Sunday, June 7, 2015

Pentax Super Takumar 135mm f3.5 M42 Lens In Depth Review

This lens can be had for very little money on eBay.  That was where I picked up this lens complete with original screw on hood.  Using a M42 to EOS adapter, I tested this lens on a Canon EOS 6D and EOS 650D.  On the 650D, the angle of view is similar to 216mm.  A 216mm f3.5 lens sounds attractive.

First of all, lets’ talk about the lens itself.  It has an aperture ring and is manual focus only.  It is all metal construction and is well built.  The focus ring is smooth with plenty of rotation required between infinity and minimum focus distance.  The long focus movement is a useful feature to aid focus accuracy.  I did not find it difficult to focusing in good light if the subject is not moving.  If the subject is moving, that is totally different experience.  This lens has an Auto or Manual switch near the base.  This refers to the aperture control.  In Auto, the pin at the back of the lens is pressed and the aperture ring stops down.  When using an adapter, it can only be used in Manual mode when you manually change the aperture.  It does mean the view finder gets darker if you stop down.  So, how does this lens do on a modern digital SLR?  Quite well is my answer.  For the cost it is amazing if you’re happy to focus manually.  You can achieve quite blur background with this lens.  Here are a few photos taken with my EOS 650D at f3.5.  The bokeh blur is quite respectable and a lot better than any kit lens can.  Here are a few photos taken with the lens wide open at f3.5.

f3.5 with Canon EOS 650D

f3.5 with Canon EOS 650D

f3.5 with Canon EOS 650D

This lens is reasonable good in resisting flare.  I shot the image below at f3.5 into the tree with the sun on the corner.  It does not do too badly.  On the same image, you can also see the level of chromatic aberration.  It is an extremely high contrast situation and it shows.  This is likely to be as bad as it can be.  You will need to shoot raw and post process if you want to avoid this.

Flare resistance not too bad

Not too much chromatic aberration for a high contrast situation 

One thing I’ve noticed is when stopped down, the camera over expose the same scene.  Here is an example of what I mean.  The following three images were taken at f3.5, f5.6 and f8.  The metering mode was centre weighted.  The scene is over exposed progressively worse from f3.5 to f8.  I did not try different metering mode, but it may be important to you if you shoot jpeg and will need to dial in exposure compensation if you stop down.  For me, it will not be a big deal as I will most likely to shoot wide open with this lens all the time.

f3.5 Canon EOS 650D

f5.6 Canon EOS 650D

f8 Canon EOS 650D

As a portrait lens it does quite well.  The following photo were taken with Canon EOS 6D, a full frame camera.
f3.5 with Canon EOS 6D

f3.5 with Canon EOS 6D

f3.5 with Canon EOS 6D

Here are a few more photos taken on a bright sunny day in The City of London.  All taken with Canon EOS 6D.  I shot as much as possible at f3.5 unless it was too bright, but I need not keep records of what aperture I shot at.

In summary it is a good lens.  It surpassed my expectation, if you don't mind manual focus.  135mm on a full frame camera is a great focal length for portraits.  There is very little distortion and shallow depth of field can be achieved with smooth bokeh.  Sharpness will not be up to the standard of modern lens but in a lot of cases, composition and content are more important than sharpness.  Sharpness on its own can be over rated.

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