The Paragon 500mm f8 lens
Paragon 500mm f/8 on a mirrorless camera
An old long focus lens used with adapters on an RP
Over the years Keith has tried all kinds of old lenses on modern cameras with results ranging from excellent, to ‘why did I bother’.
The Paragon 500mm f/8 lens has been sitting in the corner for quite a while – time to see if it is worth the few pounds paid for it in a charity shop.
With current limits on travel – there are not quite as many photos as I’d like. They were mostly taken before restrictions.
Telephoto lens – Paragon 500mm f/8
One of the lenses I’ve had sitting around some time is a Paragon 500mm f/8 manual focus lens. Although it doesn’t seem it from the length, it is a telephoto design, with a length of ~35cm for a 500mm focal length. The lens has a tripod adapter ring set towards the camera end.
It’s also a manual stopdown aperture, so there is one ring to set the aperture and another that goes from ‘O <-> C’ or open to closed.
This one had an Olympus OM lens mount – it’s found with many variations.
So, I’ve an OM->EF adapter mounted on an EF->RF adapter.
The end section comes off, so you could remove the tripod mount. It’s also good for checking the internal optics if you find one of these lenses on offer. They are known for poor coatings and this one has a tiny mould patch in the front element.
You should also check the aperture ring stops down smoothly, when set at f/32.
Using the lens
The lens is easy to use with focus peaking on the EOS RP.
The view from the bridge (f/11)
These photos were taken in February, when there were people about…
Here’s a 100% unsharpened crop from the shot (camera is 26MP full frame)
Focus is critical – even at f/11. If you’re not used to using very long lenses, needing to focus on something a few hundred feet away may seem odd, but look at the depth of field (DOF) scale. Even f/32 isn’t giving a lot of thickness to the plane of sharp focus.
Focus peaking helps on my EOS RP, but accurate focus with just a DSLR viewfinder (no live view) is tricky.
The lens at f/8 shows distinct fall off at the edge of the field, but at f/11 this reduces somewhat. These two shots are taken from my loft window (Karen’s office) looking towards Leicester University. They are out of the camera jpegs with late afternoon sunlight.
The chromatic aberration of the lens is modest – easily fixable in RAW conversion, as is the vignetting.
The photo from the loft was affected by movement of the air, but sharpened up very nicely with Sharpen AI [see my updated review for more]
A closer subject will have fewer issues, so a look at detail from the long view shots earlier is more informative
One of my long time favourites for sharpening [Focus Magic – Review] easily cleans up a bit of softness without adding any artefacts (a setting of 3 at 75% would be reasonable as well).
More use for the lens?
The 500mm focal length isn’t one I have a lot of use for. I can get better results (and AF and IS) with my EF70-200 2.8L IS and the excellent Canon Extender 1.4x III – OK, it’s only 280mm, but I could use the 50MP 5Ds and crop….
More of interest to Karen .was leaving the RP and 500mm downstairs, to capture shots of the birds in our garden at one of the feeders. This at ISO3200, through a window, waiting for the peanuts to be spotted.
A swan in a very murky River Soar a few weeks ago after the heavy rains.
So, a lens worthy of experimenting with, if you don’t pay too much (just beware some of the exorbitant prices on eBay).
Perhaps even less useful whilst stuck at home, but I hope short articles like this are of interest in these challenging times (April 2020) If you’ve questions please do feel free to comment or email me.
Never miss a new article or review - Sign up for our occasional (ad-free) Newsletter
Enjoyed this article?
All the latest articles/reviews and photo news items appear on Keith's Photo blog
We've a whole section of the site devoted to Digital Black and White photography and printing. It covers all of Keith's specialist articles and reviews.
For All about using tilt and shift - articles/reviews about tilt/shift lenses
Articles below by Keith (Google's picks for matching this page)