[Lens Review] Takumar 85-210mm f4.5

JUNE 18, 2023


[Lens Review] Takumar 85-210mm f4.5

Update May 2024: Added film photo samples.

Table of Contents

Disclaimer: tested this lens on Sony A6000 or Sony A7ii for digital and Fujica ST701 for film.

Yet another m42 mount lens from Asahi Takumar, the 85-210mm f4.5 zoom lens, is not tiny since you will automatically stand out when using it in front of crowds. Before we get to the details, let’s see the lens’s data.

The lens has the following technical specifications:

  • Diameter & length: 66.5 x 217.5 mm
  • Weight: 705 grams
  • Filter size: 58 mm
  • Minimum focus distance: 3.5 m
  • Aperture: 6 blades, f4.5 max

Handling and Build

Takumar 85-210mm is a specialist lens. Given its unusual telephoto reach, it’s not something you would use in your everyday photography. You would only use it whenever there is a need for more extended reach, such as portrait, wildlife, or action.

But since it’s an old, manual lens with no way to stabilize it, whether you can use the lens effectively or not largely depends on your skills. Because of the longer focal length, even if you use a digital camera with an IBIS feature at the maximum zoom length of 210mm, sometimes it feels hard to get sharp shots.

On the other hand, as expected from Takumar lenses, the build is excellent, although a bit heavy. Though the lens is considered vintage by now, I can see how the engineers poured love when creating the lens.

The drawback is that since it’s an old-style push-pull zoom lens, it will take time to get used to it, and you have to accept that it is less precise than a modern zoom ring.

The focus ring is a joy to use. Designed to get accurate focus, its long throw will let you nail the shot, provided you can stabilize the lens sufficiently. This is true for fast-moving objects, like the photos of a festival in Sendai below.

Image Quality

One thing that stands out immediately is that 85-210 exhibits a strong chromatic aberration from wide open to around f.56 when exposed to a bright environment. Even though this is treatable in post-processing, it’s pretty hard to remove all due to its sheer presence. This affects the image quality by a lot.

Shooting with this lens closed down in long exposure produces a cool six-star light refraction if you are into some gimmicky effects.

Other than that, it generally produces pleasant, though not remarkable, images with compressed background objects. Bokeh can be pretty busy and distracting, especially with a crowded background. Vignetting is also strong in the corners.

I shot a Japanese festival almost entirely using this lens a few years back if you are interested. Though I had a lot of keepers overall, the image quality sometimes left much to be desired.

Final Thoughts

I had difficulty determining the Takumar 85-210mm value. As I said in the beginning, it’s a telephoto lens; hence, you probably won’t be using it regularly. In addition, it’s an old lens, and usually, people won’t bother with old telephoto lenses.

But simultaneously, I enjoy shooting with this Takumar when I do. I even snagged one of my first photo contest wins with this lens. It’s a lens that shines if you give it a chance.

So here’s my score for it:

Score: 6/10

With excellent build quality, the current price is a steal. If you have the patience to use a manual zoom lens, that’s great; you might be interested in owning this lens. But if you don’t or rarely use a telephoto lens, forget this lens and get another.

More Sample Photos (film)

More Sample Photos (digital)

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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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