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Questar 700mm Mirror Lens Literature
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 02, 2021 12:01 am    Post subject: Questar 700mm Mirror Lens Literature Reply with quote

I found someone selling "ephemera" related to the Questar 700mm mirror lens, on eBay. I decided to buy it and then I thought it'd be worth scanning and posting here. Enjoy.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 02, 2021 12:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Like 1 Like 1 WOW! Thanks for posting!


PostPosted: Fri Jul 02, 2021 6:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is one of the better mirror lenses of its time. Like 1


PostPosted: Fri Jul 02, 2021 9:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sometime around four years ago, give or take, I had posted, looking for advice for a 400mm lens. I wanted something more than what I had and was hoping to find a good lens of lighter weight. At that point, I was using the Meyer Orestegor 4/300 and the Novoflex Noflexar 5.6/400. Both are big and heavy. I decided to try a mirror lens and have since gotten addicted to them. Mirrors are definitely an acquired taste and as the article states, a challenge to use. I was fortunate to choose the MTO 3M-6A as my first. It's big but produces very sharp images. There are many bad mirrors out there and I've sampled a few but have also gathered a collection of very good ones. One I sought and finally found at an acceptable price is the Questar 8/700. I had read all the hype.

The Questar is large and difficult to use in comparison to some others. Overall, I've been disappointed. I was expecting it to outperform given the hype. It can produce some nice images at good sharpness but is not as sharp as some others. In my case, using a Sony a7II, in-body stabilization offers 600mm and 800mm settings but no 700mm. Without stabilization turned on, it can be very touchy, so I've settled on setting it at 600mm, preferring to undercorrect rather than overcorrecting. I don't attempt to handhold and instead of a tripod, I prefer using a monopod. I've developed a good technique with the monopod, so I'm very comfortable with it.

On one occasion, I took two images from the same spot and distance to the subject and both were the best I had gotten from the Questar. That experience led me to believe it has a sweet spot. This is one of them... Notice how thin the depth of field.



The lens is very well constructed. There is one feature I very much appreciate, especially since the lens is used on a tripod or monopod; it has a rotating mount. I can turn the camera as a sway with the monopod, to either stay level horizontally or change to vertical.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 04, 2021 5:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Woodrim, I have read that there were only 822 of these lenses made, of course, so it seems like a pretty sought-after collector’s item… what do you consider a reasonable price? Someone’s posted one on eBay and is asking $1200 USD for it right now. There’s so little sales data available for this lens it’s hard to judge if that’s in line with what people have been paying for it. I get the feeling these don’t change hands often so a) a reasonable purchase price is whatever you’re willing to pay and b) a reasonable asking price is whatever you can get someone to pay. $1200 doesn’t seem unreasonable to ask for a collector’s lens like this, but I’m not just a collector, I’m a user, so I’m slightly deterred by the mixed reviews I’ve read of its performance and handling.


PostPosted: Mon Jul 05, 2021 12:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Like 1


PostPosted: Mon Jul 05, 2021 12:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

xaprb wrote:
Woodrim, I have read that there were only 822 of these lenses made, of course, so it seems like a pretty sought-after collector’s item… what do you consider a reasonable price? Someone’s posted one on eBay and is asking $1200 USD for it right now. There’s so little sales data available for this lens it’s hard to judge if that’s in line with what people have been paying for it. I get the feeling these don’t change hands often so a) a reasonable purchase price is whatever you’re willing to pay and b) a reasonable asking price is whatever you can get someone to pay. $1200 doesn’t seem unreasonable to ask for a collector’s lens like this, but I’m not just a collector, I’m a user, so I’m slightly deterred by the mixed reviews I’ve read of its performance and handling.


I saw $600 several times and a few sales for less. I paid less. While $1200 for a rare and collectible lens might be fair, I would certainly not pay it considering its performance. I take several things into consideration when evaluating my mirror lenses, not just sharpness but sharpness is most important. Ease of focusing is very important and much related to the lens' sharpness. Even some of the better mirrors suffer from a lack of dampening of the focus ring, making precise focus difficult to hold. Most mirrors are unforgiving if you don't perfectly nail the focus while some others still appear reasonably sharp when the focus is not perfectly hit. The Questar is one of the unforgiving lenses.

If the collector value is your greatest incentive to own one, pay what you are most comfortable paying. If image sharpness and ease of focus are bigger considerations, I can recommend several that can be had for considerably less than a Questar. Russian lenses are generally very good with a few being excellent. The MTO 3M-6A is as sharp as any I have used but a bit large, heavy, and the focusing can be stiff. I sold my 3M-6A after getting the Rubinar 5.6/500. The Rubinar has a greater diameter but less in length and weight. I found focusing easier and sharpness at least equal to the MTO. The 8/500 Rubinar is not nearly as good. Both the 3M-6A and 5.6/500 Rubinar can be had for less than a Questar.

There are three lenses I have now that are remarkably sharp. The big Rubinar, Minolta Vectis 8/400, and Tamron SP 350. The Minolta AF reflex 8/500 is very close. I do not have the Minolta 250mm but have used one and can put it right up with the Rubinar and Vectis. I've also had excellent results from my 5.6/300 Ohnar, although there seems to be a greater sample variation. I've also enjoyed the Tamron SP 500 and the Sigma 5.6/400. The 600mm Sigma seems hit or miss and many have problems with fungus and hazing of the mirror surface.

I had read strong reviews about the Yashica ML 8/500 but my experience was different. It is too difficult to focus and thus does not yield as many good images.

Today, I am most likely to use my Vectis unless I need 500mm, then it's the Rubinar or Minolta AF. The Vectis has impressed me greatly. While it was made for APS-C, it nearly fills FF with only some vignetting in the very corners.

I have a Flickr album for my mirror images where you will find examples from each of the lenses I've mentioned and more. https://www.flickr.com/photos/103713015@N06/albums/72157708914494981


PostPosted: Mon Jul 05, 2021 6:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How did you adapt the Vectis?


PostPosted: Mon Jul 05, 2021 7:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jamaeolus wrote:
How did you adapt the Vectis?


Some years ago, a fellow in China made around ten "Monster" adapters for using vectis lenses. I bought the lens with hopes of coming up with my own solution. Fortunately, just before I started to disassemble the lens, the MonsterAdapter was reintroduced. They are available now. It does not support auto-focus but does enable the manual focus motor. For those that might not know, the Vectis line of lenses operates focus by wire. When there is no power supplied by the camera, manual focusing is impossible. There is a motor inside the lens that drives the focus and the focusing ring on the lens serves no purpose until a switch is activated. Then the focus ring rotates a gear that interfaces with a circuit board that in turn, sends a signal to the motor to tell it which direction and how fast to move.

I had first hoped to provide power to the lens but then discovered that alone wouldn't work. The lens needs to be activated by the camera via protocol. I then thought of just using a helicoid adapter between the lens and camera. Bad idea. The lens focuses by moving the front portion of the lens; moving the lens with the helicoid did not work well and produced a very narrow range of focus. My last idea and what I was about to do was to make a geared adapter that would interface with the motor driven gear inside the lens. I would have had to remove the motor and circuitry. The timing of the Monster adapter availability was perfect. I'm so glad I didn't start the surgery. The MonsterAdapter can be found on eBay. They make Vectis to E-Mount and Minolta A-mount to E-mount.

The Monster works well. There is a short learning curve to use the focus by wire method but I have come to actually like it. I bought the lens on a hunch that it would be high quality. The Minolta 500mm is a very good lens and the Minolta 250mm mirror is very highly regarded and very expensive. It seems the shorter the focal length, the easier it is to make a good mirror lens. When I finally was able to put the Vectis 400 to use, I was amazed at how good it is. I consider it at least equal to the 250mm. It does very well at infinity, which many don't. Its MFD is okay but not macro. At medium distances, it is superb.

Here are a couple of recent examples, although cropped...



PostPosted: Mon Jul 05, 2021 7:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a Minolta 250mm f/5.6 and it’s marvelous. I have copies of many of the other highly praised mirror lenses too, such as the Mirotar, an Olympus, the Tamron 350, a copy of the newly-produced Rubinar 300mm f4.5, and the Vivitar Series 1 450mm. I have gotten more lenses in a short period of time than I can reasonably learn to know so quickly. I will get familiar with them eventually, and it’s a lot of fun meanwhile.

I would like to get a copy of the Vectis 400mm and an adapter, but it seems MonsterAdapter isn’t selling the adapter right now; the eBay listing linked from their Facebook page late 2020 is now an error page.

I also have a couple copies of the Minolta 500mm f8 reflex (Rokkor, not A-mount) one in truly mint condition, and although they are reasonably sharp and both are equally good (no sample variation I can detect between them), I find they have more chromatic aberration than most of my mirror lenses. The effect is more or less visible depending on lighting, but for example in this backlit photo of a young deer, there’s a garish purple tint to the fur where the light is strong. In a lot of the photos I’ve taken with the 500mm Minolta, I dislike the colors. I haven’t tried correcting it with Lightroom or similar, but it might clean up nicely enough, I guess. I just don’t really like spending time on postprocessing.



PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2021 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I got a copy of the Questar for $700 from eBay. It’s in really excellent condition. I mean, you can tell it’s old because the paint is dull, but it’s in a strong leather case and has original caps, and really doesn’t look used. The glass is clear and bright. Looking forward to testing it!


PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2021 12:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

woodrim wrote:


Here are a couple of recent examples, although cropped...



Quite splendid.
The egret is spectacular
Tom


PostPosted: Sat Jul 31, 2021 4:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you, Tom. Those are from the Vectis, so maybe I shouldn't have posted. I don't want those to be confused with Questar images.


xaprb: Congratulations. I look forward to seeing some images from yours.


PostPosted: Tue Sep 14, 2021 12:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

xaprb wrote:
I got a copy of the Questar for $700 from eBay. It’s in really excellent condition. I mean, you can tell it’s old because the paint is dull, but it’s in a strong leather case and has original caps, and really doesn’t look used. The glass is clear and bright. Looking forward to testing it!


Surely you have received your Questar and had time to try it out. What are your impressions?


PostPosted: Tue Sep 14, 2021 1:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for checking back! I have gotten busy with other things and... the Questar has been sitting on the shelf :-( But it won't be forever.

Meanwhile I've seen more and more of your contributions to this forum, some from a long time ago! We are not too distant geographically. I'm in Virginia. Perhaps in a post-COVID world we can someday meet! I bet we could talk for days and days about "stuff" and never get bored.


PostPosted: Tue Sep 14, 2021 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

xaprb wrote:
Thanks for checking back! I have gotten busy with other things and... the Questar has been sitting on the shelf Sad But it won't be forever.

Meanwhile I've seen more and more of your contributions to this forum, some from a long time ago! We are not too distant geographically. I'm in Virginia. Perhaps in a post-COVID world we can someday meet! I bet we could talk for days and days about "stuff" and never get bored.


You're certainly more disciplined than I am. No new lens purchase makes it more than a day before I've given it a try. As for never getting bored, the challenge will be yours Smile