I would like to ask about this lens Opteka 650-1300mm

Started Apr 18, 2011 | Discussions thread
dprived prev
dprived prev New Member • Posts: 5
Re: I would like to ask about this lens Opteka 650-1300mm

ok, i'm typing this blurb rather late on 18th January 2021 on a thread that started nearly a decade ago ... but it may still be useful for someone anyway:

i got an Opteka 650~1300mm (plus its X2 extension) a few weeks ago after years of wanting to do so ... i already knew i couldn't expect it to be a 'miracle' lens of any kind (for obvious reasons others have noted here already) but i also knew it has its own advantages ...

and i learned i was quite right at that ...

before i go on with my own review of this lens, you may already know that the very same lens with exactly same looks and performance and specs etc comes under at least 5 more different brand names such as the famed good old Vivitar or Samyang and so on ... the only difference would be some of them may produce it in white color body only, others in black only, and possibly some in both looks ... only the brand imprint on them and maybe the model number and things like that differ from each other ...

so, here goes my pros/cons of this lens:


• construction

this is a very well made lens by not only just looking at it but also after you hold it in your hands and examine things closely!

yes, it does show it's cheaply made, but well above the marks for the really low price we pay for it ... its looks may not fool the advanced amateur or avid professional photographers to mistake it for a fancy prancy extremely expensive lens, but it doesn't look so far below either ...

• distortion

believe it or not, at least at its 'widest' range, ie, the 650mm setting, this lens is totally free of barrel / cushion distortions!

nor does it suffer much from vignetting issues, which even many higher priced regular lenses do, especially zoom ones ...

(of course, since the test shots (bottom of this text) were made using an APS-C size sensor, the vignette, if visible when using a full frame 24x36mm image, is now out of range to be seen on the half-frame sensor's corners ... but if there is strong barrel / cushion distortion on this lens in its original FF format, at least it’s not visible here anyways …)

for example, visible horizon line (such as in a seascape) is perfectly straight and pleasing to the eye with this lens! that's something not all 'good' lenses at much higher prices offer unless you apply their lens profile at the post processing stage, in Photoshop for example ... besides, even though i haven't found a lens profile for this lens (haven't searched for it yet either) if truly needed, it's not too difficult to create one for it yourself using Photoshop or similar programs to make photos taken using this lens almost perfectly flawless in terms of distortion at least if not color and fringing aberrations ...

in fact, if we notice more carefully, most good and higher quality 'digital' lenses these days do have a profile in Photoshop per se, which if we don't apply them to in post processing (or in-camera) then they will all show their weaknesses in the areas just mentioned at least ... (isn't that why and how some naughty lens manufacturers manage to sell us low-priced yet greatlenses these days, thanks to digital post processing magic?)

• price

for $180US i don't think you can find something similar from famous brands, especially as an OEM option!

that's the amount i paid, but you may find it for somewhat more or even a lot less, new that is, just as well, depending on the seller's clearance options and/or season etc ... (the 'competition', see the link provided down below, is way better in terms of sharpness, surely, but it's also at least 300X more expensive! and at least 8X heavier too!)

• size / weight

yes, it's quite heavy at 2Kg (4.4lbs, based on the Vivitar model's info) ... but only when you compare it to your regular lenses ...

while it is a featherweight lens compared to the only similar model from a famous brand i know that is 17+Kg (and 60`000 $$$ in price!) which also requires a heavy box to carry it in as well as a really heavy duty tripod to hold it steady ...

so, it's clear which one's the winner for someone who wants to have a 'small & lightweight' super-telephoto lens to carry inside a backpack or on one's shoulder instead of having to use it only at a fixed spot in a stadium shooting closeups of footballers and stuff like that ... (see link below please ... the Opteka comes with a soft yet durable- enough lens pouch that has a zipper and an adjustable shoulder strap ...)

https://petapixel.com/2012/04/23/nikkor-1200-1700mm-the-mother-of-all-super-telephoto-nikon-lenses/Nikon 1200 1700 lens

and believe it or not, currently, i'm using the Opteka on a regular $50 aluminum / plastic tripod effectively enough ... AND occasionally i've used it handheld as well, albeit for only a short while of course ... yet, you simply CANNOT do that with the other option as it is too long and extremely heavy!


◘ fixed F:8 ~ F:16 (16 ~ 32, when used with a X2 extension) aperture; too dark for focusing

yes, that's true (which applies to the heavyweight / extremely pricey competitors just as well btw!) but on a bright sunny day, it's barely a big problem really ... and even under dim light conditions (twilight, night etc) it's not as bad as one might think if the photographer is well experienced, patient enough and knows what s/he's doing ...)

◘ hard to focus even in bright daylight

yes, somewhat ... but remember: we're not dealing with an AF 135mm F:2.0 lens here!

this is a fully manual ultra-telephoto zoom lens! (even the fancier AF lens mentioned may fail to focus correctly and with precision all the time, automatically as well as quickly, depending on the model, brand and other factors ...)

besides, this lens is also a long-focus lens! meaning, the slightest rotation on the focusing knob affects the plane of focus more than what most photographers are used to when using other normal lenses ... having the above two tricky factors in mind, avid photographers can adjust their focusing habits accordingly and in a very short time so as to make use of such a 'difficult' lens in a much better way ... (hence the use of a sturdy tripod recommended so highly for this kind of lens!)

◘ NOT sharp!

yes, true ... but given a little extra work in post processing to remove that annoying fringingartifact (which is the main cause of this lens's soft images) and especially when we do know about it and do not care much to get 'microscopically precise' photos of important things with this lens, that's not much of a problem! in fact, i'm using this lens mostly for 'effects' rather than pinpoint sharp photography ... and i like the results ...

hint: based on my own experience so far, when focused fully on the subject, the image in the camera's VF is quite clean and fairly sharp! (yes, some flare but nothing that cannot be reduced if not totally removed in post processing ...) so, it's also the image sensor partly to blame for capturing a somewhat soft picture ...

◘ size / weight

see the same title in the Pros section above please!


overall, unlike what most people might say, this lens (or similar ones) does way more than what you pay for, especially when compared to the professional yet hefty options just talked about already! in fact, come to think of it, this kind of lens vs the extremely low price paid for it, is quite under-rated, while the highly costly competition item is very much overrated imo ... if that item's price is in the 5-digits range, then this one in the 3-digits range is not disappointing me at all really ...

no! this is not a mediocre lens AT ALL if you're asking me!

Other possible options

alternatively, there are the 500mm or 900mm CAT (mirror) lenses by Opteka and others, which are much smaller in size and lighter in weight with relatively sharper image results as well ... and they are quite affordable in price too ... but they have their own issues such as the 'doughnut bokeh' and so on ... (i like them too and i'll be getting some of them as well, when i grow up and get rich!)

there are also two more lenses (by Opteka and others) that have similar capabilities to this one and possibly better in image quality yet with a shorter focal length range:


it's a fixed-F lens and pretty much like this one but the lower zoom range kind of guarantees somewhat sharper images ... (will be getting one soon, and will update here with results ...)

500mm preset

this one, has a preset yet variable aperture range from F:8 ~ F:32 and being of a fixed and shorter focal length, it surely is capable of yielding better quality images ... (have ordered one already, arriving in a couple of weeks, and will update here with my test results ...)

some photo samples of mine using the 650~1300mm Opteka lens:

all photos taken on one day (19 January 2021) near and after sunset ... soft hazy somewhat soggy early evening light ...

camera: Pentax K-5

Opteka Opteka 650~1300 zoom settings: various, from 650mm to 1300

all photos post processed in Photoshop CS6 ACR first and a few of them also further edited in Photoshop itself, mostly for some little adjustments using Levels ...

of course, this camera cannot record the exact focal length and aperture settings higher than 800mm but the approximate settings of some is included at the bottom of each photo as long as remembered ...

ISO 200 / 1/800" F:8 / 650mm (975mm APS-C)

ISO 200 / 1/1000" F:8 / 650mm (975mm APS-C)

ISO 200 / 1/400" F:8 / 650mm (975mm APS-C ... please note the perfectly non-distorted horizon line! and no vignette either! (of course, since this shot was made using an APS-C size sensor, the vignette is out of reach to be recorded but if there is strong barrel / cushion distortion on this lens in its original FF size sensor or 135 format 24X36mm film coverage, at least it’s not visible here anyways …)

ISO 800 / 1/8000" F:16? / 1300mm? (1950mm? APS-C ... can't remember the exact focal length but probably at the max 1300mm because of the increased ISO, thus shutter speed ...)

ISO 800 / 1/400" F:8? / 650mm? (975mm? APS-C ... not sure about this one's focal length & F ...)

ISO 80 / 1/6400" F:8? / 650mm? (975mm? APS-C ... possibly 650mm because i know the sun would record much bigger than this if i move the zoom setting to 1300 mm ... also note the orb of the sun, which is a perfect circle! no distortion in shape and its proportions!)

ISO 3200 / 1/320" F:8 / 650mm (975mm APS-C) please note that this photo was taken long after sunset and it was even darker than what we see in this edited version here! hence the very high ISO ... another reason why i insist a lens like this offers a lot more than its very low price! again, also note the perfectly level and straight horizon line in this photo! no lens profile to correct any aberrations and vignetting used in post processing ...

 dprived prev's gear list:dprived prev's gear list
Pentax K10D Pentax K-7 Pentax K-x Pentax K-5 Pentax smc DA 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 AL +6 more
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