The Asahi SMC-Takumar 50mm f/1.4 is a legendary M42-mount lens made by Pentax in the mid-1960’s through the mid-1970’s. There are four different versions of the Takumar 50mm f/1.4 that were manufactured. The first version is optically different from the three that followed. Versions three and four are Super-Multi-Coated and are slightly radioactive (version two might also be radioactive, but the first version is for certain not). My copy is the fourth version. Some say that the original version is better, while some say that versions three and four are better. There are endless debates, but, regardless of which Takumar 50mm f/1.4 lens you have, you can be assured it’s a great lens!
The Asahi SMC-Takumar 50mm f/1.4 is super sharp in the center at all apertures. Even at f/16, which is subject to diffraction, the lens is pretty sharp. Below f/4 there’s some noticeable corner softness, which is quite pronounced at f/1.4. There’s vignetting when wide open, but that disappears completely by f/4. From f/4 to f/11, this lens is “tack as a Tak” (as the kids used to say), and that’s where it optimally performs. I noticed some chromatic aberrations when wide open and focused close to the end of the lens. There’s a little distortion that you’ll only notice when photographing brick walls, and even then you’ll only barely notice. It’s a tremendous lens, no doubt about it!
A lot of people talk about bokeh, and it’s a misunderstood term. People get it confused with depth-of-field. The Takumar 50mm f/1.4, which when mounted to my Fujifilm X-T30 is equivalent to 75mm, has an excellent close focus distance of about 18 inches. That’s not quite macro territory, but when you combine the focal length with the close focus capabilities and the very small maximum aperture, it’s possible to get a super thin depth-of-field. This means that you can get a whole lot of the frame out-of-focus, which some people call bokeh by mistake. Depth-of-field is the amount of blur, while Bokeh is the quality of the blur, and it is subjective. Bokeh is pretty darn good on this lens, although in my opinion the Fujinon 90mm f/2 actually has better bokeh, if you want something to compare it to. Still, you won’t be disappointed by the blur, whether the amount or quality, especially at the larger apertures.
The coating on this lens, which controls flare only moderately well, has a yellowish tint that shows up in pictures. It’s easy to correct with white balance if you don’t like it, or perhaps it adds to the charm of the lens if you do like it. I personally like it. The lens has pretty good contrast. It feels solid and well built. It’s about average size and weight for a vintage “nifty-fifty” lens. You’ll need an M42 to Fuji X adapter to mount it to your Fujifilm camera.
The Takumar 50mm f/1.4 is an all manual lens, which means that you’ll have to adjust the aperture and focus yourself. The aperture ring and focus ring work very well on my copy. It may take some practice to get the hang of using it if you don’t have much experience with manual lenses. I used full-manual cameras for many years when I shot film, so I actually enjoy it, as it’s a bit therapeutic for me.
The Asahi SMC-Takumar 50mm f/1.4 is an excellent vintage lens! It really is something special. It’s not perfect from a technical standpoint, but it’s those flaws that make it special. It’s super sharp and will produce lovely pictures. This is one of those must-have lenses if you enjoy manual photography. Below are some pictures that I captured using this lens with a Fujifilm X-T30. Enjoy!
Asahi Super-Takumar 135mm
Asahi SMC Macro-Takumar 50mm f/4
Regardless not irregardless.
Hi Ritchie, love the test shots. You are talented at manual focusing. I have the SMC Takumar 55mm f/2 but I don’t use it much. I’ll keep working on my skill.
It’s fun for me, but I understand that it’s not for everyone. If manual focus doesn’t work for you, then don’t force yourself to do it. But, if you think that you could benefit from practicing it more, I would recommend getting outside your comfort zone and practice. Take care!
Depth of field is not amount of blur. It refers to the distances from the camera that the image appears to be in focus (the opposite of blur). These distances form a range, which has “depth” at which the “field” is in focus. The phrase you likely want is simply “amount of (background) blur”.
Depth-of-field is “The depth of the field that’s in focus.” That also means that everything that does not lie within that depth is the opposite of focus, which is blur. A large depth-of-field means lots in focus, which conversely means little blur, and a small depth-of-field means little in focus, which conversely means lots of blur. It’s like explaining cold to someone who doesn’t understand temperatures. Cold is the amount of heat that there is, more specifically, almost no heat at all. When you have a small amount of heat you get cold, and when you have a small amount of focus—a narrow depth-of-field—you get blur. Both of those statements are true. I hope this all makes sense.
Outside the DOF, the image will be blurred, but the amount is not strictly determined by DOF. Consider 35mm and 70mm lenses at the same F-stop. Shoot a subject so that the DOF is exactly the same. The amount of background blur will be more from the 70mm lens. It will be approximately double that of the 35mm lens. The blur is basically magnified more at the longer focal length.
I have used this calculator more than once, found it to be helpful:
You can check with an 18-55/3.5-5.6 kit zoom. With the following two settings, the DOF is the same, but the amount of background blur is different.
18mm, F5.6, 54cm ⇒ DOF 19.2cm
55mm, F5.6, 167.5cm ⇒ DOF 19.2cm
It’s all very interesting, isn’t it? I appreciate the thoughtful input!
Blimey it’s like being back at school here 🤣
LOL. I think the phrase is “gorblimey” derived from old English phrase “God blind me”. LOL. 😀
Yep. I watch too much British television. My dad was a big fan of the words “blooming” , “bloody” and “loo”.
actually cor blimey not gorblimey 🙂 and blimey is the shortened version. Yes from God blind me or God blame me. 🙂
Just about every Super Takumar lens is, well, super. I have a 28, a 35, and a 50 and they are all “sharp as Taks”. The only trouble is the 35 has gone yellow from the thorium content so it needs correcting when used for colour.
I recently purchased a bunch of Super Takumars, and I’ve only just begun to use them. This one is definitely super. Thank you for the input!
Good lens and good pictures 🙂
Hello Ritchie. I really admire your work here, congrats!
I have a question. I also have this lens and the yellow tint is noticeble, do you use any specific film simulation that you think goes well with this pentax? Thanks, cheers.
Thank you! I have heard that if you have a strong yellow tint, that if you leave the lens out in the sun for a couple hours, it improves it a little. Mine has a yellow tint, but it’s not severe. Any recipe that’s not already especially warm does well, but if you use ones that are already pretty warm (such as many of the Kodak recipes), it might make it too warm. I hope this helps!
Ohh thanks for the answer. Actually i like the yellow tint, makes the old schoold look without use of any simulation. I will try the lens with your receipe of the Fujicolor superia 800, beautiful tones, for my eyes a little green. That one is a little cooler, maybe a color mess with the lens. Lets try. Thanks one more time. Cheers!
Superia 800 might be an excellent choice!