Auto Optomax telephoto lens on Sony Nex 6

This is a review of the vintage m42 Auto Optomax 200mm f/3.5 telephoto lens when used on a Sony Nex 6 mirrorless camera.

This was another cheap lens which I picked up from EBay UK a few weeks ago. It’s a fixed focal length 200mm telephoto lens with a maximum aperture of f3.5 and a minimum aperture of f/22. The aperture is made of 6 blades so any bokeh will be less than perfectly circular. I found a technical description of the lens on the M42 lens data site, and discovered that there have been a few variation of the lens. I bought it because after I saw it on ebay, I did a quick search on flickr for some sample images and was quite impressed with the results.

The lens actually took a long time to turn up because it was on a 5 day delivery and then the courier managed to loose it! Fortunately the seller was very good and after some searching in the couriers premises it was found and arrived about a week later.

This is a simple lens to use. There is simply an aperture ring and a focus ring to adjust and an Auto/Manual switch (although on my Nex I simply leave this set to Manual so the lens stops down as I adjust the aperture ring). The aperture ring clicks on full stops only – there are no half stops. The focus ring is smooth and well damped and focuses easily over it’s useable range which is about 3.5M to infinity.

There were a few small specs of dust inside the lens but no more than is usual for an M42 lens which must have been made about the mid 1970’s.

Performance

I have to say that the performance of this lens leaves a lot to be desired. Although it improves as the lens stops down it’s hardly stellar and even though it was a cheap lens (about £16) I would say there are probably better lenses for a similar price. The images look soft wide open and lack contrast. Of course it could be my particular example – the images I saw on flickr for this lens were significantly better than any I’ve obtained

The pictures below were taken in my garden at the different apertures the lens offers and were actually about the best of any of the images I took.

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