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Cheap 300mm lens: mirror lens vs. adapted legacy telephoto?

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by Turbofrog, Jun 21, 2014.

  1. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Legend

    Mar 21, 2014
    So I've been using my Panasonic 14-140 as my telephoto for wildlife, and while I really enjoy having the AF, 140mm just isn't quite long enough for useful birdwatching or other more timid animals. I don't do it often enough to justify getting the Panny 100-300, but if I could spend around $100-150 to get 300mm, I would enjoy having it around for those opportunities.

    I'm a little bit torn between a lens like this Albinar 300mm f/6.3 mirror, (which, from everything I can see is a rebrand of the $250 Rokinon/Samyang/Bower version of the same) and a 300mm legacy telephoto, probably an f/5.6. My body is a GX1, so without IBIS it would probably have to be a tripod queen in either case given the focal length, but with the lighter mirror lens I could see using it in broad daylight handheld. I don't expect that would be reasonable with any 300mm legacy lens at all, unless someone has a suggestion for one in the 500-600g range? In general, I really would prefer a lighter lens, but if I'm leaving a ton of IQ on the table, I can compromise.

    I've had some bad luck with legacy telephotos, specifically in terms of really bad chromatic aberrations, but I expect that's kind of par for the course. While purple fringing is usually pretty easy to correct, it definitely detracts from having crisp images, even if the colour is okay. I expect that's probably going to be the case with most legacy lens, unless they are very expensive apochromatic ones?

    Anyone have thoughts, or experience with any suitable lenses? Thanks!
  2. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    In all honesty, you will probably be better off with a normal telephoto. As interesting as mirror lenses are, they usually don't provide the same quality (all things being equal). I have a Vivitar Series 1 solid catadioptric 600mm (apparently one of the best mirror lenses ever made) and I wouldn't consider it all that good.
  3. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Legend

    Mar 21, 2014
    Thanks for the response. I'm not expecting miracles, but I guess the question is, for under $150, would I be able to get much better results from a normal telephoto? For instance, a Canon FD 300mm f5.6, which at 635g is still on the heavy side for me, but might be manageable. Has anyone seen a telephoto that's lighter than that?

    A darkhorse option might be a cheap 70-300mm Nikon "kit" zoom that I just manually focus. I have no idea how the quality of a modern zoom lens like that might compare to a decent legacy prime. The build is likely to be terrible plastic, but if that's the price for light weight, I'm probably okay with it.
  4. OzRay

    OzRay Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 29, 2010
    South Gippsland, Australia
    Ray, not Oz
    You'd have to do some internet searching and find reviews on various 300mm lenses to see how they stack up. A poor telephoto is probably not going to be better than a 'good' mirror lens, but I think the chances of finding a good telephoto will likely be higher. Sometimes it's better to not spend on a poor lens, as you'll possibly end up spending twice in the long run.
  5. randyspan

    randyspan Mu-43 Veteran

    May 24, 2014
    New Hampshire, USA
    Randy Spann
  6. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I too would rather want a telephoto refractive prime. Also, early 80s era zooms were not that impressive. Zooms were still going through iterations.

    The only mirror lens I had that was fine was the Tamron AdaptAll SP in either 350mm f5.6 or 500mm f8.
    Unfortunately neither are
    inexpensive and you still deal with doughnut shaped bokeh and highlights.

    I generally collect Takumar and Pentax. There is the smc 300 mm f4 and the teletakumar 300mm f6.3 preset that can be found for a good price.
  7. HarryS

    HarryS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 23, 2012
    Midwest, USA
    I didn't know there was a Samyang 300mm mirror lens. I have the Tokina 300mm f6,3, which was $149 USD from kenkodepot.com. It's chipped to write 300mm and f6.3 to the EXIF, a nice feature. There are some images in the sample forum and in my "review".

    I like it because it's relatively inexpensive and quite small. I will take it places where my adapted 4/3 70-300 zoom is just too big to pack. The latter does give better contrast images. My longest legacy prime is a 200mm f4, which also never goes anywhere.
  8. barry13

    barry13 Mu-43.com Editor Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    I just sold my SMC Tak 300 & 200mm, the 300 on m43 was very soft.

    Find something with known good results on m43.

    A used 70-300mm ZD won't be very expensive.


    Sent from my iPad using Mu-43
  9. usayit

    usayit Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    If interested I can provide samples of the two Takumar 300mm. Of course dated optics but I didn't find then soft. Certainly better than most early zooms

    I also have a 500mm f5.6 preSMC and a couple 200mm. All are m42 screwmount.

    You can probably find.other samples from pentaxforums of course on a different system.

    Primary reasons for updated optics are the coatings, aspherical elements and corrections. All of which contribute to better performance wide open. Often it's about expectations and requirments.

    Honestly I much prefer the 100-300mm but older optics can be good too... it's all.in expectations
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