I've owned and used this lens new since acquiring my 645 body, 35mm & 75mm primes, back in the late 80's. Compared to the exceptional sharpness and rendering qualities of those wide-angle and normal primes, this telephoto produces disappointingly soft and low contrast images. 4 elements in 4 groups may be problematic.
Considering the other reviewer's assessment, I may have gotten a flawed copy, but have assumed it was just the nature of this lens and its design. As a prime, I do have higher expectations and the 200mm f/4 has what I would consider the equivalent of below average zoom quality at that focal length. A majority of my photography is enlarged and printed to at least 16x20" gelatin silver prints or A3+ (13x19") inkjet from scans, so perhaps I'd be more satisfied with smaller images with less magnification.
Today I shot a test roll of 120 Ilford Delta 100 developed in Kodak Xtol. In full sun, I shot the posted examples of two mops wide open at f/4 @ 1/1000" as well as mid-aperture f/9.5 @ 1/250". The negs were scanned on a Minolta Dimage Scan Multi Pro at 3200 dpi, saved as TIFF files. In PS CS6, I optimized the levels and put in a 3 pixel high pass filter that was overlay then merged.
As a point of comparison, I've also uploaded two shots from my 75mm f/2.8 prime (spider webs and ladder).
With the scan and image editing, I find the sharpness and contrast acceptable, but still low enough that I wouldn't change my evaluation of the lens. If I had to work with the negative in the darkroom, I am certain the print would be considerably softer with my standard 16x20 gelatin silver enlargements, and much lower contrast than would be expected of TMax 100.
Before making any final judgement, I need to run a good color test to assess color rendition and any chromatic aberration. Based on my tests, this lens is distortion free and shows very little vignetting.
I can recommend this lens: Yes |
| Rating: 9
Small, light, very sharp even at f4
Somewhat difficult to focus on the 645D
I've done extensive testing with this lens with this lens since buying the 645D, as I expect it to be one of my workhorse lenses. I can find no negative aspects at all, except a slight difficulty in being certain of sharp focus with certain subjects. This appears to be due to some property of the ground-glass screen in the 645D which does not permit the image to "snap" into focus. I find the same problem with any lens longer than 100mm.
The 200mm A f4 is small, lightweight, sharp and has pleasing bokeh at f5 and 5.6
It's great to see you back on the forum! Have you considered joining the community?