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General photography questions and answers: Discuss Mirror lenses...Has anybody had any experience with mirror lenses? They seem to be available at pretty affordable prices and I quite ...
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Old 03-02-2012, 22:30   #1 (permalink)
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Mirror lenses

Has anybody had any experience with mirror lenses?
They seem to be available at pretty affordable prices and I quite fancy having a go with one but...are they any good?
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Old 03-02-2012, 22:41   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Mirror lenses

They are not as common as they used to be. Advantages are they are light and compact. Disadvantages are that they have a fixed aperture - usually f8 - so are difficult to use in low light and AFAIK they are optically inferior to conventional lenses. After all a 500mm Canon or Nikkor lens, or even a Sigma at several thousand pounds should be better than a 500mm mirror lens at 100.

They are more commonly found in telescopes as the design allows a 'bigger' more powerful 'scope while keeping the size and cost manageable for the amateur user. The giant mirror telescopes that are housed in their own buildings have excellent optics but at a very high cost.
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Old 04-02-2012, 00:07   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Mirror lenses

I bought a second-hand Mirror lens last year for bird photography and visiting my local zoo. The lens looked well made and was comfortable to use without tripod/monopod and had no problems with my Nikon D200 getting a good shutter speed for the preset f8 aperture when conditions were ideal, different story when the weather was a little dull. I used the lens during 2 visits to the zoo taking over 200 photos, I kept about 10, the images were soft, flat and to be honest terrible even when using the tripod. I sold it after 3 weeks on e-bay and lucky enough to get the price I paid for it. Now when I go to the zoo I use my 18-200mm lens (my only lens) and take and use the tripod. I then crop the image which gives much better results then the mirror lens ever did.
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Old 04-02-2012, 16:01   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Mirror lenses

Mmmm..Thanks for the info;seems like its not worth bothering,probably a waste of time and money.
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Old 04-02-2012, 22:48   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Mirror lenses

I had a 500mm mirror lens for my Canon A1. as far as film quality went I hand few complaints, but for digital it is a different matter. As some have said, lens quality has advanced enormously and many lenses that were ok do not come up to scratch.

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Old 05-02-2012, 11:14   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Mirror lenses

In my film days I tried a 300mm.....600mm....and a 800mm on a tripod of course but they were all awfull...they were all Independant lenses...I have been told though that Nikon produced a reasonable one but I would say that as a Nikon user but I never got around to trying that one, I never owned one of these lenses, they were all loaned to me to try out, however I did get one or two shots which were just about OK!...
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Old 12-02-2012, 00:52   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Mirror lenses

Optically, the biggest problem with mirror lenses is that they can be prone to flare unless care is taken in manufacture. This will show as low contrast images, even if you avoid the hot spots people generally think of as the result of flare.

Visually, the give away in photos taken using them is the doughnut shaped highlights.
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Old 21-02-2012, 13:31   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Mirror lenses

The problem I've found with mirror lenses is that, in adapting them for general photography, manufacturers have failed to provide sufficiently good optical components.

As any astronomer will tell you, the reflecting telescope holds all the aces. Take a look at the Wikipedia page for an idea of what these things can do. If you want a high quality mirror lens, you need deep pockets. Questar produce superb catadioptric lenses but they are very expensive.
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