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Which 200mm M42 lens would you choose?

Kevin Cotham , Mar 15, 2007; 05:40 a.m.

I'm post this here because the M42 is so often called a Pentax thread mount and these lenses are often used with Pentax Spotmatics.

I am trying to choose between three 200mm M42 lenses and I was wondering if you guys could help. Also, if you know anything about the actual manufacturers of these lenses, I'd be greatly appreciative. The first lens is a Vivitar 200mm F/3.5 Auto Telephoto #28610273. The second is a Soligor TELE-AUTO 200mm, F3.5 #17100327. The last is a lens marked AUTO-ALPA, Multi-Coated, For ALPA Swiss, 1:3.5 200mm. It's #2540049 and is made in Japan as is the other two. I've found a little bit out about the Vivitar, but not the other two.

I'm looking at which is going to produce the sharpest, most contrasty images, etc. I'm also looking at which of these will be the most reliable. I use M42 lenses with a variety of cameras, a Zenit 122, Zenit ET, Pentax Spotmatic II, and the most recent of my acquisitions is my Voigtländer Bessaflex TM. Thanks in advance for any info you can give me.


Mike Earussi , Mar 15, 2007; 06:37 a.m.

I'm unfamiliar with the other two as well, but if the Vivitar ia a series 1 it should be a very good lens.

Mick Evans , Mar 15, 2007; 11:23 a.m.

The serial number of the Vivtar seems to suggest that it was manufactured for Vivtar by the japanese company KOMINE.

Personally, my favourite M42 at 200mm is the Meyer-Optik/Pentacon Orestegor 200/4.


Jeff Adler , Mar 16, 2007; 09:48 a.m.

In M42 mount I have a 200/4 Super Takumar, two Vivitar 200/3.8 Fixed Mount (28XXX...), an older Mamiya Sekor 200/3.5 and a 200/3 Vivitar Series 1. I also have a 200/3.5 Vivitar T4 lens and a Vivitar 200/3.5 TX with adapters for M42. The Super Takumar is nice even if it's a little slow. The 200/3.5 Vivitars are very nice. I think all of the lenses Komine made for Vivitar (starting with 28) are good. The 200/3 Series 1 is bright to look through, very sharp and focuses to 4 feet. I believe the Alpa lens you mention was made by Chinon. I have the 50/1.7 M42 Alpa (Made In Japan) lens and it's very nice. The 200 Alpa lens is prettier than the others but of te ones you mention I would get the Vivitar. If you can get the 200 Alpa lens for not too much money I would sell it to a nutty Alpa M42 collector and use the proceeds to buy a Vivitar 200/3 Series 1. The cameras you have do not have very bright viewfinders so a faster lens (at least f/3.5) will be helpful.

Jeff Adler , Mar 16, 2007; 10:37 a.m.

Oops! That should read 200mm f/3.5 Vivitar.

Andrew Robertson , Mar 16, 2007; 12:32 p.m.

I chose the Super-Takumar 200 f/4.

Marco Bertagnini , Mar 16, 2007; 06:51 p.m.

I don't know the lenses you mentioned. I'm using two 200mm in M42 mount: the SMC Takumar f4 and the Tamron f3.5 (with custom mount). I rather the Takumar because its color rendition and bokeh. Hope this could help.

Kevin Cotham , Mar 20, 2007; 11:16 p.m.

Jeff Adler, I appreciate your feed back. In fact, I appreciate all of you guys' feed back. But Jeff, you are quite wrong about the view finders of all my cameras not being bright. It's certainly true of the Spotmatic II and the Argus, but not so true of the Zenits. And the Bessaflex TM has probably the brightest viewfinder of any camera I've seen. It's brighter then the FM3A I own!

I haven't found any info on the lens marked "For Alpa Swiss" or for the Soligor. The Vivitar seems like it may have the rubber coating missing from the focus collar, but otherwise okay. The "For Alpa Swiss" lens is new old stock, in perfect condition. The Soligor looks to be in good shape too, except for one thing. When you stop it down, and look at the aperture, it's oblong, not a perfectly symmetrical polygon like the others. Defect? Odd design?

Peter , Mar 29, 2007; 07:27 a.m.

If you can get your hands on one you really should consider the Pentax SMC 200mm f3.5. I have seen the MTF curve on this baby from an old 1970's era camera mag and it confirms what users already know - it is a lens of unbelievable optical quality. Like most Pentax screw mount lenses it does have a tendancy to need its aperture serviced as it gets sticky.

Sebastien Lallement , Mar 29, 2007; 07:37 a.m.

2.8/180mm Zeiss Sonnar, M42 or Pentacon Six mount + adapter.



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