Testing Takumar Lens Adapter on Nikon Body

I recently came into the possession of a Pentax SMC Takumar 135mm f3.5 lens for a pretty cheap price. It is still in excellent condition and I could not be happier to find such lens. Now as pointed out in forum or other blogs, Takumar lenses are deemed by photographers as one the best lenses for value (read: cheap and yield good results). Of course to start using it I would need to buy myself a M42 adapter in order to mount this lovely lens to my Nikon D5300 camera body.

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Pentax SMC Takumar 135mm f3.5 lens, oldies but goodies.

As poor student as I am now, I instinctively searched for the cheapest adapter in Amazon Japan. I came across one and bought it, but it has severe limitation as it makes the lens to lose the ability to focus into infinity. Then I decided to say ‘screw with budget’ and bought more expensive adapter that rectifies that flaw. And since now I own 2 different adapters with different build and purpose, I thought to write this blog post to record my experience using those 2 adapters.

Let us start with showing some pictures first to show the quality of the lens. As expected the lens yield crisp and sharp image with nice bokeh. The colors come out great even before edited. The maximum aperture of f3.5 does makes it slower than its other variants and limits the usage at low-light condition, but that does not deter me at all. I am satisfied with how the photos came out.

And now we will go onto the adapter comparison. Shown below are my 2 adapters. One is a simple metal ring construct while the other has extra lens to correct the infinity problem.

  • The simple metal ring adapter simply acts as a screw to mount the lens to body. By doing so you lose the ability to focus into infinity as mentioned above. Focus to infinity means making both the foreground and the distant background of your photo sharp.
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Thin and simple, basically just an extension for the mount.
  • On the other hand the adapter with the lens has the feeling of extension tube, obviously due to the extra layer of glass inserted. This lens rectifies the infinity focus problem, which enables you to take horizon shots with the lens. This adds the length of the lens though, which sticks out when mounted even more.
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Thicker and has an extra layer of glass.

Below are the shots taken in with either of the adapters for close range shots in Manshouji temple, a temple near my dormitory. All the images in the comparison are shown as-is, not yet edited using Lightroom.The images on the left are taken with the simple metal ring adapter while the right ones are taken with the corrective lens adapter.

In close range shots, the most distinct difference between them is that the corrective lens adapter adds extra length between camera sensor and lens, moving the lens a bit further from the camera. Thus the images on the right look smaller and seem farther away. Other than that I did not see any noticeable different. The colors look okay and the images are still shard and crisp as expected. If there is slight blur in the images, that comes from my inexperience with operating manual lenses (gotta admit, manual focusing is a bit hard for me sometimes!).

However, when it comes to long range shots using the corrective lens adapter (obviously the metal ring adapter can’t be used for this purpose lol), for example taking pictures of a hill from afar, I discovered a flaw: the picture comes out a bit murky. This is possibly caused by that extra layer of glass that deteriorates the sharpness and overall quality of the pictures, a cons pointed out in another blog.

These 2 images below are not edited in Lightroom. The left one is taken using Takumar lens and corrective lens adapter, while the right one is taken with my other lens, Cosina 28-200mm f3.5. Notice the murkiness in the colors and lack of sharpness in the left image.

The following image is also unedited and taken with Takumar lens + corrective lens. Although not really noticeable and most likely can be corrected in Lightroom, the overall cloudiness does throw the color quality off. This is quite a shame, considering producing great colors is supposed to be a trait of Takumar lenses.

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Main hall of Jogi-nyorai, a temple in the outskirt of Sendai.

Be that as it may, it still does not faze me as I can still use the lens for close-range/macro and mid-range shootings or even portrait. I see no reason for me to use this 135mm for landscape shoot. It is definitely one of those times that you need to figure yourself what kind of lens you would want to use in different kind of situations.

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Manshouji temple from the entrance.
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