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Monday, December 10, 2012

Takumar 50 1.4 Tests & Review : Updated

pentax takumar ashi 50 1.4 1965


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I keep turning up these really great lenses some how. Found again locally here, I turned up a classic Pentax Asahii Takumar 50 1.4 made sometime in 1966 based on lens markings. If you feed it some backlight it makes simply gorgeous lens flares as above. Yet it still has lots of sharpness and a cool diffused glow wide open. Its a great people shooting lens when you need that look which modern glass just isn't going to give you. Ok, you can get a (black) Pro Mist or Soft FX filteror any number of other diffusers onto your lens but its not the same look. If you want that classic vintage 60's look its as simple and easy as just USING a lens made in that period.

The shot below is the same location, one day later,  taken aimed slightly more to the left from the same spot.  Again plenty of sharpness from this old lens even fairly wide open. We are of course talking about the original 5K still images. In 1920X1080 video they of course  look great.  On the top image I did only some very minor adjustments in the raw settings to pull in the clouds in the sky. The rest of the image is how it came from the camera

winter snow pentax takumar 50 1.4 60D

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pentax takumar asahi 50 1.4 1.8

One thing you may notice about a lot of Takumar lenses is the gold color of the front elements. That color does in fact effect the image. You can certainly balance it out with a custom WB setting, but for some types  of shooting consider it a fulltime 81A or B warming filter. Its nowhere near an 85 in terms of effect. If you look thru the optical viewfinder and then look up you can also see the warming effect. My guess is that at some point when most folks were shooting B&W this was somewhat like a yellow contrast boosting filter, but a bit more subtle. Probably for color they figured at least for prints you could easily enough print it out with filtration or just enjoy the warmer tones. What I did find is that shooting with the 60D in RAW, sometimes I did very much get that warm tone as above. Other times the camera picked up on the warmness and white balanced a bit cooler to compensate. I actually have back to back shots with minor lighting changes of the same thing where I can see the camera rebalance the RAW images. When looking through everything later, I can say I almost always preferred the warmer shots which had more character. So the color rendition of these lenses is not a bad thing unless you are trying to do the opposite of what this lens wants to give you ... in which case just change lenses ! 



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In the portrait above of my wonderful partner Sharon the warm tones and flare made a cold winter day look far warmer in 1960 something that it looks like ! I did do a couple little changes to the image, mainly in taking down the saturation of the blue scarf a bit, pulling the highlights down in the RAW image and thats about it. I could certainly of used the image straight from the camera with equally nice results.

One more image. This one is actually stitched together from 3 verticals because I couldn't get enough space to shoot it horizontally. This puts the "original" at about 9K res. 

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This is a lens made when a lens WAS a lens. Its all metal no fooling around with plastic. Its got some heft to it to be sure. It has smooth focusing all these years later as proof of its quality construction. Is there a down side ? yes the stupid backwards focus direction. This completely throws me as I've learned to know which way to turn a lens based on how it looks to get focus. Its not quite the end of the word since the look of this lens is so nice, but it is a big downside you'll just have to deal with for all its goodness. 


Overall this is a very nice lens with some very interesting characteristics that you will either love or hate. I probably depends far more on the image you want to create, the style, period, texture. The more vintage glass I get, at least primes anyway, I find they have tons more resolution than the film stocks of their day ever had. They still made nice sharp images on modern sensors never dreamed about 40 something years ago.

So someday I'm going to get all these 50mm lenses together for a shoot out. In particular I'd like to pair in a new 50mm or two and repeat the vintage lens shoot out with matched lenses. Meanwhile I keep my eyes open for other glass like this whenever it happens to turn up. Thoughts folks ?