RMC Tokina II TM 500mm f/8
I said I'd not buy a catadioptric or mirror lens as the ring bokeh is really distracting. But then I read an article pointing out that it's actually pretty easy to remove in post so I grabbed an image off the Web which had bad ring bokeh and, with the aid of a mask and some un-sharp masking, managed to get the image pretty clean in about ten minutes.
My first port of call, being a Minolta fan boy, was the Minolta 500mm f/8 RF. You can pick one up on eBay for about £150 but then I was reading this article and it mentioned in passing that:
Tokina's counterpart to Minolta's 500mm RF was the TM500 (Tokina Mirror) lens which uses 35.5mm sharp-cut back filters as well as their AT-X 150mm and AT-X 300mm telephoto lenses. The size of Tokina's 500mm f/8 mirror lens was smaller and without the deep 70mm lens shade attached is nearly as compact as Minolta's 250mm RF model. Tokina's quality made it one of the top ranked after-market lens manufactures.
Smaller sounded good and there was one on Ebay, with original case and all the accessories. I made an offer and got it for £55 or thereabouts.
(The seller's photo, not mine)
I really got this lens for photographing dolphins (which I've still not done) but I took it to Southwold to play with and set a fixed shutter speed of 1/1000s with floating ISO and took these. The first, of Southwold water tower, is soft, but it's a long way away on a hot day.
However this one shows what it's really capable of. A photo of a friend of mine taken across the camp site it's lovely and sharp. Click on the image to see it full size and you can see the individual hairs in his ears!
The bokeh doesn't leap out at you either, which is good. My conclusion, having used this lens some more in Nairn taking photos of birds in the garden is that:
- You definitely need some stabilisation on the camera, so a tripod or (in my case) a monopod, as it jiggles about too much otherwise.
- For the same reason you need to set a high shutter speed of at least 1/1000s (leaving the camera to pick the ISO if you want it to worry about exposure). All of which means it's a lens for bright days.
But overall it's a good lens, and very compact for a 500m catadioptric.
It turned out that this wasn't the best lens for dolphins as they're too close(!). I used the 70-210mm zoom on our first outing and seemed to be zooming to about 135mm (so I'll be using the 135mm next time).
However it was exactly the right lens for taking photos of seals yesterday.