From time to time every photographer would need some extra reach. And unfortunately, super tele lenses often cost you a fortune.
If you are like me, and not a pro bird, wildlife photographer, but would like to have some extra zoom for cheap, then mirror lenses might be an answer for you too…
In years, I’ve tested many mirror lenses. There is a handful of those newly manufactured in China, branded in different names.
But to my experience, non of those new ones, nor the other vintage mirror lenses can beat Tamron 500mm f/8 Adaptall Mirror Lens. If you ever want to give it a try for mirror lenses, just don’t waste your time and look for a Tamron in good condition.
Couple of things to keep in mind here;
Mirror lenses are all manual! No autofocus. This means you either need a body with image stabilization and steady hands or a good tripod – monopod. Since they are manual, they are not very good for shooting moving objects and tracking.
Due to their unique glass structure, they are not as sharp as conventional, modern lenses. If you are too hung up on clinical sharpness, a mirror lens is not your thing.
It is f8… And that’s it! There is no f2, nor f11… just f8 and you are stuck with that.
Beyond these shortcomings, mirror lenses have their own unique look and give you a huge reach for very little cost.
They are famous for their “doughnut-shape” bokeh, which some people love and some hate.
Once you get familiar with it, a mirror lens might open very different doors of creativity for you.
These come in different mounts such as M42, Nikon, etc(And Fuji or Sony for newly made lenses).
My Tamron 500mm is an Adaptall mount for Nikon and I use it with an adaptor (Nikon to FujiX mount) on my Fujifilm cameras.
Below are some example photos shot with Tamron 500mm f/8.