Note to readers: Please leave a comment! It would be nice to know where you are from and if the article helped you in any way!
Christmas 2009. A new Vivitar 500mm f/6.3 DX Series 1 Mirror Lens.I’ve always been fond of them.
A lightweight(1.4 lb – 651 g) manual focus, multi-coated, catadioptric (reflex), fixed aperture “Super” Telephoto which, despite the “DX” label, can be used on full and small frame DSLR sensors as well as on regular 35mm film SLR’s. On the D90, with it’s DX sensor and 1.5x crop factor, that’s an effective 750mm! Make sure you are a good 15+ meters from your subject unless you want to shoot that Lion’s eyeball. These mirror lenses can be attached to virtually any (D)SLR using common T-Adapters. My first set of images can be found at the end of this post. You deserve to see what some lens manufacturers may not want you to see and thus why reviewers (and others) often unfairly malign these marvellous mirrors…
(A Key to all the Acronyms and Terms used can be found here.)
I’m on my way to the KNP (Kruger National Park, South Africa) for a few days and this addition to my arsenal is most welcome. I took it for a spin in the few days after Christmas and would like to share my initial experiences here. This is not a Mirror vs Glass shoot-out, although some comparisons are made. My intent is to show you what’s possible with a mirror, a DSLR and a little bit of effort on your part.
Let me say this. Mirror’s are a fun, affordable way to get that elusive subject. Especially if the wildlife around you is skittish when you get physically to close. I am no overly technical lens guru. You can throw a hundred stats and figures at me. I learn the hard way – by trial and error. Of course I look at Lens and Contrast Charts, MTF Graphs and the like but the images also count.
I had previously used my father’s Tamron SP 500mm f/8 55B (Adaptall 2 mount to MD) in the early 80’s, before it and all his Minolta gear was repossessed by an “Affirmative Shopper” from his house in ‘91. i.e. burgled. Now a collectors item – they fetch $150 US or more online. It was sadly discontinued in ‘83. Have a look at this link for other Tamron SP’s.
I took dozens of decent shots in the KNP in ‘83-’84 as well as in other locations, attached to my Minolta XG-M or XD-7, usually using Fuji 400 ASA slide film hand-held. s/s in the early mornings or late evenings was often low, 1/60th or less when nature tends to be more active and light non-existent. I had steadier hands in those days! Prints were also a bit more forgiving wrt sharpness, where today the LCD monitor really shows soft shaken images up. Metering was TTL.
I didn’t own a decent solid tripod at the time (had a very cheap Slik and window pods were not commercially available nor Bean-Bags) and in any event, when one is sitting in a car surrounded by lions, fully opening windows or climbing out to set up a tripod is potentially bad for one’s health, never mind illegal in our National Parks. Even forgetting to lock your doors can be a mistake as this guy found out… Game Park or Zoo Lions have lost all fear of humans, good for photographers but a problem for rangers. Whilst I took some really good hand-held up close and personal Lion shots (he was 18 feet (5 meters) from the car and filled the frame), I also got great shots of birds (fish eagle on dead tree, cormorants), hippos/crocs at dams and the like, resting the mirror on the edge of the half wound down window with a folded towel or t-shirt as lens rest. The car’s engine was switched off and no-one was allowed to move let alone breathe whilst taking a shot!
As an aside, here is another “lens” that was in the stable. The Minolta RF Rokkor-X 800mm/f8 “cooking-pot” as my father called it. Quite a beast but still a Mirror and now a collectors item. In good condition (no fungus, front/rear lens or barrel scratches) they fetch $1000 US or more online.
I appreciated the Tamron’s light weight and admired the background donuts it produced on highlights; “bokeh” for the uninitiated (man I dislike that term). Whilst it was fixed aperture, MF and had a very shallow DOF, it taught me a lot about light, focus, composition, anticipation and patience. Back in the day, film and D & P was still pricey and the shutter was released only when the result was a sure thing. The SP was also relatively inconspicuous and a darn sight more pleasant to lug around than the equivalent glass lens. It’s great for long distance candid photography aka paparazzi style or getting entry to the sport stadium without attracting attention!
Mirror’s come in a variety of brands (Sigma (long discontinued 600mm), Sony, Vivitar and brands like Bower, Cambron, Canon, Hanimex, Kenko, MC, Minolta, Nikkor, Ohnar, Opteka, Paragon, Phoenix, ProOptic, Rokinon, Rubinar, Tamron, Samyang, Soligor, Spiratone, Zuiko (Olympus)), focal lengths (250, 300, 350, 500, 600, 800), and f-stops (5.0 / 6.3 / 8 / 11 or more). Most common are the 500mm f/8’s at around $120 US. Some “dealers” advertise 1000mm and 1600mm but they are 500/800mm with a 2x converter! (f/10 to f/22?!!) I’m thinking you can take the Cokin Z-Pro 100mm ND 2/4/8 filter kit and shoot the sun, but practically it’s going to get a bit dark in the viewfinder at f/10 or more to even try and focus on normal subjects. Moon shots at f/6.3 or f/8 work out great however, I’ll post results at another time.
(ETA 2011 06 16: I now have a Lunar Eclipse sequence here.)
I’ve yet to find MTF graphs. Some shootouts do exist. Here’s a review of a ProOptic 500mm f/6.3 for Sony Alpha. Here’s a review of the Sony AF SAL 500 f/8, the only AF mirror out there still in production. A spin off from the original Minolta. Sigma also made an AF I believe? (Here’s a review of the Vivitar 500mm f/8 by Marc Sabatella.)
Online, mirrors garner LOTS of bad press. For someone on a tight budget this biased attitude is rather unfair. We can’t all afford $1000′s US for a Bigma 50-500mm OS Sigma wonder lens, the Sigma 300-800mm, never mind $6k US – $8k US for Nikon or Canon in an equivalent or similar focal length prime. Fine, if I was sponsored a 600mm Nikkor, or even the 200-400mm f/4 ED VRII…no contest.
Nowadays, for some reason the background donuts aren’t much loved. They CAN be controlled with composition or in PP. Some ‘togs go to great lengths to create hearts or star backgrounds, vignetted, lens-baby techniques, often for portrait work, and Cokin/Hoyarex Technical Mask Inserts are available to do this, although somewhat cheesy imo. I think the distinct mirror lens donut is unique and pleasing. It can in any event be removed with masking and some Gaussian Blur in PP. Other reasons for being disliked are MF, limited DOF, fixed aperture, perceived “low” saturation, huge (95mm) front element thread diameter making screw-in filters expensive, although the smaller rear element can be used and is usually 34mm or so but generally is used to fit various trick filters or coloured filters for B&W work, but still leaving the front element exposed to wear and scratches if you don’t protect it. Don’t buy a cheap $20 US (glass or UV) filter. You do the mirror ‘lens’ no justice and may just add to haze/poor contrast blaming the lens! Atmospheric haze as you know is already a problem when shooting long distance and a UV/Haze/CPL filter will help reduce this. I’ve yet to track down a hood for it but you could just as easily make one from black card. If you do find a factory made hood, please drop me a comment with the URL. (ETA: November 2010 > http://www.lenshoods.co.uk/ )
I can think of a few reasons why you should buy one:
Lightweight, short, no (discernible) CA (Chromatic Aberration). Price. Reach. Sports. PP!
It’s fun to use and teaches you to understand DOF and light in an automatic world.
Did I mention price?
As far as it being maligned, maybe (glass) manufacturers want to sell you a prime or a super telephoto, at some pretty steep prices due to the sheer size/quality/cost of making that glass and the associated expense in polishing and coating it. Or maybe it’s too much like hard work for the average DSLR photographer as they need a T-Mount adapter and, with the exception of Canon AF-Confirm ring adapters and the Sony SAL mentioned below, you must have good eyes to focus and know your light. (Or get an Exposure/Spot Meter that reads 1°-5° AOV) Practically in the bush you don’t have time to spot meter except through camera. You can do a WB with a grey card in the camp or off green foliage but light changes rapidly in Africa, well anywhere really. Almost all of today’s mirror’s are MF. Only the Sony Alpha SAL 500mm f/8 Reflex AF (at about $900 US) has the benefit of AF and, on a Sony body, any mirror brand that fits has the benefit of their SteadyShot® INSIDE image stabilization built into the camera body. At that price you might be better off buying a true FF Zoom Telephoto 70-200mm (105-300mm) , 70-300mm (105-450mm), 50-500mm (75-750mm), 300-800mm Sigma, preferably in f/2.8 or as big f stop you can afford, except for the cost, size and weight factor…
Glass alternatives (4.1 lbs (1.8 kg)) would be the Sigma 50-500mm f/4-6.3 EX DG HSM Autofocus Lens ($1,100 US excluding Lens Hood $110 US and Hoya 86mm UV Filter $85 US!) or the older Sigma APO f/5-6.3 170-500mm (255-750mm) ($600-$1000 US on eBay), which not only give you zoom capability, but AF and aperture control as well, in addition to a stop or two of extra speed, and you should get a filter and hood included in the price.
All super/ultra/telephotos will suffer from atmospheric thermal turbulence. i.e. Haze in extreme distance shots.
Mirror photographers are currently a limited breed but have a look at the Flickr Mirror Lens Group where I am a member as well as this Flickr group dedicated to Vivitar Series One. There are discussions on the other major photo sites like Photo.net and DPReview.com
I spent some time searching the Nikon D90 manual to confirm that their is no custom menu setting, in M Mode, where you could tell the camera that the manual lens attached is an f/6.3.
A failing (deliberate?) I believe in the current Software Revision (v1.0). It expects a CPU lens with chip/contacts to inform it of the lens’ capabilities. The D300, D300s on up to D700, D3, D3s, D3x, D4 (ETA: D600, D800, D7000) have the option to add a manual lens and tell the camera what f stop it is via the menu.
A, P and S modes (as other preset exposure modes) prevent the camera from firing in the absence of lens/chip contacts.
Hours searching the web proved fruitless in finding either a workaround or a T-Mount adapter (with a pre-programmed or programmable chip) that tells the camera the lens is an f/6.3 or WHU. There happens to be Olympus/Canon EOS M42 mounts that have a “user-programmable” AF-Confirm chip that can be customised, and I wonder why something like this hasn’t been developed for the myriad of manual lenses out there for all mounts now that DSLR is so popular?
No matter, adjusting your s/s and ISO has the same effect, so Manual Mode here we come…
I removed the lens from it’s well made, padded lens bag with draw-string. There’s no serial number stamped anywhere on the aluminium barrel.
The 95mm Hoya UV(0) had already been attached, so I then removed the rear lens cap and screwed the Bower T-Adapter for Nikon that came in the box from B&H to the rear thread of the lens.
Firmly but not too tight.
This adapter has an outer and inner ring, threaded to one another, with the Nikon F Mount behind it and a small red dot to assist you in matching it to your body.
The inner ring is held by one tiny screw that later, with regularly interchanging lenses on the camera, came loose with the nett result that the mirror had lateral play on the mount. Tightening the screw helped but I trust a drop of lock-nut on it would solve that problem.
I then carefully attached the lens+adapter to the D90, balance is good and it’s very light.
There’s very little space for your right hand finger tips to fit between the rear of the barrel and the D90’s finger grip. Not that the D90′s grip is inadequate but that f/6.3 is rotund!
My fingertips did fit…just. That’s OK as this lens will mostly be used on a mono/tripod or a gimbal. (EDIT: SEPT 2010 > I now use a Manfrotto 393 on a Manfrotto 190XPROB and get sharp images). The times that I did walk around with it, I didn’t feel uncomfortable, and it’s not heavier than your normal zoom when using a regular broad neck strap. I would imagine if you added a 1.4x converter that the added O/L would make it easier with the obvious loss of 1 extra f/stop. A 1.7x or 2.0x might be a bit dark but I’ve done it on the Tamron with my MD 2x converter on 35mm film SLR’s. Fair results for postcard quality were obtained initially, and A4 would also be acceptable. (ETA: Later I found after becoming proficient that I could shoot steady enough to print to A3.)
Camera (+battery+8Gb SDHC card+Nikon neck strap) and mirror lens +Hoya 95mm UV(0) + front lens cap weigh in @ 1500g (1.5 kg or 2.2 pounds). Lighter than some zooms and most primes!
On firing up, the D90 of course displayed “F – -” on the LCD instead of “F6.3″ meaning it cannot determine the lens’ F-Stop. No lens to body contacts remember? The combo is light allowing me to walk around for an hour without tiring of it. Looking through the viewfinder, things look slightly darker than on a normal glass lens of similar FL, even on a bright sunny day. This darkness is exactly as if you were to stop down your glass lens to check DOF to f/6.3. It’s more than adequate in broad daylight, however, better than the f/8 version of this lens which would be slightly darker. The loss of one-or-so f-stops is due to the rear facing mirror on the front lens blocking some of the light. I’ve read elsewhere in reviews that mirrors absorb light. This is untrue, mirrors don’t absorb light. Light is reflected but at a lower intensity or spectrum and there may be minute imperfections where infinitesimal amounts are absorbed. Black objects on the other hand absorb light and this is converted to heat. Read here for a simple explanation and here for another POV where Photons and Quantum physics explain light “absorption”.
Don’t forget to switch your camera to manual focus using the Focus-Mode selector (p59) and “M” on the Mode dial (p6). In other modes the D90 won’t respond. See p230 in the D90 Manual for a list of compatible MF Nikon lenses. Install the Free PhotoCommission Toolbar and links to all Nikon Models PDF Manuals can be found there. It’s easier to search a PDF than the printed instruction manual.
When focusing, the outer rubberised ring grip is large, easily accessed, and the result is smooth and well dampened, albeit a bit fast/minute to achieve focus, and then just as fast to lose it again. Time will tell if the rubber is well made and doesn’t deteriorate over the years. Manual focusing is indeed an art, especially with non-stationary subjects, with such a shallow DOF. The barrel moves forward by 15mm from focus range 2m to ∞ (infinity) and also rotates just over 90°. I would prefer having either heavier dampening or more travel to achieve minute focus control. I mention the rotation because you might be interested in using drop-in filters. CameraFilters.com have got 95mm step-down rings but I’m afraid 95mm is just too big as you will need to get two rings to get down to the Cokin/Hoyarex Holder size of 70mm OD. My Hoyarex system will be visible on the outer edge of the frame. I suppose you could crop it out but composition can get tight at 5° AOV. Are there other filter systems out there that are made for this big a lens OD?
The focus indicator (p9, 38, 60) in the D90’s viewfinder flickers constantly. I haven’t yet been able to get it to stop or settle down. Might be the mirror’s very shallow DOF. I’ve found that back focusing slightly gets me the best crisp result.
In order to get decent hand-held exposure and prevent wobbling, a minimum of 1/800th of a second s/s is needed especially on a DX (small frame sensor) for sharpness. On FX 1/500th should be OK. This is entirely possible as I will demonstrate with some examples below. In broad daylight I used ISO 800 to ISO 1000 on the D90, more is needed in shady, overcast or night conditions to maintain that high shutter speed (if hand-held). I find a rule of thumb is ISO 800 and s/s 800 or ISO 1000 and s/s 1000 to start with in bright light. It’s then a simple matter of adjusting s/s or ISO with the Sub-command or Main-command dials on the D90 to increase or decrease the exposure. Thankfully everything except the F-Stop, focal length and lens type is recorded in the RAW file’s EXIF for later reference.
This type of lens is ideal for birding portraits (especially when they are stationary like cormorants or landing, taking off from the same branch), for Hippo’s surfacing etc, on a tripod, bean bag (less so a monopod) or sitting at a dam with a sundowner in hand, waiting for the odd animal to pop in and slake it’s thirst or surface. With practice you can get pretty proficient with a mirror. See the shot of the Glossy Starling at the end of this post. That took all of 1 second to set s/s, focus, take the shot, between the time it landed on the branch and before the bird took off again.
I’ve added the $120 US Vivitar 500mm f/8 in [red brackets] for comparison.
Note that the f/8 is almost half the weight of it’s 2/3 stop faster brother.
Filter Size: 95mm(front), 34mm(rear) [Rear-mounted screw-in 30.5mm]
f/Stop Range: f/6.3 [f/8]
Minimum Focus Distance: 6.6′ (2.0 m) [5.6' (1.7 m)]
Angle of View: 5° [5°]
Groups/Elements: 6/7 [6/7]
Lens Coating: Multicoated (aka Super Spectra)
Pouch: Padded, includedAdapter: T-Mount (Available for all brands/mounts)
Length: 4.7″ (119.5mm) [3.4" (86mm)]
Maximum Diameter: 3.8″ (98mm) [3" (76mm)]
Weight: 1.4 lb (651 g) [11.6 oz (330g)]
Sports Photog’s and the Paparazzi can afford the traditional zoom (Nikon’s 200-400mm f/4 VR ($6000 US) or telephoto glass versions (Nikon’s 400mm f/2.8 VR ($8800 US)) (Sigma’s Bigma 1 and Bigma II made for their own SD14 / SD15 DSLR spring to mind, not very practical IMO however unless you are a sports photog static on the side of the pitch), need AF etc with carbon fiber tripods or macho mono-pods to go with them, but alas I’m not getting a few thousand clams per ‘Paris Hilton caught in a compromising position on a secluded beach’ shots every week…not that I’d want to!
So at under $180 US, plus a decent Hoya 95mm UV at $92 US (Dec 2009) to protect the front element, the Mighty Mirror and a little effort, is a great alternative to $1000-$8000 US glass varieties.
Initial Image Results:
Click an image then click it again to enlarge to 1024px. You can also right click it; open in a new tab or window, then click it again.
Whilst it’s obvious I overexposed the original, I placed it here to show what’s possible in PP even if you don’t get the exposure 100% right from the outset. Use another camera if you can with a similar lens to get a reading and start from there if you haven’t got a hand-held exposure/light meter that can be set to 1°-5° AOV. Image 1 was taken without one. That’s the problem with chimping at small 3″ TFT monitor. Due to their 920k+ pixels, they make everything look better…yet it’s OE. Shoot in RAW if you can, and edit as much in RAW. Make sure you make a copy of the original.
Of course you could always set your DSLR to Bracket and take 3 shots, -1 Ev, 0 Ev and +1 Ev in succession, as long as your subject co-operates and stays still. A 1/1000th might have been a bit better to start with, especially if you plan on stacking the images later (in the case of Isolated Landscapes). I used the D90’s Mirror Lock Up feature and an ML-L3 IR Shutter Release. Mounted on a wobbly 1984 Slik aluminium tripod! (EDIT MARCH 2010: I’ve since invested in a Manfrotto 190XPROB, 804RC2 head and a 393 Gimabal).
Image 1B took <2 minutes of my attention in PS (it shows!):
Cropped to 1024px wide
Brightness reduced 5%
Green Saturation -40%
Red Sat +5%
Burned eye/beak +20%
Curves Black +5%
USM (Unsharp mask) +20%
SFW (Maximum Quality)
The Vivitar and D90 actually picked up great in-shadow definition on the birds’ chest and right face. I used Active D Lighting – High and Noise Reduction – High
The head and shoulder is blown unfortunately and nothing I can do there in PS, except lengthy cloning. Notice the pleasant donuts in the background. If you don’t like them, compose better or crop them out or “curve, mask and Gaussian blur…”. Image 1B was not touched up with filters like Noise Ninja or Topaz deNoise etc.
Image 2A is correctly exposed from the onset, or only sightly OE. All I have done here is transfer it from the data card to my PC via Nikon Transfer and upload.
From there I opened it in Nikon ViewNX and exported an 8bit TIF. Then opened it in PS and SFW @ 1024px wide x 680px maximum quality.
The characteristic donuts can be seen in the BG.
Whilst it looks very green, this is not a lens characteristic. We have had over 200mm (almost 8″) of rain in the past 2 weeks. Everything is green! The image is clear and sharp and if you look carefully at the blades of grass you can see the shallow DOF quite clearly.
The D90’s pixel density is seriously good when compared with other sensor of it’s era (and even some later sensors)
D90 — 32,986 pixels/mm² (12.3 Mp on DX 23.6 x 15.8mm CMOS) (Aug 2008)
300 — 32,986 pixels/mm² (12.3 Mp on DX 23.6 x 15.8mm CMOS) (Aug 2007)
300s – 32,986 pixels/mm² (12.3 Mp on DX 23.6 x 15.8mm CMOS) (Jul 2009)
D3 — 14,063 pixels/mm² (12.1 Mp on FX 36.0 x 23.9mm CMOS) (Aug 2007)
D700 – 14,063 pixels/mm² (12.1 Mp on FX 36.0 x 23.9mm CMOS) (Jul 2008)
D3x — 28,435 pixels/mm² (24.5 Mp on FX 35.9 x 24.0mm CMOS) (Dec 2008)
D3s — 14,063 pixels/mm² (12.1 Mp on FX 36.0 x 23.9mm CMOS) (Oct 2009)
D7000 – 44,002 pixels/mm² (16.2 Mp on DX 23.6 x 15.6mm CMOS) (Sep 2010)
D4 —- 19,293 pixels/mm² (16.2 Mp on FX 36.0 x 23.9mm CMOS) (Jan 2012)
D800E – 42,130 pixels/mm² (36.3 Mp on FX 35.9 x 24.0mm CMOS) (Feb 2012)
D600 — 28,203 pixels/mm² (24.3 Mp on FX 35.9 x 24.0mm CMOS) (Sep 2012)
Image 2B was cropped from the original and I applied 20% USM for a better web experience.
On my 19″ LCD in PS, the original is tack sharp but the moment you put it on the web, even in Maximum Quality JPG, boom there goes the definition. Beyond that there was no PP done in PS.
I would have adjusted saturation and contrast, maybe curves and USM to make it more appealing if entering a competition but this is darn good as is.
I was extremely patient sitting for about 1 hour in a foldout chair and the tripod and IR shutter release, constantly chimping and focusing till I got the “look” from the Plover. You can use Live View but it’s a battery eater and focus confirmation is less accurate.
I noticed no obvious vignetting on over 100 shots so far, even when enlarging the images to 200% in PS and scanning around the edges. I didn’t expect any vignetting. I’ll take a white only and grey only shot when I get round to a technical review.
The Vivitar 500mm f/6.3 DX Series 1 is a serious contender for your attention, especially if you have 1. limited budget and 2. weight restrictions when flying/travelling and wish to carry your gear on as hand luggage. Modern semi-pro and pro DSLR’s can now go right up to 6400 ISO and higher in expanded mode. High ISO NR and sensors are getting better by the year. Even in failing light, f/6.3 is usable, especially with a choice of up to 6400 ISO on most modern DSLR’s, albeit with some noise that can be combated with software noise reduction or in camera High ISO NR. In ‘83, the fastest 35mm film speed available (to us) was Kodak Ektachrome or Fuji at 400 ASA. Later a Kodak Gold 1000 ASA became available and I never used it besides one test film due to grain. A 1600 ASA was available up till 2007! Very few retailers here stored film in a fridge at 13° C and often 35mm film was ruined before you took it out of the box…resulting in blue images. Not the lens’ fault!
The Mighty Mirror is, I hope, going to make a resurgence, at least in the amateur or semi-pro markets, thanks to DSLR and PP techniques and positive blog reviews like this! If you are a Pro sports photog/journo or the like, the risk of missing the shot because of bad exposure or missed focus, then of course, get a fully Automatic Super or Ultra Telephoto, if you or your employer can afford it.
There’s a lot of choice in mirror lenses out there, and whilst I’m not sure by whom Vivitar have subcontracted their lens production to, (I suspect Samyang) other than it being stamped “Made in Korea” on the barrel, I’d hazard a guess that all brands these days (except perhaps the Sony) come from the same factory, there’s an off chance that based on price fluctuations between brands for the same spec/lens, there are different quality requirements per brand, mostly on the quality of the mirror coating used or the housing.
Mine is superb. Go and get one! Thanks Dad.
ETA: A shot taken after the original review with almost no PP other than Curves, USM.
When Vivitar Corp. came out with their first Series I mirrors (Solid Catadioptric) they contracted production to Perkin Elmer (NASA space telescope fame).
Later Cat’s were made by Olympus…
This lens was not supplied to me by the manufacturer or a retailer for testing. I wasn’t cajoled or paid to write this. It is my privately owned lens and I have no affiliation with Vivitar or other manufacturers mentioned in the text.
ETA: By early 2012 this page has been hit thousands of times from a link on Samyang Isreal’s web site
Nikkor, between ’69 and ’71, built a monster 2000mm f/11 catadioptric. It has a 1° 10′ picture angle!
I’d be keen to get my hands on one. Anyone know where they are gathering dust?
Perhaps I’m biased, but under $180 US (lens only) vs over $1000-$8800 US (lens only), I think I am entitled to be.
Buy a new Vivitar 500mm f/6.3 DX Series 1 Mirror Lens here and a Hoya 95mm UV for it here.
Orders placed through those links help me keep this site running, thank you!
I intend doing a comparison, side by side with a Sigma 170-500mm APO f/5-6.3 DG or possibly the newer 150-500mm OS in the future at 500mm as an indicator of what the next step “up” would be, financially. I have however found the older Sigma 170-500mm to be soft at 500mm and now only zoom to 400 or 450mm with it so it will be an image only based comparison.
A Key to all the Acronyms and Terms used can be found here.
Text and images © H Grohmann. Names, brands and technical data referred to are the © or ™ of their respective owners and/or companies. Go to gallery to see the African Darter displayed in the text in a larger format as well as other work.
If you got through it and found this review useful, please link back to it from your site or blog and I’ll reciprocate to yours, or leave a comment and tell me where you are from and how get here Thanks!
Gear I use:
Bodies: Nikon D-SLR’s / Lenses: Nikon, Sigma, Tokina, Vivitar /
Filters: Hoya UV & Polarizing / Flash: Nikon Speed-lights / Bag: Lowe Pro /
Tripods & Heads: Manfrotto / Batteries, Grips, Timers, Triggers: Phottix /
Plug-in: Topaz Labs for Noise Reduction, HDR.