View Full Version : The 500mm Reflex Free-style

12-19-2006, 04:55 PM
Just on a lark, since I had a little sunshine, today, I decided to use my Vivitar 500mm f/8 Reflex (Mirror) lens on my SONY A100, just to see what "Super SteadyShot" could do with it. Normally, handholding a 500mm-anything is a rough go, but here is a sampling of this rather "cheap", long-glass lens tolerating it.

Taking these with the Canon 20D (non-IS) would have been a mess. Unusable shots. I know, I've tried ... and as a result, I relegated this impossibly "dark" lens to the back of the stack. But here, to my surprise (but not really) the internal stabilization of the SONY A100 made the impossible possible for what would have been dismissed as an impractical lens.

Imagine ... 500mm at 1/30 sec, handheld! C'mon ... do that with anything non-IS and no support other than your God-given nervous sytem.

I submit:

500mm - f/8 - 1/30 sec. - ISO-100 - Sp - handheld

500mm - f/8 - 1/60 sec. - ISO-100 - Sp - handheld

500mm - f/8 - 1/30 sec - ISO-100 - Sp - handheld

Man, the SONY has merit, I'll give it that.

12-19-2006, 05:07 PM
Don the Super Steady Shot does get some merit there, but other features on the camera make it a consumer grade camera. I still think the 30D beats your Alpha any day.

12-19-2006, 05:18 PM
All I am saying is that the camera can do things I simply cannot do with the Canon's. To get an IS-equipped 500mm shot on my Canon 20D would, more than likely, cost $7500. Sure, it's an f/4 lens... but that is what you need to get Image Stability on the native lens, itself! That's a pretty hefty figure, in my estimation.

I suppose you could argue that buying a 2x extender added to a 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM might get it done, but again, were at $250 for the extender and another $600 for the lens.


Here is a Manual-Focus cheapo lens ... nothing special, other than it's extremely long focal length ... handheld at 1/30 sec., allowing for a pretty steady looking shot. You want pics of the wife getting caught with her don Juan, there's nothing clear with this lens attached to a Canon 20D @ 1/30 second ... but, mounted this lens on the SONY ... we're in court with the goods!

So, you can say the 30D can beat the daylights out the SONY ... but, it still won't do this! I just thought I'd show you. Claiming ignorance in no longer an option. Heck, I figure this would make a great backpacking combo, as the Vivitar 500mm f/8 Reflex is not much larger than the TAmROn SP AF17-50mm f/2.8 XR Di-II LD and weighs about the same.

12-19-2006, 05:51 PM
It's perfect for an average or beginner photographer. But how good is it if you want to enlarge those photos? I don't believe that the Super Steady shot is as effective as Image Stabalization.

Granted you get stabalization with any lens, that is a nice thing, you don't need stabalization in all situations.

Just curious, how would the optical quality of your 500mm relfex lens compare to say a Signma 170-500?

12-19-2006, 06:04 PM
Look, we're talking about a CHEAP ($100) mirror-lens versus a standard ($600-1000) zoom. There is an incredible amount of optical correction that takes place to provide the photographer with a balanced image as he/she stokes through the focal range of that zoom.

The mirror simply reduces the weight and makes the lens physically shorter, while maintaining the long focal length. You give up a lot of optical qualities for that little convenience of weight and length, so IQ will not be your aim ... compactness and lightweight are its advantages. The SONY-body makes it possible to leave the tripod at home and still get decent looking image.

Here's simple visual comparison between a 200-500mm f/5-6.3 zoom lens ($995) extended to its 500mm focal length and the 500mm f/8 Mirror ($100) on the same camera body, the Canon EOS 20D


"Super SteadyShot" simply allows you to handhold what normally can not be done at 1/30 sec. You have to admit, f/8 is not a lot of light to work with. You have to make it up with shutter speed and ISO. I opted to stick with ISO-100 to maintain color density and slowed the shutter to a 1/30 sec crawl. That was the intent of the demonstration, nothing more. :rolleyes:

You were suppose to say: "Gosh, this is cool stuff." or "I didn't know in-body IS was that stable ... that's awesome!"

This is the "SONY Digital SLR" forum, not "Compare this to Canon".

BTW: Here's the crop


You would get effectively the same image out of a Canon ... with this lens ... and a tripod.