The Shift without the Shift – 500mm Mirror Lens

I'm still set on getting some type of Tilt Shift lens (eventually), but if you just want to experiment putting some videos together you can do this without an actual Tilt Shift lens. One of the popular tricks is to shoot far. Really far. Here's an example of a Tilt Shift video I posted that used post processing software to create the effect:

Here's another example from Vimeo member Mark Rigler. In order to get these shots, he used an inexpensive Samyang 500mm mirror lens. Afterwards, the Tilt Shift effect was added in post.

Sounds like a monster telescope, but mirror lenses use a technique to multiply the image inside a small form factor. The cons to using this technique is some softness and loss of light and the best of the best Mirror lenses at 500mm might be about F/6.3. The pros are you're able to get a crazy distance in a lightweight lens for super cheap. These lenses are often rebranded so Samyang is just one name. You can also find them in Rokinon, Vivitar, and Bower. Imagine using this lens on a GH2 or T3i with new Cropped modes - Crazy far!

find-price-button Cheap 500mm F/6.3 Mirror Lenses

6 thoughts on “The Shift without the Shift – 500mm Mirror Lens

  1. I have the mirror version of this lens, and it is REALLY soft on my T2i. Unusably soft.

    I am returning the lens, and will try the silly-long version to get away from all that softness (based on Jason's recommendation)

  2. jason

    I highly recommend this inexpensive lens 500mm f/8 lens. It's amazingly sharp for the price and meant for astronomy, you'll need to get a EOS to T-mount adapter with it.

    When I use this lens I weigh it down on the tripod with a sand bag as there's no IS. I also avoid panning and tilting as the 500mm focal length exaggerates the jello effect. Those mirror lenses don't compare IMHO. There's also way better gradient defocus filters out there.

  3. Shadow

    Thanks for the details ! Looks like, at least for me, keeping the money to buy a 70-200 f.8 later on might be a better idea. 😉

  4. Emm

    Post author

    @Shadow - If you're not a full frame camera, you need to multiply that 500mm as well. Using it indoors would be insane. LOL. Handheld? There's no possible way to eliminate shake, there's no IS. I've seen guys take this out and shoot surfers from the shore with a solid fluid head. Looks good if you lots of light available.

  5. Shadow

    "Afterwards, the Tilt Shift effect was added in post."
    It is, unfortunately, quite obvious when you watch the video : with a true tilt-shift lens, when a boat is in focus, the mast is not supposed to be blurry...

    That being said, I've been wondering for a while if buying such a lens would be a good idea... How soft is it ?
    Is it possible to take handheld shots, or is it way too shaky ? Do you think the idea of using it indoors is crazy ?

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