Does the Vivitar 500mm lens hold up to it’s hefty $119 price tag?

It is not very often that I need a 500mm lens.  I can recall a handful of times I said it would be nice, and maybe once at Indian Beach in Oregon where I NEEDED it.  Therefore, the likelihood of me running out and buying a $2000+ lens for one or two shots every once in a while is very impractical.

Before we take this any further, let me clarify something.  I am primarily a landscape guy who is tripod mounted and more often than not, shooting between f/11 and f/16.  A super-fast telephoto is one of the least of my worries.  However, if you are a wildlife or sports photographer, by all means, you need a fast telephoto.  This post is for the tripod mounted photogs. 

While I was researching off brand telephoto lenses on Amazon, I ran across this super cheap ($119 at the time of purchase) 500-1000mm telephoto lens.   I thought it was too good to be true so I picked one up.   I figured I’d only be out $119 if it turned out to be a lemon and it might, at the least, make a good conversation piece in my camera and lens collection.  To my surprise, it is much better than expected.

It is not a miracle worker, it is not insanely sharp, and it is quite ugly.  However, it gets the shot, or at least the raw data I need so I can exploit it later in Photoshop.  Working with it and the raw data from the shoot reminded me of the scenes from Braveheart where his Dad and Uncle both gave him wise advice that his mind was far more powerful than any sword.

Vivitar 500mm lens Before sharpening Vivitar 500mm lens Aftersharpening

When it comes to photo gear, our trinkets, gadgets and high powered lenses can only do so much.  But more often than not, with enough brainpower, we can overcome any limitation.  Sure, more expensive gear is helpful, but it is not the answer to everything.  Afterall, you have to know how to use it!

In this lesson, tutorial, or review (it is kind of all three).  I will show you some images from the Vivitar 500mm lens and how I overcame the limitations and produced some very high-quality results from one button on the Zone System Express 5!

Blake Rudis
f.64 Academy and f.64 Elite are the brainchildren of Blake Rudis. While he is a landscape photographer, he is most passionate about post-processing images in Photoshop and mentoring others.

For Blake, it's all about the art and process synergy. He dives deep into complex topics and makes them easy to understand through his outside-the-box thinking so that you can use these tricks in your workflow today!
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