Pentacon 4/200 lens review – nice telephoto for 40$

Are you looking for a nice 200mm telephoto lens that doesn’t break the bank? Take a look at this vintage East-German production, the rebranded successor of the Meyer Optik Görlitz Orestegor 200mm F4 lens. Seeing is believing, so check out the video for image and video samples!

This is the older version with 15 aperture blades. Do not get the newer and inferior ‘auto mc’ 6 blade version. The lens has a simple 5 elements in 5 groups design with an all-metal body, but the weight at 600g or 1.3lbs is more than one might expect. The M42 mount requires one of the ubiquitous and low-cost, bulky adapters to mirrorless cameras.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Pentacon 4/200 adapted to a Fuji X-M1

We have two cameras: an Olympus E-PL5 (m4/3) and a Fuji X-M1 (APS-C). Note that I do not have a digital full frame camera, so corners will be cropped and we are looking mostly at center sharpness.

Check out my Flickr set with this lens for full images. What about resolution, contrast, colors and handling? Well, overall performance is quite good in particular considering the price. Take a closer look at the following sample images.

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Nice sharpness at F8 (Olympus E-PL5 m4/3)
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Softer rendering against the evening sun at F4 (Fuji X-M1)
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Details at F8 (Olympus E-PL5 m4/3)

Resolution is quite okay at F4 and high at F8, maybe not as high as expensive modern telephoto lenses but very serviceable for most uses. More importantly colors and contrast feel nice and well balanced overall. Bokeh feels smooth and unobtrusive as much as you can get from a F4 aperture lens. I did not feel the urge to do additional editing or corrections in Lightroom with this lens.

This lens does not have a mounting point for a tripod, so it will put some stress on your camera mount and I recommend to hold the lens not the camera. Focus and aperture are of course fully manual and both rings turn quite smooth considering the age of this lens. Working with this manual lens felt more methodical and thoughtful (read: slow) compared to a modern, snappy superzoom camera.

Shooting at F8 may require increased ISO settings or lower shutter speeds and having sensor stabilization would be a nice addition. The evening image above was shot at F4, ISO 400 and 1/60s with the camera rested on a tree stump.

There is a weakness wide open at F4 for low contrast, glow and chromatic aberrations under unfavorable circumstances as you can see in the next image. So try to avoid shooting against bright sunlight unless you like these imperfections.

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Glow and chromatic aberrations under unfavorable circumstances

What about the moon? Let me add an old 10$ Vivitar 2x teleconverter to achieve 800mm equivalent on my Olympus and we get this usable image (cropped). You can check out my article about the Walimex 8/500 for comparison.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The moon at 800mm eq. with a 2x teleconverter (cropped)

In summary: this lens is a heavy metal piece with good resolution, nice contrast, well balanced colors at a low price. A comparable alternative would be the Asahi Takumar 4/200mm.

Thanks for reading! You can check out more of this blog or my YouTube channel.

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