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05-01-2019, 05:57 AM - 5 Likes   #1
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The Survivor

The Survivor

Or, sometimes it's not just glass...

First, my apologies if you've read or seen this elsewhere. By way of background, my full digital rig is Olympus. By deeper background, I always shot Pentax in the film days. Over on, there's a healthy level of activity shooting with adapted lenses on modern bodies. As I sort of explain below, that's how I got reconnected with Pentax glass. This (admittedly longish) story is something a little different and unexpected.

I’ve long had a theory of the “junk chain.” Any given item, whether it’s a new pair of shoes or a new motorcycle starts out as somebody’s “baby,” purchased with anticipation and pleasure. The nicer or more expensive the item, the longer the chain is: The first owner handles and uses it with great care, commonly passing it on to the next eager owner. But with time, the “baby” develops its flaws, and a newer, nicer item appears, pushing the former beloved farther down the chain. Subsequent owners see less “special” in whatever it is, and handle it with less care. Blemishes give way to damage, and depending on what the item is, it becomes less able to do the original job, accelerating the slide down the chain.

WTH am I talking about? Stay with me here.

“Pickers” make their living by prowling the chain. They look for items that have either survived the slide, are one of the few surviving examples of something, or are a good value at whatever price they can be had. Years ago, I managed to finance my photography hobby by prowling pawn shops, looking for gems among the rubble. I learned (fortunately not expensive lessons) to stay in my lane, buying largely Pentax and Minolta gear, and then selling it either to the likes of KEH or the long gone Charlotte Camera. Occasionally, I’d score a piece that I could use. I would also frequent flea markets, learning who the “camera guys” were. Those pieces were farther down the chain, but there were some gems: I found a like new Nikon bellows for about $25. Mostly though, at the flea markets and thrift shops I found old stuff that I have hung onto for nostalgia and to (eventually) put together a display of vintage (as far back as folding cameras) gear.

That’s an amazingly long intro to this: I have no idea where or when I got this Super Takumar. I have it in my head that at some point I had a screw mount body, but I can’t prove it (or find it). I doubt that I would have planned to shoot with this lens, because to call it an ugly duckling is to be kind.

The images of the "ugly duckling" are attached below in roughly the order I planned. Those are followed by three images that I took with it recently.

It might have been given to me, it might have been in a box of other stuff, or I might have rescued it from a basket of derelict optics...just because. If I paid anything for it, it couldn’t have been more than $5. But for probably 20 years, it has lived untouched in a cardboard box inside another cardboard box with an ancient 620 camera and a Polaroid SX-70. And God knows what else. I am positive that I have never mounted it on a camera, let alone taken any photos with it.

Fast forward to the present. As I mentioned I've started shooting quite a bit with adapted manual focus lenses on a digital body. My Pentax heritage nudged me toward some of the lenses that I used (and some that I had ignored) from my film days. This forum has provided a huge resource for the lenses I've searched out. No surprise to anyone in this community, but the Super Takumar 50mm f1.4 seems to have reached "legendary" status. I suspect that some of that reverence is deserved, some of it is charitable setting aside of flaws, but there’s no question that this model is capable of lovely images. So, I had been prowling eBay for a nice copy...

Wait...Is that what’s upstairs? Well, sure enough. Unlovely, unloved, and unused, in a box for 20 years sat the forlorn Super Tak. Focusing works, filter ring is dented, dusty as a bugger but no fungus, the rear element cluster was partly unscrewed, no detents for the aperture ring, the diaphragm is sluggish and the auto aperture pin is sticky, but the blades are clean, and it does adjust through the full range of f-stops, so...what’s to lose? I further learned that it is an 8-element lens from relatively late in that version's production run.

After dusting her off, and some gentle cleaning of the glass I found that the coating actually isn’t too bad. There are some fine scratches on the front and rear elements, but jeez, it was in lens purgatory uncapped for what, decades? I already had an M42 adapter on the way for another Takumar I’d found (Old Lens Acquisition Syndrome), so I couldn’t wait. I posted up a shot of a ceramic angel and an orchid earlier, but I wanted to get out in the real world with good light and see what she could do.

It’s funny, and I’ll be the first to opine that I’m FOS, but when I mounted this lens up and looked through the finder, it was as if I were its (probably long-gone) first, proud owner, standing at the top of the junk chain, with a shiny, new Super Takumar on an equally shiny, new Spotmatic, framing up the house, the car, or the sweetheart on a sunny 1960s day. It was great. I’m strangely happy to have aided the recovery of this survivor, and hope to be a good custodian until I pass it to its next home. Of course, I did chase down a proper set of front and rear caps...

Attached Images
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Last edited by MXLX; 05-01-2019 at 08:46 AM.
05-01-2019, 06:06 AM   #2

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I like your introductory story.

Should get my 7 element 50/1.4 out to give it a whirl. Have not used it for a long time. If I want about that FL I usually use the 55/1.8, which I particularly like.
05-01-2019, 06:35 AM   #3
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Lenses are forever.
05-01-2019, 08:15 AM   #4
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An eight element Takumar 50mm f/1.4 is the stuff of legend. Sitting unloved in a box for twenty years? What a story.

Even the seven element is worth serious money these days. Hang on to this one!

05-01-2019, 11:07 AM - 1 Like   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by MXLX Quote
because to call it an ugly duckling is to be kind
Aye, ugly she is... But ain't she got loads of character and personality?!
05-01-2019, 01:40 PM - 1 Like   #6
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It deserves its legendary status. A magic lens. Check out a recent review of it: Asahi Pentax Super-Takumar 50mm f/1.4 Model I (8-Element) Vintage Lens Review | ePHOTOzine
05-01-2019, 03:04 PM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by PJ1 Quote
It deserves its legendary status. A magic lens. Check out a recent review of it: Asahi Pentax Super-Takumar 50mm f/1.4 Model I (8-Element) Vintage Lens Review | ePHOTOzine
Thanks for that link.

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