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Nikon 500mm Mirror Reflex Lens


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#1 Art

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Posted 26 December 2010 - 09:26 PM

I have been looking at buying a 500mm lens and I stumbled across a Tokina 500mm lens. I started doing some internet research and reading reviews. So, I understand there are some serious shortcomings with mirror lens. a) They have a shallow DOF and a donut effect that can get funky (bokeh) B) There are fixed at F8, typically c) They are a manual lens and require a high amount of light to see through properly d) They are very difficult to focus due to c) There are lots of negatives against this type of lens, but they are CHEAP. I know get what you pay for, but I don't have $7K kicking around for a big telephoto purchase and this seems like the next best thing for a poor-man's budget. Does anyone have any experience with a 500mm mirror lens and what do you recommend. Happy to hear all opinions, Pro and Con. Learning experience for me... That being said, if anyone has a Nikon Reflex-NIKKOR 500mm f/8 N they want to unload, I am open to proposals. Thanks in advance, Art PS: I have attached some samples of photos I have downloaded from the internet as a learning experience for anyone also interested.... these give you an idea of the type of DOF and Sharpness of the image. PSPS: I had 4 sample images posted here. They were not my photographs and I posted them as examples. I didn't know that there might be copyright issues or that permission had to be obtained to do so, so I have removed them. If I do get one of these mirror lenses, I will post my own images in their place. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Edited by Art, 28 December 2010 - 02:16 AM.

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#2 Wheatsack

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 01:53 AM

Sorry Art but I had a Nikkor 500 mirror lens and it was not wonderful, I think KR's review says it all http://www.kenrockwe.../nikon/5008.htm . I never had good results from mine. Peter

Peter................................................ f8....and be there....


#3 Black Pearl

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 02:49 AM

I've played with catadioptric lenses in the past and while they are quirky to use and not usually up to the standards of a traditional telephoto design they are cheap, they are light, (very light actually) and as such much easier on the old back plus easier to hold. For most people the sharpness will be more than acceptable - just don't spend hours pixel peeping at the results.

Interestingly Sony (Minolta) make an AF 500mm f8 Cat lens that gets good reviews so there is nothing inherently wrong with this particular design.

If you can pick one up for a good price then go for it. The results will be better than sticking a converter on your 70-300mm (which will then be f8+ and manual focus) and if you use the doughnut shaped spectral highlights as part of the picture then you could end up with some fantastic images.
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#4 tlsmith1000

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 06:42 AM

I have one. It's an old Quantaray from about 1975 or so. I don't use it very often but it is great for what it is. A few pros: 1. on your D90 it will perform like a 750mm on a full frame camera. Lots of reach for the money. 2. Really light. I think mine weighs less than 2 pounds, and its old enough to be made of metal. A few cons: 1. Auto nothing. Your camera won't even know you have a lens attached (at least on my D60) so manual mode only. 2. f/8 only. Low light? Sorry. Faster shutter? Also sorry. 3. Image less than sharp. You will get a soft image, no matter how steady you hold it. 4. Tripod almost certainly necessary. 5. Low contrast. The little mirror on the back of the front element contributes to lower contrast. Most of the cons can be eliminated with prudent PP so they aren't really deal stoppers but you need to be aware of them. But hey, it's cheap enough that you can tinker with it and not break the bak.
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#5 Gary Poole

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 11:25 AM

I have a Nikkor 500mm f/5 mirror. Yes the bokeh is ugly and the aperture is fixed. At least mine allowed for accurate focus with the f/5 aperture. What I missed most was the ability to control the aperture. After some research I decided to get Nikkor 400/3.5 AIS lens. I found one on eBay for a total cost was $1321 for the lens, original case, a Nikon TC-14B TC, and shipping. I'm extremely happy with the lens. Here are couple of pictures taken with the lens and TC-14B.

Attached Files


Edited by Gary Poole, 27 December 2010 - 11:25 AM.

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#6 Art

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 11:30 AM

Sorry Art but I had a Nikkor 500 mirror lens and it was not wonderful, I think KR's review says it all http://www.kenrockwe.../nikon/5008.htm . I never had good results from mine.

Peter



Peter,

I read the Rockwell stuff, very informative. Did you have the early version of the lens or the later, orange striped one? Was the later version better?

[[[ Just re-read your post, you have the F5 version. This was the earlier production model, correct? ]]]]

Thanks for your input.

Art

Edited by Art, 27 December 2010 - 12:03 PM.

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#7 Art

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 11:38 AM

BP. what do you think is a good price for one of these. I wanted to get the last version of the NIkon one, with the Macro focus feature. I figured the last version might be the best design. It has the orange stripe. I don't figure it will do much Macro, but I logic that if it is a second release of the F8, it might have had some improvements over the first two (F5 and the first F8). I have never seen an F5 version for sale. My thinking in getting one of these is that 1) They are cheap. I don't have thousands to spend on a lens, if I want to stay married. We have home reno's to do that are priority over this right now. 2) I would like a little more focal length. 3) I am happy to play with the picture in photoshop, and if it gives a half decent result, I am ok. The donuts don't really bother me too much, I think it depends on the background and light and you can probably minimize some of it depending on how you shoot a subject. Not all pics I have seen are bad. 4) If worse comes to worse, I can sell it and get back most of the money as they are not that expensive to begin with. 5) I would really like to do some outdoor shots with this, primarily. Anything else is bonus. So, that is my reasoning. Is there a BRAND you prefer or know to be the best value on the market for one of these? Do all these types of lenses fit a Nikon D90 with a T2 adapter? I have started reading about this adapter but never seen one. Art

Edited by Art, 27 December 2010 - 12:21 PM.

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#8 Art

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 11:43 AM

Gary, I LOVE the eagle, nice shots! TS, Just curious as to why you feel a faster shutter is a bad thing. I know DOF is problematic and F8 may not be enough, but this should be enough to get some good, in focus wildlife shots? There is another ALTERNATIVE solution here..... There are other lesser known brand name lenses on the market... BOWER for example or ROKINON. You can get a 500mm for about $125. I know these are cheapo lenses, but am I better off with one of these than a mirror reflex lens? These are huge though and butt ugly. They also come with a Teleconverter for double focal length. 1000mm for $150. Again, I know these are not Nikon glass, but I am looking for a cheap solution. If these options are really bad, well, no point in wasting money. I value your opinion. Thanks Art

Edited by Art, 27 December 2010 - 02:11 PM.

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#9 Wheatsack

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 02:19 PM

Peter,

I read the Rockwell stuff, very informative. Did you have the early version of the lens or the later, orange striped one? Was the later version better?

[[[ Just re-read your post, you have the F5 version. This was the earlier production model, correct? ]]]]

Thanks for your input.

Art


I am sure mine was F8 Art but it didn't have any coloured stripe like the later models. I had the complete set of filters (that screwed into the rear of it)which all fitted into the top of its case.. and I didn't have it to try on any of my DSLR bodies(used it on my old F3, it was that vintage)... I traded it when my 990 was new and I wanted the 3x converter for that.

Peter

Edited by Wheatsack, 27 December 2010 - 02:25 PM.

Peter................................................ f8....and be there....


#10 Art

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 04:15 PM

Peter, One other option I have is to get a 2x Teleconverter with electronics. Priced around $200+. Are these a better option? It would turn my 300 to a 600 F11? I believe, I would still be able to focus and see through the lens and still have electronic control. Not sure if there is any noticeable picture degradation with a Teleconverter. How did your 3X work out? Art

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#11 Gary Poole

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 04:39 PM

Gary,

I LOVE the eagle, nice shots!

TS,

Just curious as to why you feel a faster shutter is a bad thing. I know DOF is problematic and F8 may not be enough, but this should be enough to get some good, in focus wildlife shots?

There is another ALTERNATIVE solution here.....

There are other lesser known brand name lenses on the market... BOWER for example or ROKINON. You can get a 500mm for about $125. I know these are cheapo lenses, but am I better off with one of these than a mirror reflex lens? These are huge though and butt ugly. They also come with a Teleconverter for double focal length. 1000mm for $150.

Again, I know these are not Nikon glass, but I am looking for a cheap solution.

If these options are really bad, well, no point in wasting money. I value your opinion.

Thanks

Art

I'm not against fast shutter speeds. In fact my 400/3.5 allows me to use faster ahutter speeds because of it's larger maximum aperture. The adjustable aperture lets me stop down for greater DOF when I need/want it. The bokeh of the 500/5 mirror was what bothered me most and sent me looking for another solution. Unfortunately the only images I have showing the bokeh are on film, so I am unable to post them. Attached is the only digital image I have with my 500/5. This was taken within a few days of receiving my my first DSLR, so it's hard to say whether the quality problems are due to the lens or my lack of experience with digital. I don't have experience with any other mirror lenses, so I have no way to compare with my 500/5.

No, the 400/3.5 is not cheap compared to the numbers you are talking about. But it's a lot less expensive than the $8000+ for the 500/4 and other big lenses. For lower cost than my 400/3.5, I'd go with the best 500/8 mirror you can afford over buying a "cheapo" non mirror lens. I expect the overall quality of an image produced with a "cheapo" lens would be unacceptable. The mirror should give you a sharp subject if properly focused. If you are careful with the background you can reduce the bokeh issues of a mirror lens. You may also be able to clean up the bokeh a bit in post processing using Gaussian blur.

Note that any long lens requires a very stable shooting tripod or other shooting platform and very precise focusing. Manual focusing a long lens with DSLRs is difficult. For my eagle shot I had as many shots out of focus as in focus.

Attached Files


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#12 Art

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 05:40 PM

Gary, Thanks for the advice. You helped me decide against the "cheapo". I will scratch it off my list. I wasn't big on this but had to ask. What I am gathering from all the good advice is that it may be best to compose your shots so the subject matter fills the screen. This should eliminate as much background as possible and thus eliminate as much of the undesirable bokeh as possible. Also, keep the sun behind you. This works for me. Primarily, I want to shoot wild life up close, without scaring them away or being eaten or gored! ;) Typically, I prefer bright sunny days, so the Mirror lens may be the best option. I understand focus may be difficult, but I will work with that, as well as metering. I used a manual camera for 30 years, I am no stranger to manual focus or metering and I am up for the challenge. BTW, my wife and I were just marvelling at the picture of the eagle. Art

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#13 Gary Poole

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 06:22 PM

Gary,

Thanks for the advice. You helped me decide against the "cheapo". I will scratch it off my list. I wasn't big on this but had to ask.

What I am gathering from all the good advice is that it may be best to compose your shots so the subject matter fills the screen. This should eliminate as much background as possible and thus eliminate as much of the undesirable bokeh as possible. Also, keep the sun behind you. This works for me. Primarily, I want to shoot wild life up close, without scaring them away or being eaten or gored! ;) Typically, I prefer bright sunny days, so the Mirror lens may be the best option. I understand focus may be difficult, but I will work with that, as well as metering. I used a manual camera for 30 years, I am no stranger to manual focus or metering and I am up for the challenge.

BTW, my wife and I were just marvelling at the picture of the eagle.

Art

Art,

Manual focusing is the biggest problem. The view finder screens of DSLRs are not nearly as well suited for MF as the focusing screens of pre AF cameras. I found a KatzEye screen helped in my D300, I assume one would be useful in your D90 as well. You can get KatzEye for the D90 here or here. I haven't tried a KatzEye in my D90. I do all my MF work with the D300 because it meters with AI lenses.

Thanks for you kind comments on my eagle picture. It was the result a a bit of serendipity. During the Nikonians ANPAT 10, we were on our way to Cape Flattery, the most NW point of the lower 48. We saw a couple of vehicles parked along the road that paralleled the Strait of Juan de Fuca. We stopped to see what they were looking at and ended up getting this view of the eagle sitting on a rock about 50 yards into the water.
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#14 tlsmith1000

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 08:36 PM

TS,

Just curious as to why you feel a faster shutter is a bad thing. I know DOF is problematic and F8 may not be enough, but this should be enough to get some good, in focus wildlife shots?



Art,

I was trying to say a faster shutter would be nice but when stuck at f/8 your options are limited. Yes indeed, a faster shutter is always a good option to have.
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#15 Art

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Posted 27 December 2010 - 09:37 PM

Art,

I was trying to say a faster shutter would be nice but when stuck at f/8 your options are limited. Yes indeed, a faster shutter is always a good option to have.



Understood, thank you. And, I can see the limitations. I have lots to think over.



Please don't hesitate to add any further insights or comments. Thanks. I am going to make up my mind this week, one way or the other.

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#16 Black Pearl

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Posted 28 December 2010 - 02:45 AM

Haven't looked at prices for a while and the $ ones are likely to be so far removed from our ones that I'd be guessing. We sold the budget versions years ago at Jessops, stuff like the Centon/Vivitar etc - all the same lens and they cost next to nothing. I do recall that Tamron did a SP 500mm f8 lens that had a really good reputation. Personally I'd get a very cheap one to play with, see if you can get away with it, then look for a better (Nikon/Tamron) version if you like the results. Lots of photographers had them on film cameras and while they are not the sharpest thing ever made most people never printed above 6x4 so never pixel (or should that be grain) peeped at every image looking for faults. Its one of the problems with digital that drives me insane - this manic need for a lens/body to be razor sharp at any magnification and any ISO. For thirty years I shot with film, most of the time with very cheap lenses that would be laughed at now. But I printed everything I ever shot and rarely ever saw a fault. Even when I put a slide film through and projected the results I sat six foot from the screen so was still happy. I urge everyone on PN to get hold of an old, manual focus, non-Nikon, inexpensive lens (a pile of c**p that no self respecting photographer would ever go near if you read something like the dpreview forum ranters) and shoot some pictures. Don't go looking at the darn things at 100% just get them printed at 6x4 or scale them down to 800 pixels and post them here. I guarantee they results will be excellent.
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#17 Dennis

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Posted 28 December 2010 - 10:52 AM

Just a note Art, it is effective F11, not F11 DOF. It is just dark as F11 when you look through, and it is as dark as F11 for light, but it is not F11 for DOF. I ma pretty sure you knew that, but just wanted to throw that out.

Edited by Dennis, 28 December 2010 - 10:52 AM.

Thanks, Dennis.

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#18 Art

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Posted 28 December 2010 - 11:05 AM

BP, Wise words indeed. No doubt about it. I may seriously consider this line of thought for this type of lens. There is no doubt in my mind, no matter how high the quality, the image results will not be to my satisfaction. I am sure I will get more poor photos than good ones. Here is what I am doing: 1) Budget of $250 for a Nikon. I am firm on this. I have been checking out auctions and I have a WANTED ad out as well with some responses. If I find one that is to my taste and price, I will go with this. So far, the responses coming in are all above $600! :lol: 2) I have been looking for Tamron as well. Again, if a good one comes along first at a good price, I will jump on it regardless of #1. 3) I have been looking at all the "cheap" brands. Rokinon and Bower.... $100 range. I would prefer the NIkon, but I will only buy one if the price is right for what is offered (complete, not banged up etc). If I don't get the Nikon, I may opt for the cheapest one I can find, just to try it out. I have read reviews online from people who have purchased the cheap lens and the stories are all pretty much the same: i) hard to get used to ii) eventually, takes a good shot I think, with the opinions and examples posted here and from my own learning experience, I have a good idea what to expect and what to look for. Thanks,

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#19 Art

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Posted 28 December 2010 - 02:49 PM

Just a note Art, it is effective F11, not F11 DOF. It is just dark as F11 when you look through, and it is as dark as F11 for light, but it is not F11 for DOF. I ma pretty sure you knew that, but just wanted to throw that out.



Hi Denis,

I accidentally missed your post. My understanding of "effective depth of field", from my 35mm film days is:

(numbers are arbitrary, I don't have a lens in front of me, so this is just for example)

If I had a 50 mm lens and I had it set at F8, and...
my subject at 7 feet away would be in focus as long as I had my DOF focus set for
5 to 10 feet
With my subject in focus at 7 ft, effective depth of field would be the 5 foot band and
at 7 feet, the subject would have a background three feet away in focus
and all objects in the foreground under 5 feet would be out of focus.


In regards to the Mirror Reflex lens, it would seem that the "band" of the in focus zone (effective depth of field) is substantially smaller.

Are we on the same page?

Art

Edited by Art, 29 December 2010 - 06:32 AM.

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#20 Art

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Posted 12 January 2011 - 01:50 PM

I have just returned from a trip to Vegas and Phoenix and I picked up a 500mm Nikon Reflex lens. I am delighted with it. NAS at its finest. I did check out the Opteka 500mm lens and it was half the price and was very tempted to buy it instead. Couple of little things I didn't like about it and opted for the Nikon. It really wasn't that hard a decision. Here is my first photo with it. It is a squirrel simply because there is half foot of fresh snow out, I am jet lagged, I have a cold coming on and I am lazy after shovelling the driveway! And the squirrel was right there, outside my window. :lol: I will get more creative when I am better. My first impression.... (positive) I love the lens. Truly. It is heavier than the Opteka, but it is metal construction vs plastic, it is bright for outdoor and in really brings in the subject matter. My first impression... (negative) It is dark inside, but I expected that. A little hard to focus, but I expected that too and these right now, are minor nits with me. I will post some more pictures I took later when I unpack and find my cables! Art PS: Look at the squirrels eye carefully. There is a reflexion in it. I blew the picture up 1000% fully expecting to see BP staring back at me!!! :lol: For some reason, BP, any time I see a reflexion, I think of you! :) Oh, sadly, you couldn't make anything out on the eyeball.

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Edited by Art, 12 January 2011 - 01:55 PM.

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#21 Black Pearl

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Posted 12 January 2011 - 03:46 PM

Its my dashing good looks that sticks in ones mind Posted Image

Glad you like the lens, you'll get used to it being f8 and we all (I noticed the MX in your profile) focused by hand and eye until not so long ago and while I'm not sure I'd like to go back to it full time there's nowt wrong with doing things manually once in a while.

Bang it on a tripod and do some static shots, I'd be very interested to see just how sharp it is.
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#22 Dennis

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Posted 12 January 2011 - 04:27 PM

Hi Denis,

I accidentally missed your post. My understanding of "effective depth of field"...
Are we on the same page?


Yes, we are on the same page. I was commenting on the 600mm with a 2x post. The lens would be F8, the DOF will be F8, but the converter will reduce the light and it will act like F11. That was my only point.

Congrats on the new lens. I wonder how it will act for moon shots!

Thanks, Dennis.

Photography: 100 percent art, 100 percent technical. It takes a photographer to blend them into an image.

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#23 Art

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Posted 12 January 2011 - 05:12 PM


Congrats on the new lens. I wonder how it will act for moon shots!



Thank you!! :)

Now, those are my thoughts exactly. I can hardly wait for a clear night. We had a storm blow through here yesterday, the one that has hit eastern USA. Completely overcast here.

So, I have to wait until this system passes. I have big expectations on a good moon shot! I will post them when I get the chance.

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#24 Art

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Posted 12 January 2011 - 05:23 PM

Its my dashing good looks that sticks in ones mind Posted Image

Glad you like the lens, you'll get used to it being f8 and we all (I noticed the MX in your profile) focused by hand and eye until not so long ago and while I'm not sure I'd like to go back to it full time there's nowt wrong with doing things manually once in a while.

Bang it on a tripod and do some static shots, I'd be very interested to see just how sharp it is.


Yes, it must truly be those good looks that keeps you top of mind! :P

Regarding manual focus and settings, these don't bother me at all. I don't find it an inconvenience in any way.

Do you have an idea of what you would like to have photographed to test the sharpness. The weather here is bleak right now and everything is covered in snow. Happy to take a suggestion and try to photograph it. Let me know.

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#25 Art

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Posted 12 January 2011 - 05:32 PM

This is all the same shot, just enlarged a bit just to see how sharp it turned out. This was a hand held shot. 1/200 F/8, ISO 200, Cloudy

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#26 Black Pearl

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Posted 12 January 2011 - 05:49 PM

Do you have an idea of what you would like to have photographed to test the sharpness. The weather here is bleak right now and everything is covered in snow. Happy to take a suggestion and try to photograph it. Let me know.


A topless model walking along a sun drenched beach..........
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#27 Art

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Posted 12 January 2011 - 09:29 PM

A topless model walking along a sun drenched beach..........



Well, that is going to be a rather tall order considering all our beaches are........... FROZEN!

OK, you will have to make do with what ever I choose.

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#28 Dennis

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Posted 12 January 2011 - 10:26 PM

Do you have an idea of what you would like to have photographed to test the sharpness.


Although BP's suggestion is very intriguing, how about an analog clock face that has the minutes? Is there are clock tower in your town?

Thanks, Dennis.

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#29 Art

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Posted 12 January 2011 - 11:42 PM

Although BP's suggestion is very intriguing, how about an analog clock face that has the minutes? Is there are clock tower in your town?



Non I can think of. We have the CN Tower, basically, a big needle TV antenna in the sky. However, that is in the middle of the city. The burbs, where I reside, has nothing ground shaking.

What about the side of a brick building?

Are you looking for something straight on or angled?

If you have something you know of online, as a sample, point me to it.

Edited by Art, 12 January 2011 - 11:42 PM.

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#30 Dennis

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Posted 13 January 2011 - 12:20 AM

Well you wanted to test the sharpness, how about some old buildings like the Toronto Gooderham Building. There should be some nice details in that building to try it out on. I was just thinking of something stationary for the test. Something with details.

Thanks, Dennis.

Photography: 100 percent art, 100 percent technical. It takes a photographer to blend them into an image.

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