[Lens Review] Pentax SMC Takumar 135mm f/3.5

DECEMBER 27, 2023
5
[Lens Review] Pentax SMC Takumar 135mm f/3.5

Table of Contents

  1. Build and Handling
  2. Image Quality
  3. Conclusion
  4. More Sample Photos

To end the year, I would like to introduce yet another vintage lens from Asahi Pentax, the Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 135mm f3.5. I personally have quite a history with this lens. The Takumar 135mm is the very first vintage lens I acquired many years ago, just when I started living in Japan. And though it’s not my favorite focal length (50 is!), I have plenty to tell about it.

So, without further ado, here’s what I think about the lens.

Build and Handling

First, we can’t discuss Takumar lenses without mentioning their excellent build. I have several used Takumar lenses in my collection, and they have never disappointed me regarding how they are constructed.

This particular 135mm is no exception. The appearance may look compact, but it’s actually quite heavy lean for a lens of its focal length due to its all-metal manufacture.

The focus ring is long, fun to use, and enables you to nail the focus accurately. It does take some time to get used to using it, though, as you might miss shots of moving objects during its focus.

One thing I want to highlight during photo hunting for this review is that I noticed some of my shots are not level, even though I made sure to compose well before pressing the shutter. This is due to the weight of the lens, which made it front-heavy.

And if you are using film SLR camera bodies, the actual impact of the mirror swinging up against the prism might throw your balance a bit. In short, in telephoto lenses such as this Takumar, a slight vibration could make a lot of difference.

This is why adapting this lens digitally with a camera body with internal stabilization (IBIS) helps tremendously to capture sharp images.

Image Quality

Now, let’s talk about the actual usage. This is where I say that the image quality coming out of this Takumar is not something overly special. Yes, it is sharp when needed, but that’s about it. But you get the usual vintage color rendering à la Takumar lenses, which I greatly like.

Wide open, it’s only f3.5, which is not ‘fast’ for a lens of its age, even more so when compared to modern short telephoto lenses. If it’s not for its focal length, I’d be hard-pressed to use the lens for portraiture or close-up.

It does render the out-of-focus area in the foreground or background into a smooth, pulpy bokeh. But I’m not complaining since I don’t really value the ‘bokehness’ of a lens highly anyways.

Being an f3.5 lens, it is where its usefulness is limited. Unless you use a digital camera to mount this lens or a super-high ISO film stock, it’s not really a performer in low-light situations. That said, if you stop down the aperture and use this lens for long exposure, you will get 6-bladed sun stars appearing in light sources.

One more thing is that this lens is prone to flares. The naming says ‘multi-coated,’ but that kind of coating does not guarantee completely eliminating flares and unwanted ‘nuisance,’ as you can see in the images below. If possible, use the hood or avoid shooting against bright light if you do not like having artifacts all over your photos.

Do I recommend this lens?

Yes and no! For what it’s worth, I’d give this Takumar 135mm f3.5 a final score of

6/10

and that’s it…

I bought this lens because of its cheap price, the abundance of availability, and because I wanted to experiment before committing to getting better lenses. If you are like me and these factors influence your decision, then you might like this lens.

But if you have some other considerations, I will probably advise against buying it, just like I did in another telephoto Takumar lens review. Allocate your money for something else.

Additionally, there is an f2.5 version for this lens that I do not own and supposedly performs better. It might be a superior purchase, but pricing-wise, it’s more expensive.

Thank you for reading, and check out more photo samples below to help form your own opinion about this lens.

More Sample Photos (film)

More Sample Photos (digital)

Comment Section


About the Author

Jerfareza Daviano | Photographer in Sendai, Japan
Jerfareza Daviano

Jerfareza is a freelance photographer from Indonesia currently based in Sendai, Japan, offering wide range of photography service especially profile portraits, couple or family photos, and wedding photography. Should you wish to hire him you can check here for more details.

Visit his website for articles about travel in Japan especially Tohoku area and interesting bits about photography.

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