[Lens Review] Pentax Takumar 35mm f/3.5

August 11, 2021

[Lens Review] Pentax Takumar 35mm f/3.5

The Takumar 35mm is a versatile m42 mount lens from the old days of Pentax. How does the lens perform nowadays? Let’s find out!

Before we begin, if you’re interested in more reviews on Takumar lenses, I’ve previously covered the super fast 50mm f/1.4 here.

Build and Handling

Takumar 35mm was first introduced in 1959 as Auto-Takumar. The variant that I own, Super-Multi-Coated (SMC), was from around 1971 onwards. As always with all Pentax Takumar lenses, the build quality is amazing. I find this lens is on the small, lighter side, and feels very comfortable to hold. The focus ring and aperture ring are smooth and buttery.

Takumar 35mm from above.

I once dropped this lens from a meter or so and it the asphalt hard. Though it resulted in a sizeable dent near the front element and a huge dent on the lens cap, amazingly the ‘scar’ does not affect lens operation. I would suggest being very careful though, as a problem with the manual/auto switch might render the aperture ring unusable.

What I love about Takumar lenses — they are so small!

Image Quality

I tested this lens both analog (Fujica ST701 and Pentax Spotmatic) and digital (Sony A7ii).

First, the result using film cameras. Honestly, I like the rendering more on film since the lens was made for film anyways. The pairing just can’t be beaten. The photos came out with that yesteryear quality depending on the film roll used. Though the rendering is sharp in the middle, the vignetting on the corners can be very apparent at times.

A temple with interesting lion-like creatures (Pentax).
Karaoke place, taken at mid-noon (Pentax).

How about going digital? I went with Sony A7ii for this one. And make no mistake, it’s just as good as in film if not better. No complaint here, of course, since the lens performs well in digital. But if I want to be particular, shooting digital does tend to undo the ‘character’ built into the lens. As you can see in the following photos, the corners look sharp with minimum vignetting. The very opposite of film.

Nanakita Park at sundown.
Igeta tea shop, which was closed during Tanabata.
The busy crossing at the Sendai arcade.
Sendai Subway Nanboku Line.

Overall Impression

What’s the verdict? Let’s be honest, 35mm is not a focal length that I use a lot in my shots. For street photography, I always think 50mm is the perfect spot to simulate the view from our perspective. And I would use either wider lenses or telephoto lenses for landscape.

BUT, once you try a 35mm you know you’ll be getting something different. And I feel that. After using this Takumar for a while, I was seduced by its simplicity. I can put more background into the view while still keeping the main object at the center stage. Combined with its fantastic build, Takumar 35mm is without a doubt, a very good all-rounder lens.

I’ll give 8/10 for this lens.

More samples (film):

A vintage parking spot (Fujica).

More samples (digital):

Bamboo forest at Nanakita Park.
Nanakita Park, different spot.

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