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Lens Or Anti Aircraft Missile? The Enormous Pentacon 300mm F/4 - Tried & Tested

Updated: Mar 24, 2023

As the title suggests, this is a review of the Pentacon 300mm F/4. It's been tried, it's been tested, it's given me a workout & a hefty left arm.


When this lens arrived on my doorstep, it's safe to say that I severely underestimated its size & weight when I confirmed my order of it.

So let's start with that first & get it out of the way.


This lens was designed for the Pentacon Six, which is why it's such a hefty beast, it weighs in at around 2.4KG, which makes it safe to say that it's not a lens that you want to be carrying around all day, especially if you're anything like me and very rarely make any use of a tripod or monopod, either because you live beyond your means and think you can always manage handheld (Like me) or because tripods just get in the way when you're walking through the country and you like to travel as light as possible (Also me) BONUS POINTS THOUGH (THIS LENS COMES WITH ITS OWN BUILT-IN TRIPOD MOUNT.


Because this lens was designed for the Pentacon Six, this is what mount you get, but mine also came with a P6 to M42 tube which simply screws on and off and allowed me to adapt this to my Canon 5d Mark ii (Finding a good example with the original P6 to M42 tube can be a little bit hit and miss, often it's missing, meaning that you're stuck with the P6 mount and left to fend for yourself in terms of adapting it.


Just for size comparison, here it is next to my already overly sized Helios 40-2


My copy also came with a custom-made wooden box for storage and carrying, but the box also weighs another 2KG making the total weight when in the box 4.4KG which if carrying on a long journey, is strenuous back-breaking work.

So the weight of this monster is just one factor to take into account when deciding whether you want to purchase this lens, but if of course you're built like the Hulk and don't care about the weight of your lenses, this isn't going to be an issue for you.


Handling: First Impressions


So my first impressions of this lens, other than the size and weight which I covered above, were "WOW, I'm going to put on my adapter and go shoot this lens right now" and that's exactly what I did. The first thing you're going to notice when doing your initial checks of this lens is the impressive, yet monstrous 19, YES 19 enormous aperture blades, this just washes everything in your out of focus areas away to nothingness, and it is simply stunning, possibly one of the best bokeh rendering lenses I've ever used.


Just look at all of those blades!




This lens also has a focus throw of approximately 340°, meaning that focusing isn't an easy feat, nor is it fast. (See what I meant earlier about giving me a hefty left arm?)

Luckily the focus is very smooth and is well dampened, so it's not too much of a challenge, just don't expect to pull focus straight away.


This lens has a minimum focus distance of 3.6 meters or 360 centimeters, so expect to be standing a fair distance away from your subject if you want anything in focus. Infinity is a little over 100m, so there are no issues shooting those far-away subjects.


In my initial tests of this lens, I personally found it to be very sharp, even wide open at F/4 and I also found it to produce very few Chromatic Aberrations.


Another thing to consider about this lens is if you're an avid user of filters, this lens uses a massive 95mm filter size, so a good one, is going to be quite pricey.


I have provided a few sample images taken with this lens below all shot wide open at F/4 and one of the images at 100% crop. Take a look & see what you think about the images that this lens produces.














How Have I Tested?


I tested this lens on my Canon 5D mark ii full-frame body, with s simple M42 - EF adapter. My camera is also loaded with Magic Lantern, which gives me the use of focus peaking, which is a great help when testing these old lenses.


Heading #3: Pros and Cons


This lens has its pros & its cons, the same as every lens, we'll start with the cons and get these out of the way.

  1. Weight

  2. The 340° focus throw

  3. The original P6 to M42 tube can be hard to find if your copy doesn't come with it

  4. The 95mm filter thread can make attaching filters an expensive choice.

  5. Difficult to use handheld

THE GOOD

. 1. It's sharp, even wide open at F/4

2. Produces very few chromatic aberrations

3. Built-in tripod mount

4. Focus throw is well dampened

5. Easily adaptable to digital bodies

6. Excellent bokeh

7. Telephoto focal range for not much money

8. GEAT FOR FENDING OFF ATTACKERS. (Okay, that one was just a bonus point)


The Final Score


My final verdicts on this lens are fantastic.


If you're looking for a telephoto range lens, that's fairly fast and offers exceptional results for not a lot of money, and don't mind the size/weight, this is the lens to choose!


If 300mm was a focal range that I used more often, I'd absolutely consider keeping this lens for my own personal collection.


Here is a picture of this lens next to its little brother, the Pentacon 200mm F/4 so you can see I'm really not exaggerating about the size of it to finish off this review.






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