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Thread: A note on Mamiya 200s

  1. #1
    Sr. Administrator Jack's Avatar
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    Oct 2007
    Los Altos, CA
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    A note on Mamiya 200s

    I was recently asked what my experiences with Mamiya lenses around the 200mm focal were. I have owned several of the popular options, so thought it benefit others if I wrote up a brief synopsis. The options I have experience with are the 210 f4 ULD AF lens, the 105-210 f4.5 ULD AF Zoom and the 200 f2.8 APO manual focus lens. I have also owned the 150 f3.5 AF and currently own the 150 f2.8 AF-D lens as well as the 75-150 AF-D Zoom so can make some relative comparisons.

    200 f2.8 APO manual focus. Note that these are all manual lenses so you need to do stop-down metering and manually set your desired aperture as well as manually focus. Mamiya or Phase body focus confirmation dots will indicate proper focus with this lens.

    At f2.8, the lens is sharp but slightly lower contrast than when stopped down. Not bad, just lower than when stopped down. DoF is paper -- make that razor -- thin at f2.8 and portrait distances, so precise focus is a must. By f5.6 the lens resolves better than my P45+ sensor, and shows excellent contrast. Ditto at f8 and f11. F16 starts to show diffraction, but the image quality is still excellent. Distortion seems very well controlled. I would add that this lens performs on par with my excellent Mamiya 150 f2.8 AF-D lens.

    2XN converter. According to the compatibility sheet that came with the converter, it is usable on the 200/2.8 APO. I did a quick test over lunch at f2.8, 5.6 and 11 with both combos and here is what I can tell you; 2X mounted at f2.8, still usably sharp, but lower on contrast -- again not horrible, just notable compared to same set stopped down. 2X mounted at f5.6, almost as sharp as without converter and maintains excellent contrast. Ditto for f11. Along high-contrast edges, the combination with converter does show some lateral CA. Note that this is not visible in the lens by itself, so it is likely a converter artifact. Fortunately, the C1 CA tool removes it entirely. Some notable barrel distortion is present when using the converter.

    Some other bits. At f2.8 with or without converter, the image is so bright on the screen that metering gets skewed to under-expose by over stop so you really need to use the histogram. By f5.6 it appeared to meter normally. Depending on the series of AFD body you use, the manual metering pattern sometimes defaults to spot only, so care needs to be taken if relying on your meter. Again, my recommendation is to use your histogram to confirm exposure. One downside is this lens’ MFD (Minimum Focus Distance) is a rather long-ish 2 meters, where its counterparts are 1.5 meters. 1.5 meters is enough to allow for a tight head-shot with a 200, but 2 meters makes getting a tight portrait tough unless you add a short extension tube. I always carry the Mamiya NA401 12mm extension tube and it works great with the 200 APO for most “people” shooting distances. The lens is about the same size as the 150/2.8 and fits easily in a regular lens slot in my bag. The 2XN instruction sheet also indicates it works with the manual version of the 120 Macro as well as the manual 50mm shift lens, so some possibly interesting things to explore there. Note that the 2X converter has no electronics so it will not work with AF lenses. In short, my opinion is this is a very good and relatively inexpensive combo for both 200 and 400 focals.

    210 f4 ULD AF. This lens is also very good optically, and exhibits similar lower contrast wide open to the 200 APO, and is basically as sharp and contrasty from f8 and up. Distortion is similarly low like the 200 APO, though it does exhibit a slight bit of CA along high contrast edges -- which again is easily cleaned up in C1. In other words, an excellent option if you don’t need the optical speed of the f2.8 APO and/or prefer AF. Note also that in practical use f2.8 at portrait distances generates an almost impossibly thin DoF for practical purposes, so an f4 limit is not necessarily that bad. But on the other side, the look you get with f2.8 is decidedly unique.

    105-210 f4.5 ULD AF Zoom. A decent performer when stopped down to f11 or more, but exhibits some distortion throughout the zoom range. Contrast is lower than the above primes until about f11 where it clears up nicely. Resolution on my copy was better at the long end than the short end, and fell just shy of either prime’s performance at the 210 setting. It is certainly very good, especially for a zoom, as long as you don’t expect prime performance from it. It is relatively compact being only slightly longer than the 210 f4 prime. I think it’s an excellent option for someone who wants the added versatility of a zoom and only needs the longer focal lengths on occasion. The 75-150 zoom is clearly a better performer, being very good throughout the zoom range from f8 and up, but that lens also costs several times as much.

    So here is my general conclusion, and interestingly all three options cost about the same amount if you buy used:

    * If I did not have the 75-150 zoom, I would probably go with the 105-210 AF zoom and forget about the 200 primes.

    * If I really didn't like zooms, and planned on using the 210 length with any regularity, OR did not have a 150 prime, I would get the 210 AF ULD.

    * If I only needed 200mm on occasion, or felt I had to have the shallowest DoF possible regardless of the relative inconveniences in use, and/or felt I wanted the extra reach of a 400 on occasion, I would get the 200 APO, the NA 401 tube (the AF one works on the manual lenses) and the matching 2xN converter.

    I fell into the latter category for my use requirements and settled on the manual 200 APO -- at least for now. I own the 150/2.8 as my fast head-shot lens, so the 200 only comes out for landscape when I need the extra reach over my 75-150 zoom. The 2x is a plus for extra reach as is the paper-thin DoF, so I felt the added benefits somewhat compensate for dealing with the inconveniences of an all manual lens.


    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Nov 2007
    Melbourne, Australia
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    Re: A note on Mamiya 200s

    Interesting reading Jack - thanks for your efforts.


  3. #3

    Re: A note on Mamiya 200s

    I've recently read that Mamiya Sekor AF 150mm f/2.8 IF D is Mamiyas fastest telephoto lens. The use of low-dispersion glass allows correction of chromatic aberration and produces critically accurate color and high contrast images from infinity to the closest focusing distance. With an angle of view of 26 degrees, the lens is equivalent to a 93mm telephoto lens in the 35mm format. The minimum focusing distance is 3.3 feet, which is 1.8 feet closer than the existing AF 150mm f/3.5 lens. The use of internal focusing (IF) makes the lens extremely well balanced and perfect for hand-held photography. Autofocus and manual focus functions are easily selected with one-touch action; simply move the focusing ring backwards or forwards. With shallow depth of field and close focusing capabilities, its ideal for portrait photography.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Shepherdstown, WV USA
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    Re: A note on Mamiya 200s

    Jack, aprillove20, anyone else with the experience,

    I am curious about the mamiya 150 2.8 A ULD (manual focus). I would expect very low CA. How about sharpness, contrast, flair resistance?

    I would be using it on an 800e with an adapter, mostly for landscapes.

    I have several N series mamiya lenses, some are remarkably good (80 2.8 and the 300 5.6 ULD), all are largely free of CA, light, and small for their focal length. And the price was right. These are subjective evaluations, I use mostly Zeiss ZF and CY lenses (for context).


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