Vintage Lens: Vivitar 135mm F/2.8

I picked up a vintage Vivitar 135mm f/2.8 lens at an antique store in Texas for $15. It was not well taken care of, with scratches on the glass and dust inside of it, but definitely still in usable condition. My copy of this lens is M42-mount, and I just so happen to have an M42-to-Fuji-X adapter that I’ve owned for several years now, which allows me to attach this lens to my Fujifilm X-E4.

Vivitar lenses are interesting because Vivitar didn’t actual make lenses. They contracted with other manufacturers (most you’ve probably never heard of, but a few you have) to produce lenses for them. My copy was made in 1978 by Komine (as indicated by the serial number), which has been regarded as one of the “better” Vivitar manufacturers. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of inconsistency with Vivitar lenses, but they’re generally regarded as decent, and sometimes good. My copy of the 135mm f/2.8 seems to be good, despite the wear.

One thing that’s surprising is how small the Vivitar 135mm f/2.8 lens is despite its long telephoto reach. With the adapter attached to it, it’s still smaller than the Fujinon 90mm f/2. Fujifilm doesn’t have a prime lens that’s longer than the 90mm, except for the really big and expensive 200mm f/2, so the 135mm fills a gap in the Fujinon lineup. Really, Fujifilm should consider adding a prime lens that’s longer than 90mm, such as a 135mm f/2.8. Because of the crop-factor, this lens is full-frame equivalent to 202.5mm on my X-E4, which makes it great for wildlife or headshots, but challenging for other types of photography. Because of the focal length, unless your camera has IBIS, I recommend using a minimum shutter speed of 1/250 to ensure sharp photographs.

On my copy, the aperture ring, which has 1/2 stop clicks (that used to be common, but nowadays 1/3 intermediate stops are most common), works perfect, and the minimum aperture is f/22. The focus ring is smooth—a dream to use—and the minimum focus distance is about five feet.

The image quality produced by this lens is interesting. I’m not sure if it is the scratches and dust, or if it is simply the design of the lens, but there’s a slight “romantic softness” to the pictures. It seems to have slightly less micro-contrast compared to many of the lenses that I’ve used. It’s very reminiscent of what you get when you use a diffusion filter. I actually really like it, except for when the sun is near the frame, because the glare can be intense. I read that chromatic aberrations can be quite pronounced, but my copy doesn’t appear to be prone to it… or else the camera is automatically taking care of it behind the scenes.

I love going to antique stores and flea markets to find cheap treasures like the Vivitar 135mm f/2.8 lens. It’s not for use all of the time, but this lens can be a lot of fun and highly rewarding⁠—I’m so glad that I found it and took a chance on it. For $15, I really couldn’t be happier⁠—probably the best $15 I’ve ever spent on photography!

Some pictures that I captured with the Vivitar 135mm f/2.8 lens on my Fujifilm X-E4:

Urban Cycling – Fort Worth, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600
Chevy Mirror – Fort Worth, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Classic Mirror – Fort Worth, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Green – Fort Worth, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Concrete Steps – Fort Worth, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Urbanscaped – Fort Worth, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
High Rise – Fort Worth, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
3 Lamps – Vernon, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Old House Roofline – McKinney, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Ballyhoo – Childress, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 & Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Golden Lake – Culleoka, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 + Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”
Lake Sunset – Culleoka, TX – Fujifilm X-E4 + Vivitar 135mm – “Fujicolor Natura 1600”

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Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5 + Fujifilm X-T30

Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5

Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5

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.

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American Christmas – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5

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Roof Curve – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5

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Ice Cold City – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5

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Iowa Pump – Centerville, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5

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House Blend – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5

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Style – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5

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Sisters – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5

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Jo at a Museum – Salt Lake City, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5

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Amanda Waiting – Riverdale, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5

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Criddle’s Cafe – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f/3.5

See also:
Downtown SLC w/Fujifilm X-T30 & Asahi Lenses
Asahi Super-Takumar 135mm
Asahi SMC Macro-Takumar 50mm f/4
Asahi SMC-Takumar 50mm f/1.4