Review of Asahi Auto Takumar 85mm/1.8

Maybe a reader could get the impression I like all lenses? ;) Well, I try to see the good and bad in them all, what to use them for, what properties do they have? But some are easier to love then others…

Auto Takumar 85mm/1.8 on Pentax Spotmatic Camera

Auto Takumar 85mm/1.8 on Pentax Spotmatic Camera

The purchase
I bought this lens Asahi Auto Takumar 85mm/1.8 from my friend Daniel together with another lens. I guess this was about 800 SEK (approximately 76€, $98, £66 at the moment of writing) of the price, a bargain because I have later seen it on ebay for about $200. This is in good condition, only problem was a little stiff aperture ring but it loosened up with some exercise. Normal wear on hood and mount. A couple of other friends here in Örebro also bought lenses from Daniel at the same time and he shipped them all to me, so we had a little package-opener party.

Auto Takumar 85mm/1.8

Auto Takumar 85mm/1.8

The lens
Auto Takumar 85mm/1.8 is a M42-mounted lens. This means I can mount it on Canon EOS with an adapter. M42 also works with adapter on DSLRs from Pentax, Olympus ans Sony. It also work on all M42 screwmount cameras offcourse.

The optical design is 5 elements in 4 groups. It’s quite wide for an early Takumar lens, 55mm filterdiameter (smaller then many other 85mm-lenses though). It was produced 1960-1964. It has aperturering in the front, nothing I have though of that much, but now I kind of feel I like that design since I can hold the lens steady while changing aperture. Weight 330g. My copy came with an original hood. The whole thing is made of metal offcourse, no plastic feeling anywhere. It has a button which I can use to open the aperture temporarily, I seldom use it hough since I often shoot with his lens at wide apertures.

Asahi Auto Takumar 85mm/1.8 from side

Asahi Auto Takumar 85mm/1.8 from side

Results
This is probably the best lens I own. Sharp but the bokeh is fantastic – really soft even in flares. The Auto Takumar 85mm/1.8 is good for portraits but also works great for naturephotography. It’s easy to isolate a sharp object to a milkysoft background. Close focus is 85cm, not great but ok. I like the focal length, on my EOS 350D the cropfactor makes it 136mm. Offcourse f-stop 1.8 is fast for a short telephoto.

I answered a question on Flickr earlier today, which lens I would pick if I could only keep one. The answer was Auto Takumar 85mm/1.8. In fact, the list below “cons” will be short since I can’t find many cons.

Mount of Asahi Auto-Takumar 85mm f1.8

Mount of Asahi Auto-Takumar 85mm f1.8

A note on later versions
The later Super-Takumar and SMC version, one with different f-stop (1.9) have a different optical formula. Some people say those are much better, I have even read advise to avoid the Auto-Takumar but I feel that’s a bit stupid and write it down to the “all things newer is better”-myth. Sure, they have more glass and coating – which make their properties different and in som ways “better”, but to disregard this fantistic Auto Takumar lens because of that is insane. For me it still outshines all other lenses I have tried including modern primes.

Images

Leaf with butter background

Leaf with butter background

Portrait of my daughter

Portrait of my daughter

Frozen leaf

Frozen leaf

Selfportrait

Selfportrait

In town

In town

Pros
+ Best bokeh ever
+ Fast f-stop, clear viewfinder image
+ Build quality… metal… solid like a tank.
+ Size (from what I’ve read most 85s are larger).
+ Button to let you temporarily open the “springloaded” aperture while focusing.

Cons
- Stiff aperture in my copy
- If it’s really important to you, I guess single-coating is a con. But I haven’t noticed it.

Reading
http://www.taunusreiter.de/Cameras/Pentax_Takumar_85mm.html
http://www.pentaxforums.com/lensreviews/showproduct.php?product=284 (they have mixed it up with Super-Multi-Coated)
http://forum.takumar.org/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=48
New: Asahi Pentax Auto Takumar 85mm f/1.8 Lens Review on MFLenses

18 Responses in “Review of Asahi Auto Takumar 85mm/1.8”

  1. harley truong says:

    Hi,
    I also have an auto tak 85/1.8 but have trouble focusing at infinity. Do you have the same problem? I am using a non-original m42/k adapter on a k20d but I am sure the lens is flush up against the camera body.

    Harley

  2. Mattias says:

    I haven’t noticed such a problem. Could be the difference in cameras though, I use Canon.

    Another possibility is that someone cleaned the lens and missed the right distance when they put it back together. That is a problem I read about with a Pentacon, never experienced it myself.

  3. Dan says:

    I don’t actually have the any of the 85′s but am a big fan of Takumar lenses and use them 80% on my K10D as well as other m42 lenses. There’s two more Takumars that I want and one is the 85 f/1.8 or f/1.9 and the 35mm f/2. This is a nice little review. cheers.

  4. Mattias says:

    Thanks :) This is probably the best lens I have. It also suits my style of photography very well.

  5. Stan Wooding says:

    I’ve got an Auto_takumar which I’ve had since it was new. It served me well on my Pentax K, and now it’s been transferred to my K20D. It it serves me only half as well, I’ll be very pleased.
    Is anyone still using a Pentax K ?

    • Mattias says:

      I’m concentrating on the M42 and Contax/Yashica mounts. The only Pentax-camera I have is a Spotmatic. Wish I hade more though.

  6. Stan Wooding says:

    I used two days ago on my original Pentax K, and I’m very happy with the results. Now I’ve got to try it on the K20.

  7. Penties Rider of the Dark Forest says:

    hi Mattias

    nice job here reviewing this lens.

    agree with you: SMC and coatings of any kind in general are of course very important but i have also used many great old lenses with little or no coating at all and still got great results no matter what … in fact, some pictures i have taken with an old half broken Zeiss Contaflex camera are still among my best shots ever!

    your pictures here also prove your point very well that this lens is doing its job a lot better than even expected! Pentax Takumar lenses were among the best of their time and other camera brand users also went for them, just as you’ve done it yourself.

    it all depends anyways, on type of film / digital sensor, subject, lighting, color range in the scene, negative or slide (when using film) and so on. properly used, any combination of lens + camera + film (and its lab processing later) or digital sensor + lighting etc can give results no other combo can do under the same conditions …

    but to the main point:

    the reason i’m here is because i was hoping to find info on a similar lens by Pentax that also had an extra ring to control softness of the picture, intended mainly for portraits. and my search brought me to your little nice webpage here of course.

    have never seen nor used that lens myself but i saw a Pentax lens catalog advertising it ages ago in the last century. do you or anyone reading this post have any ideas about such a lens? or a similar lens: with an extra ring (aside from the focusing ring or the aperture ring) that lets photographer control / reduce the lens’s sharpness in order to obtain soft portraits.

    i have done a similar trick myself on an old 300mm Helikor lens, when i removed the front element and put it back in reverse accidentally. the lens could not focus on infinity anymore when in that mode but in ranges up to several meters, it gave soft and halo-ed portraits of exceptional looks! the aperture ring of the camera (a fully manual one) then acted like the softness / sharpness controller available on that particular 85mm Takumar lens mentioned earlier. of course the 300mm lens itself was rather clumsy to use for portraits as it was heavy and large and a tripod was really necessary to use but i did take great shots of my little twin cousins back then that amazed everybody including myself! ;-)

    anyway, if any info on that particular 85mm Takumar lens, please let me know! if i find it, i’ll post it here for you …

    thx and good luck to you!

    best regards
    PRDF

  8. Penties Rider of the Dark Forest says:

    to harley truong and his problem with his lens weak focus on infinity:

    “… you need the original adapter to ensure perfect infinity focus.”

    the above line is from the site below:

    http://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/sold-items/27380-sale-%5Bsold%5D-super-takumar-85mm-f-1-9-a.html

    hoe this helps!

    good luck
    PRDF

  9. Penties Rider of the Dark Forest says:

    hi everybody, sounds like i found some info regarding the ‘soft’ lens i was looking for.

    turned out it was not exactly the Takumar lens i imagined as it’s an SMC one, here, near the end of the page:

    http://www.taunusreiter.de/Cameras/Pentax_Takumar_85mm.html

    good to get to know you guys and this website!

    good luck to all.
    PRDF

  10. Mattias says:

    Penties:
    Nice, weird looking lens that ;) Sounds interesting though. Probabl to expensive for me at the moment if it is rare.

  11. hijackie23 says:

    this is very nice lens, and crop factor makes it a better “135mm”. i am following ur step to hunt something good at tradera but couldn’t success with the registration. is it because i am using a uk address, must i use a sweden one?

  12. Very nice website: i work with a K20 and several legendary Takumar, somes are brand new since 1958,others are fixed by myself. My favorites are the 50mm macro v1 of 1966, the wonderfull 50mm 1.4 and a modest early auto takumar 35/3.5 from 1959 which i founded never open, boxed..A pure pleasure..i wait now for this fantastic 85..
    Thanks for visiting my website,
    Best regards
    FSP

  13. ruzz says:

    I just picked one of these up yesterday, get my adapter ring on monday. I’m so excited and bought it in part because of your review so thanks!

    I also took the guys spotmatic f, and 55 f1.8 too. I guess I’m into m42 land now ;)

  14. Tristan says:

    I got one of these lenses as a hand-me-down from my dad. Am shooting video primarily, on a Panasonic Lumix GH2 with an adapter.

    One interesting thing about this lens for video purposes is that it comes with two aperture rings. One is normal with clicks and f-stop markings like you’d expect, but the other is for focusing. It allows you to set your f-stop with the regular aperture ring and leave it while you then open the focusing aperture wide open to let as much light in and get a shallow dof so you can get precision focus. Then when you close the focusing aperture down it stops automatically right where you left it, so you don’t have to look at the lens during this process.

    For video this is kind of cool because you can stop down the normal aperture all the way, and then just use the focusing aperture to control your light levels if you are in an environment where they are changing constantly while recording. This focusing aperture is smooth (no clicks) and silent. Some people pay money to have their apertures “de-clicked” on lenses for video use.

    Pretty cool. There are several lenses from this era that have this feature.

  15. Sergei says:

    All great shots, just bought myself a Sony A77 and want t try it with some good “vintage ” glass. Your review was very helpful.

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