Mirror Lens vs Normal Lens


TPF Noob!
Nov 23, 2008
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A Riverside Town by Canada
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Which one is better all around. Ill be using it mainly to shoot birds and possibly do some macro with it. (Minimum focus isnt the biggest concern of mine with the macro, since the one I plan on getting is a 500mm, the magnigication of the lens will compensate enough to make me happy. I can always crop it.

The only thing im aware of the difference is that the aperture on the mirror is fixed at f/8 and the normal lens is max f/5.6 or 4 with a minimm of f/22. (well that and the mirror is about 6 or 7 inches, and the normal is about 2 feet!)

Both are manual focus (cheaper, and since Im left handed---- Its a lot easier focusing with your dominent hand....but the many times Ive missed a shot because I couldnt react fast enough...but my focus was good!) and are fairly cheap. (mirror is 50, normal is 80)
I wouldn't bother with those cheap mirror lenses.
One of the mirrored elements in a mirror lens is in front of the main collector. This makes for a wonderful compact package for such a long focal length. Unfortunately, this same design makes for very distracting "doughnut" shaped highlights that are pretty darn distracting and some issues with image quality.

A long time ago, there was one mirror lens from of the major brands (canon, nikkor, pentax.. can't remember) that had good image quality. I know very little about it except that it wasn't all that popular either.
Mirror lenses are 1/4 the price for a reason... image quality is lost due to having to bounce the light between mirrors, and you have the ugly donut bokeh problem shown here:

Mirror lenses have their uses, and are wonderfully fun toys. If you are shooting astronomy (moon etc) they are pretty nice. Shooting wildlife is hit and miss, especially with the bokeh. I bought one for fun because they are so cheap, and it is a great toy. Just like 8mm fisheyes, there are one or two shots that really work with this type lens, but the majority look bad.

Don't waste money or space, save till you can get a real telephoto.
You would be better served getting a Phoenix 500mm telephoto Lens for a hundred bucks NEW off Ebay than any mirror lens, the Phoenix glass ain't spectacular but it is far better than a mirror. Mirror lenses only produce acceptable results when the subject is close and big enough to fill the frame, even then it is not spectacular.

Additionally, to the best of my knowledge mirror lenses are not macro capable at all.

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