Is Takumar SMC 135mm F3.5 worth your 50 bucks ?

Intro

4 elements, 4 groups; insanely simple construction at today’s standard. Asahi Pentax Takumar 135mm 3.5 Super-Multi-Coated is built like a tank. You really need to worry about your floor rather than the lens itself, if it is dropped accidentally. I bought mine from a Japanese reseller on Ebay for approximately 50 USD. It comes with M42 screw mount, and has a minimum focusing distance of ~1.5m. It roughly has the same bokeh-ability as a 50mm 1.4 lens.

3

Apart from those normal lenses, 135mm is another very popular focal length in the film days. They are cheap to build, and is widely avaiable in second-hand market today. As a F3.5 lens, it is really small in hands. It weights only 330g. It’s said that you can hardly find a bad 135mm prime lens, but it is still challenging to find your favourite one. Lets take a look !

Sharpness

Tested on Fujifilm X-pro2, it has an equivalent field-of-view of approximately 200mm.

Sharpness is great even wide open. In fact it outperforms a lot of 135mm F2.8 lenses even when they are stepped down to F3.5. Purple fringing is visible @F3.5, and starts to disappear @F5.6.

DSCF8513
F3.5
200%
200% zoom

It is a decent outdoor portrait lens, although it is a bit slow and long for indoor usages. I actually really like the result it produced.

Bokeh

Decent bokeh wide open. It could get a bit distracting when stepping down.

Flare issue

The biggest issue of this lens, or vintage lens in general, is flare. You might want to keep the hood on all the time. The picture looks completely washed out and lack of contrast when light hits the lens at an unfavourable angle. To be honest, it is a pretty big issue because this lens is essentially an outdoor lens.

In order to demonstrate what I mean, I will show you 2 pictures of my neighbour’s lovely cat. The IQ could be fantastic and clean if u pay attention to flares. However, it could get ugly even when we are both in shades.

DSCF8534
No flare
DSCF8535
flare

Conclusion

Pro:

  • cheap
  • very well built
  • decent sharpness
  • decent bokeh
  • very light and compact as a 135mm
  • Non-radioactive Takumar

Con:

  • Flare
  • CA is visible wide open
  • A bit slow (really can’t complain here due to its compactness)

Is it worth your 50 bucks ?

  • Absolutely

Among more than 10 other 135mm lenses, it performs extremely well as compared by Michel. It even holds up really well against the Canon 135mm F2 (1000$ price tag). If you’re looking for an 135mm lens now, why not consider this lens ?

  • Minolta 135mm F2.8 MD could be an awesome choice for people who want faster lens and do not put compactness as a priority.
  • Carl Zeiss Jena 135mm is a better lens at a high cost.

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