The Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5 is a wide-angle prime lens that was made by Pentax in the early-1960’s through mid-1970’s for their M42-mount cameras. If you are a regular reader of the Fuji X Weekly blog, you will know that I love to pair my Fujifilm X-T30 with vintage lenses like this one. It’s incredibly fun for me, as I learned photography in the film era with manual-only cameras and lenses. Besides, many of these old lenses have tons of character that can add a little extra interest to my pictures. Super-Takumar lenses tend to be especially great, so I was excited to give this one a try.
There are actually four variations of the 28mm f/3.5 Takumar lens. The first two are very similar to each other. The main difference is that the original model has a minimum aperture of f/22 while the second model has a minimum aperture of f/16. The third and fourth models have a completely different design inside and out from the first two, and aside from sharing the same focal-length and maximum aperture, they don’t have all that much in common with the earlier models. My copy is the original version, which dates back to somewhere between 1962 and 1965.
Because of the crop factor, when mounted to my Fujifilm X-T30, the Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5 lens has a focal-length equivalence of 42mm, which is barely wide-angle. It’s very close to being a “standard” prime. It’s actually a great all-around focal-length, which makes it especially appealing for many different genres of photography. The minimum focus distance is about 15″, so it’s not a macro lens and you can’t focus particularly close to your subject. The f/3.5 maximum aperture isn’t all that impressive, which means that this lens isn’t the best option for achieving a shallow depth-of-field or for low-light situations. Since it’s an M42-mount lens, you’ll need an adapter to use it on your Fujifilm X camera.
This lens has some obvious flaws. At f/3.5 there’s significant corner softness and vignetting, both of which don’t completely disappear until f/8. Center sharpness is good-but-not-great when wide open, and I noticed some chromatic aberrations, too, but both improve significantly as you stop down. This lens has noticeable barrel distortion, which is obvious if you photograph brick walls and not especially obvious otherwise. Flare isn’t controlled especially well (I’m sure the Super-Multi-Coated version is much better at controlling flare), but I like the way the lens renders flare, so at least there’s that. Bokeh is rather mediocre.
What I love about the Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5 lens is that it’s super sharp (“tack as a Tak”), especially between f/5.6 and f/16. The sweet-spot for this lens is between f/8 and f/11, which means if you are an “f/8 and be there” type of photographer, this lens will suit you well! Below f/5.6 there’s noticeable corner softness and even the center isn’t quite as crisp, becoming worse as the aperture increases, although it is still sharp even when wide open. Diffraction sets in when the aperture is smaller than f/11, but really isn’t a problem until beyond f/16. This lens has great contrast and renders pictures very nice overall. It’s built solidly, and my copy functions smoothly and flawlessly, like it’s new and not over 55 years old.
The Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5 lens certainly has some shortcomings, but it also has some great strengths. Whether or not those strengths outweigh the weaknesses depends on how you use it. It’s a great lens within a somewhat small envelope, and a so-so lens outside of that. I personally love it, but part of that might be because I’ve learned when to use it to best take advantage of its strengths, and when it’s better to put it on the shelf. The Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5 is not a lens that I will use all of the time, but it’s definitely a great one to use when the time is right.