Nikon AI vs. Super Takumars

Discussion in 'Nikon' started by Pat, Oct 17, 2003.

  1. Pat

    Pat Guest

    hey everyone,

    I am considering trying a Nikon FE2 (with aperture priority) with
    Nikon AI lenses. I'm wondering if the sharpness and contrast of the
    Nikon AI lenses is far superior to the Super Takumars. Has anyone had
    any experience with both of these lenses and could possibly compare
    them for me....or at least give some insight?

    BTW, I'm talking about primes.....i.e. the 24, 50, 85, 105, and 200
    for both.

    thanks for any feedback in advance.
    Pat, Oct 17, 2003
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  2. Pat

    Matt Clara Guest

    Super Takumars are very hard to beat. I think you'd have to judge on a lens
    by lens basis. I've used both, and generally found the Takumars to be
    superior to the AI lenses. The AI-S lenses, on the other hand, are just as
    good as the Takumars, again, generally speaking.
    Matt Clara, Oct 17, 2003
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  3. Pat

    Tony Spadaro Guest

    The only one I can directly compare in the 50mm f1.4s. The shots I took with
    the Spotmatic are obviously sharper than those taken with my Nikons.
    Tony Spadaro, Oct 17, 2003
  4. My experience with Takumars is dated, purchased in 1970-71 -- screw
    mounts. Haven't shot with them in 25 years -- switched to Nikkor AI
    in '78 and have been shooting professionally with them since. But as
    I remember, the Nikon optics were superior -- sharper, more contrasty
    -- but generally not far superior. With an 8x loupe, the only way I
    could tell which slides were shot with which lenses was the Takumars
    were "warm" and the Nikkors, neutral to "cool."

    If money is not of paramount consideration, I'd go with Nikon -- more
    of it out there; better, more extensive system; durable, etc, but I'd
    opt for the FM2n instead -- newer, more current than the FE2. Yes,
    the FM2n isn't "auto" exposure, but it doesn't take all that long to
    turn a ring or twist a dial.
    Stefan Patric, Oct 17, 2003
  5. Pat

    Matt Clara Guest

    My AI 1.4 is a bit of a dog, in my opinion.
    Matt Clara, Oct 17, 2003
  6. Pat

    Adam F Guest

    Or try a contax RTS II - they're cheap as now (say $250) and no one's
    questioning the quality of zeiss primes (grab a 50/1.7 Planar for
    ~$125)...original RTS is even cheaper but getting old.

    Obviously if you need a 300/2.8 zeiss is not for the budget-minded, but an
    80-200/4 recently went for $350 on ebay and that's a sweet lens for a zoom.

    You still want cheaper? Try some of the yashica equivalents - 24/2.8,
    28/2.8, 50/1.4, 200/4 and 80-200/4 are reputedly up there with nikon/pentax
    equivalents. Some say they are almost as good as the zeisses, with the T*
    coating being zeiss' main advantage.

    see: (italian sorry, but
    you can use babelfish)

    Adam F
    Adam F, Oct 17, 2003
  7. Pat

    Jeremy Guest

    x-no-archive: yes

    I have not seen any test results comparing sharpness between the two lenses,
    but I have seen tests comparing SMC Takumar 50mm f/1.4 vs. Leica, and the
    Takumar was sharper.

    The Super Takumars and SMC Takumars also have superior bokeh.

    The coatings on the SMC Takumars are second to none. I would stick to the
    SMC Taks, as opposed to the non-multi-coated Super Takumar series. The
    optics are identical, but the SMCs have multi-coating.

    Have a look at this link, to get yourself started:
    Jeremy, Oct 17, 2003
  8. Pat

    Hickster0711 Guest

    I've never found anything to equal the older Pentaxes. When I sold my first
    camera, almost 30 yrs ago, an ES, I was very annoyed to find that nothing that
    came after was as good. Not to find fault with Nikon, but they just ain't
    Pentax. Bob Hickey
    Hickster0711, Oct 17, 2003
  9. There's tons of Takumar glass and old bodies out there... Go back to it if
    you are annoyed with Nikon...

    I bet you won't - fond memories exceed reality..

    Dennis O'Connor, Oct 17, 2003
  10. May I suggest something? Are you looking for the best quality
    possible, or just confining yourself to the Pentax/Nikon alternatives?
    Michael Scarpitti, Oct 17, 2003
  11. Pat

    Loren Coe Guest

    Loren Coe, Oct 17, 2003
  12. Pat

    Jeremy Guest

    x-no-archive: yes

    The SMC Takumar lens series is now over 3 decades old. The glass was
    wonderful, the fit & finish were superb, the wonderful feel of
    smooth-turning focus ring is a joy, BUT these lenses cannot be relied upon
    in heavy-use situations, such as professionals will encounter.

    They are no longer supported by Pentax, new repair parts are not available,
    and used lenses, while generally in good condition, are a risky proposition.
    Buying them in new-in-box condition is impossible.

    For weekend shooters, like me, they are a great value. I believe that the
    Asahi SMC Takumar series offers more value per dollar spent than any other
    lens system, IF the photographer can live with the limitations that
    accompany older lenses.

    I have taken very good care of my equipment, and most of it looks in
    almost-new condition. If I were shooting professionally, they just would
    not meet my needs, because they are not easily replaced--at least, not in
    the excellent condition that my equipment is in.

    The screw mount is no big deal--unless the photographer has a need to change
    lenses quickly. The cameras are built like tanks--except for their quirky
    metering systems, which seem to stop working (I have 5 bodies, and have
    never had a problem with any of my meters.) And now that Cosina has
    released a screw mount camera, it is possible to get brand new bodies, with
    warranties, to replace or augment one's existing Pentax bodies.

    I have over a dozen genuine OEM lenses, and combined, they didn't cost me as
    much as one new Leica lens. Everyone is familiar with the tests run by
    Kepplar where the Takumar beat out the sharpness of the Leica lens. In
    addition, they have the creamiest bokeh you ever saw.

    Still the major obstacle to my giving them a recommendation is that it may
    not be a good idea to commit to an obsolete system. As much as I love my
    Pentax gear, if I were to start today, all over again, I'd go with
    Leicaflex. If I needed new equipment, at a more reasonable cost, I'd go
    with Nikon. If Pentax still made the LX camera bodies, I would have gone
    with that. I am tempted to suggest Contax, but the RTS series hasn't had
    many incarnations since it was first introduced, and I keep thinking that
    the series may fizzle away. Maybe it's all in my head . . .

    To summarize, if you MUST go cheap, and if you can accept the limitations of
    old lenses, the SMC Takumars are the hands-down winner in terms of low price
    and high quality results. If you expect to use your gear for over a decade,
    and to add to it over time, it's hard to argue with Nikon's long-lived lens

    Fortunately for me, I have accumulated everything I want, and I did it when
    it was available brand new. My 2 point & shoots, and my digital camera just
    don't compare to my Spotmatics and ES bodies and accompanying lenses, in
    terms of image quality or of tactile satisfaction. I bought my stuff at the
    right time, and it has been one of the most satisfying series of decisions
    that I ever made.
    Jeremy, Oct 17, 2003
  13. Pat

    Tony Spadaro Guest

    I wouldn't call mine dogs (I had 2) but there is nothing I have ever owned
    that was as sharp as that takumar - nothing. The Nikons were good, the
    Konicas were good, but nothing was like that lens.
    Tony Spadaro, Oct 17, 2003
  14. Pat

    Gordon Moat Guest

    There are slight differences with some of the AI and AIS lenses in the
    same focal length. Choosing between those can sometimes make a
    difference. As for comparisons, I can only compare a few of these, and
    offer some observations.
    Limited experience in either choice. Generally, I shoot stopped down with
    wide angle lenses. I have noticed that the wide open performance often
    shows a greater difference. It really depends upon your shooting
    preferences, though the slower lenses can offer some great bargain
    Greatest variability of choices here. Some of the f1.4 work well, though
    when high contrast light sources are in the scene defocus areas, they can
    render distracting highlights. The best I have used, or compared, so far,
    is the 50 mm f2.0 AI, though it is not a very common lens. The absolute
    best is a 58 mm f1.2 Nikkor, but those are very expensive.
    I liked the results from the Pentax f1.4 slightly more than the Nikon
    f1.4. However, I tend to favour the 85 mm f2.0 over either, but that is
    more of a personal preference. The Nikon f1.8 is nearly the same in
    resulting images. All of these take a back seat to the 105 mm f2.5
    Nikkor, so I no longer have an 85 mm.
    Personally, I think the 105 mm f2.5 Nikon is one the the great all time
    lenses. It is tough to find another lens that does so well with defocus
    areas, and it is really enjoyable to use at f2.5. Some other
    photographers may feel the same about this lens. If you go Nikon, you owe
    it to yourself to get a good example of one of these.
    I really did not like the Nikon 200 mm f4.0 that I had previously. I sold
    it, and never looked back. After renting the 180 mm f2.8 many times, I
    finally bought one, and that lens is noticeably better than the 200 mm
    f4.0, especially wide open. It is a little on the heavy side, and takes
    some practice to use effectively hand held, but the 180 mm f2.8 is
    another "must get" lens, if you go Nikon.
    The FE2 is nice, especially for the flash features. With Pentax, I liked
    the LX the best, and since a friend of mine uses these, that provides
    some of my comparison information. One odd difference between the two
    systems is that the Nikon focus direction is opposite the Pentax (and
    most other brands). Some people just do not like the different focus
    direction, so try one out prior to considering a purchase.

    A lens you did not mention, but which may be a good consideration, is the
    shift lens. Nikon made a few 28 mm and 35 mm versions of these. Either
    are really good, though slightly odd to use. The 35 mm PC Nikkor is the
    sharpest lens I have ever used that is 35 mm focal length. It makes a
    fine standard use lens, especially at f2.8 or f4.0, even when not
    shifted. I have not tried a Pentax shift lens, and in fact, I have never
    seen one in use, so I am not sure how it may compare.


    Gordon Moat
    Alliance Graphique Studio
    Gordon Moat, Oct 17, 2003
  15. Pat

    Adam F Guest

    Hmm, did they compare it with zeiss too? The last pop photo 50/1.4 comparo I
    read had contax/zeiss on top...think pentax may have come 2nd.
    Some say Leica don't concentrate solely on sharpness, favouring colour
    rendition and other things...maybe that explains it.

    Adam F
    Adam F, Oct 18, 2003
  16. Pat

    Bandicoot Guest

    Taking just this one comment:

    Pentax only has one shift lens, a 28mm f3.5. No tilt lens, and no 35mm
    shift. This is OK with me as I use my MF tilt & shift lenses or a technical
    camera for most of the work where I need one, but it could be a limitation
    for someone wanting to cover all the bases all with 35mm.

    The Pentax 28mm shift is pretty good. Not as sharp as the 'ordinary' 28mm
    f3.5, but then I don't think there is any 28mm lens that is. I've heard
    someone complain about distortion, but there is no significant distortion
    with mine so I wonder if theirs was out of whack. I can't compare it to the
    Nikons, not having used one, but it is a good and useful lens. It is big
    though - about the same size as the Pentax 15mm! It has built in filters.

    Bandicoot, Oct 18, 2003
  17. Pat

    Lewis Lang Guest

    Subject: Re: Nikon AI vs. Super Takumars
    I believe the Pop Photo article that compared the best fast 50mm lenses was a
    few years back and possibly had Zeiss in first place with Canon in second, but
    that was before Leica came out with their newest Leica R 50mm f/1.4 which would
    now probably blow both the Zeiss and the Canon away. Having said that, there is
    more to a lens than just sharpness - tonality/clarity, bokeh
    (rendition/softness of out of focus areas), contrast, correction of aberrations
    and other imaging characteristics all play a part in the "look" of a lens. Its
    just sharpness is (usually) the most obvious attribute of a lens and usually
    gets the most press. Most 50mm lenses are more than sharp enough for 95% of
    people's needs 95% or more of the time - unless you do all your shooting wide
    open and blow up to huge sizes, which 50mm lens you choose for sharpness won't
    be as important as some of the other qualities I've mentioned. For 4x6" prints
    which Joe Shmoe shoots on print film, it wont make any real difference.


    Lewis Lang, Oct 18, 2003
  18. Pat

    Jeremy Guest

    x-no-archive: yes

    The article I was referring to predates Contax lenses. It was a simple
    comparison of which lens had the best resolving power, without regard for
    aberrations, flare control, saturation, etc.

    Both a Takumar and a Minolta lens beat out the Leica lens in terms of

    You're correct about there being other factors besides sharpness to
    consider. The Takumars from the 70s were essentially Zeiss designs (Asahi
    was competing with Zeiss back then) and Pentax lenses have been considered
    the most "German" of the Japanese lenses. I wouldn't say that they are
    "better" than Nikon, only that they are "different." I happen to like their
    bokeh qualities better than the Nikon line.

    But, let's not forget that, once the image is captured on film, it will be
    virtually impossible for anyone to know which lens took which shot. I think
    that we tend to read into a shot those qualities that we most like about OUR
    lenses. In truth, if I were to take a shot with a 30-year-old SMC Takumar
    50mm f/1.4, and tell you that the shot was actually taken with a Zeiss
    equivalent, what are the chances that you would be able to tell the
    Jeremy, Oct 18, 2003
  19. Pat

    Peter Chant Guest

    I do wonder, if people are that bothered by this sort of difference why
    they are not shooting medium format. The larger film size would surely
    swamp all the differences between various high quality 35mm lenses.

    Of course the running costs are greater, but then some of the higher
    end 35mm kit is as dear as some MF kit.
    Peter Chant, Oct 19, 2003
  20. Pat

    Matt Clara Guest

    It's probably because I use it mostly in low light at 1.4 and 1/15 to 1/60
    of a second. I've never found it sharp under those conditions. I've had
    two as well, though I sold one that was a little beat up.
    Matt Clara, Oct 19, 2003
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