Sunday, May 19, 2024

500 f8 Mirotar T*

500 f8 Mirotar T*

Light Weight Long Range Contax






Saw some photos samples of this lens and start looking at it. Current market price for Contax CY lenses were pretty good, so I got one cheaper unit from a Japan Ebay seller. The lens came with box, original caps and a Contax lens pouch specially prepared for the Mirotar the Pouch 10. Immediately attracted me was the very high build quality of the lens. My last use of mirror lenses was decades ago and were Russian made mirror optics. You could not really complaint a lot for the very low price you paid for the Russian Mirrors. I had tried the 500/8, and 1000/10. In the film days where we would live with films of ASA 400 or 1000, and the images were already quite grainy even for the ASA 400, it was not easy to take sharp pictures with the slow mirror lenses. Nevertheless these lenses were still worth using just for the reach. The Russian mirrors generally had strange colour tones and lack of contrast. There were also lack of sharpness but probably due to photos had to be taken at lower shutter speed due to the limitation of film ASA.


Comparing the MTFs of the 500/8 Mirotar with other Zeiss like SL66 500/5.6 Tele-Tessar which I was familar with, I thought the Mirotar would be of much better image quality then the very old 500/5.6. Of course when comparing paper MTF against the Zeiss 500/4.5 or 1000/5.6 Mirotar, we would expect the other two Mirotars will be of much better quality and resolution. But then the 500/4.5 and 1000/5.6 are super expensive and heavy monsters that I am very unlikely to afford and thus very slim chance of personally witness the impressive quality of the photos produced by them.



MTF of 500 f8 Contax Mirotar


MTF of SL66 500 f5.6 Tele-Tessar. The Mirotar MTF clearly looks better than this 500/5.6 even at f8, but actual photos feel otherwise.



The MTF of the Contax never in production 500mm f5.6 Tele-ApoTessar, and the 500/8 Mirotar MTF seems comparable.



The very impressive MTF of the 500 f4.5 Mirotar, showing very good resolution for large enlargements. But this lens is 4.5 kg!!



The interesting part of my first experience with the lens was I cound not take sharp pictures with it while testing with still subjects in my room!! Was then examined carefully the construction of the lens and felt it had little moving parts and did not seem like I got a lemon copy. I was testing with my Sony A7R (mark I). After some trial and error and also testing on A7R2, I found out the reason for not getting sharp pictures was atually due to shutter speed (even it was on tripod)!! OK A7R had this known issue of high vibration shutter whereas A7R2 Sony had improved very much on this issue. But somehow first time in my life I need a shutter speed of 1/500 and above to get sharp photos with this Mirotar. Also despite the not too bad MTF, in real life photography this Mirotar did not perform as sharp as my 500/5.6 Tele-Tessar, and especially with the Tele-Tessar stopped down to f8. I came to a conclusion that it could be the limitation of the mirror design that there were inherent lack of contrast feel for photos taken with this lens. But despite these comparisions, this Mirotar actually effortlessly outperformed the Russians ones I had used, in terms of sharpness, and it was convincely better in terms of colour reproduction. However, I have no experience with Japan made mirror optics. Also, I found this Mirotar seemed perform better under good lighting condition where the contrast improved a lot, but I guessed could be due to better f-stop and shutter speed settings, or lower ISO on camera.





   A7R2, f8 1/500, ISO 400, MT190CXPRO3/BHQ2, 28 Jun 2020








      Woodlands Singapore/Malaysia Causeway

Rare sight of no or lack of lifes and activites, as a result of Covit 19 lock down

A7R2, f8 1/500, ISO 400, MT190CXPRO3/BHQ2, 28 Jun 2020



Overall, the 500/8 Mirotar is not an easy lens to use due to its strong character. The donuts bokeh is not always there depending on subject condition but need to be aware while composing photos. But with this very long focal length and its small size and light wight, it is definitely worth considering for trips where a spare long focal length is good to standby while carrying along the much heavier long lenses alternatives is not pracitcal.


A7R4, f8 1/800. ISO 160, MT190CXPRO3/GHFG1, Woodlands Waterfront, 29 May 2023






Photos of Mirotar taken by Milvus ZF 50/2 Makro Planar T*, A7R.




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