GESO -- Kalimar 500mm f8.0 Mirror Telephoto Test

P. J. Alling webstertwentysix at
Sun Oct 4 20:44:37 EDT 2009

Just a few quick shots with El Cheepo Kalimar 500mm mirror lens.

All shot with the K20D ISO 1600 RAW

If you do everything right and the Gods smile it's a pretty good lens.  
It lacks a little bit in contrast, but you can easily dial that back in 
with the raw converter.


Examining the center in focus portion of the image we see when you get 
the focus right it's pretty damn sharp, you just have to bump the 
contrast a bit.


So I tried it out on a less cooperative subject...

Well the highlights were close to blown but not too bad.  Difficult 
subject bright white bird.

So I tried again.

Well this time I defiantly missed focus, not by much but there's not a 
lot of DOF to begin with.  Still not bad, I'd never have gotten this 
close without this lens.

Last but not least there's this.

<RANT> Now this was just maddening.  I've been shooting digital for at 
least four years and I've never had a file write failure in the camera, 
but this one is obviously is subtly corrupted, Pentax Photo Browser 
opens it fine but Photo Lab fails.  Irfanview opens it but creates an 
intermediate tiff from the embedded JPEG, it's heavily compress, so 
there are limited adjustments I can make without artifacts becoming very 
evident, but it was the /Best/ Egret photo so I'm going to show it 
anyway. </rant>

I still missed the focus by a bit or the bird moved...

Still if the Raw file wasn't bad, (and yes I tried to download it from 
the card a second time and it was damaged in exactly the same way), I'm 
pretty sure this would make a more than acceptable 8x10, maybe even 11x14.

My conclusion.  This isn't a bad little lens.  Based on my test shots, 
when I do everything right, I wouldn't be embarrassed to show 8x10 and 
maybe larger prints from images made with it.  It does have the typical 
donut shaped out of focus highlights, but they're not objectionable if 
you're careful using it..  It's very lightweight, lighter than the F 
70-210 and not a lot larger.  Unlike most of the cast off photo gear 
people seem to think I can give a good home to it's actually useful. 

Post Script:  Yes I can be an idiot.  This little mirror lens probably 
would benefit from a lens hood, and I decided to take one along while 
tramping through the swamp.  So I grabbed the original Vivitar Series 1 
all metal hood for the 90-180mm Flat Field zoom, and I managed to lose 
it.  Damn, I found that hood in a junk box in a Camera store that went 
out of business, and I'll likely never find another that matches that 
lens.  Damn, Damn, Damn...


The free man owns himself. He can damage himself with either eating or drinking; he can ruin himself with gambling. If he does he is certainly a damn fool, and he might possibly be a damned soul; but if he may not, he is not a free man any more than a dog.

	--G. K. Chesterton

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