Asahi Optical Co., Ltd. was founded by Kumao Kajiwara in 1919 in Japan and became one of the leading manufacturers of photo cameras and lenses. The production of photo lenses started in 1931 but the true success came to Asahi only in 1951 when Asahiflex — first Japanese 35 mm SLR camera — came out. First Takumar lenses for Asahiflex camera had M37 thread mount, after some time the M37 thread was replaced by M42 and the lenses with M42 mount were produced till 1975 when threaded mount was abandoned due to release of the new Pentax system based on K bayonet mount.
Asahi Takumar 1:2.8/105 is a full-frame manual portrait prime lens which exists in several incarnations:
- Takumar (1958-1961) – has black housing with chromed inserts, preset aperture, optically consists of 4 elements in 4 groups, has minimum focusing distance of 1.2 m, 46 mm filter thread and weight of 250 g;
- Auto-Takumar (1959-1961) – has black housing with chromed inserts but the control rings are located differently on the housing of the lens in comparision with Takumar (1958-1961). Has semi-automatic aperture, 49 mm filter thread and weight of 280 g, other characteristics are the same of Takumar’s (1958-1961);
- Takumar (1962-1968) – has completely black housing, preset aperture, optically consists of 5 elements in 4 groups, has minimum focusing distance of 1.2 m, 46 mm filter thread and weight of 290 g;
- Super-Takumar (1962-1971) – has early type of coating, allows to select manual or automatic aperture mode by a special switch on the housing. 49 mm filter thread, other characteristics are the same of Takumar’ (1962-1968);
- Super-Multi-Coated (1971-1976) — multicoated, allows metering without preliminary closing the diaphragm to shooting aperture. Other characteristics are the same of Super-Takumar’s.
- smc Pentax (1975-1977) — has the best build quality among the smc Pentax lenses.
In 1980-90s the Pentax Corporation «resurrected» Takumar brand for the series of single-coated budget lenses. Such lenses were marked as Takumar (Bayonet) to distinguish them from the old threaded ones. Thanks God, Takumar 1:2.8/105 Bayonet does not exist.
So, we have determined that our sample of Takumar 105mm F/2.8 is one of the latest variations in the line of Asahi M42 lenses. In this review the lens was used with the Fujifilm X-Pro1 camera with a crop factor of 1.53, and the effective focal length of the lens «became» 160.7 mm (full-frame equivalent). The lens was used via M42 — Fuji X adapter without chip. There was no focus confirmation, but the metering was performed by the camera automatically in the stop-down mode. All you have to do is just to select the desired aperture and rotate the manual focus ring until you have your subject sharp in the EVF or LCD in Live View mode.
Build Quality and Characteristics
The build quality of the lens is great (in fact, this is pretty typical for the most lenses of the late 1960s) and is not comparable not only to the modern high-quality plastic lenses, but even to the all-metal Pentax Limited series of lenses. The black housing of the lens is completely made of metal, including thread mount, has a moderate weight of 290 g and a length of 68.3 mm (when focused on the infinity; not including the caps).
The manual focus ring is pretty wide (29 mm), well damped, has no play, rotates smoothly and with proper resistance. The condition of various control elements of the lens depends on the year of manufacture and the level of preservation of a particular lens. The angle of rotation of the ring is very big (approximately 270 degrees) and more than sufficient to provide very accurate focusing. The front element is pushed forward by 11 mm when focusing on the minimum distance of 1.2 m. There is a distance scale and a detailed depth of field scale of course.
The aperture ring has the following markings: 2.8 — 5.6 — 8 — 11 — 16 — 22. There are half stops between F/2.8 and F/16 but they are not indicated on the scale. The aperture works in manual and automatic modes, there is a corresponding switch on the rear part of the housing. The switch is irrelevant for today’s digital cameras.
The aperture has 6 blades, its opening is not circular, but this is not so surprising, because the production of the lenses with a circular aperture started only in 1987 by the Minolta Corporation — 12 years after withdrawal of Asahi Takumar lenses from the production. However the aperture of this lens designed in such way that with the closing of the aperture it’s opening degrades slowly.
The diameter of the filter thread is 49 mm — a common size among Asahi (Pentax) lenses. The filter thread does not rotate when focusing, making it easy to use polarizing and gradient filters. No filters were used during shooting for this review.
The buyers of this lens used to get both caps, hard case and a big metal threaded hood which is also suitable for the Asahi Takumar 1:4/100 lens and that is clearly stated on the hood itself.
Optically the lens consists of 5 elements in 4 groups. Models before 1962 are based on 4 elements in 4 groups. The Super-Multi-Coated (1971-1976) model has more advanced multicoating which teoretically result in greater resistance to flares and ghosting and better overall contrast of the images.
The optical elements of the reviewed lens absolutely have no any noticeable yellow cast (a common characteristic of many Asahi Super-Takumar lenses).
The lens is a bit soft at F/2.8 in the center of the frame. However with further closing of the aperture the sharpness in the center of the frame increases but never reaches those of other Asahi telephoto lenses. The borders of APS-C frame visually does not lag behind the center of the frame (if not taking into account the soft edges of the frame at F/2.8 due to narrow depth of field).
The depth of field at F/2.8 is narrow even on APS-C sensor and if you want, you could achieve truly impressive separation of the main subject from the background.
Vignetting is not noticeable with APS-C sensor, the same goes to distortion and lateral chromatic aberration.
The quality of the bokeh is good. The background blur in my opinion is neutral (sometimes it can be even slightly nervous). The degree of blurring, however, also depends on the distance between the front element of the lens and the subject, the distance between the subject and the background. The out-of-focus highlights are round and evenly rendered at F/2.8. With further closing of the aperture its opening degrades slowly and the clearly visible hexagons appear only from F/8 onwards. This is really good.
The longitudinal chromatic aberrations (colored halos in front of the focus point and in the background) of this lens are visible at F/2.8-4 on contrast transitions, water droplets, shiny metal surfaces, etc. The effect is significantly reduced from F/5.6 and no longer affects the image quality.
The Asahi Super-Takumar 1:2.8/105 is very interesting manual focus telephoto lens when used with APS-C sensor. It is reasonably priced and for the money you receive the compact lens with the focal length of 105 mm, narrow depth of field and good bokeh. The 105 mm model is more suitable for the APS-C cameras in comparision with 135 mm models due to lower weight and smaller minimim focusing distance.
Author of the review and photos: Evgeny Artemov, firstname.lastname@example.org