I recently got a battered Russian MTO-500 f/8 lens, a classic sample (or knockoff) of Soviet-era engineering and workmanship. It is a 500 mm telephoto mirror lens based on the design of a known Soviet engineer Maksutov. “MTO” stands here for “Maksutov’s Tele Objective”. Min looks like the the original, early MTO-500 design, with the barrel made of brass. Later versions of this lens were much lighter and somewhat smaller, they came is vinyl cases, but this MTO-500 weighs 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs) and supposedly came once in an instrument-type wooden case.
After a few shots with my Canon 5D I’ feel like going back in time to reto-photography. No exposure measurement, so one need to apply the good old Sunny f/16 rule, to get the right exposure time. Of course you know a split second later, if you were right or from the live view. Nevertheless I love the scratched old thing and I bechmarked it with my Canon EF70-300 f/4-f5.6 Tele Zoom.
The MTO did surprisingly well but see yourself. The “Russians ton” is an inexpensive, yet high quality alternative to the often overpriced telephoto lenses. It even allows illumination of full format chip of the FD. No wonder many natural and astro-photographers swear by this purely manual telephoto lens.