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I've been looking for a good long telephoto lens for some time. In another document I described one particular failure, in which I came to the conclusion that no telephoto lens, no matter how long, is worth having unless it can produce better images at its focal length than digitally enlarged photos from my Zuiko digital ED 70-300mm f/4.0-5.6 telephoto lens.

In August 2009 I bought a Rokinon 800 mm f/8 mirror telephoto. I compared it with my Zuiko 70-300 lens and decided that it wasn't worth the effort, so I sold it again.

What's wrong with the lens?

The following photos are in three columns:

  1. A photo taken with the Zuiko lens at f/8 and 300 mm.
  2. A cutout of the same photo approximating to the field of view of the Rokinon.
  3. A photo taken with the Rokinon.

Clearly the third photo should be better than the second to justify the lens.

The photos were taken with the camera on a tripod (two for the Rokinon), with remote shutter release, and with image stabilization turned on. The angle of view is different in some cases, because it's so difficult to point the things.


  This should be Olympus-daisies.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Olympus daisies          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 2240 kB
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All images taken on Sunday, 16 August 2009, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 16 August 2009, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 16 August 2009 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Olympus-daisies-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Olympus daisies detail          Dimensions:          1512 x 1138, 512 kB
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All images taken on Sunday, 16 August 2009, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 16 August 2009, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 16 August 2009 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Rokinon-daisies.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rokinon daisies          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1552 kB
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All images taken on Sunday, 16 August 2009, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 16 August 2009, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 16 August 2009 Complete exposure details

 

  This should be Olympus-laundry.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Olympus laundry          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1456 kB
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All images taken on Sunday, 16 August 2009, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 16 August 2009, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 16 August 2009 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Olympus-laundry-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Olympus laundry detail          Dimensions:          1516 x 1132, 240 kB
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All images taken on Sunday, 16 August 2009, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 16 August 2009, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 16 August 2009 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Rokinon-laundry.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rokinon laundry          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1600 kB
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All images taken on Sunday, 16 August 2009, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 16 August 2009, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 16 August 2009 Complete exposure details

 

  This should be Olympus-pyre.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Olympus pyre          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 2576 kB
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All images taken on Sunday, 16 August 2009, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 16 August 2009, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 16 August 2009 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Olympus-pyre-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Olympus pyre detail          Dimensions:          1512 x 1132, 528 kB
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All images taken on Sunday, 16 August 2009, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 16 August 2009, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 16 August 2009 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Rokinon-pyre.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rokinon pyre          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1680 kB
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All images taken on Sunday, 16 August 2009, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 16 August 2009, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 16 August 2009 Complete exposure details

 

  This should be Olympus-verandah.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Olympus verandah          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1536 kB
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All images taken on Sunday, 16 August 2009, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 16 August 2009, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 16 August 2009 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Olympus-verandah-detail.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Olympus verandah detail          Dimensions:          1512 x 1136, 272 kB
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All images taken on Sunday, 16 August 2009, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 16 August 2009, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 16 August 2009 Complete exposure details

 
  This should be Rokinon-verandah.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rokinon verandah          Dimensions:          4032 x 3024, 1664 kB
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All images taken on Sunday, 16 August 2009, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 16 August 2009, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 16 August 2009 Complete exposure details

 

On the face of it, it seems that the Rokinon fails this test. Further magnification makes that clear. Here we have the images reduced to about the equivalent of 3200 mm (i.e. ΒΌ the size for the Rokinon, and about 10% for the Olympus). Again, the Olympus comes first, not only in the sequence:

 
This should be Olympus-daisies-detail-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Olympus daisies detail 2
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Dimensions: 376 x 280, 70 kB
Dimensions of original: 376 x 280, 70 kB
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  This should be Rokinon-daisies-detail-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rokinon daisies detail 2          Dimensions:          1008 x 760, 160 kB
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All images taken on Sunday, 16 August 2009, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 16 August 2009, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 16 August 2009 Complete exposure details

 
 
This should be Olympus-pyre-detail-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Olympus pyre detail 2
Complete exposure details
Dimensions: 380 x 288, 76 kB
Dimensions of original: 380 x 288, 76 kB
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  This should be Rokinon-pyre-detail-2.jpeg.  Is it missing?
Image title: Rokinon pyre detail 2          Dimensions:          1008 x 756, 170 kB
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All images taken on Sunday, 16 August 2009, thumbnails          All images taken on Sunday, 16 August 2009, small
Diary entry for Sunday, 16 August 2009 Complete exposure details

 

Summary: the mirror lens is an order of magnitude better than the supplementary toy that I bought in February 2009, but not good enough. I'm going to have to accept that the only real alternative is a longer real lens. Maybe Olympus will make one some time.


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