Vivitar 450mm f4.5 mirror lens insanity

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by jay_hector, Jul 11, 2007.

  1. I've thought the Vivitar Series 1 450mm f4.5 mirror lens might be fun to play
    with and so I watched an ebay auction last night that had this mint example
    going for just under 400 bucks with 1/2 hour to go. I figured they were worth
    about 200 bucks. I just looked at the auction (320134479139) to see what it
    sold for and I just about had a heart attack: $1042.00! With patience you could
    get a nice MF 300 2.8 with a TC14b for under that price. I happen to like the
    Nikkor 500mm F8.0 so I'm a mirror lens fan, but I've never heard this lens is
    anything special. What is going on? Another example of ebay fever at work?

    "This lens was another failure in the marketplace, and relatively few were sold due almost entirely to the high price (over $770 in 1986, or over $1,100 US today!). The reason for its excellent close-focus performance, and high price, was the unusual use of aspherical plastic elements in its design. But such elements cost ten times what a non-aspheric element costs to manufacture, and that adds quickly to the cost of these lenses."

    "In summary, the early Vivitar Series I lenses offered a unique series of fast prime lenses and unusual professional quality zooms. These lenses are still unique today, justifying their cult status."

    I'm guessing there are collectors out there that collect these lenses and since the lens was never used it probably got a little premium over a used sample.
  3. Jay, you might want to try the Tokina 500mm f/8.0 mirror lens in a Nikon mount. Right now there are two on ebay with bidding at under $70 each.

    I've used the Nikon 500mm mirror lens, which I found to be no sharper and have no better color rendition than the Tokina 500mm. Also, the Tokina is much smaller and lighter than the Nikkor- you can use it hand-held:
  4. I had one of these in very good to excellent condition for years. It was supposed to be a f/4.5 but a little factor called a "t-stop" actually made it more functionally an f/7 lens. Mirror lens designs, whether solid "cat" or not lose light while being bounced from mirror to mirror even though their physical f stop may be a given aperture. The Vivitar 450mm lost (to me) an unacceptable 1 and 1/3 stop of light making the extra bulk and weight not worth it. When I buy an f/4.5 I want an f/4.5. I sold it on ebay, for how much I don't recall, but I did get my money back. Just get a cheap refractor lens which pretty much gives you the f stop that it is labeled with. Mirror lenses are great backup lenses ( I owned several of them at different times) but as a primary lens, refractors are overall better. Mirror lenses are good for those who need the OCCASIONAL super telephoto and don't want to devote a ton of money, space and energy hauling it around, but a good refractor -whether zoom or prime is much more versatile.
  5. Yes, the issue is the relative scarcity of these lenses and their apparent popularity among a certain group of collectors. Over $1000 still sounds surprisingly high, however, as in recent months these have generally gone for $700-800 (bargain!)

    If you are interested in a mirror lens I guess I'll disagree (mildly) with Eric's suggestion. I own both Tokina and Tamron 500mm. mirror lenses and the Tamron is easily superior. Maybe it's just sample variation, but the fact is that Tokina really endeavored to make their lens extremely tiny compared to others, and I'm pretty sure that this was achieved at the cost of some performance quality.
  6. Thanks for the comments about the Vivitar. Like I said, I'm a fan of the Nikkor reflex and have used one for over 30 years. Regardless of some saying it's not the greatest lens, the Nikkor opened the door for me to professional sports photography and I have had many published shots with it, including this one , which was the first shot I sold to Road & Track.

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