Takumar 135mm f/3.5 on Nex

This is a review of my Takumar 135mm f/3.5 M42 mount lens on my Sony Nex 6 camera.

Description

This lens is an M42 mount lens made in about  1973. It has an aperture range of f/3.5 to f/22 and a closest focusing distance of about 1.5 meters, or 5 feet. The aperture ring is controlled by a small pin protruding from the bottom of the mount, and there is an Auto/Manual switch fitted to disable the pin and make the aperture controllable by the aperture ring. I bought my copy from eBay for £26 and I paid another £3.50 for an original Takumar screw on lens hood to match it. The takumar len range was produced by Pentax for their M42 spotmatic slr range before they moved to the K mount bayonet fitting when they changed to using the Pentax name. They have the reputation of being exceptional lenses, and some examples, like the 50mm f/1.4 carry pretty high price tags.

Usability

Compared to a modern telephoto lens this is a nice lens to carry and use because it is lightweight. Obviously it doesn’t have some of the features of a modern lens such as an autofocus motor or image stabilisation, but personally I find manual focus with focus peaking faster and more reliable than autofocus and image stabilisation, although nice, adds considerably to the cost.

On my Nex the lens is quite long with the adapter, lens and hood fitted. The focus ring on my example is perhaps slightly too well damped; It certainly wouldn’t slip out of focus, which is nice, but it can take quite an effort to move it and it would be difficult to rapidly change focus. This could be completely down to my example of course, but all the other takumar lenses I have are also on the well damped side so I suspect this is typical. The actual adjustment range is good, taking about 3/4 of a turn from infinity to closest focus point and the machined grip is easy to grasp with a gloved hand. The aperture adjustment is a click-stop ring with half stop click from f/3.5 to f/16 then a full stop to f/22. The aperture auto/manual switch is positioned at the top of the lens to make it easy to operate, but on a modern digital camera like the nex the lens is left in manual mode because there is no pin actuation machanism to stop the lens down as the picture is taken. If I use the lens on my spotmatic however it is easy to set it to manual from the normal auto setting.

Bokeh

The background bokeh on this lens will not have the perfect circles of a lens with more aperture blades (this lens has 6 blades) but being a telephoto focal length means it will be pretty easy to get background de-focus effects. These are often used to good effect in portraits to isolate the subject, so I’ve included a few samples below of a couple of concrete bears which sit in our garden taken at different apertures. These images are all straight from Lightroom with no post processing other than the white balance.

Definition

I have found the definition of the lens to be very good – certainly exceeding the quality I would expect of a modern kit lens. I think some of the sample pictures below show this.

Macro use

With the lens fitted to the camera using an Nex to M42 adaptor it is not very effective as a macro lens because the close focusing distance is too far away. However the addition of a short extension tube can make a world of difference and turn the lens into a pretty effective macro tool. The shots in the gallery below were all taken with this lens and a 10+17mm extension combination at a variety of apertures and although they don’t have huge levels of magnification, they are still well defined close up shots, if not true macro.

Video

Whilst I was out taking the pictures for this post I also took a short video clip which may be useful to some people who like to use manual lenses for video work.

Some other sample shots taken with this lens.

These are all shots taken with the takumar 135mm f/3.5 over the course of the last few days whilst I’ve been preparing this post. They have all been post processed in Lightroom to try to show the lens off to its best. To view all the pictures in this post at full size follow this link.

All in all I think this is an excellent quality lens which is well worth the price I paid for it and a useful addition to my Takumar family.



Categories: Photography, Reviews, Takumar/Pentax, Vintage

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8 replies

  1. A good review of a lens I haven’t thought about in years. I mentioned your review to my wife and she fondly reminisced about how that was her favourite lens when she used a Pentax ESII back in the late 1970s.

    • Thanks for the comment. I have to say I find all the takumar lenses really good and incredible value for money these days. Even the 50mm f/1.4 (which I don’t yet own) which would cost up to £130 is still a fantastic bargain when you look at the price v performance.

      • Ya Simon, those old Pentax lenses are a bargain when you can find ’em. Sadly, around here many languish in basements till the seals go. Although once in a wile someone will tell me they picked old Pentax bodies and lenses up at some weekend garage sale. I always have not so interesting Pentax stuff at my shop – and sometimes a coincidence like the two 200mm f/4 lenses: one is K-mount and the other scew-mount.

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