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Nikon 500mm f/8
Reflex-NIKKOR-C (1968-1983)

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Nikon 500mm f/8

Nikon 500mm f/8 Reflex-NIKKOR-C. enlarge. (39mm rear and 88mm front filters, 35.3 oz./1,000g, about $300 used). This free website's biggest source of support is when you use any of these links, especially this direct link to this lens at eBay (see How to Win at eBay), or at Adorama, when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thanks! Ken.


Newer model 500mm f/8 N review (1983-2005)


Introduction       top

Intro    Specifications    Performance   Recommendations


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I personally buy from Adorama, Amazon, Ritz, B&H, Calumet and J&R. I can't vouch for ads below.


This is a temptingly inexpensive long lens.

It sells for so little, typically $300 used in 2010, because it is poor for photography. It is compact, lightweight and focuses close, but the Nikon Reflex-NIKKOR f/8 N (1983-2005) does this all even better.

It makes a great telescope when used with the Lens Scope Converter since it has great central definition and little chromatic aberration.

It is very well made.

This telephoto lens does it with mirrors! It is designed based on a principal developed by the Russian optical genius Maksutov for huge astronomical telescopes.

It has a clear front. It has a big mirror in the back. It also has a little mirror on the back of the clear front element.

Light comes in and bounces off the big rear mirror and is directed towards the little mirror on the front element. From there the light is bounced back to the film through a hole in the big rear mirror. This helps keep down the size.

Nikon has more info on the people who designed it and the design here.


Specifications         top

Intro    Specifications    Performance   Recommendations

It takes 39mm filters screwed into the rear. It also can take front-mounted 88mm filters.

It comes in a nice case and includes four 39mm filters: yellow, red, green and the useless ND, in addition to the L37 attached to the back of the lens. If someone tries to sell you one make sure to get the filters that came with it.

There are three models of 500mm Reflex:

The original 500mm f/5. This is expensive and unusual. I think it focusses with a knob on the back, but don't trust me on this one.

This 500mm f/8 Reflex-Nikkor C. These are very common second hand, because people are always buying them and then selling them after they try them. This is the model above and about which I'm speaking.

The 500mm f/8 N Reflex-Nikkor. It is smaller than the older 500mm f/8 shown here, and focusses even closer. It has an orange band on the focus ring to show what Nikon arbitrarily considers to be a macro range.


Performance       top

Intro    Specifications    Performance   Recommendations

It is poor for photography because it has:

1.) Low contrast.

2.) Uneven illumination. It has a weird hot spot in the center of the image and gets dim at the sides.

3.) Slow speed. Even though marked f/8, because of the limited transmission and the mirror in the center blocking some of the light, it really only works like f/11. This makes it too slow to allow the fast shutter speeds that its high magnification demands.

4.) Too little weight. It is so light that it is extremely sensitive to any sort of vibration. Oddly enough, it works better handheld than on a tripod because you can couple your body mass to the system to damp the vibration.

5.) No diaphragm. It is difficult to focus because it is so slow, and then there is no added depth of field to help you out because there is no stopping down.

6.) Awful Bokeh. The out-of focus highlights are very distracting donuts of light.

On the other hand, it is superb with the Lens Scope Converter for use as a telescope because it has extremely high resolution due to the total lack of chromatic aberration.

Hand held: I get swell results at 1/250 and above. I get blurred results at 1/125 and slower.


Recommendations       top

Intro    Specifications    Performance   Recommendations

Avoid the temptation of a 500mm Nikkor for about $300, presuming you want to make pictures with it. For the same money you can get a wonderful 300mm f/4.5 ED-IF with which you can make great images. Add a TC-200 or TC-201 convertor to the 300/4.5 ED-IF and you have a 600mm lens that works even better and faster (in practical use) than the 500mm Reflex.

Nikon 500/8


Help me help you         top

I support my growing family through this website, as crazy as it might seem.

The biggest help is when you use any of these links to Adorama, Amazon, B&H, eBay, Ritz, Calumet and J&R and when you get anything. It costs you nothing, and is this site's, and thus my family's, biggest source of support. eBay is always a gamble, but all the other places always have the best prices and service, which is why I've used them since before this website existed. I recommend them all personally.

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Thanks for reading!

Mr. & Mrs. Ken Rockwell, Ryan and Katie.

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