Trouble using Bower 500mm lens

edited January 2016 Posted in » Nikon D3300 Forum
This past week I received my new Bower 500mm Mirror lens. I understood fully when purchasing the lens that it would only be recognized by the camera in "M" manual mode and possibly "A" aperture priority. The D3300 will not recognize in "A", so manual it is. Part of the reason I purchased the lens was to force me to learn more about manual settings. My initial problem is this. I am using the lens with the rear 1A skylight filter as recommended in the small pamphlet. After a half hour of playing with different ISO and Shutter speed settings I was still getting "Washed out" images like the pictures were taken through white muslin. Even when my settings had the image slightly under exposed the image was dark and washed out. The lens is fine and the image was crystal clear in the view finder. I finally lifted the veil a bit when I changed the white balance back to automatic. Any Ideas on what I am doing wrong, or what setting I may need to adjust or change? And most importantly, why I need to change them so I can understand going forward. Thanks for any help.


  • edited January 2016
    A mirror lens will tend not to have as much contrast as a diffracting lens, and one thing you might find necessary is to up the contrast in post processing.

    Make sure you use the lowest ISO you can get away with (shutter speed being the first consideration).

    A very long lens will also often pick up atmospheric haze that is not visible to the naked eye. If there is a UV/Haze filter option, you might try that. Although the camera itself generally can't recognize UV light and such a filter is mostly obsolete on digital, it might make a little difference.

    The skylight filter should not add washout, but flare might. Make sure that you're not introducing flare into the picture, as a lens such as this has a big front element that may be easy to get reflections.

    You might find that further experimenting with picture mode and white balance will help too. Since the lens tends to be low in contrast, a white balance closer to cloud or shade might perk it up a little.

    Finally, make sure that you're getting a truly steady shot. What may look like haze might be motion blur, as the mirror lens does not show out of focus blur the same as other lenses do. Double check your focus carefully, and make sure that on a DX camera your shutter speed is way up around 1/800 or better.

    Mirror lenses are all over the map in image quality. The worst (I have one of those, unfortunately, an old one that was never sharp) can be pretty poor, and the best quite decent, but always a bit less contrasty.

    I forgot to mention one other thing. If you have Active D-lighting on, as it is i think by default, try turning that off. This option increases dynamic range a little, and while that can be good much of the time, it also decreases contrast a little and contributes to muddy shadows.
    edited February 2016
    I have a Bower 500mm with the 2x converter. This lens is very long, and even if you use a tripod, a breeze can cause the lens to move some and cause a bit of blur to your photos. It needs a lot of light or you have to bump the ISO way up and get more noise in your photos. It is a fun and cheap lens to play with though, and I am glad I got mine.

    The photos are better without the 2x converter attached.

    I never use a skylight filter with mine, so maybe try yours without the filter and see what you think.

    Bruto has a lot of great advice to follow.

    Oh one other thing. Don't know if it is just my lens, but I have found that the focus doesn't run true. I can have it focused and the photos will have some blur, but if I focus and lean back just a smidge, they will be clear. I guess because it is a cheaper lens it will have some quirks. Just play with yours and get to know it.
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