The Kenko KUT500 5x lens is very compact for a 5x telephoto lens! At 1.6" × 3.9" with a 0.75 inch front element, you can almost pocket it. You will, however, look suspicious having this attached to your camera.
As expected, the KUT500 reduces the amount of light entering the camera, and due to the tube design, vignetting (monocular effect) is very appearent. If possible, it's best to use a large aperture (set on your camera or camcorder).
The lens comes in a very popular 37mm thread. I've tested it with a Sony DCR-TRV25 miniDV camcorder and a Nikon CoolPix 995 digital camera. The Sony thread is 30mm, while the Nikon is 28mm. Both required step-up rings (30mm to 37mm, and 28mm to 37mm respectively).
The vignetting effect is very appearent on the CoolPix, but on the Sony, it was almost barely noticeable. The zoom you get from the lens, however, is worth putting up with the effect (as well as the loss of brightness).
In both devices, the image is relatively sharp (very acceptable) in the center, but quickly blurs as it nears the edges. CoolPix pictures came in with monocular-looking quality (talk about voyerism!). This gives it a spy-look to all of your pictures. My recomendation is to add a little digital zoom to it to zoom into the center, which will get rid of most of the dark areas in the edges. This will lead to some pixelation, but at a maximum of 20x OPTICAL ZOOM (4x native CoolPix zoom X 5), the images comes out acceptabilly. With digital zoom, you will be, again, adding more "zoom" effect, letting you be closer to your...ahem... subject. :)
Keep in mind that the Kenko lens (as well as other lens you buy for your camera) multiplies what your camera sees. So if you camera can zoom in 4x, then multiply that by the zoom of the lens. (4x5=20x!!!).
So with the Sony TRV25, with a maximum OPTICAL zoom of 10x, this Kenko KUT500 lens will give you a whopping 50x zoom!
With this kind of zoom, I would like to give out a moral statement: use this with caution! :)
I am a bit disapointed that vignetting effect is appearent, which I did not know until I purchased the lens. However, with a little digital zoom, you can overcome this a bit.
All in all, the lens does what it is suppose to, BUT at a lot of costs: brightness (you will need to open up your camera's aperture), vignetting (a little digital zoom is required, or just live with it), and blurring of the edges (a lens quality issue that you just have to live with) is what I have to put up with.
At the cost of $100, it is relatively inexpensive for 5x. Brand name 2x and 3x zoom typically cost this mutch. However, Kenko does offer 2x lens at $60-70, which may be a better choice for overall zoomed quality.
I will probably end up purchasing a 2x or 3x lens and return this spyware lens. :)
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