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Cameras, Lenses and Accessories: Discuss Mirror Lenses...A friend of mine asked me about mirror lenses today. How BAD/POOR is the image quality of these mirror lenses? ...
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Old 11-02-2010, 04:00   #1 (permalink)
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Mirror Lenses

A friend of mine asked me about mirror lenses today. How BAD/POOR is the image quality of these mirror lenses? What about semi brand names ones like Vivtar and Tokina?

I know for sure they will be used in Manual focus on a DSLR but are they THAT bad? Cause man you can get some pretty cool reach with it, especially the ones that comes with a tripod collar.

Also what is the mechancial and optical difference an mirror lens and a regular lens?
Thanks
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Old 11-02-2010, 06:30   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Mirror Lenses

They are manual focus and a fixed effective aperture usually F8 or occasionally for mega lenses F11. They are popular in spy films etc because they give huge reach in a compact (short fat) shape and don't weigh that much as mirrors weigh far less than glass. Optically they are not terrible but not in the same league as a diffraction lenses. Their biggest achilles heel apart from the fixed aperture are doughnut ringed highlights caused by the design and they are really only effective a long distances where the designs weknesses are minimised..

Optically they are based on mirror telescope in that they use curved mirrors in place of lenses to fold the light path. So you are looking at a small convex mirror which captures the image produced by a larger concave mirror closer to the camera body. This is then focused onto the sensor or film. A bit like a satellite dish and the mirror you look at is like the reciever on the arm in centre of the dish Of course this is what causes the problem as in the dish wires take the information away. In a lens you need to see so there is a big hole in one mirror and the objective mirror blocks some of the subject.


Overall though they are cheaper more compact and lighter but only really suitable for ocassional use in very good light. However modern DSLRs and their ability to cope with higher ISO's might make them more useful but DSLRs are very susceptible to diffraction which could be a problem with mirror lenses.
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Old 11-02-2010, 08:46   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Mirror Lenses

The Sony 500mm f8 is autofocus allegedly the only autofocus mirror lens
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Old 11-02-2010, 11:11   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Mirror Lenses

I had a 5oomm mirror lens a long time ago! I think it was a Sigma....I was in a sponsered position where I could use a lot of lenses for free...(those were the days)...this lens always gave the best result when the light was good and on a tripod...they also gave some very strange results with out of focus doughnut shapes in the highlights...used properly they were good value for money...they had a fixed aperture at either 5.6 or f8 so focusing had to be spot on......I understand that Tamron did a good one too.....
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