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FORUMS Canon Cameras, Lenses & Accessories Canon EF and EF-S Lenses 
Thread started 04 Jan 2013 (Friday) 17:42
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Problems with Vivitar 500mm mirror lens?

 
Naraly
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Jan 04, 2013 17:42 |  #1

I have a Vivitar 500mm Mirror Lens f/8.0 MF series 1 lens that I received as a gift a while back, but I never got around to using it because I was learning and used mostly 50mm or 55-250 Canon lenses.

What kind of photography was this lens intended for?
Since it has so much zoom I thought I could use it to photograph things from far, so I tried it today at a field while I was on a cliff I was photographing the tractors, but I had a difficult time with it. I used a tripod and used the LCD screen to zoom in and make sure I got a good focus, but I was never able to get it focused, everything looked soft, is this normal for this lens?
Also, I adjusted my settings to what I thought suitable for the lighting and location, and those settings worked fine with my 55-250 lens, but on this Vivitar lens when I took the photographs and looked back at them, they were way blown out (very very bright, and soft). I had to use ISO 2000, and 1-640sec to get the brightness down, but it was still a tad bit bright. I took care of it in DPP as best I could, but the whole quality of the image overall is not good.
The photos look as if I used a point and shoot and zoomed in all the way to where it loses detail and focus. But I focused it as much as it was possible, a tiny bit to the left or right was too blurry, and I haven't had this problem with any of the other lenses.



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Nora

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tkbslc
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Jan 04, 2013 17:46 |  #2

Yeah, they aren't known for stellar image quality, I'm afraid. There's a reason they are $150 while other 500mm lenses run in the $1000-6000 range.


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Jan 04, 2013 17:49 |  #3

Why were you at ISO 2000?

With 500mm, you're shoo;ting through a LOT of atmospherics. Heat haze drifts up through the shot making everything look like a blurry mess.

Try going out at sunrise or just at sunset when the Earth is (literally) cooler and you should get some sharper images.


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Naraly
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Jan 04, 2013 17:55 |  #4

tkbslc wrote in post #15445529 (external link)
Yeah, they aren't known for stellar image quality, I'm afraid. There's a reason they are $150 while other 500mm lenses run in the $1000-6000 range.

Ah, I see now..

FlyingPhotog wrote in post #15445546 (external link)
Why were you at ISO 2000?

With 500mm, you're shoo;ting through a LOT of atmospherics. Heat haze drifts up through the shot making everything look like a blurry mess.

Try going out at sunrise or just at sunset when the Earth is (literally) cooler and you should get some sharper images.

Because at lower ISOs it was too under exposed, and I was trying to keep my shutter speed up because I thought that was the problem when I was shooting without the tripod. I checked back thought and noticed I got one at 800 ISO that was ok but on the verge of being under exposed.
I'll try shooting at sunset today, thanks.



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Nora

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pulsar123
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Jan 04, 2013 17:56 |  #5

Why did you have to guess the exposure? Switch to Av mode, and it should set up the right exposure automatically. You can finetune it with the exposure compensation wheel.

This is a very long FL lens, requires some efforts to get sharp photos. You'll need a heavy duty tripod to be able to focus and shoot. Use the mirror lockup feature in custom functions.

To minimize air turbulence, test it with high angle objects, like Moon at night.


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Jan 04, 2013 17:57 |  #6

Naraly wrote in post #15445571 (external link)
Ah, I see now..


when I was shooting without the tripod..


You simply can't use this lens without a tripod!


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Naraly
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Jan 04, 2013 18:56 |  #7

pulsar123 wrote in post #15445577 (external link)
Why did you have to guess the exposure? Switch to Av mode, and it should set up the right exposure automatically. You can finetune it with the exposure compensation wheel.

This is a very long FL lens, requires some efforts to get sharp photos. You'll need a heavy duty tripod to be able to focus and shoot. Use the mirror lockup feature in custom functions.

To minimize air turbulence, test it with high angle objects, like Moon at night.

I don't know I guess I was so worked up about thinking what I was doing wrong to cause the blurryness, and the settings had worked for my other lens that I used just seconds before that one, I just started moving around different settings to experiment with it. I'll try AV next time. Hopefully there's clear skies tonight and I'll definitely try it with the moon.



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Nora

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Naraly
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Jan 04, 2013 19:03 |  #8

I just tried taking some quick shots now that the sun has just gone down, and I am surprised at the difference. I'm able to get it focused much better in shadowy areas, than in objects/areas where the sun is hitting directly. I shot the corner of a house where there was a glow from the sun setting, and just that area was smooth/blurry (not sure how to explain it, kind of a hazy effect), the trees next to it that had no sun were better focused. Interesting! Well, to me.



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amfoto1
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Jan 04, 2013 20:39 |  #9

The biggest mistake people make with long telephotos is trying to photograph things too far away.

This was shot with a Tamron SP 500mm f8 mirror lens... the bird is large, but not all that distant...

IMAGE: http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7186/6803259708_2cd99dabfb_b.jpg

With that lens, your aperture is fixed at f8 only. So to use it on your Canon, set the camera to M and adjust the shutter speed up and down until you center the pointer on the scale, or set the camera to Av and let the camera choose the shutter speed for you. Don't try to use Tv, P or any of the other automatic modes.

I used the same Tamron 500mm lens for this shot of a Canna flower...

IMAGE: http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5063/5633942316_2acc010754_z.jpg

A characteristic of mirror lenses is "donuts" in the out of focus highlights. You can see a little of this in the highlights above the shoe-billed stork. Some other mirror lenses seem more prone to this than the Tamron. I don't know about the one you have.

Both the above were shot some years ago on film. I no longer have that lens, but it was fun to work with. The point of the mirror lenses is that by bending the light path, they can be quite compact for such a long telephoto. Don't be fooled, though... you have to work to get a steady shot with them. A tripod is pretty much a necessity, unless you set your ISO high enough and it's bright enough that you can use about 1/1000 shutter speed or faster handheld. Even then, you'll have to work at steading the shot, a monopod would help. For the above two, the bird was shot with the lens on a monopod and for the flower it was on a tripod.

Anyway, try to fill your viewfinder and use the lens to make small things larger, rather than big, distant things closer (just walk over and shoot those with a shorter focal length, if you wish). I think you'll find the lens more fun to use if you try this.

Speaking of small things, a couple more 500mm lens shots, though not with a mirror lens this time...

IMAGE: http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6084/6143927405_605ee6ba58_b.jpg
IMAGE: http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2194/5786460453_93a6bf8bfc_z.jpg

Over the years, there have been a lot of different Vivitar 500mm f8 mirror lenses. Some of their early ones were Elmer Perkins designs, which were very high quality and weren't cheap. Some of their later Series 1 were also quite good. But they have also had some "budget" lenses. Hard to say which yours might be, without more info. But it is likely to be fun to try and see what you can get with it, none-the-less.

Alan Myers (external link) "Walk softly and carry a big lens."
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Jan 04, 2013 20:40 |  #10

Naraly wrote in post #15445516 (external link)
I have a Vivitar 500mm Mirror Lens f/8.0 MF series 1 lens that I received as a gift a while back, but I never got around to using it because I was learning and used mostly 50mm or 55-250 Canon lenses.

What kind of photography was this lens intended for?
Since it has so much zoom I thought I could use it to photograph things from far, so I tried it today at a field while I was on a cliff I was photographing the tractors, but I had a difficult time with it. I used a tripod and used the LCD screen to zoom in and make sure I got a good focus, but I was never able to get it focused, everything looked soft, is this normal for this lens?
Also, I adjusted my settings to what I thought suitable for the lighting and location, and those settings worked fine with my 55-250 lens, but on this Vivitar lens when I took the photographs and looked back at them, they were way blown out (very very bright, and soft). I had to use ISO 2000, and 1-640sec to get the brightness down, but it was still a tad bit bright. I took care of it in DPP as best I could, but the whole quality of the image overall is not good.
The photos look as if I used a point and shoot and zoomed in all the way to where it loses detail and focus. But I focused it as much as it was possible, a tiny bit to the left or right was too blurry, and I haven't had this problem with any of the other lenses.

This lens resembles a unit that is also sold as the "Phoenix-Samyang." Unfortunately, there's very little good to be said about this model. It's one of the least capable lenses of any kind for any SLR. If this is the model I think it is, it needs a T-mount adapter and has no electronic connections for an EOS camera.




  
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Jan 04, 2013 22:22 |  #11

As others have said... the lens may be the problem. Why not post a couple of sample images though to see if anyone finds another problem that might be going on.


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Jan 07, 2013 14:44 |  #12

amfoto1 wrote in post #15446114 (external link)
The biggest mistake people make with long telephotos is trying to photograph things too far away.

This was shot with a Tamron SP 500mm f8 mirror lens... the bird is large, but not all that distant...

QUOTED IMAGE

With that lens, your aperture is fixed at f8 only. So to use it on your Canon, set the camera to M and adjust the shutter speed up and down until you center the pointer on the scale, or set the camera to Av and let the camera choose the shutter speed for you. Don't try to use Tv, P or any of the other automatic modes.

I used the same Tamron 500mm lens for this shot of a Canna flower...

QUOTED IMAGE

A characteristic of mirror lenses is "donuts" in the out of focus highlights. You can see a little of this in the highlights above the shoe-billed stork. Some other mirror lenses seem more prone to this than the Tamron. I don't know about the one you have.

Both the above were shot some years ago on film. I no longer have that lens, but it was fun to work with. The point of the mirror lenses is that by bending the light path, they can be quite compact for such a long telephoto. Don't be fooled, though... you have to work to get a steady shot with them. A tripod is pretty much a necessity, unless you set your ISO high enough and it's bright enough that you can use about 1/1000 shutter speed or faster handheld. Even then, you'll have to work at steading the shot, a monopod would help. For the above two, the bird was shot with the lens on a monopod and for the flower it was on a tripod.

Anyway, try to fill your viewfinder and use the lens to make small things larger, rather than big, distant things closer (just walk over and shoot those with a shorter focal length, if you wish). I think you'll find the lens more fun to use if you try this.

Speaking of small things, a couple more 500mm lens shots, though not with a mirror lens this time...

QUOTED IMAGE
QUOTED IMAGE

Over the years, there have been a lot of different Vivitar 500mm f8 mirror lenses. Some of their early ones were Elmer Perkins designs, which were very high quality and weren't cheap. Some of their later Series 1 were also quite good. But they have also had some "budget" lenses. Hard to say which yours might be, without more info. But it is likely to be fun to try and see what you can get with it, none-the-less.

Wow great shots. Thanks for the tips. I knew nothing about this lens, and I thought it was to take "far away" shots, but I did find the quality improved when shooting objects that are not that far away and they just fill the frame.


convergent wrote in post #15446487 (external link)
As others have said... the lens may be the problem. Why not post a couple of sample images though to see if anyone finds another problem that might be going on.

I was too embarrassed to post my bad shots:oops:, but I'll post them in a few minutes!



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Nora

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Jan 07, 2013 16:39 as a reply to  @ Naraly's post |  #13

This one of the first ones I shot, on the day I started this thread. Edited to bring down the brightness levels.

IMAGE: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8236/8359615198_6a45c36cc9_c.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …/75523744@N02/8​359615198/  (external link)
IMG_1600aa (external link) by Naraly05 (external link), on Flickr


This is from today, shot in the shade, at a distance of about 8ft (not good with estimating distances). This is the best one I was able to get.
IMAGE: http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8075/8359591200_9d1a5e76ba_c.jpg
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …/75523744@N02/8​359591200/  (external link)
IMG_1849a (external link) by Naraly05 (external link), on Flickr


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Jan 07, 2013 17:18 |  #14

Naraly wrote in post #15457963 (external link)
This one of the first ones I shot, on the day I started this thread. Edited to bring down the brightness levels.
QUOTED IMAGE
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …/75523744@N02/8​359615198/  (external link)
IMG_1600aa (external link) by Naraly05 (external link), on Flickr

This is from today, shot in the shade, at a distance of about 8ft (not good with estimating distances). This is the best one I was able to get.
QUOTED IMAGE
IMAGE LINK: http://www.flickr.com …/75523744@N02/8​359591200/  (external link)
IMG_1849a (external link) by Naraly05 (external link), on Flickr

In the top image, atmosphere and the distance to the subject are having their effect.

The second, closer shot looks better.

Do you have a lens hood for it? That might help... there might be some slight veiling flare in that second shot.

But, looking at that second shot again.... 1/50 shutter speed? Are you kidding me? It's a 500mm lens! Even if you have it locked down on a tripod, you might get some blur from the mirror slap in your camera.

Bump your ISO up from 400 to 1600 on your 60D, that will at least get you 1/200 shutter speed. Not great, but a whole lot better than 1/50. I'd say use ISO 3200, except it will start to show some noise, maybe too much, you'll have to be the judge.

Unfortunately, that's one of the limiations of a mirror lens... it's small effective aperture (f8) forces using higher ISOs and/or slower shutter speeds.

If forced or just wanting to use lower ISOs and slower shutter speeds... use mirror lockup... or use the 2 second self timer on the camera, or Live View... either of which will give you the same effect as mirror lockup.

With a 500mm lens on your crop camera, it's like using an 800mm on a full frame/film camera... you really have to work at keeping things steady to get a sharp shot!

Using really long lenses, at times I've weighed down tripods with rocks in a sling... put beanbags on top of the lens and camera to absorb vibration... even made do without a lens hood when a brisk breeze coming from the wrong direction might catch the hood and cause shake blur.

This image was shot just for the sheer ridiculousness of it, to see what image quality might result....

IMAGE: http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5092/5501080126_e1a8616f6f_b.jpg
500mm lens plus 2X teleconverter plus 1.4X teleconverter (effective 1400mm lens) on Canon 10D (so make that the equiv. of 2240mm lens on a full frame camera).

Atmosphere was very clear right after a rain storm and the doe was about 1/4 mile away. Came out better than I expected, even with a 6MP camera!

Alan Myers (external link) "Walk softly and carry a big lens."
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Naraly
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Jan 07, 2013 18:21 |  #15

amfoto1 wrote in post #15458105 (external link)
In the top image, atmosphere and the distance to the subject are having their effect.

The second, closer shot looks better.

Do you have a lens hood for it? That might help... there might be some slight veiling flare in that second shot.

But, looking at that second shot again.... 1/50 shutter speed? Are you kidding me? It's a 500mm lens! Even if you have it locked down on a tripod, you might get some blur from the mirror slap in your camera.

Bump your ISO up from 400 to 1600 on your 60D, that will at least get you 1/200 shutter speed. Not great, but a whole lot better than 1/50. I'd say use ISO 3200, except it will start to show some noise, maybe too much, you'll have to be the judge.

Unfortunately, that's one of the limiations of a mirror lens... it's small effective aperture (f8) forces using higher ISOs and/or slower shutter speeds.

If forced or just wanting to use lower ISOs and slower shutter speeds... use mirror lockup... or use the 2 second self timer on the camera, or Live View... either of which will give you the same effect as mirror lockup.

With a 500mm lens on your crop camera, it's like using an 800mm on a full frame/film camera... you really have to work at keeping things steady to get a sharp shot!

Using really long lenses, at times I've weighed down tripods with rocks in a sling... put beanbags on top of the lens and camera to absorb vibration... even made do without a lens hood when a brisk breeze coming from the wrong direction might catch the hood and cause shake blur.

This image was shot just for the sheer ridiculousness of it, to see what image quality might result....

QUOTED IMAGE
500mm lens plus 2X teleconverter plus 1.4X teleconverter (effective 1400mm lens) on Canon 10D (so make that the equiv. of 2240mm lens on a full frame camera).

Atmosphere was very clear right after a rain storm and the doe was about 1/4 mile away. Came out better than I expected, even with a 6MP camera!

Thank you for your feedback! I shot the second image in AV, so I wasn't setting the shutter speed, but you're right I should have made the ISO higher. On the first shoot I was trying to keep the shutter speed at least to 500 because somewhere on this forum I read to use the focal length as a minimum for the shutter speed, something like that. Next shoot I'll start the ISO at 2000 and go higher, to compare.
My camera on the tripod was shaky after pressing the shutter, so I used the 10 second timer (2 seconds was not enough to let the camera stabilize on this tripod lol). And no, I do not have a lens hood. I'm still happy with the results compared to the first shoot. And with following everyone's tips, I'll hopefully be improving some more each time :D.



Cheers,
Nora

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Problems with Vivitar 500mm mirror lens?
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