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04-27-2009, 10:28 AM   #1
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Cosmicar (Pentax) 135 2.8 Television lens - seeking info

I'm hoping someone can help me with info about this old lens. It was made by Cosmicar (Pentax) in Japan for Television - beyond that - I don't know much about it.

I bought the lens with a "c mount" from a retired fellow who had intended to use it on his Bolex but never got around to it... I wasn't sure if I could make it work on a DSLR but I like hacking stuff. On closer examination I found that there wasn't any hacking to do. I just unscrewed the "c-mount" and replaced it with a T2 K-mount. Bingo! Great focus about 5ft to infinity.

Bright 2.8 and incredible 15 blade aperture with scary bokeh. No clunky hexagonal bokeh like the kit lenses produce... instead beautiful rounded bokeh like I get when I can't find my glasses at night.

I've got some nice current lenses but this one is becoming a favourite. It looks a lot like the old screw-mount Pentax lenses, similar metal build and yellowish lens coating, but I haven't found a lens with such an aperture in the 135mm Pentax lenses. It's fun to watch the depth of field change as you adjust the "pre-set" aperture ring.

I've searched online but have found no mention of this specific lens (beyond the fact that the Cosmicar lenses were made by Pentax and that most of them were for T.V.) I'd be very interested to know more about the age of the lens and the rarity. I know that television cameras were tens of thousands of dollars back in the 60s and 70s... so I'm guessing that the lenses to go on these cameras were also pretty specialized.

So... chroniclers of ancient Pentax lore... what can you tell me about this lens?

Cheers!
- SF1


26 May 2009---- major update at the end of the thread ---- date of lens found (1970) --- no evidence it was marketed for general 35mm retail photography --- Cosmicar definitely Asahi's TV/CCTV department at that time

Attached Images
         

Last edited by SF1; 05-26-2009 at 05:10 PM. Reason: correction: 15 blade aperture not 16 - numbered image attached correction: major update end of thread
04-27-2009, 12:28 PM   #2
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I have been looking at quite a few Pentax/Cosmicar lenses lately on eBay. I also bought quite a few in the wider angle. Nothing special. Very sharp lens. Made for 16 mm or super 16 mm movie cameras. Made with 1" C mount. I am using them on my Panasonic G1. The 25 mm f1.4 worked pretty good. The wider angles tend to have a lot of vignette.

Check out eBay they are not that expensive. All around less than $100.

As far as C mount lenses, the European lenses can get pretty expensive. Japanese lenses are still fairly reasonable.
04-27-2009, 02:15 PM   #3
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Thanks Hansen!

Have you encountered any Pentax/Cosmicar lenses that can use a T2 mount to adapt to DSLRs?
I guess, without the shutter mirror, you can get those C mount lenses close enough to the sensor in your Panasonic G1. Very cool. I was looking at some of those very wide angle Cosmicar lenses on ebay but I don't think I'd be able to get infinity focus from them on my Pentax DSLRs. Hey, you could also try experimenting with the old Pentax 110 lenses on your G1 - I mounted one on a lens cap and can use it for 1:1 macro (but only good for close focus.) I bet you'd be able to achieve infinity focus on your G1. The nice thing about this Cosmicar 135 2.8 is that you can put a T mount on it for other DSLR brands quite easily. I tested it on a friend's Canon DSLR and it worked nicely on that with the right adapter.
04-27-2009, 05:47 PM   #4
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SF1, are you saying that a C-mount lens can EASILY be modifed to be used in modern Pentax DSLR's like the K10D ?

This link seems to say it is not possible ?
https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/25357-c-mount-adapter.html


Can you please confirm this...Thanks.

04-27-2009, 06:55 PM   #5
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Easy adaptation! That's what's so great about this lens!

You're right - before I bought the lens I read the same link and I figured the best I could do on my k20D was use it as a macro lens (as the C-Mount lenses would have to be so close to the shutter that they would smash the mirror.) Hansen can use C-mount lenses on his G1 because it is mirror-less. I was fiddling with the Cosmicar 135 2.8 when I realized that I could unscrew the C-Mount adapter that was on it. I had an old T2 Kmount adapter and it threaded on easily - gave me proper infinity focus and works beautifully as a fully manual lens. I think it's just a fluke that the 135mm Cosmicar Television lens can so easily be used on DSLRs. It's basically a Pentax T-mount lens (although it was only marketed for Television Camera use.) I'd be curious to know if this can be done with any other Cosmicar TV lenses ---- from the looks of what I've seen in pictures, none of the ones currently on Ebay today would work on DSLRs as the rear elements are too close to the mounts. (Well, just about any lens can do macro if you can get it mounted.) I'm attaching an infinity-focus picture of the tower from the harbour and a couple of distance photos. I guess an original K mount 135 would be convenient for the auto-aperture (instead of pre-set) --- but none of those 35mm lenses have this great 15 blade aperture.
Attached Images
     

Last edited by SF1; 05-02-2009 at 07:02 AM. Reason: adding photos - 15 blade aperture not 16 (oops! miscounted)
04-27-2009, 07:27 PM   #6
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The overall styling is very similar to a 135mm f/2.8 Seimar lens that I own but that is probably because they are both pre-set T-mount fast telephoto lenses from roughly the same time period. The Seimar "only" has 10 aperture blades and the focusing ring is rubber instead of machined metal.

If we ever wind up at the same Toronto Pentax Meet Up we can compare them side by side.
04-27-2009, 07:32 PM   #7
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Thanks Steinback

Checked out the photo of the birds on the driftwood that you took with that lens. I think it's a great pleasure to get such results without spending crazy amounts of money. (That said, I do also have the DFA 100 Macro -- which is fairly close in range -- but not a pleasure to focus manually.)
04-28-2009, 02:15 PM   #8
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This looks like a 1960's preset Tokina

I have many of this series, but not the 135 f/2.8, so there is some doubt, but I would certainly put money on this.

These Tokinas were ubiquitous in those days, being sold under dozens of brands, including some big names like Yashica and Mamiya.

This was also true for other makers of cheap T-mount presets of the day, Sankor, Nittoh/Komine, Cosina, etc. The details are distinctive for this Tokina series though.

This lens may date from before Cosmicar had a relationship with Pentax, that is if Pentax actually ever made Cosmicar lenses.

04-28-2009, 03:13 PM   #9
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Tokina and Pentax

Thanks Luis,

I'll look into the Tokina lenses for comparison. Pentax was definitely was the manufacturer of Cosmicar - making lenses for video under that name until fairly recently (they now brand their video lenses "Pentax" and have dropped the "Cosmicar" name.) Of course - parts for all brands are sourced from different places. Overall, this lens does have a feel that is very similar to the m42 Takumar lenses. I'd be interested to know how many of these were made - as lenses for television would likely have been produced in much smaller numbers than lenses for film. The Wikipedia (if it's on there it must be true...) for Tokina says that their partnership with Pentax is recent... but who knows?

I greatly appreciate all of these comments - this forum is fantastic. It's still sunny - will go take some pictures now.

cheers!
04-28-2009, 07:47 PM   #10
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I am sure this was not made as a TV lens at all, but is instead a normal 1960's T-mount preset, the same type of lens that was ubiquitous on the cheap end of the market in those days. Add a C-mount T-adapter and you can pop it on a TV camera, no problem. I have one of these C-mount T-adapters in fact, came on an ancient Tamron 250/4.5. That was a cheap way to get 16mm and 35mm film camera lenses back in the day.

Among other things, why would a purpose-made TV lens have a preset mechanism ? Thats there for only one purpose, to focus wide-open on a reflex camera and quickly stop-down to a selected aperture for taking. A poor mans alternative to an auto lens. Not a useful thing for video at all.

As for Pentax making it - no way. Pentax never made a T-mount lens, and if they did supply a standard preset 135 lens for this purpose it would be a version of their preset Takumars, which this one does not resemble.

As for build quality, etc - back in the 1960's all the Japanese makers were doing this style or very similar, excellent machining and finish, solid quality contruction was the norm even on the cheap third-party end of things.
04-29-2009, 04:43 AM   #11
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TV or not TV

Thanks for your input Luis. It is well documented that Pentax made the Cosmicar lenses for TV cameras (a few later K-Mount lenses were made under Cosmicar brand too - but not this vintage.) Would be great to get feedback from someone who used TV cameras back in the 60s-70s. With regards to the auto-iris issue -- an auto iris (an iris that automatically steps down when the shutter button is pressed) is superior for SLR use - but would serve little purpose on a TV camera where "exposure" is continuous and the image is viewed on a monitor (not through an SLR prism.) Other old Cosmicar lenses on ebay also lack mechanical auto aperture which would make sense as it would be a totally useless feature for video. Much newer Pentax/Cosmicar TV lenses have electronic iris controls but that's a different thing altogether. Anyway - it's the history buff side of me that finds the story of camera equipment interesting... but the photographer side of me is now telling me to get out of the house and snap some photos during my walk to work...

Cheers!
04-29-2009, 11:55 AM   #12
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Indeed, auto-iris is not useful for video/cine lenses. These are normally manual iris/diaphragm.

This lens however is not just a manual iris/diaphragm lens, its a pre-set - see the two rings. You pre-set the taking aperture (say f/16, which would be very dim on an SLR) with one ring and use the other ring to quickly flip from f/2.8 (where its easier to focus on an SLR) to f/16, where that ring is stopped by the setting on the first, so you can find the right aperture by feel just before pressing the shutter.

But this pre-set mechanism is nearly as useless for a video/cine lens as an auto mechanism, a video user would just use it to set aperture manually - and would have to pay attention to the setting on the second ring besides, an unnecessary annoyance and point of failure. This kind of thing would just never appear in a purpose-made video/cine lens.

There are vast numbers of pre-set lenses from that era, the 1950's-early 1970's, and this looks like one of them. They come in a bewildering array of brand names as any distributor or even camera store could ask to have its name engraved on them. I have quite a tower of Babel in my collection.

Most of the later Japanese ones, after 1962 or so, were T-mounts as that was such a practical solution to the multiplicity of camera mounts, as long as you didn't have to deal with auto mechanisms . Asahi/Pentax made some presets too, I have early Takumar 135/200/300mm's like that (none were T-mounts though).

The history/collectible side of this thing is in fact possibly very interesting. A non-Asahi/Pentax made, bog-standard third party lens sold under the Cosmicar brand has got to have quite an interesting explanation. Given its age I suspect it relates to some pre-Asahi/Pentax history of the Cosmicar brand or possibly of one of its distributors. Or perhaps it was introduced to fill some temporary, specialized need, and it was cheaper to buy in a third-party lens than to supply a version of a Takumar.
04-29-2009, 12:27 PM   #13
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I guess this old Cosmicar (whoever made it) was an ordinary photographic lens design, converted by means of the C-mount adaptor for tv cams. T2 but also M42 lenses where often used (there were even "official adaptors by the camera manufacturers) on 35mm equipment, as they have enough illumination for the slightly smaller cine film.

Only later, for the smaller vidicon tubes smaller lenses where adapted, which before had been developped for 16mm film (the news format) Many standard M42 Zeiss lenses and the famous Astro Berlin lenses could be used on either 35mm still image or on cine cameras.

Pentax made quite an impressive series of tv lenses under the Cosmicar brand (I remember their ads in the tech mags), but also countless cheap surveillance camera C-mount lenses, which have a illuminated field, by far too small, to be useable on a DSLR. Also, at one time, Pentax released the cheapo lens line under the Cosmicar brand, because the later cheapo Takumar series lead to real confusion between these inferior (poor coating) new Takumars and the highly regarded original ones. But as far as I know only three Cosmicar lenses where produced for K-mount SLRs. (And I can't remember which ones...)
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04-29-2009, 06:11 PM   #14
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Thanks Ben_Edict

Thanks for your post! I think the best thing would be to find a mention of this lens in a catalogue. I've also emailed some experts on TV cameras and we'll see what we find. Not so sure that a pre-set would be useless to a video camera operator - might be nice to adjust the aperture using the smooth continuous motion of a pre-set - compared to a typical 35mm aperture ring that could make the video rather jerky... But who knows? Visited a neat online museum of television cameras --- imagine operating one of these:

Random camera selection

Ouch! Not with my back!
04-30-2009, 02:29 PM   #15
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Hey! Found a very similar Cosmicar on Ebay!

This auction has a Cosmicar 100 2.8 with exactly the same T2 to C-mount adapter that my 135 2.8 came with:

The lens is mistakenly labeled as US made in the description - but when you scroll down to the photos you can see that it was made in Japan.

It is also a pre-set. I'll ask the seller if I can re-post a photo of it here.

http://cgi.ebay.com.my/Bolex-H16-Reflex-100mm-LENS-6-5mm-LENS-REFLEX-16_W0QQ...713.m153.l1262

Last edited by SF1; 04-30-2009 at 02:38 PM. Reason: link didn't work... re-done
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