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LENS PORN: Super-Takumar 55mm f/1.8 (PC=37101, late version) with Infinity on Nikon DSLRs

Super-Takumar 55mm f/1.8 with Infinity on Nikon DSLRs
Super-Takumar 55mm f/1.8 with Infinity on Nikon DSLRs

The Super Takumar 55mm f/1.8 is a very popular and sought after standard prime lens today -- besides the famous warm Pentax rendition and punchy colors, it is also known for its sharpness at the widest aperture of f/1.8.

This nifty-fifty was made by Asahi Optical Co. from 1965 up to 1971. In those years, they made several improvements and there are 8 versions of this lens. Mine shows a product code of '37101' right under the Manual/Auto switch, indicating it is a late version of the Super-Takumars. The version I had was made around 1971 and already multicoated. I think this is probably the best version because the focus ring is made of metal rather than the rubber grip of later versions. But you really can't go wrong with any version you pick.

What makes it a viable option for many camera systems, including my Nikon D5200, is that it comes in the universal M42 mount, and its flange distance means literally any camera mount can accommodate this lens, and with a little tweak, can also mount on Nikon DSLRs with focus to infinity (no extra optical glass needed!)

On APS-C cameras like my D5200, it becomes everyone's favorite 85mm portrait lens (full frame equivalent). As we all know, the favorite portraiture range are from 85mm to 135mm, because they give a comfortable working distance from the subject, and this telephoto range easily produces blurry backgrounds at f/4 than say, a wide 28mm at f/2.5 can.

For me, having this lens feels refreshing because it is very tiny and takes in tiny 49mm filters. The mechanism in this lens is also a pleasure to use, ultra smooth.

The only things I really didn't like (which isn't a big thing here) is that: 1) there are clicks between full stops, I would prefer clicks at f/1.8, f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22... nothing in between, it's just easier for me to calculate my exposure while looking into the viewfinder and not have to look at the aperture ring every time I change stop just to make sure I'm at the correct value, 2) it only has 6 aperture blades, which you can clearly see when stopped down and the bokeh balls appear disturbingly hexagonal.

When I started using this lens, that's when I understood why everybody loves it. Now comes the point when a loyal Nikkor fan like me starts to question the Nikkor nifty-fifties (but they're also great!)...



Super Takumar 55mm f/1.8

Manufactured By
Asahi Optical Co.

Years Produced
1965 - 1971

Product Code
37101 (late version)

Minimum Focusing Distance
0.45 meters

Focus Throw
180 degrees

Filter Thread Diameter

Aperture Run
f/1.8 - f/22 in half-stop clicks
6 blades

Multicoated glass

Comes in M42 mount

Made in Japan

The M/A switch always gets in the way when I'm turning the tiny aperture rin. Removing it was the best decision I ever made.

The rear element was adjusted specially for my Nikon DSLR to allow precise focusing to infinity. (Google: 'Flange Distance')



Nikon D5200
Profile - Standard (most of the shots),
Classic Chrome, Neutral
WB - Cloudy

All shots here are unedited!



Full Resolution Photo Album

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The Nikon D5200 as my weapon of choice.

Vintage lenses are my poison.

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