Review Samyang 500mm F8 Preset ED IF MC mini review

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Peter
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#1
Searching for more reach for as little money as possible lead to me buying the Samyang 500mm F8 Preset ED IF MC. There's a variant of this lens that doesn't have the ED element, one of five this lens has in four groups, the other one has four elements in four groups. There's also a Samyang model that's a F5.6, but it has only three elements in three groups, which I think might be a bit too few to get a decent picture. My other options would have been mirror lenses, which I didn't want because of the fixed aperture and bokeh that I didn't like, lenses that were only up to 400mm (Sigma 400mm F5.6) and were considerably more expensive or lenses that would cost me several times more, although they would almost certainly be better in terms of optics and practical use (such as the Sigma 150-500mm HSM OS, which would cost me at least 550 € more without VAT).
I paid 120 € for this lens and so far, there's only one thing I dislike about it - it's fully manual.

It comes in a box, which is just a little bit bigger than the lens itself.
The lens is surprisingly light, feels solid (metallic body) and is quite nice to handle, although there are a few quirks.
It's about 30 centimetres long, but only weighs 576 grams according to the manufacturer and it certainly feels light. The front element diameter is 67mm.


The photos on the manufacturer's homepage show enough of the lens and I'll reuse them to save you some clicking.




The focusing ring does require slight effort to turn but I think it might be for the better. The depth of field is rather small, it's still easy to miss the focus and the focusing ring is likely to be where you'd be holding the lens. I'm quite glad I have a monopod (Velbon RUP-43), as I would probably have to lug my tripod with me otherwise. Without either the monopod or my tripod, it's difficult to actually frame anything because of shake occuring when turning the focusing ring, even though the movement appears to be quite smooth.

The aperture ring is an oddity of this lens. It seems id does nothing. What changes the aperture is the ring that's closer to the manufacturer name plate, which only has letters O and C with an double arrow between them printed above it. It's smooth to turn and I can hear a slight click when the aperture changes.

It's difficult to focus with the lens and if you're trying to shoot birds with it, a split-prism focusing screen probably won't be of much help, as it might become too dark in the centre. I have a KatzEye focusing screen with Optibright treatment and the split-prism is still somewhat usable at F8 with this lens, but at F11, it gets too dark to be of any use and I can only rely on the microprism collar or the rest of the screen, neither of which is very accurate. Then again, I'm not that great at manual focusing and my sight is less than perfect as well, so someone else might have better luck focusing than me. I'll try to get out next week with a friend with a better sight and I'll see how he's going to get along with it.

In the meantime, the best I can offer are my rather poor test photos. They are raws converted in RawTherapee 3. I've found that increasing local contrast can work very well for this lens, increasing the perceived sharpness overall look of the photo. Correcting CAs helps too, but not as much - they aren't always obvious.
 
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Peter
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#2
#1 F8, ISO 800, 1/800s (100% crop)

The same image without any sharpening or contrast adjustment can be found in the dropbox link a few lines below. It has a file name DSC_2733_full_no_sharpening_no_contrast.jpg.

#2 F11, ISO 800, 1/800s (100% crop)


I've used exactly the same parameters for images #1 and #2.

#3 F8, ISO 800, 1/500s (full frame)


#4 F8, ISO 800, 1/500s (full frame)


#5 F8, ISO 800, 1/500s (full frame)


Full size images of the ones above can be found here: http://www.dropbox.com/gallery/6798104/1/samyang_test?h=ebe6e3

The person in this review seems to have received a somewhat better copy of the lens, although it's quite possible that it's my manual ocusing skills that are to blame:
http://translate.google.com/transla...&start=10&hl=en&sa=N&rlz=1B3GGGL_enUS339US339

Overall, my feelings are mixed. I expected slightly better results, but as I've mentioned, it could be because of my poor manual focusing skills which I'll try to improve. I might try a different focusing screen to see whether focusing isn't easier with it, as it should be somewhat clearer at F8 and F11.

EDIT (20100726): Two more samples are here: http://www.talkphotography.co.uk/forums/showpost.php?p=2837937&postcount=11
 
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Josh
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#3
Ouch soft!! Is it not better to use a 400mm lens and crop inwards?

Having said that, for under £100, thats pretty good!
 
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#4
Ouch soft!! Is it not better to use a 400mm lens and crop inwards?

Having said that, for under £100, thats pretty good!
Well, if nothing else, it's a nice little club :D
I think it doesn't handle contrasty scenes too well, so I'll try it out later on sparrows. However, I have a sore throat right now, so I think it'll have to wait at least until the weekend. :p
Also, I might find better processing parameters for although I don't think I can get much better results than those I got.

I don't have a 400mm lens, only a Sigma 70-300mm, which, while good, is a bit short sometimes. Maybe if I didn't have a 6Mpixel DSLR but one with a higher resolution, then it could be different.
 
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Paul
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#5
The aperture ring is an oddity of this lens. It seems id does nothing. What changes the aperture is the ring that's closer to the manufacturer name plate, which only has letters O and C with an double arrow between them printed above it. It's smooth to turn and I can hear a slight click when the aperture changes.
This is like a fully manual lens similar to one I used to use on my old Zenit E back in the 70's, don't even remember the make, but it was cheap and I was a student. You set the aperture required, then use the ring marked O and C, to open or close the aperture (to the aperture previously selected). This used to be great fun (not!) when my Zenit didn't even have TTL metering.

Am thinking of a 500mm lens for cricket photography, I'm still on a budget so am considering the f6.3 mirror option.
 
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#6
This is like a fully manual lens similar to one I used to use on my old Zenit E back in the 70's, don't even remember the make, but it was cheap and I was a student. You set the aperture required, then use the ring marked O and C, to open or close the aperture (to the aperture previously selected). This used to be great fun (not!) when my Zenit didn't even have TTL metering.
Works just about how you've described it :) It is somewhat fun to work with, even though it requires a lot of light.

Am thinking of a 500mm lens for cricket photography, I'm still on a budget so am considering the f6.3 mirror option.
You might want take a look at this:
http://translate.google.com/transla...board.info/showthread.php?t=46304&sl=pl&tl=en
This is an interesting video of the F6.3 mirror lens:
[youtube]kSIE4iVZKNc[/youtube]
 
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#7
Thats not bad for under £100. Would like to see some shots at a lower ISO. There seems to be a quite a bit of noise in these which will add to the softness a bit.
 
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#8
Interesting video, I hadn't considered using the mirror for video work, thanks.

I also used to have Sigma 600mm f8 mirror lens (with my Canon A1 & AE1 bodies), sometimes I would combine it with a 3x teleconvertor, use Ilford XP1 (B&W film using a colour developing process) push the ISO to 1600 or more (very fine grain on XP1), and take photos in the stands at cricket matches, still had to make a selective enlargements sometimes. Got a great shot of Chris Tavare being bowled by a no-ball at Lords, the ball taking out middle stump and being exactly between the stumps in mid-air. Ah memories :LOL:

That's why I want to try the 500mm f6.3, which on my 550D should give me a 35mm lens equivalence of 800mm. I'm going to have to compromise on IQ against the very best long telephotos, but I'm on a budget, and I quite like doughnuts. :D The images are strictly for personal use, for me it's about capturing the moment, an instant memory, and one just has to cut your coat according to your cloth!
 
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#9
That's why I want to try the 500mm f6.3, which on my 550D should give me a 35mm lens equivalence of 800mm. I'm going to have to compromise on IQ against the very best long telephotos, but I'm on a budget, and I quite like doughnuts. :D The images are strictly for personal use, for me it's about capturing the moment, an instant memory, and one just has to cut your coat according to your cloth!
Do post a review if you get one, please :)
The shop I bought it from has fairly decent prices and they ship via UPS, so if you'd like to have a link to it, I'll send you a PM.
 
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#10
Do post a review if you get one, please :)
The shop I bought it from has fairly decent prices and they ship via UPS, so if you'd like to have a link to it, I'll send you a PM.
Thanks Peter, I'm looking at a cost of £139, no postage needed at the moment.
 
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#11
I have uploaded two new samples with somewhat different processing after using the lens a bit:




Full size images can be found where the earlier ones are:
http://www.dropbox.com/gallery/6798104/1/samyang_test?h=ebe6e3

Both have been shot at F11. The lens is actually kind of nice at F11. It's a pity it's nearly useless at F8, though :(
 
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