The Asahi Super-Takumar 1.4/50 is one of the classic lenses that finds its way into many bags and cabites of lens collectors or freaks. It has a certain reputation of being extremely sharp and rendering a nice bokeh.
Well, one thing is true for sure: it is very well built and feels great when used. And yes, even wide open it is one of the sharpest 1.4/50 lenses I know (and I know several). Although my copy is not in best condition and shows some tiny scratches on the glass elements, it produces very nice images with nice out-of-focus areas.
I used the chance to take some photos with it on my 300D during a lunch break on Monday. I chose the 300D because the rear element of this Takumar protrudes too far to be used on a 5D. The mirror of the 5D would hit the rear part of the lens – something that is not a very nice experience.
Being a f/1.4 lens it can be easily used to generate narrow DoF even on an APS-crop cam. Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of this Tak is that it is already sharp at f/1.4, this aperture is not only a marketing gag, it is definitely usable.
Now, look at this 100% crop of the image above:
Honestly, I wouldn’t know what a modern lens could do better here!
So, haptics are great, image quality is fantastic, aren’t there any disadvantages?
Well, this lens is kind of prone to “yellowing”, an effect that makes glass elements turn yellowish, amber coloured. This effect does not have any negative influence on image quality but it might cause the actual “speed” (=how much light arrives at the sensor) to reduce a little. Anyway, if you can find a copy in decent condition, don’t hesitate. Its M42-mount makes it a highly versatile lens. If it only were adaptable to a regular EOS 5D without lens surgery or mirror shaving…