Social Distance Photowalk with a Pentax 200mm f4

We’re in the days of social distancing, I’m not doing headshots, but I want to shoot my vintage 200mm lens. It was a sunny day here in paradise, I figured I would hit the woods. I knew I wouldn’t see too many people. I went out there with my Fujifilm X-T1 and a bag full Pentax M42 lens, but I while strolling among the trees, I thought it would be fun to just shoot with the Pentax Super-Takumar 200mm f4. Just to see how I could do. It meant focusing on details. This was an interesting experiment.

Can I Photowalk with a 200mm Lens on a Crop-Sensor Camera?

Sort of. I bought this lens at my local camera shop, it was a good deal, so I bought it. I have only used it once or twice on my Pentax Spotmatic F 35mm camera. I like it. It’s a good lens. However, it is a bit impractical for every day use. This 200mm f4 lens on a crop sensor body is like have a 300mm f6.3ish lens on a full frame camera.

A big problem was the t-stop of this lens. It’s a dark lens, not just the f-stop, but it’s such a long lens, light has to travel a long way to hit the sensor. It may be an f4, but it’s probably t6. I shot most of the time at 640 iso.

I spent hours walking very slowly through the trails looking for interesting tight shots. The Pentax also has a minimum focus distance of 8.2 feet (2,5 meters). This offered another level of challenge. I had extension tubes with me, but in the shadows I was already shooting wide open at f4. The tubes, tend to eat light. I had to look at the scenery in a different way. Aside from running into the occasional bird, the trees and the foliage are pretty interesting.

This reinforced my belief that forcing limitations on yourself pushes creativity. Sometimes having too many options is not ideal.

When I got home and went through the pictures, a lot of the images exhibited camera shake in varying degrees of horrible. The general rule-of-thumb for minimum shutter speed with long lenses, is the shutter speed should not be slower than 1 over the focal-length = 1/200th, you also have to calculate the crop factor for the calculation. So in this case, the shutter should be no slower than 1/300. This lens weighs in at over a pound, that’s a fair bit of weight. My set up; X-T1, L-bracket, battery, lens adapter, lens, and hood weighs in at a portly 2.8 pounds (1260 grams). That may not seem like a lot, carrying that around for a couple of hours takes it toll. Camera shake is not too far behind

Next time I attempt this experiment with a 200mm (I’m going to do the same test with the Nikkor Q-C 200mm f4) I will have to shoot no lower than 800 iso in daylight to keep my shutter speed up and have a decent depth-of-field.

I still had fun.

About the lens

Super-Takumar 200mm F4

Optics5 elements, 5 groups
Lens MountM42
Weight1.2lbs. (550g)
Diameter x Length2.5in (64.5mm) x 5.35in (136mm)
Min. Focus8.2ft (2,5m)
Max. Aperture4
Min. Aperture22
Production Years1965—1971
The good folks over at Pentax Forums provided the data above, but they have a more detailed chart of two versions of this lens.

As you can tell, from the chart, this is a large and heavy lens. While it would have been beneficial to have a tripod. That was not in the cards for this trip.

Here are some pictures I took on my stroll through the woods.

Some final thoughts

Having a 200mm lens in your bag can be handy. Photowalking with it as your only lens on a crop sensor body, I don’t know. I found it tough. It’s not a typical field of view for photowalking, trying to pick out a narrow scene can be difficult.

If you are like me and you feel like you’re neglecting your vintage 200mm lens, go ahead and take it out for a spin.

I wrote a similar post a while back about photowalking with a 135mm lens.

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