|Closest Focusing||2.5 m|
|Max. Magnifcation||1:10 (0.1x)|
|Filter Size||55 mm|
|Diameter x Length||67 x 133 mm|
|Weight||675 gr (1.49 lb)|
The Vietnam War, whatever the nature of that conflict, proved to be one of the last great events covered by the still camera photojournalist. Given that our involvement in it lasted from JFK to Gerald Ford, there was plenty of opportunity for print coverage and pictures. However, the men who took those pictures were a new generation, inspired by such past greats as W. Eugene Smith, Alfred Eisenstadt, David Douglas Duncan and Henri Cartier-Bresson, men who even if they were living, were no longer as active as they were in WW II and Korea. Still, even the new generation, in many cases, used the same tools as their predecessors. Thus many a photojournalist would enter a combat zone armed with black and white film, the Leica rangefinder camera (several, in fact) and assorted lenses. The Leica M was used for its quick responses and rugged construction, while black and white (usually an ASA 400 type such as Tri-X) was a media standard. However, it was quite common for many a photojournalist to supplement their Leicas with an SLR with a longer than 135mm telephoto lens. Usually this was a Nikon F with a 180mm Nikkor. This changed in 1971 when some combat ready photographers used a Canon F-1 with a 200mm f4. Now this may seem like trivia, but for Canon it was the breakthrough they needed. After all why spend 5 years developing a professional system that no professional would ever use? No, that did not happen to Canon for several reasons. The Canon F-1 body, with its good ergonomics, its built in meter, and sheer ruggedness was one. But why the 200mm f4. Well, it did offer another 20mm of reach, though that was not a compelling reason. As for the "slow" aperture, that was common for many a 200mm lens of that time. Yet there was one other reason as to why the Leica users would choose Canon as a companion, and that is that Canon FD lenses focus in the Leica direction. This alone would have mattered to a hard pressed photographer who was trying to get a good in focus shot that might be printed in Time, Newsweek or Life. In short, the camera man didn't have to change directions to get the picture. As for optical quality, well, they wouldn't have used it if it was a clunker. Also, the 200mm f4 was hand-holdable, at least in daylight. So, it did the job, and helped Canon establish a reputation with the "pros." As for finding one today - well mine showed up under a Christmas tree, much to my surprise. However, like any lense parts will wear out, though the brass double helical which focuses the lens is more durable than some others because brass is a better bearing surface. Still, it's worth holding one just to make sure it's not too loose. Finally, it comes with it's own lens hood, so make sure yours will have one also. Now, I well realize Canon made other, more valuable ( and pricey) 200mm lenses; first the 200 f2.8 and eventually the 200mm f1.8. Yet if you have an F-1, you should have this lens as part of your collection. For without an F-1 with a 200mm f4 slung over a photographer's shoulder, all the other Canon lenses might never have existed. End of story.
Extremly reasonable price and available anywhere.
I have not owned this lens as long as some of my other FD lenses, but I think this is a really nice lens. It can be had rather inexpensively, since it is f/4. The f/2.8 and f/1.8 models of the 200mm lens come at a great deal more cost and weight. They do provide shallower depth of field than is available with the f/4 version, which is one of the sacrifices this lens makes. Also it won't be as good in low-light situations.
With slower lenses like this, you must also be disciplined in your eye placement in the viewfinder, or you will find half of the split-prism to be blacked-out.
All things considered, this is a nice lens for getting into the 200mm focal length without breaking the bank. JR