The Phoenix 500mmis a catadioptric lens. That means that it is very similar to a reflex, or mirror, telescope, and that it mixes mirror elements with refractive elements. The light comes in the front of the lens, goes right to the back of the lens, where it hits a large (full lens circumference) concave mirror, which then focuses all that light more tightly back in the direction it came. In the middle of the business end of the lens is another mirror, which then sends the light down the center of the lens back toward the camera, where standard refractive optical elements further magnify and focus the incoming light prior to hitting the film or sensor. A lens of this type is not only similar to a reflector telescope, it can actually perform as one, and you can find eyepiece attachments for just that purpose.
One of the significant benefits of a catadioptric lens is that you get less chromatic aberration, and so with subjects like the moon, which you expect to be grey, you actually get a grey image. With a standard refractor telephoto, you’re quite likely to get colored fringes on sharp bright/dark boundaries – this is an area where reflectors can and do excel, and this lens is no exception.
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