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Spiratone 1:5.6 F=300mm Minitel-S Plura-Coat Mirror Lens
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PostPosted: Wed May 25, 2016 5:29 pm    Post subject: Spiratone 1:5.6 F=300mm Minitel-S Plura-Coat Mirror Lens Reply with quote

I love mirror lenses. I love them for the reason most people hate them: because of their unique rendering. The problem for me is that mirror lenses usually have very long focal length and that makes them difficult to use and limited to certain subjects. I dream of a 135mm F/2.8 mirror lens. It would be a very small and lightweight lens, much more useful to me than a big 500mm F/8 lens!

But this is only a dream. The shortest focal length for mass produced mirror lenses seems to be 250mm. And more specifically the famous Minolta RF Rokkor-X 250mm f/5.6. A very nice lens. Small. Sharp. With nice Minolta colors. And very usable at only 250mm! Unfortunately, lots of people have already realized how nice this lens is, so it has become a collector's item, currently fetching prices over $1,000 on eBay.

So, I looked for something comparable to the Rokkor-X 250/5.6 but more affordable. I have the Tamron Adaptall 350mm F/5.6 Model 06B and I like it (in fact I have two samples of the lens). But the Tamron is quite large and on the heavy side. And 350mm is too long for me. Then I heard about the Spiratone 1:5.6 F=300mm Minitel-S Plura-Coat Mirror Lens (and you thought that only modern lenses had long names?). It seemed to be the next best lens to acquire apart from the unreachable Rokkor-X.

I found a nice copy for a price that didn't seem excessive in Germany. Klaus (kds315*) kindly agreed to act as a proxy and forwarded the lens to me in Myanmar (thank you, Klaus!). And here it is, my own Spiratone 300/5.6 (seller's pictures):







Spiratone was the brand name of Fred Spira, a photo enthusiast who had a small mail-order store on West 27th Street in New-York City. Fred Spira imported directly from Japan all kind of photographic equipment and sold it under his own brand. The 300/5.6 mirror lens is labeled "Made in Japan" but I don't know who made it.

For me, 300mm is the limit for handheld use. The Spiratone lens is quite light, which is good, but this makes it quite difficult to hold steady when looking through the viewfinder at 10x magnification!

Built quality is good and the focusing ring action is very smooth. Unfortunately, as this is the case with many mirror lenses, it is difficult to focus precisely, as the focusing ring goes from 2.5m to infinity in about 180°.

As for image quality, it is quite good for a mirror lens. As expected, there is strong vignetting but the whole image field is clean from chromatic aberrations. Sharpness is good in the center and declines towards the edges of the frame. Contrast is good.

Here are a few samples from my first stroll with the lens:

Nuns


Sacred Tooth Relic Pagoda


Stray Dog


Burmese Cat


Mynah Bird


Reparing the Crown


First Day of Monsoon - Last Day of the Flamboyants Bloom


Remains of the Flamboyants Bloom 1


Remains of the Flamboyants Bloom 2


Remains of the Flamboyants Bloom 3


Cheers!

Abbazz


PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spectacular outcomes for this rather unusual Spiratone lens! Also, lens appears to be in excellent condition.


Like 1


PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 12:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For fans of the 250mm Minolta mirror lens with thinner wallets, there is always the Focal to consider:

Click here to see on Ebay then click see original listing to see an example

This Focal has the same nominal specs as the Minolta. Don't know much about quality but it might be on a par with Spiratone, though not Minolta. However, the Minolta can fetch twenty times this price.


PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2016 12:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

guardian wrote:
Spectacular outcomes for this rather unusual Spiratone lens! Also, lens appears to be in excellent condition.


Like 1

Many thanks!

The lens is in good condition. There was some dust on the outside when I received it (you can see it on the auction pictures) but it cleaned up nicely and the glass is pristine.

Cheers!

Abbazz


PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2016 10:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A few more pictures with the lens:

Tree leaves in low light


Frangipani


Sacred Tooth Relic Pagoda from Nagaryon Pagoda


Pagoda crown (can you spot the bees flying around ? The bees nest is inside the crown)



Cheers!

Abbazz


PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2016 2:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Those are really nice samples!

Was this lens available with other brandnames? It looks very short, it might even be shorter than the Minolta 250?


PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2016 5:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congratulations Sebastien, it seems to be a very nice copy (which my few test shots had already indicated when I checked it)!!

Btw. I have a few exotic mirror lenses with quite shorter focal lens, namely the Lyman Alpha f1.1/90mm lens and now also its f1.4/150mm brother lens (no typo, they are really that fast!). I don't want to hijack your thread, so no details on them here.


PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2016 5:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for your images!
I love mirror lenses too, and the same problem with the long focal length too.
I have a Hanimex 300mm f/5.6, which is perhaps from the same factory. But it is not very sharp, the Tamron 500 seems for me way better. A Weltblick 300mm f/6.3 is different, but has low quality too.

I have tried to modify mirror lenses to shorter focal lengths, it works but the difference is not enough to be considered helpful. The other way round to modify lenses to longer focal lengths and make is usable on medium format seems more helpful.


PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2016 5:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

TrueLoveOne wrote:
Those are really nice samples!

Was this lens available with other brandnames? It looks very short, it might even be shorter than the Minolta 250?

Thanks for the kind words.

Apparently, there are quite a few 300mm F/5.6 mirror lenses sold under various distributor names (Cambron, Hanimex, Prinz, Quantaray, Rokunar, Soligor) bur I don't know if they all come from the same manufacturer and who is the manufacturer.

The Spiratone lens is 74mm long vs. 58mm for the Rokkor-X 250/5.6, so the Minolta lens is quite smaller in fact.

Here's a comparison between the three most common "short" mirror lenses:



Cheers!

Abbazz


PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2016 5:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kds315* wrote:
Congratulations Sebastien, it seems to be a very nice copy (which my few test shots had already indicated when I checked it)!!

Btw. I have a few exotic mirror lenses with quite shorter focal lens, namely the Lyman Alpha f1.1/90mm lens and now also its f1.4/150mm brother lens (no typo, they are really that fast!). I don't want to hijack your thread, so no details on them here.

Thank you, Klaus!

Your lenses are very interesting and rare items but they can hardly be qualified as "mass production" lenses and their large aperture and paper thin depth of field make them a little bit too extreme for everyday photography. I really would like to have something like a 135/2.8 mirror lens...

Cheers!

Abbazz


PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2016 6:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ZoneV wrote:
Thank you for your images!
I love mirror lenses too, and the same problem with the long focal length too.
I have a Hanimex 300mm f/5.6, which is perhaps from the same factory. But it is not very sharp, the Tamron 500 seems for me way better. A Weltblick 300mm f/6.3 is different, but has low quality too.

I have tried to modify mirror lenses to shorter focal lengths, it works but the difference is not enough to be considered helpful. The other way round to modify lenses to longer focal lengths and make is usable on medium format seems more helpful.

Thank you for the compliment!

Does your Hanimex lens look like the Spiratone? I have read that it is also a T-Mount lens dating back from the same period so it could very well originate from the same manufacturer.

Mirror lenses have typically a low contrast and pictures need a boost in editing to look like the original scene. Resolution varies from the worse to excellent, depending on assembly and quality control. Mirror aligment is very important and catadioptric lenses can be ruined when dropped, or when submitted to shocks or attempted repairs.

Apart from the optical quality of the lens itself, it is usually quite difficult to nail the focus, especially with the longer focal lengths, due to the short focus throw. Even with the Spiratone, I have to bracket exposures while nudging the focus ring when I shoot handheld. The 250/5.6 Rokkor-X lens would be easier to use because of the slightly shorter focal length and broader depth of field.

How did you try to modify your lenses to get a shorter focal length? Did you use a "lens turbo" kind of contraption?

Cheers!

Abbazz


PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2016 7:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Abbazz wrote:

Here's a comparison between the three most common "short" mirror lenses:




Thanks for that! It gives an idea on the size, i happen to have the Minolta, it's 72mm with the hood attached, mine is always on.
The picture of the Spiratone made it look smaller than it actually is.


Abbazz wrote:

The 250/5.6 Rokkor-X lens would be easier to use because of the slightly shorter focal length and broader depth of field.


I can tell you from personal experience: it's not easy to nail focus as well! But of course i have never tried one of the 300 or 350 models. I did own a Samyang 800mm f/8 mirror once, that really was a pain in the #&@* to focus.....

cheers!


PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2016 7:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another post here about a 300mm mirrorlens:
http://forum.mflenses.com/makinon-mc-reflex-300mm-f5-6-t50886,highlight,%2Bmakinon+%2B300mm.html
Mabe the same maker as for the Spiratone?
With better MFD 1,20m and filter 67mm, so not exactly the same.


PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2016 9:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Minolfan wrote:
Another post here about a 300mm mirrorlens:
http://forum.mflenses.com/makinon-mc-reflex-300mm-f5-6-t50886,highlight,%2Bmakinon+%2B300mm.html
Mabe the same maker as for the Spiratone?
With better MFD 1,20m and filter 67mm, so not exactly the same.

Makina Optical was a true lens manufacturer, contrary to Spiratone, and the Makinon lens seems to have been sold under other brands as well. But I don't think the Spiratone is the same lens. The weight is different (270g for the Makinon vs. 326g for the Spiratone). Furthermore, the Spiratone lens comes equipped with a T-Mount, thus requiring an adapter, while the Makinon lens comes in various dedicated non-removable mounts. Last but not least, I remeber having bought a 135/2.8 Makinon lens for my Pentax Mx at the begining of the 1980s and the the lens didn't look at all like the Spiratone (different font used for the engravings, different colors for the numbers on the distance scale, different pattern for the rubber insert).

Cheers!

Abbazz