First Flames – Asahi Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 120mm f/2.8

My Lens Love series is for those lenses I’ve used a fair bit, love using and the results they can give, and want to spread the word about them.

Quite often though there are lenses I have that I’m less familiar with, but even with a little use have shown plenty of promise. 

I wanted a way of sharing my initial excitement about these, before I know them well enough to feel I can give them a more comprehensive and in-depth Lens Love post.

First up in this new First Flames series then, is inevitably a Takumar, specifically the Asahi Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 120mm f/2.8. 

Samsung GX-1S, Asahi Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 120mm f/2.8 M42 lens

The last few months have found me shooting almost entirely digital with my two Pentax K mount DSLRs, the 10MP Pentax K10D and 6MP Samsung GX-1S, a clone of the Pentax *ist DS2.

These cameras both having APS-C sensors with a crop factor of 1.5x has slightly influenced the focal lengths I use. 

Mostly it’s meant I’ve been happier experimenting with wider angles (eg Takumar 28/3.5) as the field of view has not been as overwhelmingly wide as I’ve found a 28mm on film, and have found my preferred limit at the tele end is probably a 135mm.

The S-M-C Takumar 120/2.8 then, became more appealing as it sits a little behind the 135s, but far enough beyond my next longest lens, the Takumar 105/2.8, to be different. 

Samsung GX-1S, Asahi Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 120mm f/2.8 M42 lens

The build is predictably fantastic, and although my copy is a little worn cosmetically, the focus and aperture rings are as lovely as you’d expect them to be from a Takumar. 

It’s also pretty compact – again Takumars generally are – and whilst not heavy, its weight further reassures of its quality.

I like that it’s f/2.8, so like my 105/2.8, it gives plenty of light for easy focusing. Plus it seems pretty sharp even at f/2.8 and even better a couple of stops down.

Samsung GX-1S, Asahi Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 120mm f/2.8 M42 lens

Overall, a very promising beginning for the 120.

With Taks in 28, 35, 55, 105, 120, 135 and 150, I have a good range. I also like that the 105, 120 and 150 are quite unusual focal lengths, a little different to the ubiquitous 135mm, especially in M42 mount, where there must be at least 25 very competent 135s.

What’s niggling is that I also have about six other 135s, which makes eight or nine lenses between 120 and 150mm, which is an overcrowded scene.

A good choice might be to keep the more unusual Takumar 120 and 150mm lenses, sell three or four of the 135s and put the funds towards the largest gap in my set, between 55 and 105, ie an 85mm, either a Tak or a Jupiter 9.

If you come across a Takumar 120/2.8 at a decent price (less than £60-75) it’s hard not to recommend it, even with the limited used I’ve had with mine so far. 

Samsung GX-1S, Asahi Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 120mm f/2.8 M42 lens

Have you any experience with a Takumar 120/2.8? 

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Thanks for reading. Please share this post with others you feel will enjoy it too.

6 thoughts on “First Flames – Asahi Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 120mm f/2.8”

  1. Hi, love the shot off the rose, can almost touch it. My lens set up similar to yours in coverage except I went down the Pentax-m route instead of M42. I can recommend the 85mm f2 SMC Pentax-m version. It’s no noticeably slower than the M42 taks but mine was loads cheaper, about £90. It’s tiny too, there are plenty of 50’s out there that are larger. It balances well on my A7II works well on my K100d and the Chinon CE-5 I use cos I can’t justify Pentax LX prices but wanted a 1/2000 shutter is the place . I would imagine the m version and the two quicker M42 85mm taks have a lot of characteristic in common. I did a candid (read sneaky) portrait of my mum when I first bought it. It’s sharpness wide open scared me….or was that the fine detail on my mum’s face I never expected to see😀😉

    It’s such a terrible dilemma you have. 😀

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Toby, and the tip about the M 85/2. I just read on a forum yesterday actually someone saying much the same. I’ve started looking out for one as the Taks are just too far beyond my budget. The Jupiter-9 85/2 remains very appealing, and from what I’ve read would be significantly different in character from either Pentax lens.

  2. Tried one once. Jupiter-9 I mean. It was in the really early days of me messing with lenses. I don’t think I appreciated what I had. I was obcessed with perfect, character is more of an appreciation these days. If a feinmess bonotar drops in your way take it. Not massively sharp but nice. Regret selling mine it’s a 105 4.5 if I remember right.

    1. Yes I can definitely relate to that, there are lenses I’ve had twice because I didn’t appreciate quite how good they were the first time around. Or sometimes as your photography evolves you look for and appreciate different things. The character and personality of a lens becomes more important.

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