Discussions (53)

Why the "cult" status of this lens?

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srkruft says:

I was very surprised at what happened when I put a Spotmatic with a 1.4 Super-Takumar (8 element) lens up on eBay. There were about 600 "views" (more than on anything else I ever sold), many questions, requests for more pictures, and so on. All the interest was in the lens, not the body.

I would not have been surprised if this was a Leica lens, or a rare or very expensive Takumar like a 15mm or a 120mm, or brand new, but the 1.4 is a fairly inexpensive normal lens. What's the story?
5:59PM, 10 August 2012 PDT (permalink)

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Martinez-Nabob says:

it's really dreamy at f1.4, today's 50mm f1.4 lenses are too "good" at f1.4 with high contrast and good sharpness, sometimes not too desired for portrait
81 months ago (permalink)

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kuuan is a group administrator kuuan says:

that nobody was interested in the camera but in the lens is normal...
the 1.4/50 might have been a fairly inexpensive normal lens but nevertheless is one of the very best and the favorite f1.4/50 of many, including me. Out of them the 8 element Super Takumar is very rare and certainly obtained a cult status.
81 months ago (permalink)

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srkruft says:

Interesting. My favorite "normal" lens too - I have used them since 1966. I sold this (or will, as it is still up) only because I had too many.
81 months ago (permalink)

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kuuan is a group administrator kuuan says:

maybe of interest the reviews at pentaxforums,
the early 8 element: www.pentaxforums.com/lensreviews/Super-Takumar-50mm-F1.4-...
the later 7 element versions:
www.pentaxforums.com/lensreviews/SMC-S-M-C-Super-Takumar-...
81 months ago (permalink)

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patrickjoust says:

There are a lot of amazing lenses out there, but of all the ones I've used, I still think the Takumar 50mm 1.4 is perhaps the best 50mm lens around and I've used some much more expensive Leitz, Nikkor and Voigtlander glass. Obviously this is subjective but I'm always really impressed with how this lens performs wide open or stopped down. It may not be that expensive (although it's gone up a lot in price in recent years) but the quality both in terms of what is rendered and its build is impressive.
81 months ago (permalink)

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srkruft says:

I agree. In my eBay auction it sold with a user body for about $130, while another Spotmatic in a little better condition with a 1.8 lens in better cosmetic condition went for under $30. So it's still a bargain but so is the 1.8.
81 months ago (permalink)

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kuuan is a group administrator kuuan says:

both were rel. good bargains, the lenses only possibly could have sold for more.
the f1.8/55 certainly is another fabulous lens and for the little money available very recommendable for a "manual" or "Takumar" beginner ;)
81 months ago (permalink)

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Shakedown St. says:

Just Got my hands on the 8 element version for $250. Didn't want the radioactive thorium. Once I get an adapter I can finally use my A7R. I started looking the lens prices of zeiss. Way over priced! When you can get this.
Originally posted 63 months ago. (permalink)
Shakedown St. edited this topic 63 months ago.

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miravisu says:

drummerben04:

This test did have serial numbers for the radioactive and not radioactive versions of some models tested, but I saw a forum post (here) claim they cannot be fully trusted, and yet the bottom one links to part numbers of non-radioactive ones, hmm.


Radioactive Pentax and Takumar lenses
fockert.xs4all.nl/~pentax/radioactive_lenses/radioactive....


Because I'm still confused which version is radioactive and which is not..
are all element 8 versions of each model the non radioactive versions then?

I did find a thread where someone referenced part numbers for 7 and 8 element Super Takumar 1.4/50.

Difference between 8-element Super Takumar 1.4/50 and 7?
forum.mflenses.com/difference-between-8-element-super-tak...
Originally posted 58 months ago. (permalink)
miravisu edited this topic 58 months ago.

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transiently permanent says:

miravisu:

The older lens has 8 elements and is non-radioactive. It was sold only with the original Spotmatic camera of 1964.

The newer and much more common lens has 7 elements and is radioactive, whether in its Super-Takumar or either of the later multi-coated versions. Not all the lenses you'll encounter will have en equal amount of yellowing, and those that have been recently exposed to enough light won't have any yellowing at all. But they're all radioactive. Slightly.
58 months ago (permalink)

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miravisu says:

transiently permanent:

Aha, I see! And the opinions certainly vary on if the radioactive ones are in fact dangerous..

Thank You :)
58 months ago (permalink)

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transiently permanent says:

I cannot believe that the amounts of radiation are likely to prove remotely dangerous.

Well...maybe enough to dissuade you from carrying one beside your brain for the rest of your life, but otherwise...
57 months ago (permalink)

alleged time [deleted] says:

The same amount of radiation one could absorb on a transcontinental flight, better buy a Lead body camera ?
56 months ago (permalink)

tangy fold [deleted] says:

I picked up an S-M-C Takumar 50mm 1.4 lens with a damaged Spotmatic body quite cheap on Ebay. Mounted it on my Canon 1000D (also a cheap Ebay buy). The results took me back to photos I used to get from my Spotmatic film camera (with 55mm 1.8) over twenty years ago. Looking forward to exploring the possibilities further.
I agree with a lot of other comments: focussing is a bit of a challenge!
55 months ago (permalink)

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grahamashton says:

pentaxbill23:

Hi Bill. I may know the auction you're referring to. I intended to bid on it myself, but forgot!

Is the damage to the camera just that you can't wind it on? If so it's a well documented fix..
55 months ago (permalink)

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ronghualu says:

In their day, imho the Takumars were exceptional. I can see reasons for a cult. I tried one for my A7R, and had rather mediocre results unfortunately. True, the lens was remarkably sharp for its vintage (but not when compared to newer lenses), but everything else was less than a newer lens. The coating on the tested lens was definitely an amber shade, which crated a unpredictable colour cast to photos. I would think by now any radioactivity would be next to nil, so not an issue for me. If there are Takumars within a range of serial numbers that perform up to modern standards, truly I would like to know. Thanks.
54 months ago (permalink)

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The Suburbian says:

Ever hear a thing called sample variation? One experience with one lens hardly seems fair to review the entire lot?

The 8 element used a Triplet instead of a doublet in the element bonding process. It earned a media announced nickname, as the "Planar Killer". It had a short run, sales were not good because it was expensive and even so had no margin. Retailers were very unhappy and with so little margin of course they pushed other lenses. Development was slow and production expensive, of course a less expensive doublet version with 7 elements followed soon after.

The 8 element is uncommon. It is easy to spot, simply by the red mark to the right of the numeral 4 on the distance scale as all others are to the left side and 7 element versions. Because it is uncommon and did not sell in large numbers it does have a cult following, it serves the primal hunter/gatherer instinct ...



There is great, great is that part within very good you have to find by searching extra hard for it.
Originally posted 53 months ago. (permalink)
The Suburbian edited this topic 53 months ago.

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transiently permanent says:

ronghualu:

Every 1960's/early 70's Takumar prime lens design from 50mm up to 135 performs as well as current lenses with the exception of flare/ghosting resistance.

The optical formula of the 7 element 50/1.4 Takumar is still used by Pentax today.
52 months ago (permalink)

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Daire Quinlan says:

Wildlight Images: Actually it's not quite as simple as there being two differeny easily distinguishable versions
www.flickr.com/photos/kuuan/8312126654/

There seem to be a couple of hybrids out there as well, probably a mix of the older 8 element bodies with the 7 element lens design or something.
52 months ago (permalink)

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The Suburbian says:

Folklore surrounding the 8 element is this:

They can have amber effect to the glass that's well documented but unknown to why in any factual sense and only speculation surrounds this

they were limited in sales and production which creates mystique

it was awarded the "Planar Killer" title by the media in the day

Because there are few of them and it takes a little work to discover if you have one or not (easy by the red line) supply and demand is short and that helps fuel the sensations of having these. They are no more remarkable than any 50mm and in fact are optimum for closer subjects than distance ones so in vistas or where micro details in landscapes are desirable they are inferior. More a street lens which is the target Pentax (now known as Ricoh) aimed these at, press media and photo journalist. The last version the K mount 50mm 1.4 is superior to all the versions and has the highest levels of contrast and of course equal sharpness, contrast convinces your mind it appears sharper.

There is no way these are superior to modern glass or equal though and an easy test can prove this .....a (kit lens) Fujifilm 18-55mm on a Fuji X series at 50mm will easily outperform these and that's not my opinion. The zoom lens has been tested and measured and the old 8 element can't produce anything near the levels this Fujinon of today can.
Originally posted 51 months ago. (permalink)
The Suburbian edited this topic 51 months ago.

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Alex Cremers says:

I don't think we like to use vintage Takumar lenses because they are technically superior to modern day lenses. Not everybody is looking out for the sharpest of the sharpest. They just render a view a bit differently (call it soft, retro, whatever) and they are a joy to handle. Also, they are cheap!
Originally posted 51 months ago. (permalink)
Alex Cremers edited this topic 51 months ago.

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ronghualu says:

well, I tried a Asahi SMC Takumar 1.4/50 today. good lens, good IQ, but not spectacular. In fact, it performs below my other lenses. Not cheap, selling for $110. Returned to vendor.
45 months ago (permalink)

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pentaks says:

Hmmm, I'm using modern canon lenses today and have shot some of the best of canon in the past. In between, I've been shooting Pentax Taks and M's. The old Tak and M 50s are technically as good and perhaps better at every aperture than modern lenses. The oldest Tak 8 element is nothing but sharp at every aperture and wide open is spectacular. It is a great lens. It will flare easier than the M. The M is terrific too. I can't imagine how someone could miss the fact that the newer prime lenses aren't superior. To suggest the kit zooms are better than these lenses is utterly ridiculous. It's not only the 50 mils but also other old lenses that are great performers. They are going on my canon via adapters now and I will enjoy their superior qualities right alongside my canon lenses.
43 months ago (permalink)

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pentaks says:

I'll add that my friends who are shooting the newest Sony full frames are adapting their cameras to accept these old Taks as well...to use alongside there Zeiss lenses. I think that that tells the tale!
43 months ago (permalink)

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MBPhoto_2.8 says:

I'm still not fully convinced by my S-M-C Takumar, compared to my other fifities..
It sure is a great lens and performs better than e.g. a Canon 50/1.4 USM or the horrible 50/1.8, but it's not the best 50 I've got in my collection.

I'll get the EBC Fujinon 50/1.4 soon and hopefully also a Zeiss Planar T* 50mm f/1.7 as well as an Olympus Auto-S 50mm f/1.4 (I missed a silver nose one on ebay for a mere 60£, darn!)

I'll throw them in my comparison too but I hope that the EBC Fuji will get rid of my softness issues with the radioactive non-EBC version I've got.


See my blog if you want to read more about my findings:
mbphotox.wordpress.com/
43 months ago (permalink)

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Mubeen Mughal says:

Here are some of the reasons for the Takumar having a cult status ( just like certain Zuikos, and Rokkors).

First, the Build Quality and Presision - It is on par with Zeiss and Leitz
Second, the Multi-Coating - This was something quite new in the 1960's and produced very high contrast colourful saturated images
Third, The Optical performance and sharpress is excellent.

Another lens that is incredibly amazing is Canon's FD N 50mm f/1.2 L which beats the best of 50mm lenses, Japanese or German in every area of assessment.
34 months ago (permalink)

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Ian2Timothy says:

I have 4 M42 50mm f1.4's 2X8 element and 2X7 element. I also have K mount 50f1.4 so I will write from the perspective of owning most of the versions. It is a superb lens. Although its excellence is when using film. On my 5d the results are excellent although a 50mm EF 1.8 is as good. I am certain if you want the best from a digital camera use the lenses designed for it. Those who think they are going to achieve some alchemic masterpiece by coupling a 1960's lens to a modern camera will only produce the compromise which is an inevitable result of the union.

On a SV S1a or K mount with m42 to K converter the lenses show their resolving power with medium speed film the pictures are sharp and contrasty. There will be no complaints if the lens is focussed correctly and I include wide open at 1.4 in this comment. We can up the contrast one grade in the darkroom, but I find these 50mm's will print perfectly at grade 2 if the film has been developed and processed correctly. The lenses will out-resolve Tri-X or any other fast film.

Where the real test comes in is with E6 trannie films. I would recommend 100 Sensia projected to 2 meters by 3 meters if you wish to see the resolving abilities of these lenses. They are simply spectacular the colors are vibrant and pleasant to the eye. Most photographers enlarge their prints to 8 x 10 or 12 x 16 - or scan and view the images on their computer screens. In this instance, the Super Takumar 50mm f1.4 will give as good an image as any other standard lens. If the photographer likes the way the lens resolves the image then it fulfills it purpose, to compare lenses is a fool's errand.

The f1.4 f1.8 and f2.0 Takumars are all equal performers after f2.8. I would recommend the f1.4's are used wide open with Pan F or any slow film for a month or so. The photographer will see some sharp and many out of focus frames. I feel certain he will realize just how powerful an image this style of photography can produce. This is the point of these lenses, not that they are stellar performers at f2.8 and onward, it is the fact they can isolate subjects and produce the most captivating photographs.
28 months ago (permalink)

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transiently permanent says:

Ian2Timothy:

" I am certain if you want the best from a digital camera use the lenses designed for it".

That would leave a mightily small pool of lenses for DSLR users!
27 months ago (permalink)

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Ian2Timothy says:

The comment did not discount the use of manual focus prime lenes on digital cameras. The limitations of using a manual focus lens without the electronic connections is an obvious limitation. The use of older and classic lenes on digitals is most certainly worth exploring. Many thanks for your observation.
27 months ago (permalink)

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ronghualu says:

imho, for digital, 1/ the sensor, algorithm, and lense work as one. A legacy lense is minus the algorithm, and thus manual post-pro will be needed. Angle of incidence from a legacy lense will not match to sensor, except in rare cases. Thus, not all sensors can tolerate the differences posed by a legacy lense. imho, the best sensor for 35mm legacy is the Sony 36MP. But even with this, not all legacy lenses will render good results. 2/ "best result" is in the eye of the beholder. The best of digital produces, imho, images of flat character. An excellent legacy lense can produce, with post-pro, images equal to digital for sharpness, resolution, colour, contrast, etc, but with less flatness of character. Such qualities are personal preferences. 3/ As sensors increase in resolution, a point will be reached where any legacy lense will not render sufficient resolution for the sensor. This may come soon, and digital take-over will be complete. 4/ I find legacy + manual more fun to use !
26 months ago (permalink)

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Ian2Timothy says:

Excellent and clear information ronghualu. You are absoluty correct. The digitally captured images do have a 'flat' appearence by comparison. Using the same legacy lens on film and then digital, the difference is apparent. Very much so with transparancy/E6. I confess to being a purist. Film and darkroom or digital. The hybrid concept is an excellent way of exploring possibiltes and will render superb and different results. Many Thanks for your clear and useful reply.
Originally posted 26 months ago. (permalink)
Ian2Timothy edited this topic 26 months ago.

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ronghualu says:

Mubeen Mughal:

if you have an MTF chart for the Canon 1.2/50, please provide.
26 months ago (permalink)

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transiently permanent says:

Ian2Timothy:

The thought that occours to me is to ponder on the proportion of AF lenses designed for digital sensors, because not that many of the ones I use were, although I can see that there is truth in the notion that the best "designed for digital" lenses may provide more "complete" performance than other AF lenses, with less fringing etc.

Alas, cheap DSLR "designed for digital" lenses I've used haven't often impressed me, although micro 4/3 ones have done so rather more.
26 months ago (permalink)

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U.S. is an Idiocracy says:

The Suburbian:

These lenses are hard to use!!! It takes years of practice to get true focus half the time. In fact EVERY PERSON I HAVE HEARD THIS FROM IS YOUNG AND ADDICTED TO AUTO FOCUS. Ever hear of slides? Maybe not, they were these little pictures in a frame the same size as 35mm negatives that could be projected onto a screen far larger than we normally view images today, these vintage lenses needed to be good enough to handle that. I use the 50mm 1.4 with macro tubes for macro work allot so this is what I know, I will put my 50mm 1.4 up against any modern dedicated macro and beat their pants off. Now if I wanted to take scientific macros with all the warmth of a hospital operating room I will choose a modern lens. IF I WANT TO MAKE ART I WILL STICK TO MY CRUDE OLD LENSES.
21 months ago (permalink)

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ronghualu says:

TimHarris4096 Dazed and Confused:

valid comments. but no, not hard to use. the Taks have superb mechanics. but imho the Taks are superceded for IQ by many lenses that followed. a tour of flickr will show this.
21 months ago (permalink)

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U.S. is an Idiocracy says:

ronghualu:

Easy to use hard to get true focus unless you are willing to put the practice in. And Rong if you visit my site you will see you are wrong. I have a friend who just bought a the latest and greatest cannon dedicated macro, compared to the old lenses I use that thing is a piece of crap. Most of the pics you are comparing new glass vs old glass assumes that the person using old glass can use it. Old glass if you are a bad technician you will for sure get a lackluster shot. New glass will give you a good shot most of the time BECAUSE ANY IDIOT CAN USE AUTO EVERYTHING AND GET PRETTY GOOD RESULTS most of the time. Were it is just the opposite with old glass. So if your the kind of guy that likes some scientist's algorithm of how a pic should be shot then you need new glass. If you prefer the quality of coatings over the quality of the actual glass you need new glass. And finally if you are too damn lazy to put a lens hood on the lens then you need new glass.
21 months ago (permalink)

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ronghualu says:

Well, can't argue with a cultist. I have no troubles with manual focus and exposure, and have never been a fan of auto focus and exposure. I tried the Taks and found them underwhelming. But hey, to each his own.
21 months ago (permalink)

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U.S. is an Idiocracy says:

Rong sorry about your experience with your lenses but there is no cultist here. If I could buy a new lens with latest and greatest computer design and coatings made like the old lenses I would buy it now. You might change your terminology for me from cultist to perfectionist and your response would be perfectly accurate. There are some old Taks that are underwhelming but unless you get a bad copy this is not one of them. So right now I,m actually looking at one of these old lenses, really a master piece in engineering and optics and wondering what part of this equation is underwhelming in your photography..
21 months ago (permalink)

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transiently permanent says:

ronghualu:

Sorry you didn't rate the Takumars highly. That doesn't mean people who have used a lot of lenses and DO rate them highly are cultists!
21 months ago (permalink)

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U.S. is an Idiocracy says:

transiently permanent:

Hey Transiently I hate to say this but he did call me a cultist, if you go to his site it is easy to understand his problem. Rong you really need to get the basics of image making. Forget about what lens is good or bad in your opinion and buy one of those old Kodak books on the basics of photography. Them get yourself an old Pentax K1000 and learn what is possible using your brain. And after a year of that you might have something intelligent to say. SORRY BUT SOMEONE HAD TO SAY IT.
21 months ago (permalink)

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ronghualu says:

tsk, tsk. Such cultist behaviour. I have a problem. I don't know basics. I need Kodak books, and a K1000, and a year of who knows what? I am not intelligent. All this tirade simply for stating my opinion the Tak is underwhelming. Proof positive one should not discuss politics, religion, or the great pumpkin: and may I add Takumars?
21 months ago (permalink)

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transiently permanent says:

ronghualu:

:) I'm not going to have a war about it, but Pentax was the second most popular SLR system with pros behind Nikon in the 1960's when these lenses were made.

Obviously some are better than others, and obviously lenses that were made 50 years ago won't all be in original optical condition. But I have some very heavily-used Takumars that still perform stunningly.

To me this is a legendary range of lenses, better built than any other SLR system lenses, and with optics which were right up there with Nikon as the very best of their time.

But you are right...Takumars are a dangerous subject for discussion! :)
21 months ago (permalink)

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U.S. is an Idiocracy says:

transiently permanent:

All the pros had Nikon',s but almost all of them had a Pentax backup, They all had Nikon's because Nikon paid, much as today, but most had Pentax backup because they wanted to be sure they had a camera that worked when their Nikon broke.
21 months ago (permalink)

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U.S. is an Idiocracy says:

ronghualu:

You are the freak, why in hell would you come to a place were people love something and try and knock it down, you must really have a sad pathetic little life in your moms basement. GO SOMEWHERE AND DO SOMETHING YOU LOVE YOU LOOSER.
21 months ago (permalink)

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U.S. is an Idiocracy says:

ronghualu: Actually I'm going to go further with this thread for public information. This Takumar 50mm 1.4 in all variants is a great lens, one of the best 50's. It can't match some of the best, most expensive modern lenses in resolution, but resolution is not everything, and this lens is not for everyone. It's not easy to get the most out of this lens there is a learning curve. I would invite anyone to go to my site to see what this lens can do when used to it's potential. Also go Rong's site to see how not to use this lens. I use many lenses depending on the subject matter, light conditions, distance to subject and so on. In fact my favorite 50 is not Pentax at all it's a Mamiya Sekor 55mm 1.8. All round I find it better in all respects, and usually only go to the Tak when I want 1.4. However the lenses are so close in image quality it's just a matter of taste, the Mamiya is a bit cooler in it's color rendering. Rong is just a troll looking for attn., will give him no more, and if he has a problem with this lens it's just his excuse for having no talent as a photographer.
21 months ago (permalink)

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ronghualu says:

my, my. I have definitely stumbled upon a cultist nest. Now I have been denigrated to loser, untalented, troll. All this from complete strangers who know nothing of my education, profession, wealth, etc. If I have shown how not to use a lense, then mission accomplished, as such is one purpose of my stream.

To the revered Mr Tim: I know nothing about you or your fame. Of course, you must be some sort of world authority on Takumars and on photography in general: someone to whom I should bow. I am SO-O-O happy you came out in the public, so others may see you clearly for the total bigot you are.

To the Administrator, whomever you are: please add a caveat to the group description, to wit this is for Bigoted Tak Fans and others are unwelcome.
21 months ago (permalink)

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kuuan is a group administrator kuuan says:

ronghualu: don't know nothing about you, right, but anyway here we talk about a lens, not a lense or anything else, ok?
21 months ago (permalink)

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