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ProOptic 500mm f/6.3 lens for $160

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<p>Note that the review says</p>


<p>Forget about when you need critical sharpness</p>


<p>Now this is a topic that I have some experience with, so</p>


<li>I warn you, this was exactly how I started with one little Quantaray 500mm f/8</li>

<li>Note that results will likely be fairly "soft" with this lens, as you've been warned in the review </li>

<li>You will discover that <em>much</em> better 500mm lenses were offered in the past such as those from Spiratone or even Cambron.</li>

<li>These often sell on eBay for much less than $160.</li>

<li>In fact I bought my non-AI Reflex-Nikkor, a superb and classic lens, for $185</li>

<li>but you won't figure this out until you end up like me......</li>


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<p>JDM, I strongly disagree with your point #6! ;-) Really, thanks for handing me the virtual cup of coffee.</p>

<p>Honestly, I was interested in little more than a cheap/fun lens to take out on the water -- no catastrophic loss if it takes a splash. (The camera body is a different issue, of course.) However, if I can indeed find a GOOD mirror on Ebay for the same price, then I'll all ears. My previous attempts at finding such a lens have not been very successful. I see them for $300 or $400, which is far more than I want to pay for a lens I won't be using seriously. (And yes, I've been searching specifically for the Nikkors, as I have a Nikon shooter friend who loves his.) Perhaps I haven't been patient enough. Did it take a protracted search to find your Nikkor at the right price?</p>

<p>FAIW, the Pro-Optic seems to be a re-labeled Rokinon 500/6.3.</p>

<p>Interested in selling off your second-best mirror? ;-)</p>

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<p>Actually, I should have said, <em>if you're like me</em> , you won't figure it out until you've amassed more 500mm lenses than reason allows....<br>

Actually, the second best of my 500mm lenses is the Spiratone Minitel of ca. 1978. It's far more compact than some of the other 500mm lenses that Spiratone offered over a number of years, indeed, it looks very similar to my Quantaray, but is much sharper. Unfortunately, I use it for those occasions when I don't want to carry the very much larger and heavier Reflex-Nikkor, so I couldn't bear to part with it even if I weren't (without really acknowledging it to myself even) sorta collecting old Spiratone gear.<br>

However, I'm guessing from the review that the Pro-Optic will be pretty much like the Quantaray, and for some purposes it ain't all bad, if you accept a slightly "pictorial" aspect to its results.<br>

Here is a butterfly taken from a distance (the macro focusing is pretty close to the real thing).</p><div>00SWMM-110801884.jpg.00c2c97137946ee84c4540703d8f7d2d.jpg</div>

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<p>Here's something about the origins of the Minitel lens, from Burt Keppler's column in the September, 1978, <em>Modern Photography.</em> <br /> I think I did pay about $160 for this one, but some of the others have cost me much less.</p>

<p>I should have said above that the image of the Tiger Swallowtail was unsharpened (duh) and that not the least of the joys and sorrows of these lenses are their remarkably shallow depth of field -- You'll want a good, large viewfinder for this one.</p>

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<p>The big problem with the mirror lenses is that they are hard to focus, a problem compounded by their very thin depth of field. My dad has used one for birds, but the rate of 'keepers' is somewhat low.</p>

<p>The viewfinders are dim with a maximum aperture of f/6.3 or f/8, and most DSLR's viewfinders are small (compared to 35mm) and lack the focusing aids that old manual-focus 35mm's had, so focusing is difficult. And of course, these lenses are manual-focus only (except for the old Minolta, and maybe new Sony?, 500mm mirror lens, which does auto-focus). On a 1.53x DSLR, printing to 5x7 inches, at f/6.3 and a focus distance of 10 ft, your depth of field is less than 0.5 inch, and at 50 ft, it's about 10 inches. An f/8 version gets you a little more depth of field, but is harder to focus. Basically, if you don't have a small subject and get the focus perfect, the image will be out-of-focus.</p>

<p>I have considered buying one of this type of lens, but given what I've seen from my dad's, I concluded that I'd likely be happer with even a cheap zoom. The best bet might be the Sigma 70-300mm APO, which is about $200. In the recent past somebody was selling a Phoenix or Samyang 100-400mm for under $200. Such a lens would give you the advantage of being able to focus at maximum aperture then stop down for increased depth of field, and would probably be somewhat better optically--even if you had to crop to get the equivalent field of view.</p>

<p>In other words, I've made this mistake, and would do it differently if I could do it over.</p>


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<p>The Reflex-Nikkor, which is so much sharper than the others, is surprisingly easy to focus, even on a 20D, so I'm guessing a newer, larger, brighter viewfinder on the 40D and 50D would be even better. I haven't yet tried it on my recently acquired 5D, but I'm sure it'll be much easier.</p>

<p>Actually, the Kalimar 500mm <em>refractor</em> in my lot is not too bad, although not nearly as good as the slightly shorter Spiratone 400mm that they sold in T-mount for a long time. Often the Spiratone goes on eBay at less than $50. It's better to get the older, pre-set ones on a Canon, of course.</p>

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<p>Thanks, JDM. I'll keep an eye out for a Spiratone.</p>

<p>Thanks for the details on the razor thin DoF and low keeper rate. As I said, though, this lens won't be for serious photography. (I'm already good to 300mm with conventional lenses.) I simply find it an interesting design of lens and would enjoy playing around with it. Perhaps I'll have some use for that distinctive donut bokeh somewhere! ;-)</p>

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<p>Most of the 500mm mirror lenses do have the donut bokeh. However, although it's possible to force that on the Nikkor, it does surprisingly well. There was a day when the donut highlights were all the rage, of course. I think the mirror lenses are a little more generally useful than fisheye lenses, but they are both specialized tools.</p>
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