Capturing the old water wheel at Mullins Mill, Kells, county Kilkenny , using different shutter speeds ……
Tarmon SP 500mm F8 Mirror Lens, Real world review
When you make a start in the world of Photography, Sooner or later you will want to own a dedicated Long Telephoto lens. These lenses offer the ability to get some great images in the world of (Landscape, Wildlife, Portrait and Sports) Photography.
Fixed focus (None Zoom) Telephoto lenses come in many focus lengths, but the most usable are 200mm to 600mm, depending on how much magnification of distant subjects and objects you need. The cost of these lenses my surprise many starting photography and to be honest even many long term photographers, they can start in price range from around €800 and end up way into the many €1000’s.
There is however an alternative option with this type of lens, this being to look at what are called Reflex or Mirror Lenses. These kind of lenses replace some of the glass elements within their construction with two Mirrors both used to fold the light entering the front glass element in much the same way as a reflex telescope does.
i.e. NASA uses this method in the Hubble space telescope that has produced some amazing ground braking images of the cosmos.
Third party and OEM Camera manufactures started making these lenses in the 1970’s and continued through to the 1990’s, today mostly only third party lenses are available. The quality of these Early OEM/Third party – mirror lenses was very high, even second hand some of these lenses can set you back some €300 to €800 on ebay, even today in 2017.
I purchased a Reflex lens made by Tamron (500mm SP F8) way back in 1988 and in this post I just wanted to share my thoughts on some of its upsides and some of its downsides.
To be honest, I have not used this lens very much, for two main reasons.
Firstly : at 500mm and with an lens aperture of F8 it needs to be Tripod or at the very least mono pod mounted in order to create very sharp images. This maybe a little unfair as this is true for most long lenses but Nikon VR lenses are so good at helping go handheld!
Secondly : these lenses have one very different down side to that of refactor (Glass only) lenses, they produce a doughnut ring effect on bright out of focus objects or even just areas in the image that have a bright, lighting than the darker areas around them. I have included some examples at the bottom of the posts images below.
With the first point above, today in 2017 with the high ISO abilities of SLR cameras such as the Nikon D7200 and D750, this issue has been made redundant to a great extent! When this Tamron lens was produced, 35mm film could only produce clean images at a rating of no more than ISO 400.
Today the Nikon D7200 can work very well between ISO 3200 and 6400 with very little help from good noise cleaning software in post processing, this up-rates the usable shutter speeds for hand held work for even a lens of 500mm at f8, letting you work handheld more than ever before !
Remembering that even on a DX sensor slr, you need for some 750mm (X 1.5 DX factor!) to keep a shutter speed of 1/800th to 1/1000th to create fully stable images, If you have a steady hand. Even on a cloudy day ISO 1600 gives a shutter speed of around 1/1600th and ISO 1600 on a D7200 is little to worry about! noise wise. It is for this reason that I am starting thinking of trying using this lens again.
For the rest of this post and review of the lens, I will let the following images do the talking, with a small amount of comments made in each of the related image types.
Tarmon SP 500mm F8 Mirror Lens – sharpness and quality
To test for the image sharpness and quality I placed the camera on a tripod, I don’t use a remote release, so there could be some small effects but all in all these are sharp images.
You can see from the below image that this lens can produce some very sharp images under the correct conditions, its just as good as some much more expensive glass only lenses from Nikon.
I have no worries here and would be very happy in trusting this lens to produce sharp images from corner to corner of the frame.
Above : Nikon D7200 with Tamron SP 500mm Mirror lens, Tripod Mounted
As image sharpness has been tested above, what about color fringing and other detects, color fringing is visible in an image at bright edges in the frame, so I used the wires and other equipment on the telegraph post in this image, I see no fringing Green, blue or otherwise in this image.
So again I would trust this lens to produce sharp and clean images that need little or no post processing to clean them up later.
Using the lens – in the Landscape
The following images speak for themselves, just general landscapes and animal images from medium focus distance subject to long distance landscapes, the town and wind farm in the last landscape is some 8km away from the location of taking the image, crazy!. Again its sharp enough taking into account the haze of the atmosphere, no color fringing problems in the wind turbines.
With the main set of images here, I am less happy with the out of focus effects as the bokeh of this lens is not great!, anything bright and a little out of focus (i.e. The grass!) takes on a distracted look, feeling tangled and distracting with the image smoothness, Most noticeable in the two images of the sheep sitting down.
Those Doughnuts !! OMG!
As you can see from the photo of this lens sitting in my camera bag at the top of the post, a mirror lens is constructed very much like a reflecting telescope, like this diagram :
You can see that the center of the front glass element is used to hold the housing for the smaller secondary mirror in the construction, that folds the image light back down the lens and into the camera.
This system works amazingly well but for one problem!
For in-focus areas of an image the central lens obstruction is never visible, however for brighter areas of an image that are out of focus this central obstruction created by the secondary mirror housing, created a bright doughnut effect.
In the below images this is very clear!
The light gaps in the trees below turn into bright cycles, the rain on the table in the background focus also does the same.
In some images you can work around this effect and even use it as an interesting advantage?, you just have to get to know when this kind of lens is and is not usable !!!
For the most when you have a subject that has the potential to create this circle effect ! it just distracting and not likeable. This is the point at which the little price you paid to get a budget Telephoto lens €300 not €2000 starts to gets you back !!!
Getting Arty , MayBe?
Like any camera lens, Mirror lenses have their down sides (Slow, bright Cirles, Manual focus, etc …), you just have to get to know these features and ether use them to your advantage or don’t !!!
Some people love the bright rings and make good use of them 🙂 , one use could be nighttime street photography ?
So then ?
So if your looking for a cheep way to get a telephoto lens into your camera bag, a Mirror lens is well worth looking at in my own opinion. Don’t expect to work quickly with them or be lazy in your approach, however – but then most telephoto lenses need hard work to get good images, with a mirror lens you just have to add a little on top!
In the end, just like with all of your image making, you get out what you put in !!!!
Will I take this lens out more than I have? Maybe ! most likely not !! Watch this space ?
If I was starting again with few lenses and wanted a low budget long lens, would I get a Mirror lens , Hell YES !!! , With Great high ISO SLR’s even more so !!!
Sometimes the harder you have to work to get good images , the more you learn !!!!
Also see : Mirror Lenses – how good? Tamron 500/8 SP vs Canon 500/4.5L, a older review, ISO has moved a long way since this article but its a great comparison test (€300 Tamron v €2000+ Canon).
Its easy to think that the best lens to spend a full day of Photography with would be a zoom lens, however my favorite and most respected lenses are all prime lenses(fixed focus lenght lenses).
One of my most respected and trusted lens is my Nikon 50mm f1.4, its fast , can work very well in low light and even at 75mm on my DX D7200 body (50mm on an FX) it makes me think in a very creative way. You have to frame you shots well before you click the shutter button, I find this much more creative that just walking around and zooming in and out at everything 🙂 although this can be a very fun experience.
While you need a zoom lens in order to make sure you can capture some subjects, Prime lenses make you think about the subject you want to capture!
So what kind of images can you produce if you only take one lens with you , A 50mm Prime?
Nikon AF-d 50mm f1.4 Gallery
These images from yesterday include a morning walk and then an evening walking alone the strand at Tramore, County Waterford
A Buttercup Tale –
Poem by sylvia spencer
I know of a buttercup with a story to tell
and I can honestly say there has never been a
story told so well. A pretty buttercup so wild and free
once made friends with an old oak tree but sadly the
tree was cut down and little Miss butercup wore a frown;
she still bows her head in the summer sun because she
feels sad about what was done.
She then lived next door to a tall fox glove and she thought
in her heart that he had fallen in love, because he sheltered her
from rain all summer long and in the wind and rain he is
so brave and strong.
Sadly the foxglove did not feel the same and the buttercups
heart was jilted again.
On into the meadows she moved once more hoping that life
would be better than before. It was here she met the Dandelion
a real good catch and now they live together on the farmers
Francis Browne’s Finest Pictures
In 1985 an Edward O’Donnell was searching in the basement at the Irishjesuit Provincial’s House when he came across a large black metal trunk, in it he found a large colletion of negative albums, photographs and most amazingly of all an album containing photographs of Titanic’s voyage.
All these photographs were the work of Francis Browne who died in 1960 and was almost forgotten by this time. Subsequent investigations revealed he had enjoyed worldwide fame in 1912 when his photographs of the Titanic’s journey to Cobh were published worldwide. He had travelled first class to Cobh having been given a ticket by his uncle Robert Browne, Bishop of Cloyne. His remarkable pictures proved to be unique.
So it was that Frank was presented with a first class ticket for the Maiden Voyage of the Titanic to bring him as far as Cobh. The morning of the 12th.April 1912 he arrived at Waterloo Station in London to catch the Titanic Special. He immediately started taking photographs, first recording the train journey and then life aboard the Titanic on the initial section of the voyage. Having made friends with a wealthy American family he was offered a ticket for the remaining part of the journey and no doubt excitedly telegraphed a request for permission to go on to New York, to which he received the terse response “Get Off That Ship——Provincial!” That telegram not only saved Frank’s life but also meant that this unique record of the voyage was saved for posterity and guaranteed overnight fame for Frank Browne.
Browne later described the event as “the only time holy obedience saved a man’s life.”
“Get Off That Ship——Provincial!” – I guess many have wondered about this instruction ? , its almost prophetic in its nature – I guess we will never know how or why it was such a strong and clear order . I think it relates to the fact that while many embraced the new-world of 1912 technology, many also stood in fear of it and in this case clearly for good reason.
Frank Browne , April 1912 – Titanic Gallery
Happy St Patricks day everyone 🙂 🙂
Below I have posted lots of images from the last few years, all Landscape images of this great Island of Ireland !
St Particks day 2015, an Irish Landscape Gallery
How do people see Photography and creativity?
During my time here, in the WordPress blogging community the one thing I have loved the most is to see images and posts from around the planet. It is an amazing thing, how quickly you can take this for granted but this is a very recent ability!!
Before the internet with its blogs, you had to visit a book shop and look for international photography publications in order to to see images from other places around the world. These images however as a standard were highly processed and you only got to see a hand full of photographers images.
Personally I have been taking photographs for most of my life and I feel I have a reasonably good idea how this medium can be used, yet its only in recent times that I have attempted to earn some money from images, working with weddings, commercial agencies with landscape images for commercial purposes. I think the oddest job I have been asked to do is to be working in the castle at Enniscorthy, taking pictures of some 7000 historic Irish items from photographs to physical items that go back many years.
As an outsider, attempting to make a living in a small Irish town has not been the most simple of tasks, I have ever taken on in my life, I could tell a story or two for sure ( Things said and done!! ) but I move on very quickly – simple as that !!! 🙂
I think that the factors I have found to be the most limiting are in the way that local people see the subject of photography itself , photography as a medium locally here is mainly viewed as being for Weddings or for Family pictures , yet I know this not to be the case in many other parts of the world. To myself photography is a socially creative medium, one that can be used for much more than (Babies and Weddings,or is it Weddings and Babies ?) and even more so in current times with digital photography offering so many more options.
Digital photography at the same-time however has created some new problems and it does not relate to the problems that some long standing professional photographers have, in that they would love to be back in the days when they were viewed as something special, with skills that actually anyone could do but just did not want to – Sorry old pro’s but maybe its time to face facts Hay !! , anyone could do what you did and since they all went out and purchased a digital camera they have proved it , filling the world around them with wonderful images !!!
To me the problems that digital photography has created is with the drive for pure image perfection, this is the world of the photography purists who would spend a lifetime trying to achieve the unobtainable so that they can die happy ?
It is not that you should not care how good your image is , its that its not the main factor in taking images at all !!!
Personally I feel that photography as a medium is as artistic as any other art form, to make it artistic however you have to let go of pixel peeking just to check how much detail you have, along with as many areas as you can think of that drive for perfection. Where digital cameras truly come to life is in the hand of a creative mind not a perfectionists one , after all some of the best and most creative photographs in history were taken using cameras from the 1900’s that few today would even dream of using , yet the images they created still standup today!!
I want to walk with you to the highest peak
then watch your eyes,
gaze out into the night sky
wide with wonder,
as they see the very stars
they hope to one day conquer
I want you to go and see the sights
you never imagined you’d ever see
Walk along the canals, a swim in the lakes,
Walk down rivers so clear.
I want you to stand
and reach for the furthest cloud,
grab at the sunshine
and trace patterns in the cold winds from the north