|Reflex-Nikkor C. 500mm f/8|
Published on: 26 January 2017
Edit: Everything was re-written from scratch on 10 March 2017
If you want to venture into the world of true telephoto range, then 400mm is the best starting point (on APS-C, start at 300mm). It will really open up a new world of opportunities and challenges. You can suddenly see distant objects greatly magnified, or you can also enjoy the beautifully compressed background when you shoot landscape (see my sunset scenes below).
Before you make your first baby steps venturing into the world of super telephoto range, there are two designs that you need to know of. One is the long design, it's big, can be heavy, and can cost quite a fortune.
Then there is the budget alternative, called 'mirror lenses' or catadioptric design (sometimes abbreviated as 'cat lens'). This design allows manufacturers to cut the size of the lens in half by bending the light.
For beginners, don't be intimidated by all of this jargon. Let's just say that a 500mm mirror lens is no taller than your typical 18-200mm zoom fully extended, their small size and weight make it easy to handheld (for me, up to 1/30"), and mirror lenses are absolutely free from chromatic aberration and color fringing due to the design of the optics. Mirror lenses are also easier to operate because of their design.
Don't ever be biased by some junk comments saying that mirror lenses are trash, their 'donut bokeh' is ugly, or mirror lenses are soft (in terms of sharpness and contrast). This Reflex-Nikkor C. 500mm f/8 is one of the best mirror lenses out there, and you won't have any regrets with it.
Reflex-Nikkor C. 500mm f/8
Selling Price Used:
PhP 13,000 - 21,000
Used on FX = 500mm
Used on DX = 750mm
Minimum Focusing Distance:
4 meters / 13 feet
Focus Throw: 180°
Aperture: Fixed at f/8
Filter Thread Size:
Front Ø = 88mm
Rear Ø = 39mm
Made in Japan
1968 - Reflex-Nikkor 500mm f/8.
1974 - Reflex-Nikkor C. 500mm f/8. It is exactly the same as the second version. There is an added 'C', which means that the glass has been updated with Nikon's NIC (Nikon Integrated Coating). This is the most popular version because of the updated optics and reasonable price .
1983 - Reflex-Nikkor 500mm f/8N Macro. This lens is identified as having a smaller front filter thread of Ø=82mm and a macro focusing capability. The best version of them all, obviously. But the price is about 3-5 times more expensive than the 3rd version.
Nikon made several versions of this lens. This is the third version (second to the last version), and they added a 'C' (Reflex-Nikkor C. 500mm f/8), meaning 'coated'. Nikon updated their lenses in the mid-1970s with their NIC (Nikon Integrated Coating) for better image quality. You can tell because of the greenish sheen you can see on the surface of the glass.
The front has a filter diameter size of 88mm. It's impossible to find filters that size, so you attach filters to the rear part instead. The removable screw-in metal hood comes handy for reducing stray light and should help to improve contrast. I wish it was longer though. You can see that it also has a built-in tripod mount at the bottom of the lens.
39mm filters are attached at the rear part of this lens. You can see in these photos a Nikon L37c filter attached on the rear.
You can see the chrome lever on the right, if you press it, it allows you to rotate the camera to change into landscape/portrait orientation without having to rotate the whole lens iteself (only the rear/mount will rotate).
The minimum focusing distance of this lens is 4 meters or 13 feet. It is good enough for me, because I've had lenses with shorter focal range like 300mm that have their MFD at 9 meters! Besides, the MFD of this Nikkor mirror lens is just a fine working distance for me, I can still take great macro shots with it.
This lens is obviously Made in Japan, long before they outsourced it to other countries. It only means to say that they have very high and uncompromising standards in manufacturing their lenses. The 'Made in Japan' was really black, but I just put red acrylic paint out of whim.
Shooting with this lens has always been a pure joy. There are only two shortcomings I can think of about this lens -- the aperture is fixed at f/8 (brightness is adjusted via Shutter Speed and ISO only), and difficulty finding 88mm filters for the front. I would always choose to bring this lens because of its portability and cute design.
It is possible for me to handheld shoot with this lens up to 1/30", thanks to its compact design. My longer 400mm was more prone to vibration and shake so I would normally make the shutter speed 1 or 2 stops faster. What does this mean? I can shoot with slower shutter speed when light is dim.
If image quality is in question, there is absolutely nothing to complain about. It does very well in sharpness, contrast, resolution, and even with colors. It's tack sharp even if I used it with my Kenko 2x MC Tele Plus! This Nikkor mirror lens is just BEST! You can just keep shooting with this lens, upload them straight from your camera without corrections/filters and still see very pleasing images.
Nikon D5200 Settings
Photo Size - JPEG Basic/Small
White Balance - Preset
Picture Profile - Standard
HDR/ADL/Flash - Off
Most of my shots here were at 1/60",
while the night scenes were at 1/30".
These are just a select few of my samples.
All samples unedited, except one where indicated.
All photos are handheld,
only the sunset shots were mounted on a tripod.
For the complete set of photos,
kindly go to this link:
Sun and Moon
|This is the only edited photo in the bunch.|
Just a small up in the red colors, that's it.
|Shot inside my room.|
Flower and Foliage
|With the sun in the background|
|Shot inside a mall, just 5 meters away. This was one of the first ever shots I took with this lens.|
|Gateway Mall is easily seen from Welcome Rotonda,|
at least with this lens.
Nikon Story - Little Lens, Big Step
Tamron Adaptall SP 500mm f/8 (52BB)
Nikkor 500mm f/5
Nikkor C. 500mm f/8
Nikkor 500mm f/8 (1983)
Nico Van Dijk - Nikkor Mirror Lenses
What is a catadioptric design?
Reflex-Nikkor C. 500mm f/8
Photos from other users
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