Super Takumar 50mm f/1.4 Lens

August 30 2021 · photos super-takumar

The Super-Takumar 50mm f/1.4 lens was manufactured by Asahi (now Pentax) in the 1960s for SLRs cameras. Fast forward sixty years and this lens is now regarded for its character. Shot wide open at f/1.4 it provides a smooth background blur and subtle vignette swirl. Combined with the golden tint these lenses have developed from a thorium coating produces photographs like no other.

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Metal and glass. With normal vintage lens problems such as a sticky focus ring.

With modern digital cameras we control the white balance of our shots so the golden tint can easily be taken away. But the reason I and, judging by everything I’ve read on the internet, everyone else gets the Super Takumar 50mm f/1.4 these days is for that golden glow. When using this lens I found that autumn and sunrise colours took on a rich colour. Quite happily scenes shot at normal or low lighting had no visible tint.

Bolton St Cemetery, Wellington. f/1.4

Bolton St Cemetery, Wellington. f/1.4

Shot wide open at f/1.4 this lens gives a very ethereal look. The short depth of field combines with a vignetting swirl to add movement and takes the eye around the picture. Shoot at a cemetery, run the image through a gray scale filter, throw in a bit of grain, and the result you get is haunting.

Bolton St Cemetery, Wellington. f/1.4

Bolton St Cemetery, Wellington. f/1.4

And, of course, bokeh. Here with relatively close autumn leaves as light sources.

Autumn morning in the Wellington Botanical Gardens. Shot at f/2.8

Autumn morning in the Wellington Botanical Gardens. f/2.8

Here’s a shot across the Wellington Harbour with the street lights of Mt Victoria in the background.

Len Lye Water Whirler, Wellington. f/1.4

Len Lye Water Whirler, Wellington. f/1.4

The night-time performance of the lens is OK but really you’re relying on the capability of your camera body. I shot all of these photos handheld with the Sony a7rii. I also took the lens out a few times late at night with a tripod. Shooting longer exposures of lights around and across the harbour with a smaller aperture resulted in consistent colour fringing and chromatic aberrations; likely due to the design and coatings on this older lens.

Rainy night in Wellington City. f/2.8

Rainy night in Wellington City. f/2.8

Rainy Wellington waterfront. f/1.4

Rainy Wellington waterfront. f/1.4

Stopped down the lens is acceptably sharp. Fine focus throughout the frame, and the corners aren’t overly soft. A lens hood will help reduce flaring.

Rob Roy Glacier valley. Stopping down gives sharpness.

Rob Roy Glacier valley. Stopping down gives sharpness.

Matukituki Valley

Matukituki Valley

The Super-Takumar 50mm f/1.4 is fun to shoot with. Wide open it shows a unique character which you’re just not going to see in modern lenses. Stopped down it delivers quality images and when you get used to the manual focusing makes it a fine every day lens.

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