200mm Lens Test & Overview. Part 1 (Hanimar, Chinon, Optimax, Prinzgalaxy)

It is time for my second test so far. This I quickly tested 4 very cheap 200mm primes, all 4 in very easily adaptable M42 mount.  200mm is a nice long focal length for video, anything longer and camera starts go become very shaky, so for the long shots 200mm is one of the best choices. Back in a day, 200mm along was found any every big camera manufacturer’s range.  There are so many 200s out there. I have bought about 10 myself for my research. They are very easy to get hold of and most are very cheap. Like I mentioned in my previous post, old photo lenses have some great advantages over the modern EF lenses, but at the end of the day the optical quality matters the most.

Well, I tested the first 4 and I’m not crazy about the results. I shot everything on a very dull, humid, hazy day, which didn’t help the contrast and colours. Everything was shot with a neutral profile and all footage is ungraded.

Let’s look at the results of each lens:

Hanimar 200mm f/3.5.  This a well built lens, with a nice focusing ring, but optically it is very poor, not only the contrast and colours are not impressive, but the sharpens is also very poor with loads of CA. I bought it for only £10, so if you only have £10 to spend and you don’t have anything in this range, it might be better than nothing at all, but there are better lenses out there that can be bought for around £10, so for me this lens scores 2 out of 5.
Chinon 200mm f/3.5. Quite a decent lens, well build, has inbuilt adjustable hood. Nicest looking lens out of 4.  Optically for me it is also the best. Best clarity, contrast and colours, sharpness is decent too. Still looks quite washed out, but I believe that is due to the weather conditions.  This lens assembled in the same was as Nikon lenses. It focuses in the same direction and aperture is adjusted in opposite direction from another 3 lenses. This could be great if you are a Nikon lens user, but for me,  this sort of construction doesn’t really work, especially when using follow focus. I paid less than £10 for my one, but average price on eBay is slightly higher, still well worth the money though. I would give this lens 4 out of 5
Optimax 200mm f/3.5. Very similar to the Chinon above. Similar build quality, also with the lens hood, but it’s quite loose and the aperture blades are stuck and only close a little, which is a problem with my particular copy, should not apply to every Optimax 200mm out there. Optically it is also very similar to Chinon, just a touch darker.  Overall good alternative to Chinon, but due to the problems with my particular copy I would only score it 3 out of 5.

Prinzgalaxy 200mm f/4.5.  This lens is very different from the other 3. First of all it is much slower at f/4.5. The lens also looks different and has different construction. The good points of this lens are: the fluid aperture adjustment, great fox fine-tuning exposure during the recording (just like on Cine-lenses) and 16 blade aperture. Unfortunately all of that makes little sense with this lens, firstly because this is very, very stiff; both focusing and aperture adjustment requires a lot of effort, which means you can’t really easily fine-tune anything. The 16 blade aperture also makes little sense since this lens is so slow that you probably wouldn’t close the aperture too often to take advantage of all these blades.  The problems don’t end the, optically it is also quite poor, very low contrast, in result washed out colours too. Sharpness is ok, but overall, this lens is not really worth looking at, considering that it costs about the same as the other 3. I give it 1 out 5. Unless you can pick one up for no more than £5, I wouldn’t recommend buying it.

My conclusion: The 2 lenses that stand out  are Chinon and Optimax, but even they are not brilliant, at least no in this test. I used Chinon on one corporate shoot and it actually performed very well along side Helios 135mm, which in my previous test looked much punchier, so I think the colours and contrast would have been much better in better lighting conditions.

I think both Chinon and Optimax are worth the money you would pay for them. They are 10 times cheaper than any modern equivalent, but certainly not 10 times worse. I still have at least another 4-5 200mm lenses to test and review including a very exciting Pentax 200mm f/2.5, which is one of the most expensive vintage lenses I bought, but still very cheap comparing to any modern equivalent, so expect another 2-3 videos on 200mm lenses.  Next up though, I will do a quite test of Nikon 50mm f/1.4 and more group test of 28mm and 50mm lenses. If you guys want see any other specific tests, let me know.

I try my best to make this website a great resource people interested in vintage lenses for video use, so I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and it will help you save some money on your future lens investments. I’ve joined the ebay partnership program to help me run this website and fund my monthly lens giveaways, so if you found this post useful and would like to help me produce more similar content, please use the links in this post if you’re planning to buy one of these lenses or use this link if you want to buy anything else on eBay. You will not be spending a penny more using these links, while still helping me as I will get a small percentage from any purchase or successful bid you make. A win-win solution for everyone!

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