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Nikkor 500mm reflex lens

Discussion in 'General Equipment Chat & Advice' started by AdrianSadlier, Feb 7, 2019.

  1. AdrianSadlier

    AdrianSadlier Well-Known Member

    Guys, I am thinking of buying a Nikkor 500mm f/8 reflex lens secondhand (the "newer" model that focuses down to 5'). I have read that it is a bit^% to focus and hard to get a sharp shot. Does anyone have any experience of using one.

    I am looking to pay about €200 for one and use a D810 and F5 bodies.

    My oft asked question - am I mad?
     
  2. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    I've not used a Cat lens but the depth of field on a 500 is very small and the image will jiggle around a fair bit if handholding. Whether the light weight helps I don't know. Treat it as a bit of fun. I suspect it is an improvement on the budget conventional 500 F8s of the day. I've got a soligar (?) somewhere, which by its weight can't have more than 2 bits of glass in it, and that is dire.
     
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  3. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    I've not used the Nikkor, but it has to be better than my old Centon 500mm f8...

    I also have both a Sigma and a Vivitar Solid Cat 600mm mirror lenses, which are better - the Vivitar is particularly compact, but heavy as it has additional optical elements, and isn't bad at all. I suspect the Nikkor will be similar in performance to the Sigma.
    Whatever, when you're using a 500mm lens, you have to keep it very stable - the slightest movement is greatly magnified. The image is pretty dark at f8, so focusing isn't always easy - it's much easier in Live View on a tripod. And atmospheric haze plays havoc with image quality, especially as cats tend to be low contrast to start with.

    So - are you mad? Well if you want to try 500mm, it's a relatively cheap way to do it. What are you looking to use it for?
     
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  4. El_Sid

    El_Sid Well-Known Member

    I'd certainly hope so! I have on of those Centon lenses too - I'm not sure a beer bottle bottom might not prove a better lens...:rolleyes:
     
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  5. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    I have the Sigma 600 f8 and I would suggest that you don't try hand holding it! It can produce some nice images at relatively close range but pretty much all Nick says I agree with, I haven't tried focusing with live view.
     
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  6. AdrianSadlier

    AdrianSadlier Well-Known Member

    Guys

    Thanks for the feedback. I have done a bit more digging and am going to buy the Nikkor 500mm f/8 (the one discontinued in 2005). It has close focus of 5 feet. I believe it can be shot handheld but only on sunny days with a highish ISO. Otherwise a beanbag seems to be the best option. Normally this model sells around $500 to $600.

    I am buying it for €180 :) (assuming there are no problems with the lens/hood/filters).

    I will let you know if the deal goes OK and if it does I'm sure I'll post some images in the appraisal gallery (even if just to admit I can't get a good shot out of it).
     
  7. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Dear Adrian,

    Have fun! ALL cats are bastards to focus: I've had several, including a 1200 mm which was useless except in the early morning because of atmospheric turbulence. The longest I have now is a 600/8 Vivitar Series 1 Solid Cat ("solid" because the light path is all glass, which makes it heavy). I used to have the Vivitar 800/11 too and I've used the 500/8 Nikkor extensively (generous friend). You'll miss as many shots as you get but some of the ones you get are likely to be great.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
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  8. GeoffR

    GeoffR Well-Known Member

    Don’t forget that out of focus highlights appear as doughnuts, occasionally interesting but not always. Have fun!
     
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  9. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    The problems of atmospheric haze and atmospheric turbulence are the same for cats as for refracting long lenses.
    An f8 cat probably has a T stop of around f11 because of the two reflective surfaces and the obstruction to central rays caused by the secondary mirror.
    I have not used a cat. I tested a Centon cat on my old D300. I could hardly see an image bright enough to focus. I was trying it hand held just outside the shop on a bright day.
    I would expect the Nikkor to have sharper optics than the Centon, but for the image to be just as dull.
    You are not mad unless you buy it before trying it. Given the quality of your images that you often show in this forum I would expect you not to be satisfied with the lens.
    I did not buy the cat.
    Far more recently I bought 200-500 f5.6 Nikkor. This is very good on D500 and D800. This is available new for less than £1100.
     
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  10. AdrianSadlier

    AdrianSadlier Well-Known Member

    Well I bought it. Now I have to figure out it's capabilities, it's limitations and whether I can produce a decent image with it!

    We'll see (although it may take time).
     
  11. AdrianSadlier

    AdrianSadlier Well-Known Member

    I couldn't wait to try it out after cleaning it. As it was dark outside the only thing I could think of to shoot handheld was an image on my screen. So I took a photo of my 28" 4K monitor (posted in appraisal gallery for comparison - http://www.amateurphotographer.co.uk/forums/threads/butterfly-captive-macro.138593/).

    It was shot at ISO 1600, handheld at 1/8". Don't be fooled - this was the only one sharp in about 20 shots taken at the fastest rate my camera could manage and I braced myself against the door frame. I also reduced the image to 1/4 of its width (and sharpened etc). Please note I was at an angle to the screen and my focus was on the eye.

    But it has potential

    [​IMG]
     
  12. AdrianSadlier

    AdrianSadlier Well-Known Member

    I took the lens out late this afternoon to try it out.

    [​IMG]

    St. Sylvester's Church, Malahide by Adrian Sadlier, on Flickr

    This was taken at 1/1600" at ISO 1600, handheld, at a distance of just over 500 metres.

    It will take me a while to figure the lens (and my) limitations - But is should be fun!
     
  13. PeteRob

    PeteRob Well-Known Member

    That worked rather well! 500 mm brings big things close doesn't it, sadly small things tend to stay small.
     
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  14. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    It looks very nice on my monitor. I have to admit that this is much better than I expected from the lens.
    May I also congratulate you on your ability to focus it!
     
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  15. AdrianSadlier

    AdrianSadlier Well-Known Member

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  16. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    A few years ago I picked up a mint used Tamron 500 mm F 8 at a branch of LCE for £95, with the intention of using it with the APS-C Pentax K10 I had at the time. I used it for a few weeks, took over 200 shots, and managed to get 2 (TWO) in perfect focus - and only then in very bright conditions. I tried tripod and handheld at 1/1500 second, and the problem wasn't blur due to movement, but the difficulty of focusing.

    I once tried it with some old extension tubes, and recall that something about the size of a matchbox filled the frame at 5 or 6 feet.

    After some part exchange deals, I got rid of it and I now have a 20 year old (first generation autofocus) Tokina 80-400 zoom that focuses perfectly, but weights a lot more than the mirror lens that had very little glass inside it. Interestingly, I always use it at F 11 (or F 8 is absolutely necessary) because larger apertures have larger colour fringes than at F 11.
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2019
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  17. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    I had one of those some years back; in the end, that fringeing and the slow AF ground me down (and I hated the cheap AF/MF switch), so I sold it and got a Canon 100-400, which has since been replaced itself by the Mk II version.Each has been an improvement, but that Tokina was the best value for money.
     
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  18. AdrianSadlier

    AdrianSadlier Well-Known Member

    [​IMG]

    Dove by Adrian Sadlier, on Flickr

    A quick shot of a visitor to my garden at lunchtime today. Pity it was so dull.
     
  19. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    The dove is not quite side on so the tail is out of focus. There's not much DOF with these long lenses is there?
    I have to admit that you are doing better with this difficult lens than I do with a more modern optic of similar length.
     
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  20. Chester AP

    Chester AP Well-Known Member

    We may not be talking about the same model: mine has no AF/MF switch.
    For the price I paid (£200 in mint condition) it's great: the best value for money is usually the one you can afford.
     
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