As I said in my previous blog post the lens I'm going to write about in this post couldn't be more different, compared to the 50mm macro lens. This lens is huge, heavy, build like tank and its focal length is for bringing subjects that are far away nearer. In stead of subjects that are nearby even closer. The lens I'm going to share my experiences of this time, is the Jupiter 21 200mm F4.
This lens probably weighs more than all my Micro Four Third lenses combined. A respectable 980 grams. As I make most of the pictures when I'm walking the dog, walks which are 1 to 2 hours long, this isn't (weight wise) the most ideal lens to take with me. Although it probably made me burn a couple more calories, which is a good thing.
One of the characteristics of a lens with this focal length is background compression, which causes elements in a landscape to appear closer to each other and/or closer to the viewer) than they really are. Making a landscape picture sometimes more interesting, then were it shot with a (more) wide angle lens. By the way, this 200mm lens, acts like a 400mm on my GX7, because of the 2x times crop factor.
The bushes and trees in this green alleyway seem to be very close to each other, making it all look much denser on photo than in reality, because of this compression.
The first day I tested the lens I didn't know it was a Jupiter 21 lens and wasn't at all aware of it's reputation concerning sharpness (I bought it weeks before Petapixel.com covered it). One of the first pictures I took was of my favorite model, my dog Nikki. When I saw the result I was blown away. This lens is indeed very sharp.
The contrast of the lens is also very good, adding to the perception of sharpness. But only as long as it isn't pointed into the light. Pointed into the light this lens loses much of it sharpness due to glare. Not unusual for old lenses, because of their less effective lens coating (compared to most modern lenses). Although this reduction in sharpness and haze, flare, glare (or whatever you wanna call it), can give nice effects in some circumstances adding a vintage look to the picture.
See the haze in this shot of a field full of fibers, shot with the lens pointed right into the direction of the sun while it was setting, as was the shot of the purple thistle below.
The infinity focus of this lens is not its strong point. Objects far away just aren't that sharp. Stopping down the aperture also doesn't seem to make a lot of difference. It is sharp enough to make an okay picture, but don't expect to be blown away. That's my experience with the lens I have at least.
An aperture of F4 doesn't promise a very shallow depth of field, but it's much shallower than you might expect on a 200mm lens. This can make getting a subject into focus (at F4) quite tricky. Especially with a manual focus lens this heavy, making it difficult to hold still.
When shooting subjects relatively up close, while the aperture is wide open, the out of focus parts blur away in a sea of smooth bokeh.
Normally I don't place the full res versions of photos on my website. But just to illustrate the exceptional sharpness of this lens, I uploaded the photo below in high resolution.
Finally a short video I shot with this lens. Quite a challenge to say the least. With this focal length, without IS, a heavy lens and no tripod, make getting a steady shot pretty difficult. So excuse the wobbliness caused by the camera shake.
This lens is a great portrait lens. It's sharp and wide open everything out of focus melts away in the background. It has one great disadvantage and that is its size and weight. It is so big and heavy, that it's not very convenient to take with you on trip. Also, infinity focus wil not be as sharp as you want it to be. Also because it's a (heavy) manual focus lens no bird or wildlife photography with this lens, unless they are slow moving creatures like the ducks in the video or sleeping lions in a zoo.
Is this lens a good buy or a goodbye lens. Well value wise I think it's a good buy. Even though I will probably rarely use this lens, as it's not really suitable for the kind of photography I normally do. But I'm glad to have it anyway.
Next blog and last part of this review series, a lens which seems average but has one stand out feature. We will see if that one feature will give it enough appeal.