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Vintage 200mm Lenses Compared On Micro 4/3rds

Vintage 200mm Lenses Compared On Micro 4/3rds - See how old lenses perform with a number of photos taken using old 200mm lenses on a Micro 4/3rds camera.

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Category : Interchangeable Lenses
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Olympus OM-D E-M5 Front Angle

The Micro 4/3rds format has one of the most versatile lens mounts in the history of photography. The reason being is that the camera is mirrorless so the body is thinner, and that means conventional 35mm and full frame lenses are too close if they could be mounted directly onto the lens mount. A small extension is needed to allow full focusing. This has resulted in a range of manufacturers creating mounts to adapt most current and many older lenses. There are mounts for Leica M, Canon FD, Nikon F, Pentax K, T2, M42, Leica 39mm, Olympus OM and others.

Older manual lenses are now being snapped up as Micro 4/3rds users rediscover the optical characteristics of some vintage classics. The bokeh, flare, contrast and colour shift of some of these old lenses is often legendary and it's well worth digging them out from your local photography store's second hand window or eBay.

Here's a selection of 200mm lenses of yesteryear
  • Canon 200mm f/4 with FD mount designed for use on the Canon A series of cameras
  • Nikon's Nikkor 200mm f/4 from the 70s/90s when the FE2 and FM2 ruled the prosumer market
  • Pentax K SMC 200mm f/4 from the days of the highly popular student camera the K1000
  • Pentax Takumer 200mm f/5.6 - a preset lens from the 60s with an M42 screw mount that was designed for use on the Spotmatic.

Canon 200mm f/4 FD
Canon 200mm f/4 FD
Lens mounted on an Olympus OM-D
Nikkor 200mm f/4 AI
Nikkor 200mm f/4 AI
Lens mounted on an Olympus OM-D - 1/125 sec | f/9.5 | 45.0 mm | ISO 200
Pentax SMC 200mm f/4
Pentax SMC 200mm f/4
Pentax SMC 200mm f/4 mounted on an Olympus OM-D
Takumar 200mm f/5.6
Takumar 200mm f/5.6
Lens mounted on an Olympus OM-D | 1/125 sec | f/9.5 | 45.0 mm | ISO 200

We did three tests, shooting in RAW at ISO200 with the Olympus OM-D E-M5. The camera was mounted on a tripod which was static and the lens changed for each of the sequence. Below are uncropped thumbnails and we have included the full high resolution images for you to compare. Just click on the thumbnail to open.

Notice how the subject magnification differs even though all four lenses are 200mm. This is possibly down to the design of the adaptor which is about 10mm shorter on the Canon FD version.

The first test of the dried daffodil is looking at the lens wide open at f/4 (f/5.6 on the Takumar) and includes some out of focus highlights.

Bokeh test - lens mounted on an Olympus OM-D - f/4  | 1/25 sec | ISO 200
Canon 200mm f/4 FD
Bokeh test - mounted on an Olympus OM-D - f/4 | 1/25 sec | ISO 200
Nikkor 200mm f/4 AI
Bokeh test - Pentax SMC 200mm f/4 mounted on an Olympus OM-D - f/4 | 1/25 sec | ISO 200
Pentax K 200mm f/4
Bokeh test - mounted on an Olympus OM-D f/5.6 | 1/15 sec | ISO 200
Takumar 200mm f/5.6

The second test is a close up of an old Leica on a wooden shelf with the lens stopped down to f/8.

Sharpness test - lens mounted on an Olympus OM-D - f/8 | 1/10 sec | ISO 200
Canon 200mm f/4 FD
Sharpness test - mounted on an Olympus OM-D - f/8 | 1/10 sec | ISO 200
Nikkor 200mm f/4 AI
Mid aperture sharpness test - Pentax SMC 200mm f/4 mounted on an Olympus OM-D - f/8 | 1/15 sec | ISO 200
Pentax K 200mm f/4
Sharpness test - mounted on an Olympus OM-D - f/8 | 1/10 sec | ISO 200
Takumar 200mm f/5.6

The third test is of a few book spines on a shelf with the lens stopped full down to f/32 (f/22 on the Takumar).

Sharpness at maximum aperture test - lens mounted on an Olympus OM-D - f/32 | 3.2 sec | ISO 200
Canon 200mm f/4 FD
Sharpness at maximum aperture test - mounted on an Olympus OM-D - f/32 | 3.2 sec | ISO 200
Nikkor 200mm f/4 AI
Small aperture sharpness test - Pentax SMC 200mm f/4 mounted on an Olympus OM-D - f/32 | 3.2 sec | ISO 200
Pentax K 200mm f/4
Sharpness at maximum aperture test - mounted on an Olympus OM-D - f/22 1 | 3.2 sec | ISO 200
Takumar 200mm f/5.6

Each lens is capable of producing pleasing bokeh, as well as sharp images, although at the smallest aperture lenses appear limited by diffraction. Another issue to be aware of is chromatic aberration, which seems to affect each lens differently. These lenses are particularly appealing when the second hand price is taken into account, as it is often 1/10th or even 1/100th of what you would pay for new versions of these lenses. If you have a favourite combination of camera and vintage lens, why not let us know.

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