Pentax SMC Takumar 55mm f2 Radioactive Vintage Lens Test With Radiacode 103 And GQ GMC-600 Plus.
A Glimpse into the Past: The Takumar Legacy
The Takumar series, named after the founder of Asahi Optical Co., Takuma Kajiwara, has been synonymous with quality and innovation. Introduced in the 1960s, the Super-Multi-Coated (SMC) Takumar lenses were among the first to receive a multicoating treatment, a groundbreaking advancement at the time. This coating was designed to reduce lens flare and ghosting, a common problem in many earlier lens designs.
The Pentax SMC Takumar 55mm f2: Design and Build
The 55mm f2, a standard lens in its time, was designed for the Asahi Pentax Spotmatic, a camera that revolutionized SLR photography with its through-the-lens metering system. The lens itself is a testament to the exceptional engineering of the era. Made primarily of metal and glass, the Takumar 55mm f2 has a heft and solidity that’s rare in today’s predominantly plastic lens market.
The focus ring on the Takumar is smooth, offering just the right amount of resistance for precise manual focusing. The aperture ring clicks satisfyingly into place, and the overall feel of the lens speaks volumes about the quality standards of its time.
Optical Performance: A Blend of Vintage Character and Sharpness
When it comes to image quality, the Takumar 55mm f2 is a delightful surprise. Known for its sharpness, especially when stopped down a bit, it delivers images with a distinct character. The lens has a slightly warm color rendition, a trait cherished by many vintage lens enthusiasts. This warmth adds a nostalgic touch to photographs, reminiscent of the film era.
Bokeh, the quality of the out-of-focus areas in a photograph, is another area where this lens shines. The out-of-focus elements rendered by the Takumar are smooth, lending a dreamy quality to images that modern lenses often struggle to replicate.
The Radioactive Element: A Quirk of the Past
One of the most intriguing aspects of the Takumar 55mm f2 is its use of thoriated glass elements, which makes the lens slightly radioactive. While this might sound alarming, the levels of radiation are extremely low and not harmful under normal usage. Over time, these thoriated elements can cause the lens to develop a yellowish tint, which can affect the color balance of photos. However, this tint can be reversed by exposing the lens to UV light.
Adaptability and Use in the Modern Era
Despite being a lens from a bygone era, the Takumar 55mm f2 finds its place in the modern digital world. It can be easily adapted to fit most digital cameras, including DSLRs and mirrorless systems, thanks to the plethora of adapters available on the market. This adaptability has given it a new lease of life, allowing photographers to explore its unique characteristics on contemporary digital sensors.
Why Choose a Vintage Lens Like the Takumar 55mm f2?
Choosing to shoot with a vintage lens like the Takumar 55mm f2 is more than just about capturing images; it’s about experiencing photography in its most tactile form. It slows down the photographic process, encouraging a more thoughtful and deliberate approach to composition and focusing.
Moreover, it connects the photographer to the history and evolution of photography. Each click of the aperture ring, each turn of the focus ring, is a reminder of the craftsmanship and attention to detail that went into creating these optical masterpieces.
Wrap-up for the Takumar 55mm f2
In a world where sharpness and optical perfection are often the holy grail, lenses like the Pentax SMC Takumar 55mm f2 offer a refreshing perspective. They remind us that imperfection has its beauty and that character is something that doesn’t diminish with time. For photographers looking to explore beyond the confines of modern optics, delve into the charm of vintage lenses, or simply reconnect with the tactile joys of manual photography, the Takumar 55mm f2 is a journey worth taking. It’s a bridge to the past, a tool for artistic expression, and a testament to the enduring legacy of photographic craftsmanship.