Vivitar 800mm f/8 Series 1 Manual Focus Mirror Lens

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Vivitar 800mm f/8 Series 1 Manual Focus
Mirror Lens (Requires T-Mount Adapter)

Vivitar 800mm f/8 Series 1 MF Mirror Lens The Vivitar 800mm f/8 Manual Focus Mirror Lens is an ultra-telephoto lens, which due to its mirror design, is extremely compact and lightweight for its focal length. This is achieved by using an advanced reflex design. The drawback to this is that only one fixed aperture is possible, and only in manual focus and manual exposure modes. This lens is ideally suited for outdoor photography. It has a fixed aperture of f/8.

This lens features a T-mount, and this kit includes a T-mount adapter for the Canon FD camera system. You can also use other T-mount adapters, which will make this lens adaptable to fit almost any current or even discontinued camera system.

This lens, at 4.4 x 5.2" and just over 2 pounds, has a broad diameter and stocky build. It is a bit easier to handle than a normal 800mm refractor lens, but it is still a super-telephoto in any case (you should use a tripod/monopod in any case for best results). It also has a much different rendering of out of focus areas than a normal lens; highlights will be doughnut-shaped rings with more saturation and contrast on the edge of the ring than on the center.

Catadioptric lenses have several drawbacks. The fact that they have a central obstruction means they cannot use an adjustable diaphragm to control light transmission. This means the lens's aperture value is fixed to the overall focal ratio of the optical system (typically f/8 for 500 mm designs, or f/11). Their modulation transfer function shows low contrast at low spatial frequencies. The folded optical path does reduce the length of the lens, but increases its width.

Their most salient characteristic is the annular shape of defocused areas of the image, giving a doughnut-shaped 'iris blur' or bokeh, caused by the shape of the entrance pupil.

Several companies made catadioptric lenses throughout the later part of the 20th century. Nikon (under the Mirror-Nikkor and later Reflex-Nikkor names) and Canon both offered several designs, such as 500 mm 1:8 and 1000 mm 1:11. Smaller companies such as Tamron also offered their own versions. Of the major manufacturers, currently only Sony (formerly Minolta) offers a 500 mm catadioptric lens for their Alpha range of cameras. Samyang offers a variety of uniquely priced optics, delivering a lot of optical capability for very little money. These rebranded catadioptric lenses are available under the names of Bower, Opteka, Phoenix, Rokinon, Sakar,  Vivitar and others.

Mirror lenses can produce pictures and under carefully chosen conditions they may even produce pretty good ones. However, these situations are rare and therefore most will have unsteady background blur. Most mirror lenses suffer from a rather mediocre optical performance. This may all be fine for personal purposes and for documentation but most likely you'll not be able to sell such pictures. Therefore a classic (refractive) lens like a 400/5.6 fix-focal or even a xx-500mm zoom or even a 70-300-f/4-5.6 with a 1.4 or 2x teleconverter is usually a better and more serious approach. Nonetheless mirrors are quite cheap (but you get what you pay for).

(To rephrase the paragraph above: Mirror lenses are Junk!)


  • Super Spectra coatings
  • Aluminium alloy construction
  • Full-time manual focus override
  • Focus preset function allows
  • Circular aperture
  • Uses T-mount adapter (not included)
  • Fits film and digital SLR cameras

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Lens styleMirror
Max Format Size 35mm  
Lens focal length800mm  
Stabilization type No
Camera mount T-mount
Angle of view 2.6 x 1.7 (WxH)
1.7 x 1.1 (WxH) w/ APS-C (15 x 22mm) cameras 
Largest aperture opening Fixed f/8
Smallest aperture opening Fixed f/8  
Includes aperture ring Yes  
Total diaphragm blades  
Total Elements 8  
Number of Groups 8  
Coatings / special elements Multi-coating  
Minimum focus distance 11.5' (3.5 m)  
Autofocus type N/A
Motor No  
Full time manual focus Yes  
Focusing method    
Lens distance scale No  
Depth of field scale No  
Magnification 1:3  
Overall weight0.79 lb (360 g)  
Lens diameter 4.4" (111mm)  
Overall length 5.2" (132mm)  
Construction materials Composite / glass  
class="label">Lens ColorBlack  
Zooming method N/A  
Filter thread size Rear-mounted screw-in 30.5mm / Front 72mm  
Lens hood included No  


Lens Includes
30.5mm rear filter

Front and rear lens caps

Series 1 lens pouch

Requires proper "T" mount for your camera (not included)

Vivitar Warranty


Not worth the hassle, July 6, 2009
By Douglas Fronzaglia

Used this lens for about a week on a Canon EOS Rebel XSi. This lens is manual focus with a fixed aperature of f/8.0. I had my camera mounted on a Manfrotto/Bogen professional tripod. In spite of my best attempts, clear photos were very difficult, even under full sun. With the 2x teleconverter attached the aperature becomes fixed at f/16.

The lens is well made. It feels heavy and solid. The focus ring has no play and it mounts solidly to the included T-mount adapter.

Overall, this lens combo is too slow for sports, nature or astro-photography and certainly isn't practical for general telephoto use. I been a photographer for over 20 years and really can not find a use for this lens.

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