Pentax screw mount/M42 favorite lenses?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by celluloidpropaganda, Nov 20, 2005.

  1. celluloidpropaganda

    celluloidpropaganda Subscriber

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    Not like I need another camera, but it would be interesting for once to have a full 'kit' in any given format. By the looks of Ebay, Pentax screw mount cameras and lenses are the best deal going.

    The first question - are the primes generally considered the equal of, say, consumer AF primes from Canon or Nikon?

    Second question, as the subject points to - are there certain M42 lenses considered to be the classics, the cream of the crop? I read that the 50/1.7 is sharpest of the normals, but I'll probably pick up a 50/1.4 for the little bit of extra speed.
     
  2. nihraguk

    nihraguk Member

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    the SMC Takumar 50/1.4 is considered by many as a 'legendary' lens in its class for sharpness. I believe there was an article on Luminous Landscape awhile back citing it as the writer's favourite lens. I own the lens, as well as the SMC 28/3.5, and the build quality of both lenses is excellent. Silky-smooth focusing, rugged metal bodies with absolutely no plasticky feel to the aperture click-stops. Pentax screwmount glass tends to be excellent, with few exceptions.

    Also note that with the M42 mount you also have the option of using Russian glass like the Jupiter 85/2 - another favourite amongst M42 users. You can also attach an adapter to use medium format P6 mount lenses like those available for the Kiev; of note is another 'legendary' lens, the 180mm CZJ Sonnar.

    The pentax mailing list, "PDML", is an extremely active mailing list with a treasure trove of knowledgeable enthusiasts. Though discussion doesn't always center around the use of Pentax screwmount equipment, there are several individuals on that list who are very knowledgeable in the area. Another mailing list to check out is "ClubM42" on yahoogroups.
     
  3. 127

    127 Member

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    While I can't give much specific information I'd definatly agree with your assessment - M42 lenses are the cheapest game in town.

    My dad gave me his old Petri M42, with a basic lens set. Pretty basic, but in good condition. The 135mm f2.8 has been grabbed by my wife, and with a $10 adapter is making good images on her Eos 5, when she's working with available light, and the 55mm isn't suitable. It's not the greatest lens, but as the Canon equivalent is £500, we'll get by with it.

    I simlarly added a 400mm for £25, and a 24mm f2.5 for £20. A Teleconverter was £5. Any one of these would be in the £500-£1000+ range in modern glass. OF course modern lenses would totally blow away any of these older lenses, but that's pretty irrelevant if I can't afford them.

    It's worth getting a camera just to TRY OUT these lenses. For a few hundred pounds you can have every lens going, and find out how that length works for you.

    One sugguestion - if you get an adapter ring these lenses work fine on modern cameras in aperture priority mode. However theres no way for the camera to tell the lens it's taking the picture. This is fine for the older "Manual" lenses where the aperture is set, but newer M42 lenses are "Auto" - there's a pin that the camera pushes to stop down the iris. If you use Auto lenses with an adapter theres no way to stop them down (not always a problem, as we usually reach for these lenses when the light is bad). Ideally you want Manual/Auto lenses, as these have a switch - leave them in auto on an M42 camera, or manual mode with an adaptor.

    Ian
     
  4. Trond

    Trond Subscriber

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    I own several M42 lenses, and I'm happy with them all!

    S.M.C.-Takumar 28mm f3.5, a very sharp lens.
    Super-Takumar 35mm f3.5, also very sharp, small in size and lightweight.
    Super-Takumar 35mm f2.0 (old version), very big and heavy, but quite good, apart from quite visible vignetting at the corners.
    Super-Takumar 35mm f2.0 (new version), much smaller than the older one and better too.
    Carl Zeiss Jena 35mm f2.5, very sharp and high contrast, but mechanically poor (sticky aperture, a common problem with CZJ lenses).
    Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8, sharp, but a shade is essential. Prone to flare.
    S.M.C.-Takumar 55mm f2.0, sharp.
    Super-Takumar 50mm f1.4, a very nice lens when used with a shade. My favorite 50mm.
    Fujinon-T 100mm f2.8, very compact and sharp.
    S.M.C.-Takumar 135 f2.5, I haven't used this lens much, but it looks good!

    Some M42 lenses are very pricy. F. ex. Pentax lenses wider than 28mm and the 85mm f1.9/f1.8. In general most Pentax M42 lenses are getting more expensive, but there are still bargains out there. Especially non-Pentax ones.

    Trond
     
  5. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    The real question is are the pro Canon or Nikons close in quality to the best M42 lenses.

    In addition to the lenses mentioned by the others.

    Mamiya SX lenses. These were also rebadged and sold with a different mount for Rollei cameras.
     
  6. Uncle Bill

    Uncle Bill Subscriber

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    Being a Pentax Screwmount freak, I would comment: In general these lenses are some of my favourites to work with and rival Leica for sharpness and what I call soul.

    28/3.5, 35/3.5: an amazing wide angle lenses
    50/1.4 Totally badass for colour negatives
    55/1.8 a great workhorse unlike the previous comments, touch wood I have not required a lens hood in my shooting, it might be the case for some of the early Takumars

    135/3.5 Fully manual Takumar, came with my Model K kit I got on consignment a few months ago, again, I am biased a great telephoto. This one is totally manual with its settings.

    Now comparing with different brands is tough, I would put them on a similar level to Leica for sharpness. Compare to Nikon F mounts and Canon FD's of the same vintage or modern lenses? I don't think modern lenses are any better, in fact I would contend that comparing shots I took with my Canon Rebel 4 years ago with what I took with my Spotmatic II recently, the Spottie would win hands down.

    Bill
     
  7. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

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    I love the takumars. My 55/1.8 is a great lens, bought used but in unused condition for $12!

    I'm partial to rebadged tomioka lenses. Also some yashinon lenses are quite nice as well. I've a auto Chinon 50/1.4 which is definitely tomioka made. I like that one a lot.

    A 135/2.8 Yashinon has a pleasing look for portraits (not overly contrasty but pretty sharp) Some very wide-angle Yashinon lenses were made by Tomioka. They should be quite good, I would imagine as they sell for a good deal of $$$.
    Fujinon screw mount lenses are great if you can find them.

    My Flektogon 20/4 is a great lens, very sharp. Had to order it from Poland which was sketchy but worked out great in the end..
     
  8. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Many Takumar lenses show a distinct Zeiss .. influence.

    The 105 and 85 are very, very fine lenses. I usually will prefer single coated lenses ( just a silly personal aesthetic ) so the pre SMC lenses are a treasure. Of course, the SMC ( super multi coat ) are dazzlers.

    The 50 / 1.4 is my favorite short portrait lens on my, ahem, electronic capture...device.

    Rolling the Time Machine back, many of the Jena lenses are ... Sonnars, Biotars ( ! ), and Flektogons. Fuji made some fine lenses, too.

    For accuracy, let's say that every wonderful thing one can say about Takumar primes, one can also say about Minolta.
     
  9. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    I would have to agree, the Takumars are a cut above in my opinion, but being honest with you I shot m42 for years and a good majority of the lenses back then were fantastic performers, and now a days are only a song in the cost department, I have always shot wildlife and big glass was a needed thing, I had a large Pentax 500mm that was as good as anything I ever saw from Nikon and Canon in the same time period...

    Many of the rebadged lenses that were sold under the Sears, JC Penney and even Kmart brand lables were great performers as well

    Dave
     
  10. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    And let's add a comment about build-quality. Impressive!

    Granted, in real dollars they were more expensive than today's AF lenses from Nikon and Canon. But the fit, finish, and ruggedness of the the Takumar lenses (and the Spotmatic bodies) are a pleasant diversion from what you see today.

    And, even though you don't raise the issue, don't be too concerned about the lack of availablity of original type batteries - assuming you want to use the in-camera meter. There are alternatives (often using inexpensive hearing aid batteries that, while having a limited life, are cheap).
     
  11. Wayne R. Scott

    Wayne R. Scott Member

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    My favorite M42 lens is a Vivitar Series 1 135mm f2.3. I like it for head and shoulder portraits and for close-ups of eyes only>

    Wayne
     
  12. nihraguk

    nihraguk Member

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    Don't forget Tamrom Adaptall lenses - I think they have M42 adapters. The Tamron 90mm MACRO produces pretty good results and seems to be another popular choice with the M42 crowd.
     
  13. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    My fvorite is the Takumar 17/4 Fisheye

    However, the 50/1.4 and the 135/3.5 are the ones i use most.
    I also have a 35mm but haven't used it much.
     
  14. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member

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    I just picked up a Helios 44-2 58mm f:2 - an M42 to PK adapter is on the way :smile:
     
  15. nzeeman

    nzeeman Member

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    Helios 44-2 58/2 very nice lens. i tried a lot of lenses but this has something, i cant explain what- maybe nice colors and sharpness.
     
  16. Elox

    Elox Member

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    SMC 50/1.4
    Ricoh 55/1.4
    Vivitar Series 1 135/2.3, 200/3, 90/2.5 Macro, 70-210/3.5 (ver 1)

    The 50/55 lenses cost me about $15 each and the Vivitars were all under $50. I use them on either a Spotmatic or Ricoh TL or with an M42/K adapter on either a Chinon CP6 or Ricoh XR1. Mt favorit lens is the 135/2.3.
     
  17. eumenius

    eumenius Member

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    With this particular lens, everything really depends on where and when was it made - you see, Helios-44-2 name was a nightmare for many Soviet photographers, and an excellent example of how the optics shouldn't work... but as always, in the whole inferno of these lenses one can find a diamond :smile:

     
  18. eumenius

    eumenius Member

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    The Takumars, of course, and many many Soviet and DDR-made lenses are still in my posession and use - a fabulous titanic Helios-40 85/1.5, a small Makro-Flectogon 35/3.5, Orestor 100/2.8 and 135/3.5, a strange but amazing Industar-61 L/Z, and others. I also cured my 50/1.4 Takumar from yellowing by intense UV irradiation, so I can shoot slides with it now without any cast :smile:
     
  19. magic823

    magic823 Member

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    Most of the non-"normal lens" Fujinons are exceptional, especially the ones with EBC coatings. The 50/1.4 Takumar is legendary.
     
  20. stark raving

    stark raving Member

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    The 55/1.8 Super-Takumar is one of the great all-time "sleeper" lenses. It gets overshadowed by its "big brother", the 50/1.4, but I think it is every bit as good or better than the 50/1.4. Has a subtle but unique "signature", particularly close-up. I've been shooting this lens for 35 years. If I had to give up all gear except one lens, it would be a tough call between this lens and one of the 1950's Schneider Xenon's.

    Jonathan
     
  21. Mark Layne

    Mark Layne Member

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    The Helios 58mm is a Russian Biotar -exact copy.

    If you shoot B&W look for Takumars that look yellowish when you look through them. These are the radioactive glasses with a nice light yellow filter built in
    Mark
     
  22. Joe Brugger

    Joe Brugger Member

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    The 85/1.8 SMCT was as good a lens as there is, even in comparison with the best of Nikon and Canon. The 50/4 SMCT Macro was also excellent. I found the 28/3.5 only average but a lot of people like it.
     
  23. celluloidpropaganda

    celluloidpropaganda Subscriber

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    Thanks to everyone for the info so far, I've started sorting through the Spotmatic & 50/1.4 lenses on Ebay for a start.

    Was there ever a grip (ala Tom Abrahamsson's Rapidgrip or the Bessa grip and so many others) made for the Spotmatics, or another company's that would work?