Not talking about a Minolta lens for a change. For some time I’ve been wanting to get a macro 200mm lens because I like the telephoto perspective for close-ups, especially when it comes to smaller lenses. They just look better to me that way. And if you don’t want to spend a truckload of money options are few, effectively limited to a Nikon Micro-Nikkor 200/4 AI(S) or this Canon FD macro 200mm.
The lens extends quite a bit on focussing closer, but not as much as you’d expect for its life-size reproduction ratio. Looking inside you’ll see large movements of at least one lens group when focussing, indicating an advanced degree of internal focussing. I did some measurements of the effective focal length at various reproduction ratios (RR), which proved rather interesting: at RR 1 (life-size) it’s 180mm, going up to 205mm at RR 0.35 and decreasing again to 192mm for RR 0.22. I was half expecting a much lower value for RR 1, having 180mm at life-size is quite nice.
Such a lens is difficult to use without a tripod and so you’ll need a tripod mount, either at the adapter (to use it on e.g. a Sony A7) or on the lens itself. I got the lens without the tripod mount that it was sold with originally, but the seller told me that a mount for the Canon EF 70-200/4 would fit. Off to eBay to get a mount from Hong Kong for a few euros, problem solved!
Image quality didn’t disappoint. At large distances it’s even useable wide-open with just some loss of contrast, but quite sharp into the corners; stopping down to f/8 yields a fine image without apparent defects. However, purple fringing is persistent even on stopping down though not severe, it pays to correct for it in post (Lightroom CC in my case).
But I bought it for close-ups and also there it works well, provided you stop well down. I prefer to go to f/11 for optimum image quality and mostly to f/16 to gain depth of field; f/22 isn’t good enough to my taste and f/32 is close to awful, soft features and general loss of contrast.
A test at f/4. This piece of newspaper was placed in a slanted way such that the lower left and upper right corner are both in focus. You can click on the picture for a full-resolution image.
In my experience this setup tells you a lot more about close-up performance than photographing a flat target. For instance, it is visible here that there is some curvature of field: optimum sharpness should be along a straight line from left under to upper right but it isn’t. In practice that’s not a big deal unless you’re shooting a flat target. It’s much more important that a lens is able to form a sharp image outside the center and that’s what it does here even at f/4.
Also some “bokeh fringing” is visible: above optimum sharpness you’ll notice a green tinge and magenta below. Light fall-off is evident too, not surprising when wide-open but it persists to smaller apertures, continually decreasing across the whole aperture range.
This is at f/11.
You can see all test pictures in this gallery.