Lens Spotlight: K200 - Jason Doss

Lens Spotlight

smc Pentax-K 200mm f/2.5

When I purchased this lens, I was excited because I thought it was an exotic piece of glass that I was purchasing from a fellow Pentaxian in an exotic (for me) location;  Finland.  How cool would it be to show up at the post office and get a specialized piece of photographic equipment from some place like Finland?  Imagine what that lens has seen.

The lens did not disappoint with regard to its physical presence.  This was the largest lens I had at the time by a factor of two, or maybe even three.  It hung off the APS-C cameras I had at the time like Pinocchio's nose if he were a politician.  It was (and remains) huge.  The lens is in good, but not stellar condition, however, with a few scratches and dents in the built-in hood.  These days, I never would have purchased such a defective thing (said with sarcasm), however as far as i can tell, no defects exist in the function, glass, or image quality.  

The lens is 950 grams (2.1 pounds) and, focused at infinity, 145 mm long (5.7 inches) and has 8 aperture blades and 77 mm filter threads. The fast aperture of f/2.5 is the fastest 200mm lens Pentax ever made, but only by a third of a stop. The lens has a built-in sliding lens hood and the usual aperture ring and a rubberized grip for easy manual focusing. Minimum focus distance is 200 cm (6.6 ft) producing 1:7.7 reproduction ratio (0.13x).

Now that we have the full frame Pentax K-1 mII, this lens finally balances well if not perfectly on a camera. The only significant flaw in handling that I can site, which is significant only to some, is that there is no tripod foot on the lens. There should be no expectation of vibration-free photography if you mount this camera on your tripod via the camera tripod socket. There are products that exist that can re-position the center of gravity closer towards the lens (ie, a longer bar slash QR plate), but you'll need to make sure it contacts the lens in order to dampen vibrations.

After all that, let me say that I hardly ever use tripods.  But that will change as my interest in super-telephoto lenses begins to grow.  That's another story altogether, so let's just say that, for now, all photos I've taken at 300mm or wider were either handheld with no support other than opportunistic use of something like a wall, tree, car roof, or something to brace either myself or the camera.  All of these shots which I present to you now were done hand-held with zero support... just excellent technique and control of shutter speed.

At the top, we have a young deer.  She is part of a family (mom and three kids) who have been frequenting our front yard in order to snack upon the bounty of acorns from one of our gigantic oak trees.  They have been growing bolder and bolder, and just the other day two of the kids were spotted eating off the steps of our front porch, while my wife and I and our two dogs were all watching.  This shot was taken through the glass door at or close to wide open.  Note the fairly good subject isolation, pleasing background bokeh, and relatively sharp detail on the deer, who's eyes were the focus targets.

Center panel is a decent example of two weeks past-peak autumn colors in fabulous Newton County, Arkansas, specifically the Steel Creek campground with the huge limestone bluffs in the background.  This is such a magical and beautiful place that I'm not going to tell you where this is so that there won't be a mad rush of tourists to come.  I have some more shots, taken on the same day with my K15f3.5.

Bottom frame we see what is known as a frost flower.  I'd never heard of these until maybe a week before when my wife mentioned that was hoping to see one this year.  i figured it was just a flower with frost on it, and wondered how she had avoided such a thing for so long.  What I discovered is that frost flowers are phenomenon where freezing plants, usually grass awns, emit water thru their stems which freezes on contact with the humid air.  What occurs is that the vapors begin to form ribbons and sheets that are as unique as snowflakes.  What I did not know at the time was that this occurs one time per grass awn per year.  I did not know this at the time: if I did, then I'd have definitely gone back for a macro lens because these were fantastically beautiful and deserved more attention.  So, what you have are available light shots taken at or close to closest focus distance, which on this lens isn't all that hot (see above).  Nevertheless, given the scenario, I think this and some of the others were successful.

Again, click any photo to see larger versions, and leave a comment!

That's all I have for now... See you next time.

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