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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.