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A review of the Opteka 650-1300mm lens for telephoto photography

Opteka 650mm-1300mm DSLR Lens Review

Photography is an art. An expensive Art. Proved by the fact that there are certain lenses that run upwards of $10,000. Telephoto lenses are famous for high price tags. And unless you’re Ansel Adams, dropping that kind of money on a lens is probably a bit tricky. That’s where the Opteka 650mm-1300mm (also called the Opteka 650-2600mm lens) comes in.

Recently I got the chance to play around with the Opteka 650mm-1300mm lens, and wanted to share my experience with it. I both love and hate this lens, but mostly love.

Just a heads up, there are affiliate links in this post so if you choose to buy something through them, I get a little sumthin’ sumthin’ at no cost to you, thanks!

The specs:

The Opteka’s zoom range is 650mm-1300mm but it comes with a 2x converter attachment which doubles that focal length. So you can zoom in as much 2600!

Zoom type: Push/Pull (what? yes. I’ll get to that in a minute)

Focus type: Manual

Minimum focus distance: 16ft

Aperture: f/8-f/16

Filter size: 95mm (I laughed when I read that. That’s massive! I have no filters that even come close)

Length: 18.5 – 23.3 inches (depending on how far you’re zoomed)

Weight: 4.4lbs

My experience

The Opteka 650-1300mm lens is overall a good buy in my opinion, but there are a few things to note before buying it.

I took the lens out into several different environments – city, forest, and night photography – and quickly understood how important it is to be far away from your subject. This might seem obvious if you’re used to using a telephoto lens, but if you’re considering the Opteka, chances are you haven’t.

It’s a lens for amerture photographers who want to get a handle on long-range photography without mortgaging their house to pay for it.

I used my Canon 70D with the Opteka for this review.

Remember: It needs to have the T-mount adapter to fit onto your camera.

The minimum shooting distance is 16 ft.

Keep that in mind because you will not be able to focus if you’re too close. The farther away your subject is, the better.

The lens must be mounted on a tripod.

It really isn’t an option. It’s surprisingly light compared to the more expensive telephoto lenses, but in DSLR lens speak, “light” is relative.

Use a steady tripod or you will get shake.

Honestly you’ll probably get shake either way. So wait a few seconds after choosing all your camera settings, and use a remote. I’m serious guys, you need to use a remote with this lens if you hope to be happy with the results.

Manual focus

I’m ok with manual focus. At least when I’m not trying to photograph anything that’s moving too fast. So the fact that the Opteka is manual focus only isn’t a big deal in my opinion, but if you’re used to using autofocus for everything, it’s a learning curve.

Camera shake

I found that the weight and camera shake made it harder to focus with the Opteka than I liked, but I still managed. I have this tripod, and as much as I love it, getting a heavier tripod for this type of lens might be worth it.

Push/Pull Zoom

This was the hardest thing to get used to with this lens. Normally, you twist the zoom ring on your DSLR lens and it does the work for you. The Opteka 650mm-1300mm lens is very much manual zoom.

You twist a ring on the lens to unlock the zoom, and then literally push or pull the lens out to zoom in and zoom out.

It’s not a smooth process and definitely takes some getting used to. It also creates a lot of camera shake so be sure to let the lens rest after you’ve locked it back down.

x2 Converter

The x2 converter effectively doubles your focal length with this lens. That’s not a big deal until you get passed the 1300mm point and start moving on up towards 2600mm. Then you get to see the magic start to work as you get to look incredibly closely at things you just would not be able to otherwise.

The converter does add to the length of the lens, and so it adds to the shake. Because of that, I wouldn’t add it unless I really wanted to. The lens already zooms in really far on its own.

Photo quality

Photo quality is part the lens, part the photographer, and I can’t say that my photos are particularly noteworthy, but I felt like the lens did its job. Although the lens shake made it harder to focus I managed to get it close enough to see what the Opteka is capable of. And I absolutely loved being able to look at the moon “up close.”

The photos below are examples of the zoom capabilities of the Opteka 650-1300mm.

None of the photos have been edited, but I changed the white balance in my camera when I added the 2x converter so you could tell the difference more easily.

Check out which remotes I use here

Price

You can’t beat the price for a lens like this. It runs somewhere between $200-$300 where I’ve seen it. It’s absolutely not a professional photographer’s lens, and the price reflects that, but it’s far from being a piece of junk.

Pros: Price, photo opportunities, weight.
Cons: Push/pull zoom, camera shake, manual everything.

Conclusion

For someone that gets a kick out of taking nature shots or astrophotography the Opteka is a really nice option. It requires a learning curve, but the success that I’ve had with it so far really just makes me want to experiment with it more.

This is not a lens for fast-moving subjects. It takes too long to adjust the aperture and the zoom. But if you’re set up and can take a little time to adjust your settings, it’s a great choice for amateurs looking to expand their photo skills.

Watch the video review of the Opteka 650-1300mm lens:

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I've had gelato in Italy, pizza in Egypt, crepes in Paris, and gruyere in Gruyere. I've rafted rivers, climbed canyons, been lost in foreign cities - and foreign museums :P - and road trip whenever I get the chance. I bring my camera and dog wherever I can, always looking for the next adventure, then I write about it here. Follow along and say hi!

2 Comments

  • Mike Dougherty

    December 28, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    Hannah … based on what your wrote above, I would give a look at the Nikon P900 instead of one of these long lenses. The P900 lens is the equivalent of 24-2,000 optical, 4,000 digital. That’s 83X. I use one and it is actually pretty sharp, contrasty, and snaps into focus. I have also used a 800 mm, 2 element, long focus lens like the Opteka, and the P900 is just so much easier to shoot with, especially with its modern optics.

    • Hannah

      December 29, 2016 at 10:16 am

      Hey Mike, that’s a great suggestion for people looking to photograph from a distance regularly, especially for fast-moving subjects. It depends on what you’re currently using, what you generally shoot, what specs you care about (RAW shooting for example) and if you want to get a whole new camera. Personally I don’t do this type of photography enough right now to make me want to get a whole new camera just for that, and I’m kinda in love with my Canon in general too lol. I agree though if you’re doing this kind of photography regularly the P900 is a great option, the zoom is pretty crazy on it. Thanks for bringing it up!