A sub-$125 lens than claims 500mm and 1000mm reach seems far-fetched, and yet Opteka offers just that in a lens with a fixed f/6.3 aperture. It’s cheap, sure, but can the Opteka 500mm deliver image quality beyond it’s price point?
Opteka 500mm / 1000mm Lens Overview
This review is going to be short. The copy of the Opteka 500mm lens that I received seemed well built, but it had a major flaw that prevented me from doing a full review: it would not focus at infinity. For a portrait-length telephoto (say, 85mm – 200mm) this would be a serious flaw but not a total dealbreaker for a super-cheap lens. But 500mm or 1000mm focal lengths are for distance shooting, not tight headshots.
Not being able to focus at infinity makes this lens essentially worthless. I’m sure this was just an issue with my copy, but it speaks to a bigger problem with Opteka’s quality control. This is the second lens of theirs that I’ve had some kind of issue with, the other being their otherwise excellent 85mm f/1.8.
What’s in the Box
You get the lens, which is massive (by the way), along with an adapter to fit whichever lens mount you bought (Nikon F, Canon EF, etc.), a cheap faux-leather lens bag, and a 2x teleconverter of sorts.
Based on my experience with the Opteka 500mm / 1000mm lens, I cannot in good conscience recommend that anyone buy it without first understanding that they might get a lemon. If you do plan to buy this lens, buy from a vendor with a no-hassle return policy (such as Amazon).
However, I found that popular claims that it is a “dark” lens that needs tons of light to be a bit of a stretch. It seemed easy enough to manually focus in average to slightly dark conditions, provided you aren’t trying to focus at infinity, that is (see above).
A good / fully-functional copy of the Opteka 500mm is likely a good value for bird watchers or just the curious hobbyist who wants longer reach. Just keep in mind the the QC issues of the brand and be prepared to return a sub-par product if necessary.