Samyang Mirror Lens 500 mm 1:6.3 DX. Comparison with Rubinar 500/5.6. Review of the mirror-lens lens from Rodion Eshmakov

Material on the lens especially for Radozhiva prepared Rodion Eshmakov.

Lens Samyang 500/6.3.

Lens Samyang 500/6.3. increase.

Thank you for the lens provided for this article. an_antonuf.

Samyang 500 / 6.3 is a modern Korean reflex lens. The image in such a system is built mainly due to reflection in spherical mirrors, and the lenses provide correction of residual optical distortions. The inventor of lenses of this type is the Soviet optician Dmitry Dmitrievich Maksutov. In 1941, after more than ten years of work on the study of two-mirror aplanatic systems, he came up with a method for correcting the aberrations of mirror lenses using an aperture meniscus corrector - this is how the Maksutov-Cassegrain scheme, which is very popular today, was born.

Scheme of the lens of the Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope.

Scheme of the lens of the Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope.

The addition of a field corrector to the Maksutov-Cassegrain lens made it possible to use the system for photography - the first lenses of this type were Soviet "MTO". Subsequently, different manufacturers around the world have their own versions of optical schemes for mirror-lens photo objectives, the main innovations of which are the separation of the secondary mirror into a separate component, the splitting of the meniscus into two or more lenses, the use of mirrors Mangin. Samyang has become one of the mass manufacturers of such lenses.

Samyang reflex lenses, also known under the brands Vivitar, Bower, Opteka, etc., have a bad reputation due to the extremely poor quality of their first 500/8 lens. Over the years, the level of production has grown significantly - today Samyang produces a large line of optics, including a universal fast zoom 24-70 / 2.8 with autofocus (!) and a number of super-fast prime lenses. The reflex-lens line also developed - Samyang 500 / 6.3 lenses appeared (presented in this article), improved 500/8, 800/8 and 300 / 6.3 lenses for crop cameras.

Mirror-lens optics captivates with its compactness, lightness in comparison with lens lenses. In addition, these lenses have unusual bokeh with characteristic "donuts", which is applicable for artistic purposes. Among optics of this type, Samyang lenses are the most affordable. Usually their cost does not exceed $300 in stores (the cost of Samyang 500/6.3 was ~$130), and in the secondary market, where Samyang optics are very widely represented, you can sometimes get such a lens for a modest $70-100. Only one question remains - is it possible to make a good reflex lens for this money?

Specifications Samyang 500/6.3:

Optical design - 7 elements (2 mirrors, 5 lenses) in 6 groups;

Optical design Samyang 500/6.3.

Optical design Samyang 500/6.3.

Focal length - 500 mm;
Field of view angle (on the frame 36×24 mm) – 5°;
Relative aperture - 1:6.3 (excluding central shielding);
The minimum focusing distance is 2 m;
Filter fastening thread (front) - М95×1;
Filter fastening thread (rear) - M34x0.5;
Camera mount - T2 thread (M42x0.75);
Lens weight - 645 g;
Features - constant aperture without the possibility of change.

Construction Samyang 500/6.3

Outwardly, the lens looks and feels solidly in the hands, pleasantly - it is a light barrel for its size made of metal, painted white (as it is said in the Samyang catalog - to protect against overheating in the sun). Only a “cork” is made of plastic, which closes the secondary mirror mount in front.

Samyang 500/6.3: very little plastic by today's standards.

Samyang 500/6.3: very little plastic by today's standards.

From the side of the front lens, you can see the main mirror of the lens and the aperture-light cutters of the secondary mirror and the field corrector (“carrot”). Unlike the Soviet MS ZM-7K 300/5.6 this lens has a good (but far from ideal) matting of internal surfaces.

View through the front lens of the objective.

View through the front lens of the objective.

The apertures of the Samyang 500/6.3 are designed so that the light not reflected in the mirrors is not able to penetrate the camera matrix shaft. This improves image contrast by avoiding ghosting.

View of the carrot aperture of the Samyang 500 / 6.3 lens through the front lens.

View of the carrot aperture of the Samyang 500 / 6.3 lens through the front lens.

The Samyang 500/6.3 uses the T2 mount, which allows it to be mounted on any small format SLR camera with the appropriate adapter. The flash beak of the younger "DSLRs" will not be a hindrance.

View of Samyang 500 / 6.3 from the side of mounting to the camera.

View of Samyang 500 / 6.3 from the side of mounting to the camera.

The lens has a constant relative aperture, since it does not have an iris diaphragm mechanism. Of the controls, the lens has only a huge rubberized focus ring. It has a scale of focusing distances in feet and meters, as well as a gypsy golden plate with the proud name of the lens - “SAMYANG Mirror Lens 500mm 1: 6.3 DX”. The focusing mechanism of the lens has an easy and soft pleasant stroke, and the minimum focusing distance (MFD) is only 2 m - this is very small for such a focal length. When focusing at a distance of 2 m, the shooting scale is ~ 1: 3, which is very cool for a telephoto. At first I was even very pleasantly surprised by the mechanical quality of the lens, but soon realized that in reality it is unbearably difficult to shoot with this lens. The key problem is that the angular travel of the focus ring from infinity to MDF is only 90 ° - any slight movement of the ring leads to a sharp shift of a very thin zone of the sharply depicted space by tens of centimeters. Therefore, on the Samyang 500 / 6.3 it is simply impossible to catch focus at least arbitrarily fast (even by the standards of manual optics) - the focus ring rotates with extremely little effort, requires some kind of unrealistic quantization of hand movements and “runs away” from any random breath.

Lens when focusing on MDF: the focus ring always rotates 90 °.

Lens when focusing on MDF: the focus ring always rotates 90 °.

At the same time with this lens, I had "Rubinar 500 / 5.6» a new series of the Lytkarinsky plant. With a similar MDF of 2.2 m (shooting scale 1:4), the Rubinar's focusing ring travels almost 360 °, moving the ring requires adequate effort - focusing does not go astray. The percentage of successful hits in focus on the Rubinar 500/5.6 turns out to be much, much higher than in the case of the Samyang 500/6.3.

Rubinar 500/5.6 and Samyang 500/6.3 (right).

Rubinar 500 / 5.6 and Samyang 500/6.3 (right).

It should be noted that Samyang is already 2.5 times lighter than Rubinar. But the large mass of the Lytkarino lens is due to the requirements for the assembly of mirror-lens systems, which are extremely sensitive to mechanical stresses arising from thermal contraction / expansion of body parts and optical components.

Rubinar 500/5.6 and Samyang 500/6.3 (right).

Rubinar 500 / 5.6 and Samyang 500/6.3 (right).

The Korean lens is also much more compact - and this is, of course, the merit of a more modern and complex optical design compared to the Rubinar. The central shielding of the Samyang 500 / 6.3 is also quite small compared to the Rubinar 500 / 5.6. With a rough estimate of the diameters of the meniscus and the "cork" of the lenses, it turned out that aperture taking into account the central shielding, the Rubinar 500 / 5.6 should be even smaller than the Samyang 500 / 6.3, and their meniscus diameters are very close. But such an assessment turned out to be incorrect due to the complex design of the Korean lens: when checking the shutter speeds, it was reliably shown that the Samyang 500 / 6.3 is approximately 1/2 stop “darker” than the Rubinar.

The Korean Samyang 500 / 6.3 turned out to be frankly unsuccessful in design, although a cursory external examination did not portend trouble. This once again reminds me of the situation in which the unlucky lucky owner of a “cool Japanese (or, God forbid, Korean) lens” of the 70s from a flea market finds himself - when low-quality materials and such construction nightmares are hidden behind a neat appearance and good design , which even the engineers from the GDR never dreamed of. It’s even strange that many people know how hard it is to assemble the one produced by the “gloomy Teutonic genius” Domiplan 50 / 2.8 after cleaning the lenses, but few people know that a similar problem occurs when assembling an expensive famous Japanese lens Konica Hexanon AR 40/1.8. Meanwhile, the build quality of the lens determines its optical properties, and with a poor design of the lens body, it is difficult to maintain the correct lens gaps, avoid lens distortions, and deviations from the axis. Such defects lead to a sharp deterioration in optical quality, no matter how advanced the scheme is.

It remains only to consider how Samyang engineers have succeeded in achieving the accuracy of mounting the optical components of the complex Samyang 500/6.3 reflex lens and overcoming the thermo-optical aberrations of the system. Maybe in vain so much metal was spent on Rubinar 500 / 5.6?

Optical properties Samyang 500/6.3

Impressed by the review Samyang 500 / 8 I was already very glad that the newer Samyang 500 / 6.3 forms a completely distinguishable image with not the worst contrast. At some point, it seemed to me that the Korean lens could even be no worse than the Lytkarinsky Rubinar - I even imagined this “breaking of the covers”, but these thoughts were thrown aside after viewing the pictures on the monitor: the Korean lens forms quite a weakly sharp image with noticeable spherical aberration (“glow” of the contours). And at close focusing distances, the lens suddenly begins to appear pronounced orange-blue chromatic aberration, which further reduces the resolution. The lens also has noticeable pincushion distortion. At the edges of the frame, the resolution drops noticeably due to field aberrations (probably astigmatism and field curvature).

Of the positive qualities, a large covered field can be noted: Samyang 500 / 6.3 can be used without problems on Fujifilm GFX medium format cameras or with shift adapter on full-frame mirrorless cameras.

Samyang 500 / 6.3 does not cope with backlight at all - veiling in a number of situations is simply catastrophic. Fortunately, this problem can be easily solved by using a deep hood. Even if you just cover the lens with your hand from the light, the contrast increases noticeably.

Image veiling with Samyang 500 / 6.3 when shooting in backlight without a lens hood.

Image veiling with Samyang 500 / 6.3 when shooting in backlight without a lens hood.

Image veiling with Samyang 500 / 6.3 when shooting in backlight with hand protection of the lens from light.

Image veiling with Samyang 500/6.3 when shooting in backlight with protecting the lens from light by handVeiling the image with Samyang 500/6.3 when shooting in backlight with protecting the lens from light by hand..

Armed with a tripod, I made a direct comparison of the Samyang 500/6.3 with LZOS Rubinar 500/5.6 when shooting at distances close to infinity. Below are paired examples of photos taken on a full-frame 12 MP camera Sony A7s and lenses Samyang 500/6.3 and Rubinar 500/5.6, made from a tripod under equal conditions. For convenience, 100% cropped frames are also shown.

Note that photos taken with the Samyang lens have much worse contrast and less detail (especially at the edges of the frame) than photos taken with the Rubinar 500/5.6. Also, as noted above, during the joint test, it turned out that Samyang has aperture taking into account light transmission, 1/2 step less than Rubinar 500/5.6.

Further, at my request, both lenses were tested at LZOS to determine the effect of temperature on the image quality of the lenses.

First, the visual resolution (VRS) was measured under normal climatic conditions (NKU) using an optical bench type OS-30 in accordance with GOST 15114-78. As a test object, a dashed globe No. 4 (OST 3-4400) was used. Then the lenses were thermostated in the chamber, cooling at a rate of 1°C/min to 0°C and keeping for 2 hours, after which the resolution was again measured. Next, the lenses were placed in the camera, heated at a rate of 1°C/min to 40°C and kept for another 2 hours. After that, the visual resolution was determined again. The test results are shown in the table:


The tests carried out demonstrate that the Samyang 500/6,3 lens detunes under the action of temperatures that are ~20°C different from room temperature: its resolution drops by as much as 2 times. The presence of a pronounced spherical aberration under normal conditions may be due to errors in the factory assembly of the lens - even with a more complex optical design, Samyang 500 / 6.3 loses Rubinar by almost one and a half times in resolution. And it turns out that the Rubinar 500 / 5.6 lens has such a monumental design for a reason - its resolution has not changed when operating in the temperature range from 0°C to 40°C, and is unlikely to change in a wider range. At the same time, it cannot be said that its assembly is ideal - astigmatism, which occurs due to insufficiently thought-out mounting of the main mirror, is still present.

If you arm yourself with simple mathematics, you can evaluate the visual resolution of lenses in the usual units of frequency. Knowing the frame diagonal of 36×24, equal to ~43 mm, as well as the lens field of view angle of 5°, it is easy to calculate that the resolution of Samyang 500/6.3 is 160 mm-1, and Rubinar 500/5.6 is 220 mm-1. However, the visual resolution usually has several times greater values ​​than the photographic resolution, determined when shooting on a special photographic material or matrix. Nevertheless, the data obtained are in good agreement with the observations made when photographing with both lenses.

Below are sample photos on Samyang 500/6.3 and full frame camera Sony A7s.


Samyang 500/6.3 is a good demonstration of the complexity of the problem of building high-quality reflex lenses. The advanced optical design and high-tech Korean production did not help the lens overcome the Rubinar 500 / 5.6, which is close in parameters, made according to the old Soviet scheme. And the focusing mechanism of the Korean does not leave a chance to easily get sharp pictures. In general, it makes sense to try this lens exclusively on cameras with a low sensor resolution (<16 MP 36x24 mm, <8 MP APS-C) and exclusively for testing super telephoto and bagel bokeh. Neither for serious tasks, nor for shooting for fun, the lens is not suitable. Probably, when choosing a cheap 500 mm reflex lens, it makes sense to look at the old Soviet MS ZM-6A 500 / 6.3 and the Soviet versions of the Rubinar 500 / 5.6.

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Comments: 14, on the topic: Samyang Mirror Lens 500 mm 1:6.3 DX. Comparison with Rubinar 500/5.6. Review of the mirror-lens lens from Rodion Eshmakov

  • Sergei

    If you go to, a very popular US marketplace, you can see that Samyang products are sold mainly under the Rokinon brand (rarely Bower). And they offer customers from mirror-lens only 300mm / 6,3 for crop. No older models like 500mm/6,3 are available for sale.
    The fact is that in the USA there are very liberal rules for returning goods that the client did not like. And from the EVIL segment at Samyang, only one turned out to be successful for the demanding market (see above).

    • Rodion

      If they give me 300/6.3 for a review, I will study it. Haven't been offered yet.

  • B. R. P.

    Yes, you might think that it was made not in South Korea, but in North)

    • Rodion

      In the analogue of the DPRK, just his rival was produced ...)

  • Oleg

    ISO transcendent has to be set

  • Sergei

    Judging by the information from the network, this EVIL model from Samyang 500mm / 6,3 is relatively fresh (production began in 2012), but quickly discontinued from mass production (2017).
    Rodion got a number of very successful photographs from this subject.
    I respect
    PS There are noticeably more comments and complaints about the EVIL Samyang 500mm / 8 on the net (but maybe they just sold it in much larger quantities).

  • Sergei

    I had a Samyang 500mm/8. The lens is bad, the only advantage is light.
    Somehow I put it on a Canon 400D and went to take pictures. Many of the photos were not sharp enough due to the fact that it was difficult to focus on the optical viewfinder. Some of the photos were taken in panorama mode. Here is one of them:

    • Sergei

      I also have a Canon EOS 400D. To increase the efficiency of photography through an optical viewfinder (I have ZM-5CA 500mm / 8), I advise you to use a Chinese magnifying eyepiece ×1,6 (Aliexpress will help you).

  • Sergei

    The number of complaints and unsatisfactory ratings for EVIL (even for the best in its class) will always be large compared to conventional lens lenses.
    Due to the lack of autofocus, low aperture, susceptibility to movement (no stub), reduced contrast (due to increased light scattering), specific blur in defocus and bokeh.
    Strictly niche optics.

  • Anatoly

    “few people know that a similar problem occurs when assembling the expensive famous Japanese lens Konica Hexanon AR 40 / 1.8” What is this problem? One of the easiest lenses for assembly and disassembly, the last time I went through such a hexanon for cleaning in 15 minutes.

    • Rodion

      The problem is in the fastening of the front lens block, which does not provide an accurate assembly of the optical circuit and entails a decrease in the characteristics of the lens in comparison with the ideal ones right at the factory. This lens is considered to be one of the least successful in terms of optics.

  • Yuri Molchanov

    Thanks to Rodion for an interesting and detailed review!

  • Bojan

    I have Opteka brand.. with problem, see here: , post #24.
    All issues with I focusing solved here:

    However, the coma remains… Anybody have the similar experience? I checked Astrobin, and I know there are good specimens.. so I think mine may have assembly error.
    Without coma, this lens would have been perfect (for my application).

  • Human

    1 / 1000 3200

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