In my type of work, I rarely see the need for a longer lens than a 200mm. I have used the 1.7X Hasselblad converter with my HC 150mm on some occasions, so I can’t say never. It’s good to have the option available. Encouraged by the good results from my other Mamiya 645 lenses, I decided to invest in the 300mm f5.6.
This lens comes in two versions, the non-ULD (C) and the newer ULD (N). ULD stands for Ultra Low Dispersion, a type of glass made for minimizing chromatic aberration. As you may have seen in my review of the Mamiya 645 Sekor C 105-210 f4.5 ULD zoom, this actually seems to work. That lens has virtually no color-fringing and is incredibly sharp. I was not aware of the two models when I purchased my sample of this, so this is unfortunately the non ULD version. However, I have just ordered the ULD-version, and hope to receive it shortly. That will be a very interesting test and comparison with this non-ULD version.
As with other Mamiya 645-lenses, this one is very available in the used market. Prices range from 60 to 300 USD, the ULD-version generally a bit more expensive than the non-ULD. It’s always a good idea to look for samples without haze or fungus, and minimal dust. I got mine from a well-reputed dealer in Japan for 150 USD including shipping. It looks almost unused.
|Full frame equivalent focal length||ca 240 mm|
|Length (lens only)||164 mm|
|Length (with adapter and caps)||217 mm|
|Weight (lens only)||710 g|
|Weight (with adapter and caps)||916 g|
|Filter Ø||58 mm|
|Close focus||4 m|
|Built in hood?||Yes|
|Adapter used||Kipon Mamiya 645X1D|
Size and build
For a medium format 300mm it is quite compact and lightweight. It is very similar in size and weight to the 105-210 mm f4.5 zoom, and handles pretty much like that one on the camera. That means well balanced, not too front-heavy, and the camera can be mounted on a tripod without additional support on the adapter or the lens. At least for shorter periods of time and in little to no wind.
Build quality it top notch, in line with the other Mamiya 645 lenses I have worked with. Wonderful wide focus-ring with a long throw and exactly the right resistance, and an aperture-ring with some resistance and nice clicks. The built-in hood works as intended. This lens also looks great in the X-series cameras.
For why I chose this subject and how it was done, se details in my previous posts, e.g. the test of Nikon Series E 135mm f2.8. In short, I wanted to do a real-life test of this lens in a setting close to how I usually use my telephoto-lenses.
Capturing details: Hasselblad X2D-100c, tripod, 2 sec timer, iso 64, auto white balance, aperture priority, some depth to the scene, focus close to infinity, manual focus on the tower in 100% live view with fully open lens, f11 for exposure, e-shutter.
Raw-file imported to Lightroom where it has undergone initial sharpening (deconvolution): Amount 30, radius 0.5, details 100. No other adjustments for initial evaluation.
Distortion and vignetting
As you may appreciate from the unedited test-image above, there is no trace of vignette at f11. I played around with the slider in Lightroom, but found the best results with amount around 0-2. This lens was of course designed with a large image circle in mind, so not really surprising. Also, there is no distortion to speak of.
Sharpness and chromatic aberrations were evaluated on 300% enlargements in centre, left edge and extreme lower left corner, corresponding approximately to the red squares in the frame above. The crops are shown below. To the left in the crop you will see the unedited file (only deconvolution sharpening) and on the right you can see an edited version after removal of chromatic aberrations in Lightroom and sharpening in Topaz Sharpen AI. Drag the slider to alternate between the two versions.
Image center is quite good in my opinion. Not super sharp, but acceptable. The softness might be mostly du to diffraction in the center. It is a bit softer at the edge and even more so in the corners, but it cleans up nicely with some more sharpening in Topaz Sharpen AI. My general feeling is that this lens is not extremely sharp, but quite uniform and a tad soft all over the frame. Good but no excellent. A bit like it’s smaller sibling, the Sekor C 150mm f3.5. It is still very sharp after careful sharpening though.
There is a moderate level of chromatic aberration, as can be seen from the fringing in this image and the 300% sharpness crops above. Color fringing cleans up nicely in Lightroom. But I cannot help myself wondering if CA may be a contributor to the slight softness of this lens.
I am very happy with the size, weight and build quality of this lens. It fits the X2D body nicely and handles well. Having a 300mm this compact, lightweight and well balanced is definitely a good thing.
Optically, it is good, but as stated above, not excellent. It doesn’t leave me stunned like the zoom did. But it is very usable if you are open for some software sharpening magic.
The million-dollar question is of course: How does this compare to just cropping with the excellent 105-210mm f4.5 ULD zoom at 210mm? I addressed this in the crop below. This might seem a bit unfair since there is substantially more cropping of the file from the zoom. But it answers a real-world question: Is it worth bringing this lens if you already have the zoom and can crop those files when in need of a narrower angle?
Well, this is quite a close call. But to my eyes, the crop from the zoom seems to have a little bit more sharpness and details to it. Look at the windows of the white building. Anyway, the zoom-crop is at least equal, or better, so that kind of answers my question.
This is the non-ULD version of the 300mm tested here. I cant wait to get my hands on the ULD-version. I really have high hopes for that one! I will be sure to test it shortly.