Well Happy Birthday to me. A little while back Your Humble Filmosaur celebrated the day of his hatching and emergence into the stark terror of life (it does in some ways seem an odd thing to celebrate, but that’s a discussion for another time…). In acknowledgement of the dubious achievement of my continued survival, among my gifts were a pair of lenses for my trusty Pentax SFX, an SMC-A 50/2 and the SMC-M 200/4 I’ll be showcasing here.
In spite of having owned it longer than any other camera, the SFX is much newer than most of my collection; I got it new in or around 1989. For a while I had only the kit lens, a 35-70 zoom with macro. This was later supplemented with a 100-300 Sigma. Both were adequate for my limited needs, and I shot many rolls with them over the years. But since moving into more serious photography, I’ve become a devotee of prime lenses, and as such it seemed only right to get some for my old friend.
Manual focus Pentax SMC lenses are cheap and plentiful, and as it is well-established fact that I have no particular need for autofocus, this was deemed the way to go. A 50 of some sort was an obvious choice – it’s my preferred focal length for general purpose use – and a 200 offers considerably greater reach than the 135 I have for rangefinder use without being overly cumbersome.
The 200/4 has six elements in five groups, comes with a built-in hood, and is pretty lightweight and easy to handle. Since mine is the M version, the only modes available are aperture priority and full manual – not really an issue for me, as I rarely shoot out of manual anyway – and of course there’s no autofocus. The very wide focusing ring is easy to grip and makes using the lens feel very natural right out of the box.
The photos I have taken in just the first few rolls show just how sharp this lens can be. Very good across the frame, especially stopped down a bit. Color is bright and clear, with relatively high saturation and contrast (at least compared to my generally older rangefinder lens options). No signs of flare thus far, but that’s not terribly surprising given the depth of the lens hood and the quality of Pentax’s Super Multi-Coating. A sample or two will be along presently.