Like many photographers, most of my photographs have been taken with sub 100mm lenses over the years. Sure, I have experimented with various telephoto zooms, but I never found them to be convenient tools for a photographer not specializing in nature, sports or any other instance where you can’t zoom with your feet. So, I sold them.
I’m constantly looking for interesting lenses to use on my Fuji and M cameras. When I came across the Samyang 300mm Mirror lens, I was excited about the possibility of filling a void in my kit, but I couldn’t find any reviews of the lens, so I gambled and bought one.
Until I came across the Samyang I never used a mirror lens outside of the world of telescopes. Apparently, even Leica used to make/market a mirror based telephoto for the R. It really is a fantastic design for saving space/weight and providing good optical quality on a budget. This lens is far from perfect but, for the price, I think everyone should give one a try at some point.
It is manual focus only and the entire body of the lens is one big focus ring that is very easy to grip to make fine adjustments. The aperture is fixed at f/6.3, which is very slow and only suitable for daylight conditions. It is incredibly light, but feels surprisingly well built. Obviously, at this price point the lens is largely made of plastics, and the lens extends and retracts by an inch while focusing.
The Samyang fits in my camera bag along side my primes and does not require a special compartment or add any extra bulk. I have never had to use a tripod or rapid fire with it to get a sharp picture, but the subject must be relatively still and zooming the evf helps a lot to achieve critical focus. It also helps you to maintain 3 points of contact for stability.
The image quality is pretty good in my opinion. If you judge it among similarly priced new lenses, it is very good. The image can be a little desaturated, which many people like, and I think it compliments the Fuji sensor well. The only big down side, in my opinion, is the sometimes offensive bokeh.
I haven’t had many opportunities to use this lens since buying it a few months ago, but I’m happy I did because having a 300mm lens with an affective focal length of 450mm in your camera bag at all times is a useful tool. I have never been disappointed with a photo I have taken using the Samyang, provided there was enough light for its f/6.3 aperture, but as camera ISO gets better this will become less of an issue for me.
You can see more photos taken with the Samyang 300mm F6.3 in my 500px gallery Here.