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  1. #1

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    Pentax screw mount/M42 favorite lenses?

    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. #2

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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. #3
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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. #4
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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. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by celluloidpropaganda

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

    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. #6
    Uncle Bill's Avatar
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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
    "Life moves pretty fast, if you don't stop and look around once and a while, you might just miss it."
    Ferris Bueller

  7. #7

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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. #8
    df cardwell's Avatar
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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.
    "One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
    and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"

    -Bertrand Russell

  9. #9
    Dave Parker's Avatar
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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. #10

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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).

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