Sony AF Reflex 500mm F8 A-mount lens reviews

reviews found: 24   
reviewer#38859 date: May-16-2017
sharpness: 4.5
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Nikon 500 mm , second line China* lens 500 mm f8
price paid:300 US$ used *Brazil
positive:AF Focus, Weight, focal length, size, image quality.
negative:The lid, made of leather. It has no filter thread, The useless neutral density filter.
comment:Before I say anything about the Sony 500mm AF I have to say I've had several mirror lenses. At the time of the 35mm film, but this is already history. A 500 mm is a small telescope, light and powerful. I had a Nikon, then china lenses, or second line, until recently I used on digital cameras, a lens of the USSR 500mm F6.3 3M-6A. A tank of war! And none of them, came close to the pleasure of shooting the 500mm AF from Sony / Minolta. In APS-C 750 mm. That's because, in part it has the autofocus, although it only works the center point, it is much better and faster and accurate than the manual focus. The quality of the image also surprises me a lot. Even knowing the limitations of mirror lenses, it is superior when compared to all others. To give a note is always the question that Sony could have done something new .... And it seems that has not changed at all, just backpacked the lens of Minolta. But we hope they will release another mirror lens, that's what I expect.

_______________________________________________________________

Antes de falar qualquer coisa sobre a Sony 500mm AF eu tenho que dizer que já tive várias lentes de espelho. No tempo do filme 35mm, mas isso já é história. Uma 500 mm é um pequeno telescópio, leve e potente. Eu tive uma Nikon, depois as lentes da china, ou de segunda linha, até recentemente eu usei em câmeras digitais, uma lente da URSS 500 mm F6.3 3M-6A. Um tanque de guerra! E nenhuma delas, chegava perto do prazer de fotografar da 500mm AF da Sony / Minolta. Em APS-C 750 mm. Isso porque, em parte possui o foco automático, embora só funcione o ponto central, é muito melhor e mais rápido e preciso que o foco manual. A qualidade da imagem também me surpreende muito. Mesmo sabendo das limitações das lentes de espelho, é superior quando comparada a todas as outras. Para dar uma nota fica sempre a questão que a Sony poderia ter feito algo novo.... E parece que não mudou em nada, só ré embalou a lente da Minolta. Mas esperamos que venham a lançar outra lente de espelho, é o que eu espero.
reviewer#26541 date: Apr-2-2016
sharpness: 4.5
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Samyang MC Reflex 500/8 (T-mount)
Sigma DL 100-300/4.5-6.7
Minolta "Beercan" 70-210/4
Sunset Tc 300/5.5 (T-mount)
price paid:$317 used mint-ish
positive:Much sharper than "generic" reflex designs
Light weight and compact for the focal length
Well built
Autofocus is fast and accurate
negative:Not as sharp as high-end refractive lenses
Fixed at f/8
Doesn't focus close
comment:I have heard mixed stories on whether or not this lens is identical to the Minolta 500/8 reflex, but from what I have heard, the Sony has updated coatings and an improved autofocus algorithm. No idea on the validity of these claims, but that's what I've heard. It also seems to sell consistently for nearly double the Minolta version, so when I saw my copy on ebay in near mint condition, I feel lucky to have won it for a sum total of $317 including shipping. Considering these usually go for $6-700+, I am extremely happy with that.

First thing I noticed: this this is MILES (or kilometers!) better than the older Samyang "generic" 500/8 reflex I had. That Samyang had me doubting mirror lenses all around, but after using the Sony, my faith is renewed. Is it as sharp as any of my refractive lenses? No. Actually, it is sharper than the old 300mm t-mount prime, but it doesn't quite stack up to the beercan and is about on par with the cheapo Sigma. That being said, the images are definitely usable, and if you have enough light to shoot fast and with a low ISO, anyone who didn't know wouldn't be able to tell the difference. That brings me to my next point, though.

Being a fixed f/8 aperture means you need a lot of light, or a tripod. On my a77ii (crop sensor), I need to shoot 1/1000 sec or faster when handheld, which usually means shooting around ISO 200-400 even in full daylight. If your outdoor lighting is ideal, you can shoot at ISO 100 and 1/800 or so and get mostly good results. This lens plays very nicely with SteadyShot, however at such a long focal length, it even pushes the limits of the onboard stabilization capabilities.

The autofocus is quite impressive, though it forces and locks the camera in to center focus area. That's probably necessary for the lens to focus properly, so I can't complain too much. You may have difficulty fixing on a moving target, however with continuous AF engaged, once the focus is found, there is no trouble staying with the subject. The focus on my copy is quite accurate, I would struggle in most cases to do better manually, and as far as speed goes, I don't have anything to compare to at this FL, but seems great.

I gave the sharpness a 4.5, because even though I feel it's actually closer to a 4, for a mirror lens at this focal length, I am very impressed. Color is fine, nothing wrong with it, nothing special about it. There is no CA, that's a plus, and very little other distortion. Vignetting is barely noticeable and is easily corrected. Donut bokeh of course, comes with the territory. It bugs some people but I don't mind it at all. In certain shots, it's actually a benefit, I think. Lens does flare if you've got a bright light source in the shot, but careful composition (it isn't hard) will negate that worry.

Also, I know this isn't a big rating point, but the lens has a nice look to it. It certainly turns heads, as well. Overall and considering what the lens is and is for, I give it a 4.5/5. If you need something this long, and can find it for anywhere near what I got mine for, jump on it.

reviewer#16299 date: Jul-9-2015
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.6
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Tokina 400/5.6
Sony 70-400G
price paid:399€ (new)
positive:light
autofocus (faster than I thought)
sharp
negative:only f/8
comment:very specific lens. requires lots of lights

very light so easy to take for a walk.

f/8 means not so much depth of feild and it needs time to get use to it

very difficult to use on a small boat :)
reviewer#11179 date: Jun-4-2013
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.9
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:
missing
price paid:1800 NZD (new)
positive:Beautiful build quality, very solid feel.
Only AF lens of this type
Reasonable focus speed
negative:Bit of a struggle in less than ideal lighting conditions.
comment:This lens has been on my wishlist for a long time but it took Sony's announcement to discontinue it that forced me to jump in and buy it. That was about two years ago.

TBH, the lens does not get a huge amount of use since it's quite specific in it's capabilities. but when I do pull it out of the kit bag it never fails to impress. I've used it for nature and wildlife, surfing and even had mild success with action sports (in good light)

I personally love the fixed depth of field and round "doughnut" highlights that can be found on out-of-focus areas. Once you understand its limits and what can be achieved it's a joy to use and certainly waaaaay lighter than equivalent glass lenses in this focal range.

Fixed aperture of F8 makes it a bit on the slow side, even more so when using the ND drop-in filter to push it out to F16. Took me a while to get my head around seeing F8 in the viewfinder with the ND adapter inserted. Kept telling myself no, it's F16... Also.. it's F16 with respect to light entering the lens, but because it's not a true aperture, the depth of field does not change.

This lens is not for everyone and I think it falls into a "love it" or "hate it" category. Personally I love it but suggest anyone wanting to get one (if you can find one) try and borrow one first before you commit.
reviewer#11152 date: May-31-2013
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Tokina ATX 80-200 2.8; MAGF 75-300 Big Beercan, MAF 70-210 4 Beercan, MAF 100-300, MAF 100-300 D, Sigma 400 5,6
price paid:350 EUR (used)
positive:Long range -very positive!
Sharp and -very handy, light and very useful.
negative:Nothing found.
comment:Wonderful sharp lens, the best I have. Very Handy and great for aircraft pictures, long distanced objects. What a pitty tha SONY does not manufacture it since 2010!. They have to start making it again.
reviewer#10897 date: Feb-3-2013
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.9
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I used to own this lens
compared to:In a class all to it's own. Who else makes an AF Reflex lens?
price paid:
missing
positive:Light weight to reach ratio.
Build is solid.
Sharp focus.
Fast Focus.
Fun to use.
Unique Bokeh.
negative:Unique Bokeh.
comment:I loved this lens and found myself taking it everywhere. It's light. Focuses fast, accurate and sharp. I really like the unique Bokeh when I don't get the doughnut rings. I don't get the doughnut rings very often. I hope every Minolta/Sony shooter will have the opportunity to own or at least try one of these. Minolta did something really special with this lens and Sony carried it on for a few years. I wish Sony would bring it back.
reviewer#10540 date: Sep-23-2012
sharpness: 4.5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.9
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:70-400G
70-300G
price paid:£400
positive:Weight. Ease of use. Image quality.
negative:Do not like the leather lens cap - just a picky thing on my part!
comment:So I bought a lens I said I would not as I really thought I would not be able to use it for wildlife photography - based on pictures I had viewed on other sites and a friend using one with an older Sony camera. But then I did buy one and soon realised that this could have been one of my better decisions.
Weight - obviously compared to anything similar in terms of reach - light weight does not do it full justice!
IQ - as I have learnt how to use it, hand held I have no complaints whatsoever - I have posted images on here in the birds and zoo sections if you want to make your own decision on IQ and detail (also on my flickr account there is a set for this lens).
Speed of focus - not the fastest but again for general primarily static wildlife photography more than adequate.
Build quality - very good, feels totally solid and well put together.
Doughnuts - sometimes can be excessive but a small trade off given the positives.
Will be trying this lens out using my tripod soon to see how sharp I can get things once the winter light arrives.
I am guessing that the light factor will be the main factor with using this lens as the fixed aperture of F8 means obviously light becomes more important.
So - an excellent lens that I am looking forward to learning more about and using on regular basis.
reviewer#10390 date: Jul-18-2012
sharpness: 5
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.6
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:
missing
price paid:£529 Brand New
positive:Sharp
Light
No CA
negative:Donuts
comment:I recently purchased a brand new ( Yup in 2012 ! )copy of this lens and have fired off over a 1,000 shots while I get used to it.

I am delighted with it so far - more than I thought I would be. I find I need a monopod as hand holding still allows a bit of shake - it is after all a 500 lens. The combination of my A55, this lens and a light monopod makes a killer lightweight birding / long distance set up.

Image quality is very very good indeed. Far sharper than I expected. You do have to avoid sparkly water and busy backgrounds close to your subject to avoid the dreaded donuts. If you do the images are crisp and clear.

Interestingly I find this lens gives noticeably better results when using RAW as opposed to JPEG. I am not a fan of much post processing and usually shoot JPEG but with this lens I find I mainly shoot RAW.

It is a bit tricky for photographing propellor aircraft and helicopters. If you slow the speed down enough to blur the props it can over expose, so then you need to use the ND insert.

I would definitely recommend this lens, especially if you have a decent 70 -300 zoom to complement it.
reviewer#10363 date: Jul-7-2012
sharpness: 4
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.6
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:
missing
price paid:729 US (new)
positive:Small & Light
Fast/Accurate Autofocus
Low distortion & CA
negative:Low contrast (not always a bad thing)
Narrow DOF
comment:Although the AF Reflex 500 F8 is a very good telephoto lens, there is somewhat of a learning curve with it. It is somewhat problematic to use at relatively close distances. It is not particularly sharp up close, and it has a lengthy minimum focus distance of 13 feet. Adding in the paper thin DOF & bokeh issues means that a great deal of care is required to successfully use this lens at close distances.

At longer shooting distances, though, it truly shines. It is quite sharp and, with decent light, autofocuses surprisingly fast & very accurately.

With small & distant moving objects, such birds in flight, AF is less useful [Edit 12/2012 - AF works much better on my A580, and can be effectively used for BIF]. It is, unfortunately, almost impossible to accurately MF on distant flying birds. For such situations, it is preferable to use a good refractive lens with a deeper DOF.

The lens works especially well with my A580, where I can take advantage of the camera's good high ISO performance. The 500/F8 lens generally requires a shutter speed of at least 1/250 to get a sharp image, hand-held. It can also take advantage the A580's Focus Check LV for precise manual focusing on static objects. Using it with my A330 requires good light to get good, sharp images.

Build quality is top-notch, especially for such a relatively small, light lens. The manual focus ring is silky smooth. The lens works well, but must be manually focused, with my Kenko Teleplus MC4 1.4x DGX Teleconverter. Image quality is decent, but requires precise focusing.

The lens has occasional flare issues, especially when shooting toward the sun. This is not surprising with the rather small len hood & its use of a mirror.

Contrast is somewhat lower than that of most conventional lenses. While this is generally a drawback of this lens, occasionally it comes in handy when trying to not blow out the highlights when shooting in high contrast situations such as winter scenes.

I bought the Sony AF Reflex 500 F8 new in the summer of 2010, a few months before it was discontinued. I'm very glad I got one. It is now my lens of choice for telephoto nature photography!
reviewer#10243 date: May-27-2012
sharpness: 4
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.8
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I used to own this lens
compared to:400 f4.5
price paid:
missing
positive:Light-weight
Lack of CA
Small
negative:fixed F8 needs a lot of light!
Not critically sharp
comment:This is a really nice and unique lens, but it has some obvious flaws.

It's bokeh generally does not bother me, but it will some people.
De AF is quite fast, but you can only use the centre AF point. (also with the A77?)
It never gets critically sharp, but if you don't pixel peep, you'll get nice results! This lens strangely benefits vastly when RAW is used, can't explain, but more than with any other lens, detail start to appear when shooting raw.


I can recommend this lens, but only second hand (at 2/3 of the retail price) IMHO...
reviewer#9174 date: Jun-23-2011
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Russian 500mm f8 reflex, manual focus and heavy.
price paid:390 GBP
positive:Low weight, auto focus, small size, fairly unobtrusive compared to telephoto zoom of similar length.
negative:Nothing at all.
comment:Light, easy to hold and track moving objects, jet skis, birds in flight etc. Not having to focus manually is a big plus. With adequate light this lens is excellent. Bought used from e-bay, I'm delighted with this purchase. As to the bokeh, everybody knows about it but it isn't as obtrusive as I thought it would be. Overall, a great little telephoto. You will need to brush up your panning technique for fast moving objects but it can be done. If you find one grab it!
reviewer#9071 date: Jun-2-2011
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.6
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sigma 100-300 F4 EX DG IF
price paid:6000NOK (new)
positive:Light weight
Compact size
negative:Low contrast
No focus limiter
Autofocus not exactly fast
comment:I tried the lens out at a local air show and found out that this not the best lens for action shots. The lack of focus limiter caused quite a few missed shots, especially on distant objects as the autofocus hunted. The sharpest pictures were of a hovering Sea King helicopter, but they were still not quite as sharp as the Sigma 100-300mm zoom at 300mm. Pictures of distant objects also lacked contrast, but this can be dealt with in post production.
Low weight makes it a much more comfortable lens to use than a three pound zoom.
reviewer#8991 date: May-5-2011
sharpness: 4
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.6
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sony 70-400 G
price paid:€ 700
positive:Cost
Light and small
Auto Focus
negative:Little soft
f/8
comment:Great and versatile telephoto, the best mirror lens ever. Excellent for the first approach to bird photography. Crops with a 16MP camera are a little soft compared to Sony 70-400G.
reviewer#8975 date: Apr-29-2011
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.6
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sigma 600mm F8 (MF only) mirror lens.
Sigma 50-500mm "Bigma" telephoto zoom
price paid:Not sure
positive:AF; supposedly the only AF mirror lens ever?
Compact build.
Light-weight.
negative:F8.
Fixed focal length.
comment:I got this lens as a light-weight and compact option to the Sigma 50-500mm zoom. It weighs around a third of the 50-500mm, doesn't extend during use and I've got some very sharp pictures with it at distance ships. This lens will usually accompany my 18-70mm kit, 75-300mm and perhaps the Sigma 10-20mm (or more lately) my Sigma 10mm fisheye; on various outings. I have tried a 2x Kenko TC and my 75-300mm zoom and the results are no-where near as sharp as those taken with this unique AF mirror lens. Its a keeper for me.

The main issue I have with the lens is its fixed focal length. I have missed a few shots due to being on a boat, taking pictures of something on the river bank and being too close. You really need to plan ahead if at all possible. In such circumstances, Sigma's 50-500mm is probably a better bet but when mobility is key, the 500 F8 Reflex mirror comes out on top for me everytime.



reviewer#8872 date: Apr-5-2011
sharpness: 4.5
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 3
overall: 4.1
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Tamron 70-200 f2.8 with kenko 2.0 tele
price paid:750
positive:Light weight
Cost relative to competitive focal length lenses- seriously, have you seen how much a refracting 500mm costs?
negative:Fixed f8
comment:All dogs have fleas. Sorry Rover, but it is the truth.

The trade off here is size/weight/cost for a fixed f8. I have found this to be the most difficult and unfamiliar aspects of using this lens- having become habituated to shooting in aperture priority mode most of the time with other lenses. In retrospect, this has been challenging, but worth the effort.

I've also had to summon techniques learned in distance rifle shooting when bringing this lens up to my eye (just like with a hi-mag scope, you can "see" your pulse shake the image). Again, challenging but worth the effort to hand hold. As a mitigating factor in most circumstances I've found that with minimal scouting, I've been able to find some kind of improvised rest to steady myself on. between this and the SSS, I've had good success with getting sharp images. Hey, its 500mm (750mm equivalent) motion blur is going to be a problem.

Other reviewers have talked about how its performance falls off with low light... I've had this lens for a little more than a month and so far haven't had any trouble shooting during daylight hours. My use with this lens has not taken me indoors for extensive testing without a tripod. Though I was surprised at how well it could do with a hi ISO (provided by my 580), a relatively low shutter speed (1/500), and SSS-(provided I did my part...). Don't get me wrong- I would not want to rely on this setup indoors often, but it was better than I was expecting.

Image quality is far superior to that achieved with the 70-200mm + 2.0 tele combo- I think it had just too much glass to shoot through. The pictures just had a hazy look to them. By comparison, the 500mm is much clearer.

Donut bokeh is another flea, but I haven't seen it as much as I was expecting- perhaps others have found it more objectionable when it has appeared than I have.

All in all, this is one of my favorite lenses- just for the reach. Simply put, if I'm going outside, this lens is coming with me. It is light enough to bring along even if it isn't used. To be fair, it is quirky with the f8 thing. But like the rifle referenced earlier, you can have this lens when you take it from my cold, dead, hands. It is a keeper.
reviewer#8046 date: Oct-5-2010
sharpness: 4
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.6
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Sony 18-55
Sony 70-300g
Sony 50/F1.8
Tamron 70-200/F2.8
Sigma 10-20
Tamron 200-500
price paid:500€
positive:AF fast enough and accurate
Pretty sharp
Light and small
negative:You need a sunny day or good light for good results(unless you use a monopod)
Af is noisy
comment:I got this lens in addition to my 70-300g because I needed more zoom especially for bird shots. And after the first day of trying I was impressed. I took some great pictures of birds (geese,ducks, and other) even in flight. Af was fast(but no speed demon) and capable of tracking birds. Because of the 500mm range I keep my shutter speed at around 1/800s - 1/1600s and ISO400, works perfect when a sunny clear day (A550). I took all my shot out of hand. While some other bird spotters next to me used huge lenses on a tripod I was there with my little lens shooting out of hand, tracking birds in flight easily while they were struggling. After showing the pictures on a forum, people were impressed about the shots I made.
The Bokeh ( donuts ) is sometimes clearly visible especially when background is close to subject. I don't really mind but some people don't like it, but it isn't allways visible.
This lens will stay with me for a long time.

For pictures with this lens take a look here
http://www.dpreview.com/galleries/3480416386/albums

Update 10/06/2011 : After almost one year of use I found out that using a monopod helps quite a bit when a cloudy day. I can go till 1/320s and ISO400 and get sharp pictures.

Update 2/11/2012 : Sold the 500 Reflex + A550 and got me a Tamron 200-500 + A77. The Tamron is sharper and Af speed is the same. If you are into wildlife the Tamron is the better lens.
reviewer#7617 date: Jun-27-2010
sharpness: 4.5
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:70-400
price paid:600€
positive:small weight
price
fast AF
negative:F/8 require alot of light or high iso

bokeh
comment:
missing
reviewer#5518 date: Jun-12-2009
sharpness: 4.5
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 4
flare control: 4
overall: 4.1
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I used to own this lens
compared to:Sigma 500mm
price paid:Ł466 New
positive:Compact size
Image quality
Weight
negative:Not much
comment:I love this lens. I previously had a Sigma 500mm that was built like a tank and given the weight was probably made from tank armour plating!! This lens (to me) packs the same punch as far as image quality but in a much lighter and compact package. The doughnut effect is noticable through the viewfinder on my A700 so I can compose shots with this in mind. The sharpness is spot on (possibly slightly soft) and some of the bird shots I've taken show a high degree of detail when zooming in on the image later on.

If I go walking or out for the day this lens is the first to go into my backpack and I would recommend this lens to anyone. Bang for buck you really can't go wrong for a focal length equivalent to 750mm on an APS-C slr.
reviewer#5143 date: Apr-2-2009
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 4
overall: 4.4
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:200G HS + 2x APO II TC

price paid:500 USD (mint)
positive:weight
size
no CA
Auto Focus
negative:little soft

comment:Even though images are little soft even with MLU and sturdy Tripod I really enjoy taking pictures with it.

Size and weight is big plus since I walk around long hours while taking photos.

I usually add little more contrast and saturation in PP to achieve optimal IQ. This will be fun lens to use when rainy season passes here in West Coast BC.

reviewer#4668 date: Jan-10-2009
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 4
flare control: 4
overall: 4
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Beercan
Sigma 100-300 F4
price paid:Ł400 UK (new)
positive:Moderately sharp
Good detail
Very light and compact
Nice build
Inexpensive considering its reach
negative:Needs a bit of PP sharpening to get the best detail
AF a bit noisy
Very difficult to hand hold and get the best sharpness
No lens case/bag included
comment:I've been sitting on the fence whether to purchase this lens for ages as I knew that it wouldn't be as good as a 'G', but I liked the idea of it being light enough to carry around with a beercan just in case I needed the extra reach. Last weekend I bit the bullet and bought one, and all things considered it really is pretty good. Despite comments to the contrary, it is good at distance - *very* slightly soft compared to the beercan and Sigma 100-300 F4, but my beercan is a very good copy, and the Sigma's IQ is 'G' quality. Despite the slight softness when pixel peeking there's still plenty of detail that sharpens up well with a bit of post processing, and as you'd expect with a reflex, no noticeable chromatic aberration. Although it benefits greatly from SSS you really have to hold this lens steady, and I think that's why it hasn't got good sharpness ratings from some users, particularly at longer distances. Also because the DOF is wafer thin, the least bit of BF/FF will show up more at distance.
Because it's light, it feels like you can hand hold it, but for me at least, a monopod is a must, although I can nail a reasonable percentage of quick grab shots by holding the monopod with the leg retracted and pulled tight to my chest.

The lens will not take my Kenko 1.4x Pro300 teleconverter, which means that, because of clearance between the TC and lens rear elements, it won't work with Sony/Minolta or Sigma TCs either. Some generic TCs *might* work. The rear element is way forward into the lens body out of the way, but inexplicably, the rear baffle sticks out and gets in the way. Maybe it's intentional. The lens probably doesn't outresolve my A700 sensor, and since even the entry level CCD sensor on the A200 is close to the A700 in resolution at base iso, then there's little point in using a teleconverter over cropping with post processing. Moreover, with the additional stop lost from using a TC making it F11, it probably wouldn't autofocus, and the dark screen would make manual focussing difficult.

The lens will only focus down to about 4 meters, although that is still close enough for small birds.

There are only five electrical contacts meaning that it can't use ADI for flash. Whether you'd want to use flash with a lens that only focuses down to four meters is questionable anyway, and there's still TTL should you need it, but it does demonstrate that there's most likely very little difference between this lens and its Minolta predecessor.

Build quality is good, but I knocked a point off because AF on my copy is a bit noisy. Also, once, the AF got lost, being unable to find infinity, and required the camera to be turned off and back on before it recovered. Evidently something similar happens with 100-400 Minolta zooms too. I've used it a couple of times since and it hasn't done it again.

Although noisy, AF is quite accurate, and several times I managed to lock onto birds in amongst twigs, although if it misses focus it's tedious as it runs through the focus range and back before locking on. Tracking birds in flight is just about possible but very difficult for this reason, not to mention the very narrow viewing angle.

With my A700 set to iso800 or 1600 I managed to get usable pictures in overcast conditions but it's not really at its best unless there's good light.

The infamous donut highlights in OOF areas have popped up a couple of times but they're not all that intrusive, the odd shape is a fair trade off for the convenience of such an easily carried lens, and there is no longitudinal CA either in front of, or behind, the subject. But don't expect silky smooth beercan style bokeh; you won't get it.

Without doubt this is an astonishing lens with amazing pulling power for its size and weight. It makes good pictures with nicely balanced colour and contrast, and of course the one thing that sets it apart from all other reflex lenses is that it autofocuses. But Sony, don't you think a soft case should be supplied with a Ł400-500 lens?

A definite keeper, and recommended.

Edit: A few months on and I am now using a Sigma EX 1.4x TC with the Sigma 100-300 F4 instead of a Kenko Pro300. This lifts this combination's IQ so that it is as good or possibly even a little better than the mirror when upsized to equivalent size. But this only serves to illustrate what a remarkable lens the mirror is. At less than half the weight of the Sigma combo and fitting easily in the camera bag, I'm more likely to pick it up when walking around the countryside. For travelling light, it is peerless in ANY mount. A real gem.
reviewer#3645 date: May-29-2008
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.8
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:
missing
price paid:800 Euro (new)
positive:
missing
negative:
missing
comment:Best Mirror Lens ever build.
reviewer#3476 date: Apr-18-2008
sharpness: 5
color: 5
build: 5
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 5
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:Any zoom lens equal distance
price paid:
missing
positive:Very portable (light and small)
Great Range
only reflex lens with AF
price

negative:Limited Use in low light
comment:For someone like myself, who enjoys to hike while taking pictures (as opposed to sitting and waiting for a shot) this lens is a great addition.

I am a little confused by other comments that this lens is not sharp at less than 20 metres. I find this lens gets better at longer distances. I am also confused by the relatively low marks, it has its limitations, but it is better than any other reflex lens out there. Zoom lenses of comparable lengths do not even come close.

If it has one weakness, it is low light situations, but then again, 1) all lenses perform better in more light and 2) zoom lenses of comparable zoom length have minimum F stop at 6.3 at full zoom, which is actually less than one full f stop from F8 (so the difference is small) and 3) most often that F stop does not give usable pictures on zoom lenses (difference is non existent.)
reviewer#2695 date: Sep-3-2007
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 5
flare control: 5
overall: 4.4
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I used to own this lens
compared to:Minolta 300/4 G
Minolta 70-210/4
price paid:NZD 1580
positive:Weight and length
negative:Slow (f8)
Noticeably softer at distances >20 metres
comment:The great merit of this lens is its portability. As someone who travels a lot, and takes a lot of wildlife pictures, its compactness is ideal. A build rating of 4 in this case is a good thing.

It can generate sharp images, typically within 20 metres, using a tripod and/or monopod. Beyond that it is harder to capture fine detail on the subject. It is better with larger animals than birds- especially the fast moving small ones :(. In good optimal conditions, sharpness is closer to 4.5.

It is best in bright light conditions. I tend to keep the shutter speed fast and compensate with a higher ISO. The lens has a noticeable drop off in performance in gloomier light conditions.

The bokeh is interesting, and can yield interesting creative effects, or rather nasty donughts. Overall, the lens benefits from a good investment of time in exploring its strengths and weaknesses.

I sold the lens before I had the chance to use it on my 700 or film cameras. I wouldn't mind owning one again in the future, but my assessment is that it is a complement to long telephoto lens rather than a substitute.

reviewer#2201 date: Apr-23-2007
sharpness: 4
color: 4
build: 4
distortion: 4
flare control: 5
overall: 4.2
tested on:
  • film camera:Film camera
  • APS-C: 6MP6 MP; 10MP10 MP; 12MP12 MP; 14MP14 MP; 16MP16 MP; 20MP20 MP; 24MP24 MP
  • full frame: 12MP12 MP; 24MP24 MP; 36MP36 MP; 42MP42 MP
ownership:I own this lens
compared to:sal-75300
Minolta AF 200 F2.8 HS APO G
Tamron SP AF DI 90mm macro 1:1
Minolta AF 300 F4 HS APO G
Sony 70-200 SSM G
price paid:720 EUR (NEW)
positive:size and weight
auto-focus
no chromatic aberrations
negative:price
f/8
lens front cover
comment:Very nice lens.
I'm happy to have one.
Strange bokeh but I don't care at 500 mm lens.
I have tried this lens in nature on A-100 and must say the lens works well with s.steady shot.
Some pictures at http://www.fotolakocinky.estranky.cz/fotoabum/kvetiny

reviews found: 24   

rating summary

lens image
  • total reviews: 24
  • sharpness: 4.42
  • color: 4.50
  • build: 4.58
  • distortion: 4.88
  • flare control: 4.58
  • overall: 4.59

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