Monday, April 4, 2011

Pentax Takumar Lenses that I like -- SMC 50mm f1.4

I started using manual focus lenses on my DSLR in since 2005.  They were all M42 mount lenses.  Back then, manual focus lenses were still pretty cheap.  An SMC 50mm f1.4 can be had for around $40.  My first Takumar was a moldy, Super Takumar 50mm f1.4 with fungus growing on the rear elements, but I loved it.  Interestingly, that was the first lens I bought from Paul at the Outlet Store.  Over the years, I have pretty much had many copies of all version of this lens: Super-Takumar 50mm f1.4, Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 50mm f1.4, and the latest SMC 50mm f1.4.  The last version has the plastic skin over the metal focusing ring, whereas other versions are all metal.  

The only drawback I see with this lens, is that it can't be used on full frame Canon cameras.  The rear element would hit the mirror when focused to infinity.  Another minor complain is its yellowing elements for the earlier versions.  But man, what a joy it is to use this lens.  In terms of workmanship, it has to be one of the best, regardless of price.  Not quite the same as Leica, but darn close.  This lens, like all early Takumar lenses, is a dream to focus.  You turn the focusing ring, and it feels like a butter knife going through a brick of warm butter.  Great built quality is nothing if the optical quality sucks, but of course, the Takumars are also known for excellent optics.

After decades, the SMC 50mm f1.4 Takumar is still as close to, if not better some of its modern counterparts in terms of image quality.  In terms of build quality, it's beyond compare.  My 50mm f1.2L lens is not as well built as this lens.  The bokeh on this lens is sweet and delicious.  If you can have only one affordable 50mm f1.4 manual focus lens, this is a prime candidate.  I have not had any regrets with any of the Takumar lenses I have own, not even the one with fungus.

Iris -- Canon 10D & Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 50mm f1.4. Click to see larger.

Megan (2005) -- Canon 10D & SMC Takumar 50mm f1.4.


  1. I have this lens too!!!
    I did not test it out yet, but it looks like it has a bubble on the rear end:

    Do you think it will affect picture quality???


    1. Hi Nicole,

      Looks like fungus is starting to grow on the rear elements. I had one with far worse shape and it produced acceptable pictures, but contrast suffered a lot. Sample picture here: Generally, scratches/fungus affect the image quality more on the rear elements than on the front, because that's where the image is formed. In your case, unless it's very cheap, or you can get it cleaned very cheaply, I won't buy it. Hope that helps.

    2. This is a great lens! I used Leica M4, Nikon F and Pentax Spotmatic cameras in the US Army in the 1970s. Pentax made superb optics for 35mm and 6x7 formats.
      Have you ever tried any of the 50mm f1.2 optics?
      Many have beautiful BOKEH.

      You have a Great site!

      Keep up the excellent posts,

    3. @nikonf: no I don't have, and haven't used any Pentax 50mm f1.2. I came close to buying the Pentax-A 50mm f1.2 but the price was too much. That has to be one of the best 50mm f1.2 lenses made.