Old Russian Mirror lens... completely crazy, or worth an experiment?

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by Mountain, Nov 14, 2017 at 10:49 AM.

Try a decades old extreme focal length catadioptric lens

This poll will close on Nov 21, 2017 at 10:49 AM.
  1. Go for it, they're built like tanks and the IQ is surprisingly reasonable

    5 vote(s)
    45.5%
  2. They're junk. If the donut bokeh doesn't make you sick, the real world looking like Minecraft will

    3 vote(s)
    27.3%
  3. Is this poll for real?

    3 vote(s)
    27.3%
  1. Mountain

    Mountain Mu-43 Veteran

    412
    Aug 2, 2013
    Colorado
    I've had a little bug to try an extreme focal length lens. Like 800mm plus. I can't rationalize this desire, so I won't try. I've toyed with the idea of an older FD 800mm L lens, but can't justify spending >$1k for it. Same goes for a high end spotting scope (although I do like occasionally using my cheapo scope). There are cheap long lenses out there, but with the PL100-400 I can get better results just cropping. So, an option that I have semi-seriously been thinking about is picking up a Russian MTO-1000A or MTO-11CA (1100mm and 1000mm respectively). I don't think that the resolution would hold up to a 16-20Mp m4/3s sensor on it's own, but paired with a focal reducer, it...might...just...work. My hangup is that it would be a few hundred bucks to get the lens and focal reducer, for what might be a failed experiment. I was wondering if anyone had experience with either of these lenses, and if they're any good. I suspect that the money would be better spent on a quality telephoto (or literally anything else), but there's still a little part of me that thinks this could be a good idea. Thoughts?
     
  2. panamike

    panamike Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jul 5, 2016
    Lincolnshire UK
    Sometimes we have to scratch an itch but sometimes they are better left alone :biggrin:, depending on the subject sometimes the doughnuts can be smoothed a bit in PP, have you looked at these.


    russiam mirror lens - YouTube
     
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  3. TNcasual

    TNcasual Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Dec 2, 2014
    Knoxville, TN
    What do you have to lose, but some cash! :biggrin:

    Someone here talks about the old Olympus Zuiko 500mm mirror lens. It is supposedly one of the best mirror lenses ever produced. There are also some 800mm mirror lenses out there.
     
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  4. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    I'd probably just take a crop from a Canon FD 400mm/f4.5 for the same price.

    The mirror lenses never gave sharp images on 35mm film, which on a good day might be able to resolve 1/4 (or less) the lp/mm of an M4/3 sensor.
     
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  5. Phocal

    Phocal Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jan 3, 2014
    waste of money in my opinion. You could always look for a Sigma 50-500 in 4/3's mount. I have had decent luck with mine, even with the EC-14 and EC-20.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  6. Machi

    Machi Mu-43 Veteran

    324
    May 23, 2015
    It really depends on many factors. Quality of Russian mirror lenses varies and you can be lucky with lens with nice IQ but you can also buy very bad copy. If you want to buy such lens I would recommend you trying it first.
    Also there isn't much targets for such long and slow lens.
    Probably only usage for it is as travel astrophotography lens for bright targets (Moon, Sun, planets) or for extreme perspective compression
    (or for spy videos :) ).
    But under right circumstances results can be very good even with small sensor cameras.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Mountain

    Mountain Mu-43 Veteran

    412
    Aug 2, 2013
    Colorado
    Yeah, this video is probably what got me thinking about it. I saw it last year when I passed on a locally available FD800L in favor of the P7-14

    Yeah, I've not been too interested in the Bigma, just because of the limited advantage to the 100-400, although the available teleconverters are a little attractive. I'd love to try the 300-800 but it is such a monster (price and size) maybe I'll rent it sometime in EF with a Speedbooster.
     
  8. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    I think you'd have better luck trying to find an affordable 500mm lens designed for 35mm film instead. That lens was intended to produce decent resolution on a negative 3x larger than 24x36. So now you're projecting it onto a sensor 12x smaller than intended. I don't think the results will be very sharp...
     
  9. panamike

    panamike Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jul 5, 2016
    Lincolnshire UK
    • Like Like x 1
  10. junkyardsparkle

    junkyardsparkle Mu-43 Top Veteran

    720
    Nov 17, 2016
    like, The Valley
    Wait... these are mutually exclusive?! :confused:
    If you don't already have a focal reducer, I would say that part of the investment might be worthwhile in its own right, I'm really enjoying my Lens Turbo II, and hope Zhongyi plan to make a 0.64x version at some point. If you get one for Canon EF mount, you can adapt many other mounts to that with cheap flange adapters...

    As for the insane FL mirror lens part... I think I managed to vicariously scratch that itch for myself by observing the experiences of others... I save myself a lot of time and money that way... although I do try to take my turn being the crazy experimenter once in a while. :D
     
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  11. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    pellicle
    Buy it

    You can always sell it again if you work out you don't like it
     
  12. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    pellicle
    :2thumbs:
    Its my life summarized
     
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  13. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    In my experience, it's pretty hard to offload weird vintage lenses without losing a huge amount. Most of them sit around on the auction site for months, if not years, being continuously relisted until they're eventually sold for their Buy It Now price. But none of the sellers use the auction format, since there's basically no demand for them, so you can't really get them for any cheaper...
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  14. kurtwist

    kurtwist Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    358
    Feb 6, 2011
    Southern Calif.
    500mm MTO 3m 5A 007.JPG

    The lenses are fine,light and portable and decent IQ. but I don't know about the combination (with a focal reducer)

    2 MUSTS. You have to be good at manual focus. You have to use a sufficiently high shutter speed.
    You don't have to use a tripod, but expect a lot of out of focus images along with some nice ones

    A lot of people try the cats and blame the lens when they are unable to meet those requirements. Look under Nikon 500 in adapted lens thread and you will see the possibilities of the straight 500. The MTO 1000 is even harder to use correctly but again, OK if it is. Atmospheric haze and heat distortion can also influence the result. If you buy the focal reducer you could probably use it with something else if your trial doesn't work
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2017 at 6:05 PM
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  15. 3dpan

    3dpan Mu-43 Veteran

    254
    Mar 11, 2017
    Far North, New Zealand
    Alec
    I have seven mirror lenses, ranging from a 500/5.6 Russian Rubinar to a 500/8 Zeiss Mirotar.
    I'm still hoping for the "magic bullet".
    Their main advantage of lightweight is also their main disadvantage. It's so much more difficult to hold them steady. Focusing is sensitive, too. These two qualities are, I suspect, the reason many casual users abandon them.

    Here is a link to a comprehensive report on mirror lenses, and in particular the Oly 500/8 compared with the Panasonic 100-300mm on m4/3.
    Olympus Reflex 500 mm

    And a very good mirror comparison test report from Jim Chung, using an m4/3 body,
    The Most Ultimate Mirror Lens Shootout …. in the World

    And some mirror lens specs, including using stacking a series of moon shots to improve resolution,
    The Mirror lens source

    And somewhere there is a favorable report of using a focal reducer (Metabones) on a mirror lens (Oly 500/8), but I can't find it for now.
     
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  16. 3dpan

    3dpan Mu-43 Veteran

    254
    Mar 11, 2017
    Far North, New Zealand
    Alec
    Back to your original question, a 1000mm lens of any sort, let alone a mirror is going to give big problems with atmospherics, haze, in terrestrial photography.
    And yes, a good focal reducer will improve the resolution.
    My intention is to use a Metabones Speedbooster on my Oly 500/8 mirror.
     
  17. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    pellicle
    agreed ... so my motto is "buy cheap" and "sell for what you get for it at auction" : chalk the difference up to "education costs"
    If you paid a "huge amount" for a weird vintage lens, I'd call that something which needs education...
     
  18. pellicle

    pellicle Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 10, 2010
    Southport, OzTrailEYa
    pellicle
    unless one is taking shots of small birds at reasonable distances ... such as on a nest from a hide.

    38369914446_6beaa68d83_b.
    Nest Cleaning behavior
     
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  19. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    Yeah, my solution is "buy cheap, try to sell it for a reduced price, find no buyers, let it collect dust on the shelf."

    The lens the OP is talking about acquiring is $200-350. Which is quite a lot when talking about a legacy telephoto...
     
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