Torn between Min 500mm Reflex and Min 100-400mm APO

Started Apr 29, 2013 | Discussions
arie
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Torn between Min 500mm Reflex and Min 100-400mm APO
Apr 29, 2013

I've really wanted to try the 500mm reflex because it has a lot of fans and it's got decent AF and IQ in good lighting. The only con I can see is the rather distracting bokeh. I've seen a lot of nice shots that look great except for the background that looks like crap! (that's a technical term)

I already have the Min 100-300mm APO and like it. From what I gather, the 400mm is even a little better in terms of sharpness and IQ, with the con of lense creep when carried. I've seen the lense extended and it goes out pretty far! But the bokeh is decent, and a lot better in terms of smoothness than the reflex.

My camera is an A77 at this point. Guess I could just get the reflex and see if I like it enough to keep it. They both cost about the same on feebay.

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Kzoozoomer
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Re: Torn between Min 500mm Reflex and Min 100-400mm APO
In reply to arie, Apr 29, 2013

I have them both plus the 100-300 APO D.  I prefer the 100-400 APO over the 500 reflex both for image quality and for focal length flexibility, and I had good results with it handheld on a trip to Alaska.  That said, the 100-400 APO is fairly large and heavy, and I much prefer my 100-300 APO D for general travel.  The 100-400 APO's bokeh is okay but can suffer under certain busy backgrounds.  Also, the lens sometimes hunts a lot trying to AF, occasionally requiring me to switch the camera on and off to get it to focus.  As for zoom creep, this was easily solved for me with the use of a Lens Band.

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John De Bord Photography
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Re: Torn between Min 500mm Reflex and Min 100-400mm APO
In reply to arie, Apr 29, 2013

I'm with you and I have NEVER understood the attraction to the Minolta 500 mirror lens. Slow, horrible bokeh and you can buy a used Sigma 170-500, Minolta 100-400, Tamron 200-400mm for often times less than the 500 mirror. Last thing you want in wildlife photography is super distracting bokeh.

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Mark K
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Re: Torn between Min 500mm Reflex and Min 100-400mm APO
In reply to arie, Apr 29, 2013

arie wrote:

I've really wanted to try the 500mm reflex because it has a lot of fans and it's got decent AF and IQ in good lighting. The only con I can see is the rather distracting bokeh. I've seen a lot of nice shots that look great except for the background that looks like crap! (that's a technical term)

I already have the Min 100-300mm APO and like it. From what I gather, the 400mm is even a little better in terms of sharpness and IQ, with the con of lense creep when carried. I've seen the lense extended and it goes out pretty far! But the bokeh is decent, and a lot better in terms of smoothness than the reflex.

My camera is an A77 at this point. Guess I could just get the reflex and see if I like it enough to keep it. They both cost about the same on feebay.

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1500 years ago, everybody knew that the Earth was the center of the universe. 500 years ago, everybody knew that the Earth was flat. And 15 minutes ago, you knew that people were alone on this planet. Imagine what you'll know tomorrow. -MIB

Well, the bokeh is something so many people are after. Local AF Minolta 250 reflex has a price of 2500USD so I think at any price Sony 500/8 is a good buy. 100-400, well, is not as good as Sony 70-400G

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Alan_S
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Re: Torn between Min 500mm Reflex and Min 100-400mm APO
In reply to arie, Apr 29, 2013

arie wrote:

I've really wanted to try the 500mm reflex because it has a lot of fans and it's got decent AF and IQ in good lighting. The only con I can see is the rather distracting bokeh. I've seen a lot of nice shots that look great except for the background that looks like crap! (that's a technical term)

I already have the Min 100-300mm APO and like it. From what I gather, the 400mm is even a little better in terms of sharpness and IQ, with the con of lense creep when carried. I've seen the lense extended and it goes out pretty far! But the bokeh is decent, and a lot better in terms of smoothness than the reflex.

My camera is an A77 at this point. Guess I could just get the reflex and see if I like it enough to keep it. They both cost about the same on feebay.

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1500 years ago, everybody knew that the Earth was the center of the universe. 500 years ago, everybody knew that the Earth was flat. And 15 minutes ago, you knew that people were alone on this planet. Imagine what you'll know tomorrow. -MIB

I owned the 100-400 at one point and it was a decent lens -- if I had to choose among the three you mentioned that would be the one for me. However, I replaced it with the 70-400G and the improvement was stunning (albeit requiring a lot more cash up front ). If at all possible, that's the direction I would suggest.

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Chris Malcolm
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Re: Torn between Min 500mm Reflex and Min 100-400mm APO
In reply to arie, Apr 29, 2013

The virtue of the 500mm reflex is its portability. Mirror lenses can't match refractors in image quality or speed. But a 500mm reflex is small & light enough to take out with you just in case. I often have mine in my bag just in case, & most of the time it stays there. But more than half of my best 500mm shots were completely unplanned & unforeseen lucky opportunities. If I hadn't got the 500mm in my bag I'd have missed them.

I've compared the image quality & detail resolution against the 100-400mm f4. It's definitely inferior, but at a small fraction of the size weight & price that's to be expected. And if I had the big one I'd still keep the reflex as a stuff in the bag just in case lens. And it would continue to take half of my best long shots.

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Chris Malcolm

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Sonyshine
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Re: Torn between Min 500mm Reflex and Min 100-400mm APO
In reply to Chris Malcolm, Apr 29, 2013

I love my Sony 500 mirror lens and couple it with a Tamron 70-300 USD . I find the two lenses cover most eventualities.

Do not understimate how good the mirror lens can be:

Grim Reefer....lookin' grim!

The Girl Friend

Turnstone running across shingle.

I have a 500 mirror set here:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/thekrankis/sets/72157632204064803/

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eastriding4310
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Re: Torn between Min 500mm Reflex and Min 100-400mm APO
In reply to arie, Apr 29, 2013

I have them both and like them both.  If I had to choose, I would probably keep the Minolta 500mm reflex.  I took a great portrait of my wife at 50' (head and shoulders only filled the frame A77) and found great hair and face detail.

Very few of my photos have serious donut problems.

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Chris Malcolm
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Re: Torn between Min 500mm Reflex and Min 100-400mm APO
In reply to Chris Malcolm, Apr 29, 2013

Chris Malcolm wrote:

The virtue of the 500mm reflex is its portability. Mirror lenses can't match refractors in image quality or speed. But a 500mm reflex is small & light enough to take out with you just in case. I often have mine in my bag just in case, & most of the time it stays there. But more than half of my best 500mm shots were completely unplanned & unforeseen lucky opportunities. If I hadn't got the 500mm in my bag I'd have missed them.

I've compared the image quality & detail resolution against the 100-400mm f4. It's definitely inferior, but at a small fraction of the size weight & price that's to be expected. And if I had the big one I'd still keep the reflex as a stuff in the bag just in case lens. And it would continue to take half of my best long shots.

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Chris Malcolm

Error correction - it was the new 70-400mm I did the comparison with.

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Chris Malcolm

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jeffcpix
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Re: Torn between Min 500mm Reflex and Min 100-400mm APO
In reply to Chris Malcolm, Apr 29, 2013

I had the 100-400... sold it because it was too big and heavy.

I tried the old MF 500mm -- great lens: small, light, sharp and cheap. Then I found how useful SS was with a 500. Focusing wasn't a problem (no sports/BIF) but having a choice of AF is always nice.

I bought the AF version and really love the SS and AF... but it's considerably larger than the MF version. I'd easily give up the AF for the smaller size if I could retain the SS. Unfortunately, the only MF version that appears to be convertible to A mount and perhaps chipping is the Leitz TelytMR 500/8 -- and they're not cheap.

http://leitax.com/conversion/leica/MR-Telyt_500-8/index.html

If weight and size are no obstacle, might as well avoid the weird bokeh and go with the 100-400 or, if you can afford it, a 70-400. I also like the 100-300APO for its size and IQ -- but the lens I use most for my travel stuff is a new 28-300 Tamron which (with lens correction in PS) has yet to disappoint me. I want to add the 500AF to my kit -- and would if it were the size of the MF -- but now I'm having second thoughts.

Shooting FF, cropping from a sharp 300mm image down to what a 500mm would see, isn't that big a deal -- as long as the image is sharp. Now that Sony isn't offering the 500AF, I expect prices to rise.

The 500AF is a unique lens...literally.

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L R Harner
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Re: Torn between Min 500mm Reflex and Min 100-400mm APO
In reply to jeffcpix, Apr 29, 2013

i have been thinkingbaout the 500 f8 for about 2 years and might still pick one up to see how it is but i think that if i was going with a zoom i woudl go with the tamron 200-500 (i have the 70-200f2.8 and its great)

really a nice 300 or 400 prime in the f4 or 4.5 woudl be in my eyes better (wish sony woudl update them or sig. or tamron put one out )

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Keit ll
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Re: Torn between Min 500mm Reflex and Min 100-400mm APO
In reply to L R Harner, Apr 29, 2013

I have both but much prefer the 100-400m because it is much easier to locate a subject at 100mm & then zoom in to 400mm whereas the 500mm makes it quite difficult to locate an object particularly if it is moving.

I do not find the zoom particularly heavy or cumbersome  , it is a lot lighter & smaller than the excellent 70-400 mm.

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Sonyshine
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Re: Torn between Min 500mm Reflex and Min 100-400mm APO
In reply to Keit ll, Apr 29, 2013

Keit ll wrote:

I have both but much prefer the 100-400m because it is much easier to locate a subject at 100mm & then zoom in to 400mm whereas the 500mm makes it quite difficult to locate an object particularly if it is moving.

I do not find the zoom particularly heavy or cumbersome  , it is a lot lighter & smaller than the excellent 70-400 mm.

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Keith C

I am quite good at tracking with both eyes - one thru the lens and one watching a fast moving critter!

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Steve West
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Re: Torn between Min 500mm Reflex and Min 100-400mm APO
In reply to arie, Apr 29, 2013

I have the 500mm Min AF and the sony 70-400G.  The 70-400 image quality is superior by quite a bit. However, the 500mm reflex is so light that getting BIFs with it is amazing.  Despite what others say, the 500mm on my A77 and A99 focuses lightning fast.  I have no problem quickly bringing it on a BIF and instantly snapping the well-focussed image.

If I am hiking, I take the 500mm reflex.  If I'm out specifically for photography, I take the 70-400.  The 500mm is simply an amazing lens with lots of reach in a tiny and light package--not to mention that excellent price for used copies.

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imarollingstone
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Re: Torn between Min 500mm Reflex and Min 100-400mm APO
In reply to arie, Apr 29, 2013

I have both along with the Tamron 200-500. I like all three. The Tamron is the sharpest of the three, but the 100-400 has the most pleasing bokeh.

I terms of weight, the mirror is the lightest, the 100-400 in the middle (and not a heavy lens by any means) the Tamron the heaviest, but still very useable hand held.

Given the choice, between the mirror and 100-400, I would go for the 100-400 due to the flexibility and superior bokeh.  I also find it a touch sharper than the mirror and a stop faster at the long end.

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Shawn

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danny006
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Re: Torn between Min 500mm Reflex and Min 100-400mm APO
In reply to Steve West, Apr 29, 2013

I've had the reflex for almost 2 years. Was happy about it, made some great shots of birds (see my gallery). But then i replaced it by the Minolta 400/4.5 and it was quite a bit sharper. Now I have the Tamron 200-500 and this is also sharper. Big advantage for the reflex is there's absolutely no CA, the Tamron has some CA. And the reflex is very compact, making it easy for birds in flight.

I would skip the reflex and go for the Minolta.

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www.alex-digitalpics.be by Sony

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arie
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Re: Torn between Min 500mm Reflex and Min 100-400mm APO
In reply to Kzoozoomer, Apr 29, 2013

Kzoozoomer wrote:

I have them both plus the 100-300 APO D.  I prefer the 100-400 APO over the 500 reflex both for image quality and for focal length flexibility, and I had good results with it handheld on a trip to Alaska.  That said, the 100-400 APO is fairly large and heavy, and I much prefer my 100-300 APO D for general travel.  The 100-400 APO's bokeh is okay but can suffer under certain busy backgrounds.  Also, the lens sometimes hunts a lot trying to AF, occasionally requiring me to switch the camera on and off to get it to focus.  As for zoom creep, this was easily solved for me with the use of a Lens Band.

I too really like the 100-300. It's a surprisingly good lens for the money, and it's really light too. I've never used a lense band before. I assume it's an elastic things that you put over the front.

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arie
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70-400G - Re: Torn between Min 500mm Reflex and Min 100-400mm APO
In reply to Alan_S, Apr 29, 2013

Alan_S wrote:

I owned the 100-400 at one point and it was a decent lens -- if I had to choose among the three you mentioned that would be the one for me. However, I replaced it with the 70-400G and the improvement was stunning (albeit requiring a lot more cash up front ). If at all possible, that's the direction I would suggest.

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- AlanS

From what I've read, the 70-400 is really nice. The only cons seem to be weight and the fact that it's very conspicious when you pull it out! But seems to be an awesome lense to consider!

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arie
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finding long range shots with 500mm
In reply to Chris Malcolm, Apr 29, 2013

Chris Malcolm wrote:

The virtue of the 500mm reflex is its portability. Mirror lenses can't match refractors in image quality or speed. But a 500mm reflex is small & light enough to take out with you just in case. I often have mine in my bag just in case, & most of the time it stays there. But more than half of my best 500mm shots were completely unplanned & unforeseen lucky opportunities. If I hadn't got the 500mm in my bag I'd have missed them.

You know, the one thing I noticed about using a cheap 500mm MF prime is that you start searching for scenes that you wouldn't ordinarily catch with a 50mm or 90mm. At the risk of stating the obvious, it's like being able to transport yourself a pretty good distance and take a snapshot. I don't think many people realize the effect until they try it. Really opens up your field of vision and possibilities of what you can capture.

Having a zoom like the 70-400mm would be nice if you want to find the subject on the lower range, then get closer on the longer for the shot.

I've compared the image quality & detail resolution against the 100-400mm f4. It's definitely inferior, but at a small fraction of the size weight & price that's to be expected. And if I had the big one I'd still keep the reflex as a stuff in the bag just in case lens. And it would continue to take half of my best long shots.

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Chris Malcolm

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arie
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BIF?
In reply to Steve West, Apr 29, 2013

Steve West wrote:

I have the 500mm Min AF and the sony 70-400G.  The 70-400 image quality is superior by quite a bit. However, the 500mm reflex is so light that getting BIFs with it is amazing.  Despite what others say, the 500mm on my A77 and A99 focuses lightning fast.  I have no problem quickly bringing it on a BIF and instantly snapping the well-focussed image.

If I am hiking, I take the 500mm reflex.  If I'm out specifically for photography, I take the 70-400.  The 500mm is simply an amazing lens with lots of reach in a tiny and light package--not to mention that excellent price for used copies.

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Sorry, does BIF mean Birds In Focus?

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