View Full Version : Legacy Lenses Zuiko 500mm Reflex Mirror F8 Review by Tim Hughes

02-01-2008, 03:16 AM
Olympus Zuiko Mirror F8 Review

Please note I am just a keen amateur giving my opinion and as such , you guessed it!, this is most definitely a non-technical review.

SPECIFICATIONS:- Weight 590 grams, Length 97mm, Diameter 81mm, Filter size 72mm, Built in lens hood, Standard OM mount, Close Focus 4m 1:4 approx.

IN USE:- I bought this lens specifically to photograph birds and wildlife and laughed off F8 due to my inexperience. I mean when you look at the specifications , wow! , it’s tiny , it’s lightweight and 1000MM equivalent! All true enough but as a birding lens it’s simply not fast enough in dull conditions and I found this out very quickly living in the UK! In poor conditions it was just about usuable but I often hit iso 800 trying to get fast enough shutter speedS. I really loved the compactness and light weight but found along with the slow shutter speeds at iso 200- 400 it was really, really difficult to nail the focus unless in bright , sunny conditions. The depth of field is very small and I think there was only about 3cm – 6cm to ’play with’.
One interesting factor was that depending on how close you were to your subject and the position of the focusing the smaller / larger the telephoto effect, so whilst it was equivalent to 1000mm some of the time this could be realistically about 620mm at other times. As I no longer have the data sheet I can’t explain this any better here!
Overall I really liked this lens, but as it just didn’t suit my needs as a birding lens and because I couldn’t afford another lens without selling it, I had to let it go. I would say that maybe with an ME-1 magnifier or an E-1 /E510/ E3 it would probably have been a lot easier to focus than on an E500 with no focus aid.

PROS:-Incredibly lightweight and compact for such an impressive reach. Reasonable contrast for a mirror lens. Sharp when focused correctly . Fits in a small camera bag!

CONS:- On an E500 very difficult to focus , incredibly small depth of field. F8 is probably nearer f9/10 due to lens construction and light loss , therefore shutter speed is often an issue. Higher isos 400 – 800 often needed to keep shutter speeds reasonable. Small size won’t suit everyone and some people may actually find it too lightweight!

VERDICT:- Very usuable in good weather conditions and just about usuable in usual (UK) conditions. Fantastic reach for such a small lightweight lens, if you can live with the compromises and are looking to use it for general use , not just birds / wildlife then definitely worth a look!

PRICE GUIDE:- Bought for 240 and sold for 300 which is around the typical price you can find them for secondhand and in very good condition.


Tim Hughes
http://www.artwanted.com/timhughes (http://www.artwanted.com/timhughes)

Samples:- When I find the picture of the Zuiko 500mm Mirror attached to my E500 I will add it to the samples. These are not gallery quality just general samples most completely unedited showing the good, the bad and the ……!

Found one at last !!








This one is a good, bad example and at 1/100s and basically a mess!


NEXT REVIEW:- (Oh Goodness do you have too??!!) Yes I do ! will be Kiron 28mm F2.0 VS Sigma 28mm 2.8 (Close Focus)

02-20-2008, 09:27 PM
i am not sure if the new firmware is launched by olympus for E500 but then if you have a chance mount this on e510 with firmware 1.3 IS enabled and try the mirror lens with IS Enabled....i am sure you are bound to get better shots..but sharpness is something could be a limiting factor on Mirror lenses especially at low light.

02-20-2008, 10:41 PM
I dont have this lens anymore, but it is pretty sharp and I would say that the first two pictures expecially the first one show this.



Don Baldwinson
04-16-2009, 12:19 AM
I bought one recently, because mirror lenses fascinate and challenge me! I had a Tamron 500mm F8 for a short time on my E-1 with bright Katzeye screen, and the performance was quite poor, even on a tripod, and was not as good as its reputation. However, I did like the compactness and lightweight. They do sell, and people competed to buy it!
Reports said the Zuiko OM F8 was a better performer, and when I found one at Cameta at a reasonable price, us$319, I bought it. When it came it was in excellent condition (they graded it Ex++), however though fine in all the important optical facets, it did have a deformed rim to the built-in lens hood (oval), which annoyed me. However, probably reasonable for the price.
Performance-wise, on my E-3 I was pleasantly surprised; it is a joy to handle and reasonably easy to focus and light years ahead of the Tamron in IQ. Contrast is very good, and sharpness reasonable. You can easily see which image was produced by the mirror, and which was produced by the 50-200zd. But still, the mirror image with some levels and USM applied still produces a nice and acceptable image.
So I'm pretty happy. The lens has found a place in my bag as a compact, ultra-long lens, for the unexpected chance when I'm not carrying a heavy zoom by choice, and a keeper for sure. It will replace my Nikkor 400mmF5.6, a nice but very long lens. I would certainly recommend this lens to anyone who is experienced with manual fixed lenses.
A couple of early examples, the 2nd two in poor light-


Zuiko 500F8+EC-14

04-18-2009, 09:27 PM
Don you may find this informal comparison interesting. Jan Steinman's OM Telephoto Shootout

Don Baldwinson
04-19-2009, 03:43 AM
Don you may find this informal comparison interesting. Jan Steinman's OM Telephoto Shootout
Thanks for drawing it to my attention Mike, very interesting.