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Monday, 31 July 2017

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I have two 50 1.4 lenses that I use on my K1, the modern FA one and the K-mount M version. They seem to give different results, perhaps because the coating has changed over the years. To me the FA results look a little more modern, like what you would expect from a modern lens...

And the SMC Pentax-M has a little less contrast, and more of a pastel look to the colors...

Now you have me wanting to try other versions, just to see what the difference might be. Suppose I'll need to order a screw-mount adapter.

Love it when you talk about lenses and cameras. I have several old Pentax about.

When I bought my OM-1, the Pentax was another choice.
If I recall correctly, the Spotmatic was of a similar size, which was a big selling point at that time, but I went with the OM. Just about everyone in my circle of photo "buffs" bought the Pentax. I always thought the Pentax was underrated, as many considered it a beginners SLR, and moved on to Nikons and Canons.

I have two of those 50s - the Super Takumar version that came with my Spotmatic, and SMC that came with my ES. I shall look at them with new respect now (though I spent the last ten minutes comparing the smoothness of focusing action between various 50s I have, and can't rightly say it's superior to canons or minoltas or konicas or whatevers of the same era. Maybe I'm not invested emotionally enough).
Incidentally, the yellow tint of the glass works perfectly well for cloudy days as a sort of built in warming filter.

The SpotII was my first 'serious' camera, loved it- but finally decided to sell it one cold NY winter day when my fingers got numb as the damn screw mount just rolled and rolled around refusing to catch the body!

Thanks for that fascinating tour, Mike. I grew up in a "Pentax" household (Dad had an SP500 which I have now). In 1979, when I was 19, my Sister-in-Law kindly gave me her Praktica LTL with a Pentacon 50mm and my brother said something along the lines of "but you have to buy a better lens, get a Pentax". So I went down to our local shop (Kerrisdale Cameras in Vancouver (still there and I still shop there)) and bought an 8-element Super-Takumar 50/1.4.

That lens has been with me ever since. When I could afford to buy better cameras in the mid-80's, I bought a Pentax LX and an M42-K adaptor and kept the Super-Tak. Even after building a collection of six other k-mount lenses, I used the Super-Tak until I "retired" it in the '90's. Shortly after that, my 35mm kit was stolen in a house break-in but the original Super-Tak remained because it was stuffed in a box in the basement!

I now use it on the afore-said SP500 (even though that camera has a 55/1.8 "kit" lens that is perfectly good) and I recently bought an M42-Micro4/3 adaptor to use on my EM-1 but I haven't really used that enough to know whether it's a good use of the lens.

I should confess that, at the time I bought it and for 20-years after that, I had no idea there was such a thing as 8-element vs. 7-element. It passes at least three of the tests you mention to distinguish eight elements from seven elements but so I'm sticking with my story that I have the rarer variety. But, as you suggest, it may be no better than the other type and I've never bothered to find out.

One last thing about 8-elements, many years ago I bought an M42-EOS adaptor to use old lenses on a Canon Elan. Although many lenses worked just fine, I found that, when focussed at infinity, the camera mirror collided with the rear of the lens(!). That started me on to puzzling about why this one lens was a different shape than the others.

My 50mm 1.4 is one of those that developed a yellowish cast. I tried the sunlight cure, wrapping the lens in tinfoil -that's part of the lore, and found it took a lot more than a few hours to reduce the golden glow. So anyone looking to buy one to use with a Spottie should look into this potentially troubling quirk. With a digital camera a quick white balance tweak does the trick of course.

Always wondered about the name! "Spotmatic" really sets expectations. Not that I'd want a spot meter as the only pattern in a built-in on a 35mm camera (is that hedged enough?).

First I had the Bolsey 35 with no meter, then the Miranda Sensorex with the bottom-weighted meter, then an M3 with no meter and the Spotmatic with a full averaging meter. Finally got the "conventional" center-weighted meter with my Nikon FM, and then abandoned Nikon for the multi-spot that Olympus had (which turned out not to be as useful as I had expected, sadly, and then Oly missed the AF revolution and I had to go back to Nikon). A lifetime of wanderings! And probably not done yet.

It stands to reason the 8 element Super-Takumar is one better than the 7 ;)

Oh, I've been meaning to ask you if you think any of the old manual Pentax 35 mm lenses are worth seeking out.

I once had an SP 500. It was a like a jewel. The radiation may have been due to an early form of low dispersion glass that contained thorium. The Kodak Aero Ektars dating from WW2 used this and they too go brown in time. It is said to be due to the glass being affected by the radiation and, as you say, people report that leaving the lens in the sun will clear it. I doubt that there would be enough radiation to be dangerous.

Hmmm, I still have a couple of 50s from my Pentax days - an SMC A f1.7 and an SMC M f1.4. I suspect my Pentax-K to MFT adaptor may be getting the dust blown off it soon.

Oh, and I would still be a Pentax user if they made what I wanted, but they don't. Maybe that's why I've gone from pseudo-Canadian to grumpy old man. ;-)

Whenever a new film student shows up with an old Spotmatic or K-1000 all the older professors, now full-blown digital wonks, coo and wax nostalgic. "That's a keeper", is often heard.

It was a fine standard back in the day and a part of a general awareness of what photography was about. I found one left under a cafe table in Quimper in Normandy that I returned to the barman in1975. I had no idea how to use it but I knew it as good: it was a Pentax and the workmanship was clear to see. Someone would surely miss it.

"How come you always load your Pentax
When I'm in the nude?"

Popsicle Toes, 1976, by Michael Frank's.

So what's your opinion of the Pentax 50mm 1.8's? The 1.4's were the "ones to have", but aside from the coolness factor and 2/3 stop less light, I can't tell which of my own pictures came from the 1.8 and which from the 1.4.

The Pentax SF1n, and its stripped down sister, the SF1, were pretty nice off-the-radar cameras. You could back up either one with a K1000 and you were all set.

In 1972, when my well-used '37 Rollie Standard was stolen, I decided to replace it with a 35mm, wanting to be able to use a telephoto. The Pentax two-lense kit was much lighter in a backpack than the Nikon, which was not affordable anyway.

Because I was buying new (something I have rarely done in 50 years of camera buying, using, collecting), and being a perpetually broke college student, there was some serious budget stretching going on. Trying to save a few bucks I agonized over the decision to get the SP 500 rather than the SP 1000. The understanding salesman told me to turn the shutter speed dial one click past the 500 to the unmarked position where the magic 1000 would have been if I'd had enough money. Clicked right in there! He then explained to me how much cheaper it was for Pentax to change the dial cover rather than the shutter.

Used that camera for everything for several years until switching to Canon. The Pentax, along with a 90mm macro and a couple of small Vivitar strobes then became a dedicated closeup rig that I used until going digital about ten years ago.

Not sure, but I think that the 50mm it had was a 1.8. I do remember that when I made the switch to Canon, the 1.4 50mm FL seemed sharper than the Pentax lens had been.

And as for Canadians, I resemble that remark, nyuck nyuck. Sent from a cabin, in the woods, on an island, in Canada.

My goodness MIke. As a Canadian and a Pentaxian, I am blushing profusely at your kind words. Should you ever venture across the Niagara River, we must meet at Timmies for a double, double.


After reading your article on Takumars, I spent quality time with Wikipedia, starting with the prompt : 'coating a lens'

Since I love to shoot 50 mm lenses, I found this article fascinating and made me think of questions and comments. Maybe I got too excited, but here goes.

I had a bit of a hard time following the timeline, were the developments mainly in the 60s or also 70s?

In which was is the Super-Takumar better than a Zeiss (which one?) and did the AF area start around 1980 or 1990?

Flat lenses in Planars? If I look here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeiss_Planar I only see concave and convex lenses. Granted, different makers have small differences in their designs.

Last, I've often heard it mentioned on the Web that only some elements would be coated. I find it hard to believe with brand name lenses; if coatings are available, there are big gains applying them to all elements. Granted, the premium coatings may only be for premium lenses or even a number of elements (the classic example being Nikon's use of nanocoating), but leaving surfaces completely uncoated would introduce a clear performance penalty.

Incidentally, Zeiss has a very comprehensive article on coatings on their website: http://lenspire.zeiss.com/en/technical-article-t-star-coating/

Now I'm hoping for an article on favorite normal lenses :-)


My first new camera was a Honeywell Pentax H1a and I loved it. It is also the only camera I ever wore out. A friend had a black H3 and a couple of lenses and it was (and still is) the prettiest black camera I have ever seen. Can't tell you why, it just is

Some Super-Takumar 50mm lenses did indeed have radioactive (thorium) elements internally. They do indeed turn the color of iced tea over time, although *lengthy* exposure to UV light will cure this. The issue is also seen on the early 105/2.4 Super-Takumars made for the Pentax 6x7. In modern times, this was noticed when the Kodak Aero-Ektar 178/2.5 lens (from WWII) became popular for hand-held 4x5 photography. The scientist Michael Briggs put up some truly authoritative pages on the subject, but I can't find them now... worth looking up. Also worth noting that the radioactive lenses are not a danger to the photographers' health, as Dr. Briggs explains in detail.

If you shoot Micro 4/3 and wonder about the images these lenses would make with your camera, I recommend the "Adapted Lens Sample Image Showcase" section of the Mu-43 forums. Here is a link to the "P" section:

https://www.mu-43.com/forums/adapted-lens-sample-image-showcase.81/?alpha=P

All true about Pentaxians! And from what I can see the most generous of all the camera tribes, allowing and acknowledging the goodness of other makes.

Not that there aren't some crackpots. Always are.

I have an original SMC Takumar 50/1.4 part of a Spotmatic F system. It's a fine lens for 35mm film, but it is far from the quality of a modern lens.

...And now, I have a m42 to Fuji adapter on which my 50 1.4 Takumar SMC sits. You weren't kidding about the focus - it's incredible. Love the Spotmatic, a camera good enough to do most anything, except convince me to develop film on a regular basis.

My first SLR was a Pentax, mid-80's, for the life of me I can't remember which (the model numbers I vaguely recall don't seem to match anything), with a 50 of some sort on the front. My second camera was one of them odd-looking Ricoh Mirai cameras which perhaps put off some with looks that actually made the camera a fair delight in the hand. When my Dad got into photography late in life he bought a modern, new Pentax - he saw them as a "quality" brand, which was his thing and which he applied broadly to his obsessions (like running, woodworking tools, practical gifts for Mum). He also knew his father had one, and Pop definitely had the same aspirations for quality, as a somewhat obsessive and pedantic gentleman (theoretically I'll end up with that Pentax, though it resides at an uncle's - I have the mid-1930's Zeiss Ikon Nettar with the hexagonal faceplate, and possibly* his obsessiveness and pedantry).

Anyway, this is a long way of saying I've a legacy admiration for Pentax, but every son's desire to not walk their father's footsteps, at least at first, has taken me to Canon, Olympus and a Fujifilm (Fujifilm now holds my enthusiasm, though to be honest my Canon likes to do everything right). But always with a 50 among the gear-acquisitive quiver. I was actually pleased when Ricoh bought Pentax, still retaining affection for that Mirai. I can't see me moving away from my current love of Fujifilm, though the sins of the father may eventually take me back there.

*I was recently diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, so perhaps these qualities come with the territory, though my lazy, amateur diagnosis may in hindsight look to the family tree too

Aw shucks Mike, what a fine thing to say about Pentaxians. We do seem to revel in our appearance of quirkiness. I shifted from Praktica ('75-80) to Pentax in 1981 or so and kept it up 'til 2000. The digital/y2k era messed me up for a while (just like Pentax?) but I returned in 2010 and really enjoy their gear.

Mike - Thanks for helping me make the decision for my next lens. Last fall, I moved to the Fuji system from Pentax with the purchase of an X-T10. What a joy using the manual focus lenses with the EVF and focus peeking! Had two Takumars in my lens stable; a SMC 50/1.4 and a S-M-C 28/3.5. Bought the necessary adapters and they work great on the Fuji. Then I bought two Voightlander M-mounts, the 40/1.4 and 35/3.5. Again, they are a joy to use. The Voigtlander's tiny size and the much shorter adapter are a great combo. But, I still wanted a really good 50mm with the aesthetic looks of the Super Tak or S-M-C Tak. I had considered the 50/1.5 Nokton, mostly because of the short M-adapter. So when I wrote everything down, the 50 Tak was still the winner and I already HAD one. But, I still like the looks and feel of the ribbed focusing ring vice the rubberized ring on the SMC. So after reading your article today, my mind is made up; get the S-M-C Tak. It's performance is equal to or greater than the Voigtlander (I believe) and it's about 1/10 the cost. For that price difference and its good looks, I can live with the honker adapter. And I get a matching pair of lenses that are amongst the best performing and best looking ever.

As a Pentax Spotmatic ll owner since 1972, I can say without doubt that you have nailed the character of the Pentax owner to within a nanometre. Although your description is possibly a little on the harsh side. I acquired my beautiful thing in Singapore on my way back from UK to Oz. This being the place for cheap gear in those halcyon days. I'll never forget the first time I handled one. Brand new with that beautiful coated 1.4 lens. An Aussie expat in Cricklewood (I met at a party) generously allowed me to handle his brand new glistening machine. Looking into that rainbow lens was like looking into the mysteries of the visible Universe. I was hooked... and vowed to get one first chance I had. I worked on a farm, fixed up houses, worked in a grocery shop and cleaned toilets for around 6 months to save enough for the trip home... and that beautiful camera. I still have it.

Very fun article, Mike. I have to offer a small correction, though. To my knowledge, the Electro Spotmatic and the ES were not the first SLR's to feature autoexposure. I believe the Konica Autoreflex T bested them by maybe three years, with their shutter priority system. It's true, I think the Pentax bodies offered the first stepless electronic shutters with aperture priority auto.

Up until 2011 or thereabouts, I thought I knew what "good" manual focus was. I'd used Olympus OM lenses, Pentax K (vintage and contemporary), Nikon F (vintage and contemporary), Canon EF (both AF lenses and manual-only lenses like the 24L2 TSE and 65 MPE), and the contemporary Zeiss lenses that were held up as the ultimate manual focus orgasm. I'd used lenses that were even, jerky, loose, tight, smooth, and rough, and I felt that I knew what was and wasn't good.

Then I helped a friend with a film class project. Local broadcasters and production houses had donated all the now-obsolete standard definition to the county and students were expected to use it. HD might have been available in cheaper and more convenient packages, but students needed to learn how to use professional gear and a professional workflow, and that was still unaffordable for a continuing education program. But I digress. She was given an enormous over-the-shoulder video camera, a gargantuan Canon ENG lens, and a tripod that musta weighed twenty pounds. I helped her schlep it around and in return, I got to play with it. The lens was really something else. It was bigger and heavier than any 70-200mm f2.8 stills lens but the focus action was effortless, yet simultaneously firm. It took two fingers to move it, but once you'd given it that first nudge, it was perfectly smooth--almost frictionless--but would stay put exactly where you left it when you stopped. There was no slop in the action, unlike every other lens I've ever used. And it was smooth too. I know I've mentioned the smoothness before, but for all the blather I'd read about buttery or silky focus actions, about the blissful perfection of this or that lens, for all the confidence I had in my own judgement on the topic...well...I was so wrong. The ENG lens was unbelievable. Literally. I spent a shameful amount of time just rolling the focus and zoom rings back and forth because I thought, "No, it can't be that good, can it?". It could. It did. It was.

These days, I don't even think about manual focus feel. I mean, there are terrible lenses that I'm never going to use (like the old Canon 50mm f1.8 or any of the cheap kit zooms that come with entry level DSLRs), there are basically okay lenses that I may wind up using (every other still lens in the world), and then there are video lenses that cost more than a new car.

Wonderful history Mike. I knew some of this from the pentaxforums.com website (which is an excellent resource for all things Pentax, by the way, including Takumars).

I've owned the 28/3.5, 24/3.5, 35/3.5, 50/1.4 and 50/1.8 in various combinations of SMC and S-M-C. I do own a Spottie, but I use it only to show my students what a film camera looks like. I did use my Takumars on digital -- Sony A7 and A7r cameras. The 28/3.5 was the nicest lens I've ever owned in mechanical terms. So nice to to hold and operate -- a real jewel. But unfortunately it was terrible on digital. The 50/1.4 is still excellent on digital, and the 35/3.5 is quite decent. The 24/3.5 is no good either, sadly.

Interestingly, I've since switched over to Olympus OM Zuikos on my Fuji X-T2. I did some careful side-by-side comparisons of my Takumar 50/1.4 and my Olympus OM Zuiko 50/1.4 is better!

My first camera was a Ricoh KR-5, the cheaper alternative to a Pentax K-1000, and it used the same mount.
I think it would be a very affordable body to try a nice fast 50. The viewfinder was big and bright and the metering was precise and strait forward to use.
Its shortcoming was a shutter speed limited to 1/500.

Forgot to say, it came back to me thinking about Ricoh buying Pentax, the small copycat buying its model...

The final word on radioactivity in Takumars:

1) It is most certainly the 7 elements that are widely affected. This extends from the Supers all the way up through the SMCs.

2) The radioactive component is a Thorium salt dopant, which is an Alpha emitter.

3) It is NOT the glue, which is a UV cure epoxy, NOT Canada Balsam (pine sap) as often claimed that yellows over time but the glass of the third element from the rear (biconvex in the cemented doublet), which is the radioactive one. It sometimes also affects the adjacent elements to a lesser extent.
See this thread: https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/10-pentax-slr-lens-discussion/322631-super-smc-tak-50mm-f-1-4-thorium-yellowing-cement-glass-blame-settled.html

This phenomenon is common in glass exposed to radiation and is known as "browning" in the literature. Here is a paper on the subject:
http://www.sealandair.fr/pdf/birns-nucleaire/camera-lights/radiation-induced-discoloration.pdf

3)The radiation in regular use is negligent to the point that even with heavy use, the associated risk of cancer from incidental exposure is essentially nil. Intenral exposure would be adiffernet matter, but htat would involve grinding up and inhaling or swallowing bits of the radioactive element.

4) The most effective cure isn't sunlight but rather placing the element under a high intensity UV lamp, which can return the lens to crystal clear in a matter of hours rather than months as sunlight takes.

5) Interestingly, the elements of the SMC Pentax-K are 1:1 interchangeable with the SMC Taks, but they do not use the Thorium dopant and thus do not yellow. The Pentax-M and later have different element geometries, producing slightly different performance.

And just for good measure, some opinions of my own:
My own testing of several samples of each shows the 8 element version produces images no better than the 7 element version. If you want top quality, go for the S-M-C or SMC versions.

Furthermore, production costs for the 8 element lens were not substantially higher than for the 7 element, involving only the grinding of one additional element.The creation of the resulting triplet involves some extra skill, but nothing beyond the capacity of the Asahi engineers.The cult status and story about selling at a loss are based only on rumor and hearsay and are not confirmed by any Asahi employee. Most likely, they are merely a strategy by sellers to inflate the price of this lens.

I have three Pentax 50/1.4s (they came with bodies which is why I have so many, but I use almost exclusively 50mm on 35mm so I use them a lot on said bodies). They are all K-mount, so none of them are the more-legendary ones. I have always thought they were the nicest lenses I had and I'm glad someone with more knowledge agrees!

One thing that is very clear: their build quality (and especially the focusing, which is just a thing of delight) is better than anything else I have. It's better than my Summicron (which is I think the second version -- rigid anyway), and it's much better than any of the three recent M-mount Zeiss lenses I own which are without exception rattly, in one case extremely rattly. I am sure someone will claim that the older, German, ones were better, but I doubt this.

The Pentax fast 50s are just wonderful lenses.

You might take a look at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHjCKiXDIDc.

I quite agree with that Pentax image. Cf using Leica which a real person really shout at me of using non-Leica lens on m8. Or the guy who say bad thing about people using old Zeus lens on Hesseblad. Nothing about that in my Pentax 67 II experience. Everyone is nice. Go to rangefinder forum to meet those people. As nice as you can be. But the lens are not as sharp as Leica or Colourful as Zeiss though.

An awesome read Mike! Thank you!

Since you are a lover of the 35mm focal length, can you tell us something about the "Super-Takumar 1:3.5/35"? I have one of those in M42 screw mount and I happen to think it's special too although I can't prove it.

Yes,..... indeed, they are!

We Pentaxians are still out there, off the beaten track. Way out in the woods, often, where the weather-sealing of modern Pentaxes comes most in handy. We've stepped off the endless merry-go-round of Gear Acquisition Syndrome- new third-party lenses never seem to make include our mounts. There's a limited but comprehensive array of top-shelf Pentax lenses. Once you've found yours, you're set... or you can browse among the vast back catalog of past Pentax lenses, including this one. The craftsmen who assembled my Super-Takumar never imagined it would someday be stabilized to deliver Tak-sharp (!) images onto endlessly reusable film at such long, lazy shutter speeds, but today, that's true. These half-century-old lenses are better and more capable now than the day they were made.

Just two Ricoh-Pentax products cameras cover all my photographic needs. The K-1 gives me FF images of bottomless sharpness with almost any lens I've put on it, but my faves are the new Pentax DF-A 28-105 and the late-film-era F 24-50/4. On the distant end, my Pentax DF-A 300/4 is croppable in camera to 450/4, so there's that. But the one that really punches above its weight is the GRII, a pocketable, retractable-lens APS-C compact whose results are nearly as good. With the little optical VF on the hot shoe and the excellent wide conversion lens, it covers 21mm, 28mm (native) and crops in camera to 35 and 47mm.

Pentax is the road less taken, it's true. You won't often see yourself coming and going, part of the pack. But there's no traffic, low tolls and great scenery on the way.

Radioactivity may or not be a problem depending on the type.

Alpha are large, not very energetic particles that don't travel far and can't get through glass. Chances are this is *not* the radiation that we are talking about since it can fog film.

Gamma and beta are more energetic and dangerous. Without knowing details it is hard to say if they are dangerous.

Neutron is very dangerous, but unlikely to be the radiation we are talking about here, since it doesn't really fog film.

As with most things, the dose makes the poison, as you can see here, with 20 feet of water for shielding, you can look directly at a reactor with no ill effects.

http://www.sandia.gov/research/facilities/annular_core_research_reactor.html

Mike said: "One of the reasons the famous Tessar developed by Paul Rudolph of Zeiss was so sharp is that it had only six air-to-glass surfaces, which minimized flare before lens coatings came along."

Reducing the number of surfaces in a lens will reduce flare and will improve overall contrast (at low MTF) but won't improve the resolution ("sharpness" or maximum MTF). The latter comes from minimizing aberrations in the lens design (not how they're coated).

Sharpness (as people use it today) often seems to mean both high contrast and high resolution but you can have one without the other. In fact, that was common in uncoated lenses before World War 2.

This distinction has been important for some artists like Sally Mann.

Sally Mann said in Hold Still: "The Leica had a Hektor lens with a wobbly focus knob and bad optical coating that caused a bit of flare that I rather liked (and still do).".

She started off with a Leica III and an early 1930s Hektor that her Dad gave to her in 1969. I presume this is a Hektor 50mm f/2.5 (a competitor to the Tessar also with 6 elements in 3 cemented groups). It didn't have a bad coating. It had no coating at all but the cemeting helped with some stray reflections.

The lens gives an interesting mix of sharpness, in the center, and softness on the edges when wide open but without much vignetting. There is also a reduction in overall contrast from the lack of anti-reflection coatings along with a tendency to flare.

These effects all match her large format "sharp/soft" look with selected "not perfect" lenses."

Although AR coatings are important for modern lens designs (as you imply no one would design a 19 element lens without an excellent multilayer AR system) I'd rather like the idea of someone (Sigma, perhaps) releasing a version of their simple f/2.8 mirrorless lenses with no coatings (or perhaps better a few select elements left uncoated -- simulate the lens to find the best mix) to get the same "sharp and soft" effect without buying a collectors lens. The "Arty" Lens series, perhaps! A few people would buy them.

Nice article, Mike.
But I don´t think that Pentax is just for "nice" people. What Pentax does is go under radar. It is a bit like being part of a very leftfield club, somehow.
It is the only company that will sell a 35, 35 macro, 40 pancake [true pancake], 40 pancake XS, 43, 43 HD, 50 [1.8], FF 50 [1.4], 50 macro and 55, plus a 20-40 zoom, or better said, "flexible prime".

11 lenses on the 40mm orbit.
To start with.
Which are all "street photography" lenses.

What was the demise of Pentax was a very lackluster marketing strategy/add strategy. They were, and are, a very japanese company on all the vertical. They are as Japanese as Renault or Angenieux are french.

Rather than polite, I would say that Pentax users have a very hidden sharp edge, that pops out every now and then. Think of it as a Subaru Imprezza SW. All nice and all weather, until the wastegate comes open.

On the very lens itself:
I just own the FA 50 1.4. It is small to all accounts. But it is the overall sharpest lens and the "I will do all" general practitioner. It is a very difficult lens to be dissapointed with. Its best sharpness/contrast/bokeh ratio fer my opinion is achieved at f1.8/2.2: that is very, very soon compared to the rest of the competition [and that includes the old Leica R system, which I personally disliked].

The quirkiness, as I´ve said before [or edge], is the 43 in my lens collection. It is a very, very, very sharp lens. It is a joy to handle, by the way.

But, it is not a hip sharpness. It is a lens that somehow allows you to use it. You don´t learn to use it, as much as it unhinges the use of it to you. Bokeh is none of its concerns [it is not intended to do so, it is a sharp lens, full stop].

So don´t think that a 43 1.9 will be a 3d effect wonder. Not going to happen. It is a lens designed to be sharp no matter the aperture you are using [within the limits], and it shows.

Thanks Mike for your stimulating posts on Pentax film cameras and the outstanding Takumar lenses that were sold with them, along with your links to the Instagram posts from Ned Bunnell showing his use of Takumars on a Pentax dslr - not to mention his many pics on an iPhone that show he's not living in the past too much. I have the Takumar 50mm f1.4 8-element version and use it with pleasure on a Pentax K3-II from a couple years ago. Has a bit of an old-time soft flaring in highlights occasionally that works well in a black and white image.

Takeaway is, these Taks aren't just for trips down memory lane with old film cameras. They are great for modern era Pentaxes as well, benefitting of course from a CLA here and there like any other 50-year-old photographic tool, for those who like to do the focus-handiwork themselves - that is, who like to work with great manual focus lenses. It's worth noticing that it only takes a simple Pentax adapter to use the screwmount Taks and lots of other makes of screwmount lenses on current Pentax dslrs. Those adapters are the keys to the kingdom, the original Pentax ones being far better than imitations, and they go for $50-60 on eBay.

I note also your recent post on the challenges of doing successful black and white photography on digital sensors. Perhaps someday camera and sensor designers will devise ways to improve our results in the hardware we buy, thus saving us lots of fretting later on in the software and give us more time to take pics! No reason we can't have features on cameras that help us work more successfully within the limitations of digital sensors, including in black and white - without having to go all the way to a Leica Monochrom - and I don't mean digital fakery with presets and pseudo-pseudo effects meant for beginners, just good tools and settings that help us do our work the best we can. Enough people do black and white digital to deserve consideration from the manufacturers - and software designers too, for that matter.

Your comments that you are familiar with Taks only from film-camera work suggest it's high time for you to get on the bandwagon yourself, Mike. Film was so long ago, unless you are referring to more recent film work in the digital age - and even so. What can these classic lenses do on today's cameras? Easiest to see this on a Pentax of course, given their long history with the m-42 screwmount and their backward compatibility. Brush up on the opportunities for picture-taking that m-42 lenses offer from famous makers like A. Schacht of Munich, Meyer Optik of Goerlitz, Joseph Schneider of Bad Kreuznach and of course Carl Zeiss aus Jena, in addition to Taks. Just remember, Pentax is the company that right this minute sells a high-quality full-frame dslr, the K-1, for under two grand, body only. M-42 lenses in excellent condition are a steal on e-Bay, too. The reports of the death of Pentax are still a bit premature!

I am with Jeff all the way! Great observation!
My finest Photography work is made with my old 67 pentax lenses on a Pentax DSLR. Call it my happy zone if you want.
The image quality made of a subtle mix of sharpness and bokeh resulting from this combination fascinates me over and over.......image to image.
Just wanted to note this and ask people to stay away from Ebay now, not driving up my prices.......

I seem to have a fifth version of the 50mm f/1.4. IR mark to the left of 4 and 232g in mass, both consistent with the 7-element version; "A" rather than "auto" and "2" rather than a dot appears on the aperture ring, both consistent with the 8-element version. In any case, it's a wonderful lens.

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At the risk of slipping slightly off-topic, I'd like to point out that the standard kit lens sold with the early Spotmatics, the 55mm F1.8, has a special talent I haven't seen in any other camera/lens combination. Specifically, the magnification of the viewfinder and the focal length of the lens has a combined 1:1 magnification. As a result, you can confidently use this combination with both eyes open, see your subject in "3D" and manually focus accurately on subjects beyond about 6 feet. This makes the act of taking a photo a much more immersive experience, and it one of the key reasons I still enjoy using this camera/lens combination.

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