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Pentax SMC A* Macro 200/4

by Paal Jensen, 1998


The Pentax-A* 200/4 ED Macro is one of the legendary Pentax lenses, with an almost mythical reputation. It is very difficult to find on the used market and I've even seen several for sale converted to Canon EOS mount.

Build

As usual with Pentax manual focus lenses the Pentax-A* 200/4 ED Macro is very well built, with an all metal construction and a sturdy, removable tripod mount. The lens is provided with a hood of the built-in, sliding type and comes in a leather hard case. It takes 58mm filters.

Optical

The lens is a 10 element 9 group construction featuring ED (extra low dispersion) glass. The lens is a true macro lens capable of focusing down to life size (1:1) magnification. Results are razor sharp with best resolution I have ever seen in any 35mm SLR lens. Its not only brilliant when used as a macro lens, but even more so when used as an ordinarily telephoto lens focused at infinity. The lens also work exceptionally well with Pentax converters, giving you a 400mm macro lens with superb optical quality. There's very quality little difference between the apertures.

Handling

The lens weighs close to 900g and handling is straightforward. Focusing is optimised for the macro range, consequently it can be difficult to focus precisely near the infinty mark. Autofocus is not very useful for most macro work hence the lack of AF is no big issue - if the lens is mainly used for macro. The lens is particularily useful for shooting insects where the 200mm focal length provides a comfortable working distance. The tripod mount makes it easy to mount the camera/lens combination on a tripod and also makes it simple to take verticals. The tripod mount can also be used for screwing in flash brackets making subject/flash distance shorter, something that can be useful when using such a long macro lens at small apertures.

Compatibility

The lens is 100% compatible with all Pentax K-mount bodies. The only thing you loose when using it on auto focus bodies is auto focus. Some Pentax bodies gives you the option of trap-in focus.

Price

Although such a lens always is going to be expensive, the Pentax-A* 200/4 ED Macro is very competitively priced and worth every penny.

In August 1998 some of the photo.net recommended retailers were listing this lens for around 950 USD.

Conclusion

I don't like to hype products, but the Pentax-A* 200/4 ED macro lens deserves its reputation. You do not need to take my word for it - the lens was recently (spring 1998) tested in a German photo magazine and found better than both the new Nikon 200/4 Macro and the Canon 180/3.5 Macro lenses. Those who know these lenses realise what an achievement that was.

Editor's Note:

Where to Buy

The SMC Macro 200 is stocked by Adorama, a retailer that pays photo.net a referral fee for each customer, which helps keep this site in operation. For additional retailer information, see our recommended retailers page and the user recommendations section.


copyright 1998 Paal Jensen

Article created 1998

Readers' Comments


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greg parker , December 11, 2000; 01:06 P.M.

This lens has been discontinued and is no longer available from pentax.

ben conover , March 15, 2006; 05:25 P.M.

I need one, great for details. Would work like a dream on the LX. Excellent review above.

Cheers.


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