Most superzoom lenses ranging up to 800mm will cost you the close to the cost of a new car, but this definitely isn’t that. This is the Jintu 420-800mm f/8.3-16mm superzoom lens.
It goes by many brandings, OPTEKA being the name featured in the video, or JINTU, as most recently named on Amazon. I was given this lens by a photography friend to play around with, and I wanted to see if anything usable would come out of it, so I shot a number of photos, including a series of portraits with my friend and model Tara.
This is definitely an unconventional lens, being that it has such a long zoom range with such a low aperture at a price less than the classic nifty fifty. But is it good? Now, handholding at 400+ mm shenanigans aside, I think there are use cases for this lens. If you’re just getting into photography, or you’re a pure hobbies who doesn’t want to shell out thousands on a lens that will go up to 800mm, then this could be for you, especially if you want to shoot sports or wildlife.
There are a couple things to keep in mind here, however. With this lens being wide open at f/8.3, it’s extremely slow, thus not a lot of light will be let it in. That’s why all these photos are taken on bright, sunny days. Plus, keep in mind, if you have any hope of handholding this, you will need a very high shutter speed. The last thing that I find is especially important if you’re newer to photography and want to try this lens, is that it is purely manual focus. You zoom by pulling the lens out farther, and it will darken all the way to f/16 as you do, meaning you need even more light.
If you’re a little crazy and want to get even more range out of this, you can also add a 2x extender and make it up to a 1600mm lens, like I tried in the video. But here, the problems increase because any defects the lens has are only amplified. If you’re using any modern gear, you’ve become used to razor-sharp images, blazing fast autofocus, and hardly any optical issues. With this lens, forget all of that. Especially all the way extended to 1600mm, but even at 800mm, the color fringing is intense, to say the least. It's nothing you can’t quickly fix in post, but it is definitely there. Then, the farther out in the range you go, the smudgier the image looks. It reminds me of when people would put Vaseline on their lenses, except this is over the entire thing. Everything is smooth beyond compare.
Now, even though I tried taking portraits with this, it was more or less for a comedic purpose because no photographer in their right mind should be doing that unless you’re on either side of a large river. Let’s just say it was far enough that you would want walkie-talkies to be able to direct your subject. That said, for sports and wildlife, the range is pretty great, and with some a little retouching can get you some usable images that can at least get your foot in the door. It’s also a low barrier to entry to get used to really long super-telephoto lenses, though it does have a learning curve attached to it. It goes without saying that I would suggest using a monopod or tripod while using this thing, as breathing too heavily can have you entirely lose your subject.
This lens is also thread mount, which is a phrase you do not hear often these days, meaning if you have an old school film camera, this could work on it as well. But also, in order to use this for your camera system, you’d need a thread mount adapter to the specific camera system you operate on. For me, I’ve mostly used it on an EF adapter. For my fellow Canon shooters, I have not found a thread to RF adapter so you’d have to do an adapter into an adapter, which isn’t ideal, but quite frankly, ideal is not the word that comes to mind when I think of this lens.
A slightly more nitpicky argument is similar to other zooms in that you pull and push in (no zoom ring, just pure push/pull) and dust and debris can get in the lens itself and harm the elements and image quality. Also, on the note of image quality, I have found the ideal focal length for optimal image quality is at 420mm. It seems the farther you zoom in and the further down the aperture goes, the more defects the image will reveal. It’s also worth mentioning that the variable aperture zoom range is actually fixed. Yes, the only way to change the aperture is to zoom in or out, as the aperture is attached to whichever focal length you’re at.
Practically, this lens does not really make sense for me. Although, I have made more money than this lens is worth with it via playing around with it, filming wildlife, and then selling that as stock footage. So arguably, this lens doesn’t really owe me anything and has been a unique challenge, especially for someone for whom a superzoom supertelephoto lens wouldn’t really fit into their regular kit.
This was a really fun video to film, and a big thanks to Tara. All in all, you get what you pay for, and this lens definitely has its quirks. Granted, for a lens that costs less than $100 and has a range up to 800mm, I can’t really complain. For someone who is getting their feet wet in sports or wildlife photography and doesn’t want to sink a ton of money into it at first, this lens might just be perfect.