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11-08-2008, 10:53 PM   #1
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m42 Taks compared to currently manufactured pentax glass

Hi folks,

Here is a thought/topic I've not necessarily seen mentioned or discussed in the forum before..unless I've missed it (which could be quite possible...there is a lot to keep up with around here).

How do the current "normal" focal length pentax prime lenses being manufactured compare to the takumars of 30-40 years ago? Basically I'm referring to the taks at 35, 50, and 55mm versus the current pentax prime line-up of FA35, DA35, DA40 limited, FA50/1.4 and whatever I might be missing (DA31?).

I know that after playing with my super-takumar 50/1.4 (even with it's radio-active yellowing) I was really amazed at the test images I took with this lens. (Much better than anything with my kit lens so far, IMHO.) Part of my reason for asking this question is to query if pentax has kept this quality in its prime lenses 30+ years later.

I know this is completely subjective, but what are people's thought on this? I realize that in order to shoot with the takumars you must shoot in AV or M mode and use manual focus. These of course are generally NOT auto-anything lenses. The only comparison I'm looking for is optical quality/rendering ability of the lens.

The other reason for this topic is to see which newer lenses should be considered for purchase, and would compare to these taks (if at all).

Thanks

11-09-2008, 02:56 PM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by dwhopson Quote
Hi folks,

Here is a thought/topic I've not necessarily seen mentioned or discussed in the forum before..unless I've missed it (which could be quite possible...there is a lot to keep up with around here).

How do the current "normal" focal length pentax prime lenses being manufactured compare to the takumars of 30-40 years ago? Basically I'm referring to the taks at 35, 50, and 55mm versus the current pentax prime line-up of FA35, DA35, DA40 limited, FA50/1.4 and whatever I might be missing (DA31?).

I know that after playing with my super-takumar 50/1.4 (even with it's radio-active yellowing) I was really amazed at the test images I took with this lens. (Much better than anything with my kit lens so far, IMHO.) Part of my reason for asking this question is to query if pentax has kept this quality in its prime lenses 30+ years later.

I know this is completely subjective, but what are people's thought on this? I realize that in order to shoot with the takumars you must shoot in AV or M mode and use manual focus. These of course are generally NOT auto-anything lenses. The only comparison I'm looking for is optical quality/rendering ability of the lens.

The other reason for this topic is to see which newer lenses should be considered for purchase, and would compare to these taks (if at all).

Thanks
There's an endless amount of research that can be done that will tell you about the differences in design between the Tak lines and modern lenses, but I'll cut to the chase and just say that some of the best photos I've ever taken have some from Takumars, especially the 50 and 55mm Taks.

I read somewhere that when the S-M-C and Super takumars were being made, they were sold at a loss, and designed in direct competition with Leica and Zeiss lenses. Elsewhere I read that if the S-M-C Tak 50 1.4 were being made today, it would go for $1000+.

Here are some examples of what the S-M-C Tak can do with fungus-filled elements: Dead 50 images.

Edit: Heres a good link re the Tak 50s.


.

Last edited by jsherman999; 11-09-2008 at 03:01 PM.
11-09-2008, 03:49 PM   #3
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Sean Carpenter did a very thorough comparison of the pentax 50/1.4s:

the Normal Lens Shootout Photo Gallery by Sean Carpenter at pbase.com

Optically, I don't think you can't go wrong with any of the S-M-C Takumar or later Pentax 50/1.4s.
11-09-2008, 03:54 PM   #4
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The Takumar range is excellent for the budget conscious ... and is great to learn with as well (especially if you have only used AF previously ... like myself).

After using my Super Taks for a little while now (not enough though) ... find I am in more control using these than relying on AF from the camera. It makes me think about my shots more and I am not rushed with it either.

And the quality ... well ... unbelievable really. Seeing as I am poor ... I do not have the likes of the FA31/FA77/FA* 85 ... etc. So i can't compare with them really myself. But gonig on images I ahve shot with my Super Taks ... and seeing images taken with the better FA lenses ... I am pretty impressed with my old lenses.

11-09-2008, 04:58 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by dwhopson Quote
Hi folks,

Here is a thought/topic I've not necessarily seen mentioned or discussed in the forum before..unless I've missed it (which could be quite possible...there is a lot to keep up with around here).

How do the current "normal" focal length pentax prime lenses being manufactured compare to the takumars of 30-40 years ago? Basically I'm referring to the taks at 35, 50, and 55mm versus the current pentax prime line-up of FA35, DA35, DA40 limited, FA50/1.4 and whatever I might be missing (DA31?).

I know that after playing with my super-takumar 50/1.4 (even with it's radio-active yellowing) I was really amazed at the test images I took with this lens. (Much better than anything with my kit lens so far, IMHO.) Part of my reason for asking this question is to query if pentax has kept this quality in its prime lenses 30+ years later.

I know this is completely subjective, but what are people's thought on this? I realize that in order to shoot with the takumars you must shoot in AV or M mode and use manual focus. These of course are generally NOT auto-anything lenses. The only comparison I'm looking for is optical quality/rendering ability of the lens.

The other reason for this topic is to see which newer lenses should be considered for purchase, and would compare to these taks (if at all).

Thanks

I think one of the prime differences (no pun intended) is that many of the older lenses were not internal focusing. they moved the entire front group, sometimes just in and out, some times rotation also.

I suspect that the needs of fast autofocus made the power demands for moving entire groups impractical.

As a result, the optical compromises made 40 years ago are not the same ones made today.

That is part of the uniqueness of some of these old lenses, which are not matched by the modern counterparts.

Note, this is also why pentax does not just dust off old lens formulas and re-issue them with AF, it may not be the way they want to go long term
11-09-2008, 05:39 PM   #6
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My 50mm f/1.4 Super Tak is superior to my SMC-FA 50mm f/1.4 without a doubt.
The Super Tak is astounding. The colours. The creamy bokeh. Wonderful.

I'll drag up some sample images from both when I am home later on (work ban on flickr grrrr)
11-09-2008, 08:39 PM   #7
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Original Poster
Ok...so what I'm gathering early on in this discussion is that this series of lenses is special and really hasn't been reproduced or produced in pentax's current prime line-up.

bummer....

I need to find another super takumar 50/1.4.......I think mine may have some issues

I've really been playing a lot with my super tak 50/1.4 and smc tak 35/3.5 this weekend and found the focusing issue to finally be much easier to deal with. Earlier this year, the first few times I tried focusing these lenses it was nearly impossible (especially the 35mm). I was considering a katz-eye screen, but now I'm not so sure.

I really really like these lenses. I may need to raid the local camera shop next time I get to a town with one. :ugh:
11-09-2008, 09:44 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by dwhopson Quote
I need to find another super takumar 50/1.4.......I think mine may have some issues
If you love your super tak and the problems aren't too severe you may be able to have it serviced. Check out Eric Hendrickson's shop:

Pentax Camera Service

11-10-2008, 03:55 AM   #9
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From what I have heard from many of the forum members here Eric looks after your equipment and does top notch work.

Good to know his website ... if I had a newly acquired Spottie ... I'd be seriously tempted to send it to the US to have it restored.
11-10-2008, 05:09 AM   #10
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I'd also add that from a mechanical standpoint, I have more faith in the Takumars. Just picking one up you feel its a no comprimise design. Metal. Glass.

If you're comfortable manually focusing, I personally don't see any reason to buy new lenses at all, except new manually focused ones from third party manufactures, built to the spec of yesteryear. But as Jay says, they will cost you dearly in todays dollars. Good, long term investments though.

fwiw, I would pay in the hundreds for a newly minted Tak, modelled indentically to the original but with 'A' mode and fresh, clean glass. Its nice to keep the focus screen bright when stopped down.

I wonder if in honor of the number of people in the world who still use Taks on modern Pentax gear, if even a one off of this sort as a kit lens with a special release of the eventual FF body (or whatever Pentax release as the equivalent to that market segment someday) would be a funky idea? Pentax have gone with in-body SR afterall, why not flaunt it?
11-10-2008, 05:14 AM   #11
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I remember seeing a Prototype Asahiflex K10D with the Zebra 55mm lens on it ... looked awesome ... unfortunately not released to public ... it was just a special anniversary thing.

I have tried MF with my FA50 f/1.4 ... and it just doesn't feel the same as my Super Taks ... it just felt artificial ... no feel ... no damping ... quite average. Although it does MF fine ... it's better at AF. Don't get me wrong ... my FA50 plastic fantastic is a great lens indeed, and one of my best AF lens buys. But it is just not a Tak.
11-10-2008, 05:37 AM   #12
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Another thing to remember with MF vs AV lenses is the amount of positive feedback on the focusing mechanism.

many AF lenses seem VERY loose in comparison, simply to reduce the torque on the motor.

In addition, I have found many AF lenses including primes have less than 90 degrees from infinity to minimum focus, where as mechanical counterparts usuall have at least 180 degrees can have up to 330 degrees.

MF lenses can be much more precise in focus as a result.

The AF lenses feel "touchy"

But having said that, I noticed that when even comparing K to M lenses, the K lenses have a more consistent feel or "drag" on the focusing.

It is hard for me to compare this with M42 lenses, as I only have one of those.......

So far
11-10-2008, 06:15 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by thePiRaTE!! Quote
fwiw, I would pay in the hundreds for a newly minted Tak, modelled indentically to the original but with 'A' mode and fresh, clean glass. Its nice to keep the focus screen bright when stopped down.
No need for an "A" mode built into the lens. What they need to do instead is simply to give us on a modern DSLR the mount from the Spotmatic F (or ES or ESII) which allowed for open-aperture metering. The only camera modes they would need to give us would be Av, M, and X.
11-10-2008, 06:40 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Mike Cash Quote
No need for an "A" mode built into the lens. What they need to do instead is simply to give us on a modern DSLR the mount from the Spotmatic F (or ES or ESII) which allowed for open-aperture metering. The only camera modes they would need to give us would be Av, M, and X.
Now that would be cool.

Don't mean to run off with this idea here too much, but Pentax seem to appreciate the niche markets (or so Ned said). Now, IF Pentax ever did a FF (just saying here), they could do a dual release. Same sensor in both bodies, but one body as an extention of the K20 feature wise and another the manual special. Modes as you've stated, along with all the other advantages to manual focusing offered in older bodies. Price could be offset by the fact it wouldn't need high fps or new (or any?) AF. Just a larger screen on the back. Could do the old style look and bundle a limited or something.
11-10-2008, 06:59 AM   #15
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Or offer the choice of open-aperture M42 mount or an "A" series capable K-mount.

If they're going to drive a certain segment of their fans nuts with their lens production/quality/availability issues, they may as well throw a bone to those of us who happily use the pre-existing lenses.
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