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Adapted 200mm f4 Lens Shootout

In search of a light, small, sharp telephoto lens for landscapes!

How much photography gear do you carry?  I’m always wanting to bring more than I can fit or carry and one big item that often gets left behind because it takes up a lot of space and weight is a telephoto lens.  So I’ve been searching for an option to use with my Sony A7 series cameras and here is my latest experiment…adapted manual focus 200mm f/4 primes.

For this experiment I went a bit wild on ebay and picked up three 200mm f/4 prime lenses that were often mentioned in various forums as being good cheap landscape lenses.  If you have never tried adapting older lenses I highly recommend it.  It is a great way to try out new focal lengths and satisfy that urge to buy new gear but at very low prices.  They are somewhat inconvenient with manual focus, no exif information, no lens stabilization, and requiring an adapter but for landscapes and creative exploration they are very useable.

 From left to right: Nikon Ai-s Nikkor 200mm f/4 (1.38 lbs), Canon new FD 200mm f/4 (1.20 lbs), Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM (3.26 lbs), and Olympus OM Zuiko MC Auto-T 200mm f/4 (1.35 lbs)

From left to right: Nikon Ai-s Nikkor 200mm f/4 (1.38 lbs), Canon new FD 200mm f/4 (1.20 lbs), Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM (3.26 lbs), and Olympus OM Zuiko MC Auto-T 200mm f/4 (1.35 lbs)

I purchased these all from Japan in mint condition and unboxed them a week later and admired the solid construction and similar design of all three lenses.  The Olympus and Nikon felt nearly identical while the Canon was a bit lighter but the focus was a bit too loose for my taste which was concerning as the Canon was my initial preference due to the smallest size and lowest weight.

 From left to right (filter size): Nikon Ai-s Nikkor 200mm f/4 (52mm), Canon new FD 200mm f/4 (49mm), Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM (77mm), and Olympus OM Zuiko MC Auto-T 200mm f/4 (55mm)

From left to right (filter size): Nikon Ai-s Nikkor 200mm f/4 (52mm), Canon new FD 200mm f/4 (49mm), Sony 70-200 f/2.8 GM (77mm), and Olympus OM Zuiko MC Auto-T 200mm f/4 (55mm)

Unable to wait after unboxing I put all three to the test in my backyard and took images of the fence at f/4, f/8, and f/16.  The result?  Unfortunately the lighter Canon was the worst performer.  The Nikon and Olympus were very similar and even compared on par with the Sony 70-200 FE f/2.8 GM.

So I had found two 200mm f/4 lenses that I was happy with the image quality but holding them I started to doubt there was much to be gained in space/weight savings.  I looked up the Sony 70-300 FE f/4.5-5.6 specs and found the weight savings to be only a half a pound.  Therefore it looks like I will by buying the Sony 70-300 FE f/4.5-5.6 again but I’ll also keep the Nikon Ai-s Nikkor 200mm f/4.  I’m playing around with other Nikon f mount adapted lenses so as long as I have the adapter I’ll keep it and give it a try on my next hiking trip.

100% center crops below. Corners were not significantly different.

 f/4: Left Olympus, Right Canon

f/4: Left Olympus, Right Canon

 f/4: Left Olympus, Right Nikon

f/4: Left Olympus, Right Nikon

 f/4: Left Sony, Right Nikon

f/4: Left Sony, Right Nikon

 f/8: Left Olympus, Right Nikon

f/8: Left Olympus, Right Nikon

 f/8: Left Nikon, Right Sony

f/8: Left Nikon, Right Sony

Thomas MoorsComment