, 2015.

  1. I got a vivitar 500mm f/8.0 for xmas... i attached the lens but the camera will not take a picture on the M mode.... are there some special settings I need to set... I am a very basic user... help please... the pic is just black.... I have a nikon d3200 camera
  2. If this is a manual lens, it will not operate the camera's meter at all, and you must, therefore, guess the metering yourself. If the shutter is operating but the exposure is black, it's likely just not getting enough light.
    Your best bet is to use "sunny 16" guesswork to start with. That basic rule is that in bright sunlight, with an aperture of F16, your shutter speed should be about the reciprocal of your ISO.
    Your best bet is probably to keep the lens wide open at F8. That would mean, in bright sunlight, that you could set the camera at F8, ISO 400, and shutter speed of 1/800. Slow down the shutter speed for lower light, or boost the ISO. You'll likely need to fine tune this, but it should get you an image of some sort.
    Manual lenses with aperture rings do not use the camera's aperture control, but must be adjusted at the lens. Use the wheel on back for shutter speed.
    Auto ISO will not operate correctly with a manual lens, so even with Auto ISO on, you will get only the speed you select yourself. For low light, you will likely have to crank up the ISO to avoid blurry shutter speeds unless you use a tripod. F8 is pretty slow. One of the other rules of thumb is that for hand holding your shutter speed should be approximately the reciprocal of the lens's focal length, in this case of its effective focal length. That would mean that for reliable hand holding, you should try for a shutter speed of 1/750 or shorter. This kind of lens will work best on a tripod.
    If you go to the camera's playback menu, you will find a section labeled "playback options." Open that, and check the box for "OVERVIEW." This will give you some basic information on a shot, including a histogram, which serves as a post-shot meter. You can look up more info on histograms on the web, but the basic idea is that a well exposed shot will show on the graph from about the left end to just shy of the right end, with most of the information in the middle. If it's crowded all to the left with nothing at all on the right, the shot is underexposed, and if crowded to the right, overexposed. You can see whether an image came out at all by looking at the playback, but it's not very accurate. The histogram is your best tool for manually metering.
    Once you've enabled more than one playback view, you can toggle through the different ones by using the up/down arrows on the back.
    By the way, the printed manual that comes with the D3200 is seriously abridged. If you want the full manual you must get it in PDF form either from the CD that came with the camera, or from Nikon's web site.
  3. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I assume the 500mm/f8 is a mirror lens that has no aperture control, such that it is always f8.
  4. Shooting f/8 at 500mm? If you don't want to use the histogram, put it on a tripod and slow down the shutter speed in full stops until you get something (anything at all) as a point of reference. I wouldn't try to "fix" it by turning up the ISO.
    Don't be too disappointed if this lens doesn't give good results, even at f/8. If this were not a mirror lens, it would be long and skinny, 62.5mm in aperture (just under 2.5 inches wide at the long end). There are just not a lot of practical applications for such a lens. On the other hand, with good light and good subjects (say, birds in nearby trees or squirrels on the ground), you might get something usable from it. It is going to be absolutely useless without a tripod, since the long focal length will mean that the vibrations from the lightest touch are going to be extreme. Use a delayed shutter release (five to ten seconds) to allow the vibrations to subside before the shutter trips.
  5. Jennifer, just to be sure: when you say "the pic is just black", you mean you can make a photo (when you press the button, you hear the camera make a photo, and afterwards, it is all black when you want to see the photo on the camera screen), or does the camera block, nothing visible on the screen or viewfinder, and you cannot make a photo at all?
    It would make quite a difference in what the problem would be, so it would sure help us if you can describe a bit what does and does not work precisely, and if you have a link showing the exact lens you have, that would help too.
    F8, ISO 400, and shutter speed of 1/800​
    Sorry, Matthew, but your calculation is off by one stop - At ISO 400: 1/400th, f/16 (sunny 16): means: ISO400, 1/1600th at f/8. Though one stop of difference on digital shouldn't make much of a difference for testing purposes, in both cases it should yield a visible image.
  6. Jennifer, I think the issue is that the camera is set not to release the shutter unless the image is in focus. This is a common and default setting for Nikon DSLRs.
    You may not be able to get the camera to recognise focus at all with this lens, since AF, and AF confirmation, will only work with lenses of f/5.6 or wider. Although Nikon claim that the camera is compatible with the 500mm f/8 reflex-Nikkor, so you should be able to get the camera to work with the similar Vivitar.
    Make sure the camera is set to AF-S and preferably only using the centre AF sensor. You could also try turning the electronic rangefinder function to OFF. Apart from that I can't see any other menu options to de-couple the shutter release from the focus.
    At worst you could probably return the lens as unsuitable for use with your camera.
    Edit, just noticed that you say the pic is black, so the shutter is firing then. Increase the ISO and set a slower shutter speed. The exposure meter will not work with this lens, so you need to guess the exposure or use an external light-meter.
  7. Rodeo Joe, the camera is focus priority only with AF lenses in AF mode. It goes to release priority with manual focus lenses, or when an AF lens is switched to M.
    If this is a manual focus lens, no AF settings will make any difference. The focus confirmation dot in the viewfinder will still operate, but that's all.
    And yes, Wouter, I missed a calculation there, didn't I? Too late at night, not enough coffee.
    Although I think this lens will be difficult to use well, I would not discount it entirely. My experience with long lenses here is that it's occasionally possible to hit the mark even hand held if the shutter speed is fast enough. It takes practice, and can sometimes work better panning or swinging the lens around than trying to hold it steady. I gave up on a 500 mm. mirror lens largely because mine was never decently sharp. I have used a 400/5.6 manual lens and gotten a few sharp shots handheld, and just for grins tried the enormous 500/4 AIP lens too, and although it's hardly reliable, it's possible to get a sharp shot every once in a while in broad daylight.
  8. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Administrator

    I used to have the Nikkor 500mm/f8 mirror lens, purchased in 1987 or so and is the last version. Those mirror lenses are
    very difficult to use.

    Per what Wouter points out, the OP may be able to take pictures, but they are seriously underexposed. I wouldn't spend a
    lot of time trying to get that Vivita lens to work. Unlike back in 1987, there are much better alternatives such as the 55-300
    DX, 70-300 and some third party 150-600 zooms ..., all with AF-S and VR.
  9. I have the Nikkor 500 f/8 and I have no problems at all with it. I've used it on everything from my F2 to my D200 and D7000. You just have to remember that it's fully manual and that the aperture is fixed t f/8. Even if it doesn't couple at all to the meter, just use the Sunny f/16 rule and chimp to fine tune. And on a 500 focus is very easy -- it's either in focus or it's not, no subtleness about it.
  10. I am assuming that the original poster cannot readily afford a more suitable lens, and will need at least for some time to try using this one. It should be possible though it will take some practice and a lot of erasing.
    I would, however, second Shun Cheung's suggestion. The D3200 gets along very well with those lenses. The 55-300 sometimes comes up at a goodly discount. It's easy to use and provides a good bit of reach even without cropping.
  11. Another very affordable AF alternative is Sigma's 70-300mm f/4~5.6 DG Apo lens - not the non-"Apo" version, which is nowhere near as good. The Apo version has a red band around the front of the barrel to distinguish it from the rubbish model, and costs around 50% more.
    Although the build-quality is quite low and very plasticky, it has amazing image quality, and will serve you well if handled gently. It also focuses really close.
    I recently tried mine on the D7200 and was amazed that this cheap lens can hold its own on such a high-rez camera.
  12. In sun, it isn't so hard to use 500mm mirror lens at high enough shutter speed.
    Some Nikon cameras will meter in M mode, some won't. I now have a D200 which will meter, and even knows about AI lenses. The hard problem is that you have to focus very carefully. The view screens on DSLRs aren't as easy to focus with as some others.
  13. Focus with a D3200 will be pretty tricky if this is a mirror lens, because most mirror lenses go mechanically past infinity to allow for thermal changes, and thus you can't just crank it to the stop and expect infinity focus. I use a DK 21M magnifier in mine and that helps some. The focus confirmation dot can also help some, but it's not always reliable. If you're using a tripod and the ambient light is not too bright, Live View ca help, but you'll soon find out why those old time photographers got under a cloth cover when they focused.
    On a D3200, if you're using the focus dot, make sure the focus point is centered. It's very easy to accidentally move it, and there's no lock on the control. Center it with the [OK] button.
  14. I have used a Tamron SP 500mm mirror with a Nikon D3000 for a few years now & have been very happy with the results. Focusing takes a bit of care to get right but the images are OK. Have taken some nice shots of the moon with the Tamron SP teleconverter behind the mirror.
    I did have the 500mm Vivitar mirror before getting the Tamron to replace it. The IQ from the Vivitar was terrible. Fuzzy images like shooting through a fly screen even with it on a tripod, but I might have just had a bad sample?
    I did some testing against other lenses & although Vivitar advertised it as an F8, I found that I had to stop other lenses down to F11 to get the same shutter speed that the Vivitar gave.

Share This Page