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12-01-2016, 07:16 AM   #1
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Ask for your opinion of the old SMC Takumar 50mm 1.4

Hi everyone it's me the newbie with the newbie question again

I bought a pack of an old Spotmatic camera with 3 objectifs: SMC Takumar 28 3.5, 50 1.4 and 135 2.5 this morning with a cheap price and in a very good condition. The main reason is for the 28 3.5 because I'm looking for a cheap wide prime for street shooting which is currently lacking in my lens collection. Now for the 50 and 135 I'm trying to figure out whether to keep of sell them at a reasonable price because I have had the M50 1.7 and K 135 2.5 already, and while I have been slightly affected by LBA, I'm not resisting to selling lens at all, I only keep ones I like or I need, and sell the rest to fund for other interesting lens later

- The SMC Takumar 50 1.4: I hear good things about it, and it seems people are rating a certain version very high with ridiculous price (something like 8 elements, older version). Mine is later one, so it should be "normal" version. This one vs Pentax M 50 1.7, which one do you think is better? It has been raining cats and dogs in my city recently so I can only take some indoor pictures, can't tell much.

- The SMC Takumar 135 3.5: apart from its cute look and much lighter weight, base on review on Pentaxforums, I think it is not a debate between it and the Pentax K 135 2.5 so it is an easier decision

Also I read somewhere that these Takumar lens have some radioactive elements inside the lens, is that a risk? I guess not because why did they do it in the first place if that is the case?

Thank you

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12-01-2016, 07:40 AM - 2 Likes   #2
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1) You can't use the SMC K, M or subsequent lenses on the Spotmatic, so if you want to shoot that old film camera, keep the Takumars.

2) The radioactivity is not, in my opinion, a hazard - except perhaps if you drop the lens and reduce it to powder. They used thorium salts in the glass to get the optical effect they wanted.

3) I have all of the SMC Takumar 28/3.5, 50/1.4 and 135/3.5 lenses. They are excellent. If you got them cheap and they're in good shape, don't let them go... because you might not find them cheaply again later if you sell them and then find yourself regretting it.
12-01-2016, 07:47 AM - 1 Like   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bui Quote
- The SMC Takumar 50 1.4: I hear good things about it, and it seems people are rating a certain version very high with ridiculous price (something like 8 elements, older version). Mine is later one, so it should be "normal" version.
Just to clarify: the only 8-element 50/1.4 Taks were Super-Takumars, not Super-Multi-Coated or S-M-C Takumars.
12-01-2016, 09:02 AM - 1 Like   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by dcshooter Quote
Its character is very different from the M 1.7, which you will probably find to be a sharper lens overall, but which is much more clinical in its rendering.
And the same again can be said for the DA50/1.8, an even more evolved design, probably with additional coating changes on top of the M; glorious performance in general image-quality terms, but the bokeh just isn't the same.

I haven't ever shot a pre-Super-Takumar fifty, but I'm betting the bokeh gets better the further back in time you go.

12-01-2016, 10:09 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by pathdoc Quote
1) You can't use the SMC K, M or subsequent lenses on the Spotmatic, so if you want to shoot that old film camera, keep the Takumars.

2) The radioactivity is not, in my opinion, a hazard - except perhaps if you drop the lens and reduce it to powder. They used thorium salts in the glass to get the optical effect they wanted.

3) I have all of the SMC Takumar 28/3.5, 50/1.4 and 135/3.5 lenses. They are excellent. If you got them cheap and they're in good shape, don't let them go... because you might not find them cheaply again later if you sell them and then find yourself regretting it.


Thank you for your reply. Actually I'm shooting a Pentax Kx and the only one I really need is the 28 3.5 but it was included in a pack with the Spotmatic and 2 other lens, or I can say they come as a "bonus" and now I'm looking for a job for them :-)
12-01-2016, 11:02 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by Scintilla Quote
Just to clarify: the only 8-element 50/1.4 Taks were Super-Takumars
And even then only for 1 year.
12-01-2016, 12:42 PM - 1 Like   #7
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The old Takumars have wonderful build quality (but you know that by now) and also their own character.

Its true that the coatings don't perform as well as more modern coatings on DA50 / FA50 etc and care is needed in bright light. IMO a good hood is essential with Takumars outdoors.

That all said, while I rarely use it, I won't part with my old Super Takumar 50 (7 element) because I like its rendering of backgrounds. It seems to do a great job in the transition bokeh areas (certainly better than my FA50 f1.4 where I like the bokeh better at f2 than f1.4). Example of Takumar: Eyelashes | Jonathan Wilson | Flickr

12-01-2016, 01:21 PM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bui Quote
Also I read somewhere that these Takumar lens have some radioactive elements inside the lens, is that a risk? I guess not because why did they do it in the first place if that is the case?
I don't believe the S-M-C 50/1.4 has the thoriated element. Edit: I remembered wrong.

The easiest way to tell is if the lens has yellowed. This is easily assessed by looking through the lens at a sheet of white paper. If there is a radioactive element, it is not likely to be a health hazard...at least that is conventional wisdom on the subject.


Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 12-01-2016 at 02:05 PM.
12-01-2016, 01:22 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
I don't believe the S-M-C 50/1.4 has the thoriated element. The easiest way to tell is if the lens has yellowed. This is easily assessed by looking through the lens at a sheet of white paper. If there is a radioactive element, it is not likely to be a health hazard...at least that is conventional wisdom on the subject.


Steve
All of the 7-element 50mm Takumars were thoriated. The 49mm thread 35/2s as well.
12-01-2016, 01:53 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
All of the 7-element 50mm Takumars were thoriated. The 49mm thread 35/2s as well.
Thanks for the correction. I confused the SMC Tak 50/1.4 with the Pentax-K 50/1.4. The thorium disappeared in the move to K-mount. (On new medication that sort of scrambles the mentation.)

BTW...You forgot the ST 55/1.8 variants. Many of those are hot as well.


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12-01-2016, 01:58 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by dcshooter Quote
The 7 element 1.4 lens has one mildly radioactive element in the rear group that causes yellowing over time. You can clear up the yellowing in the lens by putting it in direct sunlight or under a UV lamp for a period of time. There is no meaningful risk from the radioactivity unless you were to break the lens and somehow ingest the pieces from it.

IMO, it is just as good a lens as the 8 element version, whose legend comes mainly from its comparative rarity.
Its character is very different from the M 1.7, which you will probably find to be a sharper lens overall, but which is much more clinical in its rendering.
Thank you, I've noticed that too. It looks like I'm using a yellow filter. So I'll guess I will have to "clean" it.

I know each lens is different, but I keep a 50mm only as a low-cost for low-light shooting, the M 50 1.7 was the first lens I bought after kit lens, and it works well. So I still have to decide to sell one, or it would be a waste for both of them.

This late afternoon I could take my new lens outside for some shoot, and I realized a big problem: they could not focus to infinity, that mean almost all of my shoot are out of focus. This is strange because I have some Pentacons before, they worked perfectly with my adapter so when I sold them I keep the adapter. Maybe there is something I don't know yet?
12-01-2016, 02:16 PM - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Bui Quote
I realized a big problem: they could not focus to infinity
Does your M42/K adapter have a wide flange? That type does not allow infinity focus. The reason is that M42 and K-mount have the same registration distance to the mount face. To get infinity focus you will need an adapter that fits fully within the mount such as the genuine Pentax adapter in the photo below:



The genuine Pentax adapter is strongly recommended over similar-looking brand-x product due to the tendency of the latter to become stuck on the camera. Brand-X may be used if the retention spring is removed. This leaves the adapter free to rotate in the mount, but many users on this site find that to be an acceptable compromise.


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12-01-2016, 02:31 PM   #13
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No I don't have a genuine Pentax adapter, too difficult to find, but I have one that is supposed to allow infinity focus, the one like in this picture. Moreover it worked well with my set of Pentacon lens before, that's why I'm confusing.

I've googled a bit and there are many others who are complaining the same thing. They also mention a solution which I'll have to unscrew some parts of the lens to adjust the focus lock.

Maybe this is because the lends are too old?
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12-01-2016, 03:03 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by dcshooter Quote
Age isn't going to affect infinity focus, which you should be able to get with that adapter. The previous owner might have monkeyed with them for other reasons. Resetting infinity is pretty easy.
Please tell me more

I have no idea, but as I can see, the lens look new, some dust but no trace of being "monkeyed". But then again I'm just an amateur.
12-04-2016, 04:43 AM   #15
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I've got some more time to test the lens and I realize that stopping down to f8 helps a lot. Maybe it was just my mistake at the first place.
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