Vivitar Series 1 600mm f8 solid catadioptric telephoto lens

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by JDMvW, Aug 25, 2017.

  1. Vivitar 600 CAT.jpg Vivitar 600 CAT Lens Cap.jpg Vivitar 600 CAT Filters.jpg My Vivitar 600 Solid CAT came with a 106mm plastic press-on Series 1 lens cap. Vivitar also supplied a metal screw-on lens hood (102mm threads, I think ) as well as the four 35.5mm Series 1 filters. I believe that the optical formula assumes the presence of a filter, so one should always be mounted for optimal performance.
  2. Alas, all I got was the bare lens and one (mounted) 4X density filter... :(

    On the idea that a filter is supposed to be mounted, I got a non-Vivitar skylight filter, but I'm not sure its the right thickness.
    The pictures above were taken with the ersatz filter in place.

    @yee: Thanks very much for the pictures -confirms the 106mm as the push-on dimension!
  3. Hi JDM. Nice to read from you again. Could you please elaborate a bit about the differences between the Vivitar and the Sigma ? I do have the Sigma but have to say I'm not too impressed by its performance. Thank you.
  4. Hi JDM,
    Nice info. I have been interested in the solid catadioptric lenses for a while & have researched them. Would you have a link to any high resolution Ad of the one that you posted? Would love to have that to add to.
  5. I would like to try such a lens sometimes.
  6. Most, even some of the best of all time, cats are often to be found at places like KEH or on eBay. Almost all are under $200 these days (or were until I started this series ;))

    Avoid the modern ones, (e.g., from Korea often). they look like the old ones but something is wrong somewhere with all that I have seen.

    The Vivitar solid is one of the best, but the Sigma 600mm and the Reflex-Nikkor 500mm are also excellent.
    MarcelRomviel likes this.
  7. Some of the newer ones that were inexpensive were optically inferior to the earlier Japanese made lenses. Back in the early 90's when my family still had a camera shop a customer brought in his Vivitar 500mm f8 mirror optic for us to test. It was impossible to obtain a sharp focus regardless of distance. I don't know if the mirror had too much uncorrected spherical aberration or if the figure of the meniscus corrector was bad, but no real point of sharpness.
  8. The Sigma 600 catadioptric is conventional with lots of air between elements. The Vivitar Solid, is, well, solid. I suspect, but do not know, that this has led to sharper contrast in the latter. Any of them can be devilishly difficult to focus for those who have become used to AF.

    Aside from slightly lower contrast (a common problem with mirror lenses), my copy of the Sigma is quite sharp - one of my favorites.

    but then "bless em all, the long and the short and the tall " is my theme song.
  9. I bought a Vivitar 500mm f/8 a few years ago for about USD 50.00.

    T mount adapters are available through eBay, often from China (sometimes
    mailed from China) for low prices.

    Someone noted above that the optical design includes the thickness of
    the filter on the back of the lens. I don't think I have a 30.5mm filter.
  10. I have the Nikon 500/f8 on my D7200 and have no problem focusing by eye.
    But then as JDMvW implied, I learned on manual focus gear, and never lost my ability to manually focus lenses.

    One thing is, even though the lens is short, the magnification is the same as a LONG tele. So the camera+lens need adequate support for a steady image.
    An in-body IS sound like a good idea.

    BTW, thanks for the thread. I got hook on getting the mirror that I could not afford when it was new, way back when. Now I got TWO of them, don't ask.
  11. One is enough for me.

    I am about four miles from the Space Needle in Seattle. I have taken pictures of the flag on top, when they put one up.

    There is a "12" flag before Seahawks games, and they also put up a French flag after a terror attack.
  12. There is a Perkins Elmer 680mm solid catadioptric lens, serial number 37, listed on eBay at, Rarest Solid Cat Camera Lens! Perkin Elmer 680mm F/12 catadioptric lens w CASE!! | eBay for a price of $1,749. The description is worth reading, as it explains a lot about it's history as well as the history of the Vivitar Series 1 600mm catadioptric lens. According to the description, the Vivitar Series 1 600mm as well as the 800mm lenses were actually made by Perkin Elmer.

    There are also two Vivitar Series 1 600mm catadioptric lenses listed on eBay, one for $399 and one for a starting bid of $500.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2017
  13. The one item I'd really like to add to my over-enthusiastic collection of catadioptric lenses is one of the Zeiss Jena mirror lenses from the DDR, but they are much sought after and more than I'd like to pay, given too many mirror lenses already. :rolleyes:


    Unfortunately, not ALL of them.:eek:
    Gary Naka likes this.
  14. How about an MTO?
  15. That's the one in the wooden box. There's a report on it here (LINK) by me. It is optically decent, but very heavy, and the darkness through the viewfinder makes it a little tricky to focus. It's the Ur-Cat, so to speak.
  16. I wish I'd bought an MTO (at least the version that Edmund Scientific had in their 1970 catalogue. At the time I was experimenting with my dad's Mamiya Sekor 1000 TL and the longest lens he had was a Vivitar 85-205. Sometimes I held the camera body up to my 700mm refractor to photograph the moon, but no adapter. Edmund sold the MTO for about 100 USD. By the time I got my first SLR (a Minolta SRT 210 in 1978) I'd forgotten all about the MTO and actually got a prime focus adapter for the telescope and a 400mm f6.3 preset.
  17. Hi JDM. Thanks for your reply. I'm quite fond of mirror lenses too, and waiting for my latest addition, an Elicar 300/5,6 of which I found almost no info. I believe there are 4 variants of the sigma 600. A grey mat one with 95mm filter thread, black shiny 86mm thread (the most common maybe ?) White with 86mm thread and olive green with 86mm thread which seems to be the latest version.
  18. This thread reminds me that I wish I still had my 250mm f5.6 Rokkor mirror lens.
  19. I wonder how the Vivitar would do for piggyback astrophotography. I used to do some with the 250mm f5.6 Rokkor that I had.

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