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04-18-2010, 04:36 PM   #1
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classic pentax lenses, big difference between supers and standard pentax

Just curious if anyone knows if there is a big difference between the supers and standard old pentax lenses smc's I believe. thank you.

04-18-2010, 04:44 PM   #2
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also does anyone know about the yellowing? is it part of the coating or a problem? thk you.
04-18-2010, 08:34 PM   #3
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The "Super Takumars" are all M42 mount (universal screwmount). SMC Takumars are as well. Then there are "SMC Pentax" lenses that are K mount. Depending on the focal length, some people prefer the older lenses, but for the most part the SMC lenses are better by virtue of their better coating.

Some Takumars have yellow coating, but most of the yellowing of fast lenses is a minor problem that can be cleared up with sunlight or UV light.
04-18-2010, 08:46 PM   #4
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Yes, when people refer to "Supers", they meant the Super Takumars, lens build in Japan which has the M42 mount.
The "stansard old Pentax" lens, IMO, would refer to FF lenses used in film SLR.

Nick has given a good comments on the yellowing.

Cheers.

04-18-2010, 09:41 PM   #5
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For the first time ever, yesterday, I put my SMC Takumar 55mm f1.8 on a digital camera. The sky was completely overcast so I did processes this to bring out some color but overall, I'm impressed with the lens. Especially for one that typically sells for $30 or so.

Shot at f1.8 from a minimum focus distance.. Go ahead and click the photo to pixel peep.




04-19-2010, 03:25 PM   #6
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Cool! are there any older lenses that I could buy which would tell the camera what the aperature is set at without actually shutting down to the aperature size until the picture is taken, like used to happen with my old 35mm slr?
04-19-2010, 03:36 PM   #7
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In sequence of time pentax lenses came out in roughly the following order.
M42 screw mount
Takumar ( preset aperture)
auto takumar
super takumar

k mount ( bayonette mount)
smc pentax
smc pentax-M

in addition there were "takumar " lenses made in K Ka mount with porter coatings
04-19-2010, 05:58 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Genshu Quote
Just curious if anyone knows if there is a big difference between the supers and standard old pentax lenses smc's I believe. thank you.
First, lenses for Pentax cameras have a long chronology of manufacture and went through several evolutions: pre-M42 screwmount (manual) , the M42 screwmount (manual), the film bayonet mount (manual), the film bayonet mount (auto focusing), and the made-for- digital bayonet mount (autofocusing).

The M42 screwmount (all manual focusing) era lenses, labelled with the name "Takumar", fall into two main groups: "Super Takumar" (earlier) and "super- multi-coated Takumar" or "S-M-C Takumar" (both later).

The difference between the "Super" and the "S-M-C" Takumars is that the Super Taks are designed to be used with either manual or "stop-down TTL" metering modes, whereas the S-M-C Taks are designed (for the relevant film bodies, the various "Spotmatic" models) to be in the newer "open aperture TTL" metering mode, but can -of course- be used for the older manual and/or stop down metering modes as well.

All the Takumar lenses are beautifully and robustly made with glass elements and metal barrels, though there is a gradual and regrettable decline in "class" with time. All but the earliest are coated lenses. Some of the "Super Taks" have much the same coatings (multiple) as the "S-M-Cs", as evolution in coatings was gradual and overlapping.

There appear to be no "first" or "second-class" lenses in the lineup (unlike today, with "consumer", "kit" and "D" and "L" lines), as all lenses were "first class" (equal) at any given period of manufacture, though there was a gradual evolution bringing incremental improvements with time, resulting in literally dozens of variants (even within focal lengths), and some individual variants are considered by the connoisseur as "better" or in some way more desirable than others: on the whole, you would not be disappointed with any of them.

The yellowing is due to a smattering of a radioactive costituent (Thorium (?)) in the composition of the glass used to manufacture some of the elements of that particular variety of lens. It does affect the light transmission (TTL metering takes care of that) and may produce a warm, yellowish cast to the images. Some say, leaving the lens in sunlight -e.g., on a window ledge- will reduce the yellowing.


Last edited by Banjo; 04-19-2010 at 06:10 PM.
04-19-2010, 06:42 PM   #9
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That is fascinating! i love the notion of using the latest tech camera with an old classic lense.
04-19-2010, 07:21 PM   #10
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What about the image quality between the K, M and A series? Which one is the best?
04-19-2010, 07:42 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by Banjo Quote
...The yellowing is due to a smattering of a radioactive costituent (Thorium (?)) in the composition of the glass used to manufacture some of the elements of that particular variety of lens. It does affect the light transmission (TTL metering takes care of that) and may produce a warm, yellowish cast to the images. Some say, leaving the lens in sunlight -e.g., on a window ledge- will reduce the yellowing.

A little more on the "hot" lens issue. Yes, thorium is the culprit and Pentax was not the only maker to include radioactive substances to their glass. Over time, the radiation causes a chemical reaction in the "balsam" cement between lens elements with a resulting yellow cast. There has been some success using UV light or bright sunlight to bleach the balsam.

Fortunately, the thorium elements found limited usage in the Pentax line and most models are free from the issue.


Steve

P.S. The most common culprit is 50/1.4 Super, S-M-C, and SMC Takumar.
04-19-2010, 07:45 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by hangu Quote
What about the image quality between the K, M and A series? Which one is the best?
All are good and each series has its strong points:
  • K are known for excellent build and optical qualities
  • M are known for excellent build and compact size
  • A are similar optically to the M series and support programmed exposure automation ("A" contacts on mount). Build is not quite as good though.


Steve


(Owns lenses from each series...)
04-19-2010, 08:37 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
All are good and each series has its strong points:
  • K are known for excellent build and optical qualities
  • M are known for excellent build and compact size
  • A are similar optically to the M series and support programmed exposure automation ("A" contacts on mount). Build is not quite as good though.
Steve
(Owns lenses from each series...)
That somehow managed to avoid my question completely, perhaps I should have phrased the question better.

Which 50mm f1.4 will have the best image quality? SMC Takumar, M, K or A?
04-19-2010, 11:41 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by hangu Quote
That somehow managed to avoid my question completely, perhaps I should have phrased the question better.

Which 50mm f1.4 will have the best image quality? SMC Takumar, M, K or A?
In my opinion, there is no single answer to that question. Each lens has its own characteristics which lend themselves to various photo opportunities.

Try looking at the Lens Review section under Pentax Primes and see what you think of the comments from a number of people about the various lenses.

Other than that, I think the question was actually answered when Optical Quality was mentioned for K, but not the M or A. The difference, however, in my opinion is fairly slight and depends on the lighting conditions, light direction, etc, for each photo.

No lens guarantees a great shot. That's the photographer's job: getting the shot. As someone mentioned elsewhere today: some of the most important photographs ever shot in history are blurry blobs of dark and light. The "importance" was that the shot was taken at all and that's you: the human.
04-20-2010, 07:13 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Genshu Quote
Cool! are there any older lenses that I could buy which would tell the camera what the aperature is set at without actually shutting down to the aperature size until the picture is taken, like used to happen with my old 35mm slr?
The SMC-A lenses will allow you all auto exposure modes and set aperture from the camera, just like a modern autofocus lens. Re. comments that they aren't as good as the earlier lenses, don't believe it! Some are, some aren't, some like the feel of these, some don't.

The 'K' - K mount SMC - mostly were the same as the Super Multi Coated Takumar (S-M-C) equivalent, just with a different mount. So when someone says the K 50/1.4 is 'best', his/her copy indeed may be; but someone elses copy of a S-M-C Takumar might be better. Sample variation and emotional attachment come into play

Pentax was following Olympus with the SMC-M series - smaller and lighter lenses. Again, some may be better, some worse, than what came before or after.

The plain K mount lenses (Pentax SMC, SMC-M) require you to use manual metering on a digital camera, which isn't a bad thing, and they do provide auto aperture (the camera stops the lens down at exposure).

The screw mount (M42) Takumars require an adapter, and either stop-down manual metering or Av (often with a bit of exposure compensation)... but you have to stop the lens down to shooting aperture by hand. Once you're used to this, it's not hard at all.
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