Would you like to get into surf photography on the cheap, or simply need a long-range telelens for your existing collection? – If so, have a look at what you can do with the Oshiro 500.
It is a manual focus lens, available for the two major camera mounts such as Nikon F (44mm) and Canon EF (54mm). I ordered mine when I was in New Zealand, and have been using it for various different purposes, and couldn’t be happier with what I’ve got out of it so far. It is ridiculously cheap, it looks awesome, and its got all the basics you need to get superb photos.
New to surf photography?
Surf photography is quite demanding as the subjects (waves & surfer) are always on the move, and the lighting conditions can be quite extreme to get combine; bright sun, reflections, dark wetsuit, and blue ocean can be hard to combine in order to get a decent, natural color on the photo.
You might have to take into consideration that multiple shots and a slight color correction afterward are needed.
The reason why I decided to get it was obviously the attractive price tag, and where you can actually reach out to. I was well aware of its cons (cheap, low quality, manual) but I have had extensive experience shooting on manual lenses, mainly using the M42 mount on older 35mm film camera lenses.
The camera I’ve been using is an old workhorse, a Nikon D200. It was released way back in November 2005. It has got all the manual buttons and the screen on the top for a hustle-free shooting experience. I prefer the old-school; look-through-the-viewfinder over the real-life screen on most fully-automated cameras. Quick-access buttons are another key factor that speaks highly of its use.
Although I believe that modern cameras are much more convenient to get the sharpness & lighting right.
Here’s what I Like
- CHEAP! It costs almost 1/10th of what other lenses at this focal length are priced for.
- Simple to use.
- Shoot it both vertically or horizontally.
- Tripod mount in the middle – great weight distribution.
- It has been quite durable for over 3 years.
- The sunshade is quite deep.
- 500mm is right about right to get decent sharpness out of photos.
- A perfect lens outside of surfing. You can get some really nice shots with it.
Things to consider
- You might have to re-tighten the screws on the lens adapter every now and then.
If you happen to feel a slight play between the lens and camera – it means it’s time to re-tighten the tiny screws on the adapter. Considering the length and weight of the lens, and that the camera takes a lot of weight from the mount when in use over time, it is normal for screws to break loose after a while. You can use superglue if you want it to stay permanently tightened, but I wouldn’t recommend it in case you’d ever going to need to open up the lens for cleaning.
- The cap/cover doesn’t want to stay on properly.
When transporting the lens in a backpack, the cover on my lens wants to pop off when in contact with anything in the bag. Although I’ve traveled long distances with the lens and camera being separated in the bag, it still comes undone, even when it’s in the carry bag that came with the lens.
- Use the lens on the camera only when shooting as it can damage the camera mounts otherwise. You don’t want too much pressure between the camera and the lens besides shooting outdoors, so you’ll be needing to have a hold of the camera’s body cap with the lens cap with you all the time. You don’t want to lose either one.
- It might be difficult to get all images sharp, so be prepared for a trial-and-error, and be ready to shoot multiple shots (which is the basics of scoring THE SHOT anyway)
Oshiro 500mm Specs
- MSRP: $130 Amazon.com
- Filter/Cap diameter: 86mm
- Aperture – f/6.3 – 32
- Minimum focal length: 10′ (3meters)
- The angle of view: 5 degrees
- Weight: 3.4lbs / 55 oz / 1.55kg
- Length – 17″ (43cm)
- 500mm Lens
- End caps – front & back
- Adapter (either for Nikon or Canon)
- Carry pouch
- Sun cover/hood
I’ve been using the lens with a Benro’s monopod which in my opinion is a better alternative for a tripod in good weather conditions. A monopod is lightweight, portable, fast and easy to set up, and even faster to change shooting locations (which is a thing in surf photographs).
Here are some of the latest photos. Have a look at my Instagram to scroll through to find the older photos as well.
Unfortunately, I’m not aware of other similar-priced lenses at this price range so I don’t have a decent level of comparison, but I can’t be happier with the lens so far. If you are willing to sacrifice autofocus and take multiple shots to get THAT shot, this is the lens for you.
A lot can be compensated after slight editing and composition, so I’m sure it holds a superb value!
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I created Nulltuul to share my experience, research and analysis with other surf enthusiasts out there. If I'm not surfing on my travels - I like to photograph waves, surfers, and the surf lifestyle in general.