Nikon NIKKOR 500mm f/8

Nikon NIKKOR 500mm f/8

Lens Summary

Brand: Nikon

Also Known As: Nikon NIKKOR 500mm f/8

Lens Type: Prime Lens

Format: Full Frame / FX

Focus: Manual Focus

Lens Mount: Nikon F

Release Date: 1984-01-01

MSRP Price: N/A

Made in: Japan

Production Status: Discontinued

Lens Description: Powerful catadioptric (mirror reflex) lens with long focal length in a short barrel and with an aperture of f/8.

Nikon NIKKOR 500mm f/8 Specifications

Lens Specifications
Lens TypePrime Lens
Focal Length500mm
Mount TypeNikon F
FormatFull Frame / FX
Compatible Format(s)35mm SLR
Compatible with TeleconvertersNo
Vibration Reduction (Image Stabilization)No
Aperture Information
Aperture RingNo
Maximim Aperturef/8
Minimum Aperturef/8
Maximum Angle of View (Full frame or larger format)
Optical Information
Lens Elements6
Lens Groups6
Focus Information
FocusManual Focus
Built-in Focus MotorNo
Minimum Focus Distance1.5m
Filter Information
Filter Size82mm
Accepts Filter TypeScrew-on
Physical Characteristics
Weather / Dust SealingNo
Mount MaterialMetal
Tripod CollarYes
Dimensions109 x 89mm
Other Information
Available in ColorsBlack

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Jeane harris

I scored my Nikon C 500mm F8 a few weeks ago snd haven’t looked back. I use my Vintage Nikon adaoted lenses snd sm very pleased with the resultsf. As far as the brokeh is concerned I’ve had mixed backgrounds, a few had donuts and some of my bird shots sitting on a wire with some green trees behind came out almost painterly looking very smooth and almost swirling, and very artistic, wish I could post the results here but I don’t think this site shows photographs.I’ve hand held many shots and are surprisingly sharp..


I have owned both the N version and the older C version of this lens. I still owned the C version because I liked the results I get with it versus the N version. I am told the N version i superior and I know it focuses closer but the copy I had did not deliver what it was touted for. That being said, these lenses are given a bad wrap for low contrast. When used in situations like distant airplane or stationary ground objects not across the horizon, these lenses really deliver. When shooting mountains through atmosphere, they suffer the contrast problem unless it just rained and the air is clear. I used to photograph peacocks with both versions and had outstanding results. The focal plane is razor thin so focusing can be challenging. The light transmitted is low but workable. That being said, I have great moon shots with this lens. I have taken handheld shots at 125th. It is work but doable. I like these lenses because they are challenging. I was photographing things when auto anything didn’t exist. It required skill to get great shots with the gear at the time. Theses lenses on digital bodies are much easier to use with much more refined high ISO settings and the ability to immediately see if you got the shot. Something that was not possible with film. They are not a replacement for a refractive telephoto lens. I use my 200-500 Nikkor for moving objects. This is more of an art lens for me. I don’t mind the highlight donut bokeh. When done right it can be asthetically please if but I know it is not for everyone. If you are considering a catadioptric lens, don’t cheap out and buy the $100 cheap Chinese lenses. They are no where near the quality of the Nikkor lens. For a $100 more you can get the Nikkor and have better shots. The Chinese lenses truly have no contrast no matter what you photograph.


This is a very interesting lens that shouldn’t be overlooked even though it can rarely compete with other telephotos in ‘normal’ situations.

I purchased a copy a few years ago mainly just for interests sake, prior to getting a 200-500. Given the manual focus, f8 aperture and lack of VR, it cannot realistically be used for any moving subjects, be they birds, racehorses or cyclists. Despite the F8 aperture, this mirror lens provides a depth of field of less than a foot at any focal distance. Someone cleverer than me in optics can explain why, but that means manually tracking anything is virtually impossible. Combined with lack of VR, getting shots of still subjects is difficult unless your at a minimum of 1/500 sec, which at f8 is tricky in less than bright light. Finally, the out of focus highlights have the special doughnut bokeh that often makes things look a bit weird (although is sometimes groovy!).

However, if you have got a still subject and access to a decent tripod, this is a very useful compact option. And I would be very interested to hear how it performs on a body with IBIS. Once in focus, subjects are truly sharp and have nice contrast. Coming in at around half the size and weight of the already compact 500/5.6 PF, this mirror lens is a marvel of portability. I have recently used it to film a nesting pigeon 15m away and I found no benefit to using my zoom, or other lenses in my kit. This mirror lens with it’s built in hood balanced perfectly with my Z50 giving an effective 750mm focal length, but still with a shallow enough DoF to blur out foreground a background branches. If someone one day manages to create an AF & VR version, it would be incredible if you don’t mind onion rings.

David N Mair

I have had mine for several years and love it on my Sony a7RIII. The IBIS makes it a hand shooter even at 125th. I even get autofocus using my Pronto. The f8 aperture slows the AF down, so birds in flight is hit and miss but it works. It works great for sunspot pics with a 1.4 and 2x combined teleconverters. All that said it’s very sharp and light, albeit with onion rings. lol

Airy Magnien

One of the least useless mirror lenses, given its sharpness, not-too-low contrast, and minimum focussing distance (1.5m in the last version). To get sharp pictures handheld is challenging because focussing an ever-moving subject (in the viewfinder) is difficult. Shooting exposure time should be 1/1000s or shorter, so get a high-ISO capable camera. A monopod with an orientable head is nearly a must, not because of the weight (that lens is way too light, being full of air) but because of camera shake.

With the 300/4 PF available, the usefulness of the 500/8 is further reduced: success rate and image quality of the cropped 300/4 shots is generally superior. And you may guess which has the better bokeh…