Super-Takumar 28mm f3.5 Lens Review

super takumar 28mm f3.5 sony nex 5n

I’m going to start this Super-Takumar 28mm f3.5 review by saying straight away that it’s not a vintage lens that should be in your bag. And that’s because, if you have one, it should be on your camera.

Yeah, this is going to be one of those kinds of posts. The kind where I tell you how good this lens is and how much I enjoy using it. That wasn’t always my opinion of it, however.

You can find out in this in-depth review what changed there, as well as all the information you’ll ever need on this very good vintage lens.

And if it makes you want to get one for yourself, you can check out their availability on eBay or over at KEH Camera.

Listings ending soon!

A very good wide lens from the loved and respected Super-Takumar range. The 28mm f3.5 gives great results and is ideal for landscape, cityscape, and even some wider angle street photography than you usually see. So why not get one and give some a try?

History of the Asahi / Pentax / Super-Takumar 28mm f3.5

Super-Takumar 28mm f3.5 lenses were produced by the Asahi Optical Co.

If the name Asahi is more synonymous with beer nowadays, that’s probably because the Asahi Optical Co. would eventually become known as Pentax.

The company produced the Super-Takumar 28mm f3.5 lenses between 1962 and 1975 for its range of film cameras.

There were four iterations of the Super-Takumar 28mm f3.5, and the look of them changed slightly over the years.

The first versions of the lens were produced between 1962 and 1965. A slightly updated version was made between 1965 and 1966, with a genuine Mk2 then being introduced and produced until 1971.

This final version of the lens, which ran from 1971 to 1975, was given the Super-Multi-Coated label, due to the multi-coated treatment it was given to reduce lens flare.

The easiest way to know which version you have is to check the product code on the back of the auto/manual diaphragm switch and see where it is in the table below.

I know that mine, saying Super-Multi-Coated on the front and having the product code 43872, is the last version.

NameProduct CodeApertureMade
Super-Takumar 28mm F3.5 (mk1, early)348, 43480f3.5 – f221962 – 1965
Super-Takumar 28mm F3.5 (mk1, late)43481f3.5 – f161965 – 1966
Super-Takumar 28mm F3.5 (mk2)43871f3.5 – f161966 – 1971
Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 28mm F3.543872f3.5 – f161971 – 1975
super-takumar-28mm-f3-5-side-view

Is my Super-Takumar 28mm f3.5 radioactive?

That’s quite a question to hit you with, isn’t it?

It stems from the Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8 and 50mm f1.4 being infamously radioactive, along with several other lenses made by various different manufacturers between the 1940s and 1970s.

From the information I can find online, like here for example, the 28mm Takumar is thankfully free of any radioactivity issues.

For more information on this, you can check out the section on it in my Super-Takumar 55mm review.

super-takumar-55mm-f1-8-28mm-f3-5

The adapter needed for the Super-Takumar 28mm f3.5

The picture above is the 28mm alongside that radioactive Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8.

You can see their diameters are pretty much the same, and I can tell you that so are the physical lengths at around 40cm from front to mount. However, they’ll likely be longer than that on your camera as you’ll likely need to use an adapter.

The size of these adapters varies depending on the camera you have. If you’re looking for a mirrorless camera to use your vintage lenses on, this guide will point you in the right direction.

Personally, I use a Sony mirrorless. If you do too, you’ll need to use an m42-NEX adapter, or an m42-E, which is the same thing. These are readily available on Amazon.

If you use a different camera with a different mount, you’ll need a different adapter. It will still begin with m42 as that’s the lens mount, with the second part of the name matching your camera mount.

If you know what that is, you can head to Amazon and easily find the adapter you’re after.

K&F Concept Lens Mount Adapter for M42 Lens to Sony NEX E-Mount Camera for Sony Alpha NEX-7 NEX-6 NEX-5N NEX-5 NEX-C3 NEX-3 with Matting Varnish Design
  • 【 Function】You can mount M42 screw mount lens to Sony E-mount mirrorless cameras.
  • 【 Material】All-metal design; hardened anodized aluminum construction,matting varnish inside to avoid light reflection.
  • 【 Features】Supports manual control, manual focus, manual exposure and focus to infinity.

First impressions of the Super-Takumar 28mm f3.5

The first couple of times I shot with the Super-Takumar 28mm f3.5, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it.

The lenses I was used to shooting with were a little different to this one in a couple of ways. The first being the focal length, of course, and the second being how wide I could open up the aperture.

I’d often shot by looking for smaller details in things and having lenses open for a shallower depth of field. With the 28mm f3.5, this was not really possible.

Even with a x1.5 APS-C crop sensor, wider shots and more depth of field were the order of the day. A completely new way to think about composition.

It’s not the lens’s fault I wasn’t sure how to shoot with it.

I knew this. I just had to shoot differently, and I wasn’t sure how. But with research and practice, I began to get used to the new style.

The first time I fell in love with the lens was on a trip to the Xijiang Minority Village in China, and a big reason for that was having just read an eBook that helped me learn more about travel photography.

In particular, reading about landscape shots and environmental portraits.

These were two things that I hadn’t really shot with my other vintage lenses, and learning about them was a big help in getting results out of the Super-Takumar 28mm f3.5 that made me happy.

china miao minority village
rural chinese cooking lady

Image and build quality of the Super-Takumar 28mm f3.5

I’ll say this right away: both the image quality and the build quality of the Super-Takumar 28mm f3.5 are excellent.

It’s a satisfyingly weighty, solidly constructed little block of metal and glass. The focus ring is smooth and the aperture ring gives nice polite clicks as it moves through the half-stops.

It must be remembered the lens is older than me, and maybe you too. And although there are some cosmetic imperfections, it works as well as I imagine it always did. These things were built to last.

As for the image quality – well, like any lens old or new, you’re sure to find some drop off in sharpness when you shoot wide open.

However, shooting at 28mm has taught me the value of shooting at f8, and so I’ve found the lens gives me very good results.

I don’t do test shots of inanimate objects at various apertures and present crops of them for people to pore over, though. Instead, the gallery here is full of real world shots I’ve gotten from the 28mm Super-Takumar.

You may or may not think they’re any good but it would be down to me, and not the lens, if you don’t.

Street photography with the Super-Takumar 28mm f3.5

Despite the above trip to the Chinese minority village and the shots I came home with, I do shoot a lot more street photography than travel photography now.

Again, I wasn’t sure what would be possible with the Super-Takumar 28mm f3.5 in the beginning, having shot with longer lenses for so long.

I wasn’t sure about getting closer to people to shoot them, and I wasn’t sure about shooting without the ability to have such a shallow depth of field.

In both cases, all it took again was some practice for me to get over these perceived issues. Doing so has also helped me grow more as a photographer.

Being able to include more background in my street photography means I can add more layers to the composition. I can take more than just shots of people. It’s easier to include shapes and geometry of the environment to tell more of a story.

I’ve also realised how unnecessary it is to need a shallow depth of field all the time. In fact, I think now it’s a little amateurish to use it so much.

I believe there’s a stage in a photographer’s development where we think images are good because of what the camera can do, rather than what we can do with it.

Shooting at f8 rather than at f2.8 all the time pushes us towards making good images through our own skill and not through the camera’s capabilities.

I’m still a work in progress, and I hope I always will be, but this lens has certainly helped me go in that direction.

street-photography-facepalm
china-subway-station-street-photography
street-photography-two-doors

Why I bought the Super-Takumar 28mm f3.5

After shooting a lot of travel and street photography with the aforementioned Super-Takumar 55mm f1.8 and also my F.Zuiko 38mm f1.8, I’d reached the point where I wanted to try a different focal length.

Going longer than 55mm didn’t appeal, so I had to look wider than 38mm.

35mm seemed a little too close to be worthwhile, so I spent time researching good value, wider angle vintage lenses. Initially, I must point out, without much luck.

One of the reasons we have so many vintage lens options to choose from around the 35mm to 50mm range is they were the most commonly used prime lenses back in the day. And still are today, to be fair.

This means more were made, which in turn means even very good examples of them are available for not much money today. Finding a wider angle vintage lens, of which fewer were produced, means either paying a lot or buying something of poor standard.

According to the research I did, 28mm was about as wide as I could find without compromising too much on price or quality.

When I looked on eBay, there were plenty of other options at this focal length.

However, the fact that I already had the m42-NEX adapter – the same adapter as I use to marry the Super-Takumar 55mm to my Sony mirrorless – helped me settle on the 28mm Takumar too.

super-multi-coated-takumar-28mm-f3-5

Final thoughts on the Super-Takumar 28mm f3.5

I know not everyone will be as into vintage lenses as I am, but there’s a fair chance you have at least some interest if you’ve read this far.

Perhaps you’re even interested in trying one out for yourself.

Whether you’ve shot with a classic lens before or not, the Super-Takumar 28mm f3.5 is a good one to pick up. You can easily check the large selection on eBay or see if KEH Camera have any, and get yourself a nice one.

Even though I always shoot with prime vintage lenses, shooting with the wider 28mm focal length has helped me to develop further as a photographer.

If you usually shoot your travel or street photography with a zoom lens, I highly recommend trying out a prime lens yourself.

There’s no reason why this shouldn’t be a Super-Takumar 28mm f3.5. They’re inexpensive, and both the build quality and image quality are great.

You will need an adapter, but they’re not expensive either. You can easily find and order one from Amazon. If you need a small, interchangeable lens camera body too, you can learn which would best suit your needs in this guide here.

You’ll then have all you need for all the other Super-Takumars you buy in the future.

They’re not called Super for nothing, you know. 🙂

Listings ending soon!

A very good wide lens from the loved and respected Super-Takumar range. The 28mm f3.5 gives great results and is ideal for landscape, cityscape, and even some wider angle street photography than you usually see. So why not get one and give some a try?

If you enjoyed this post or found it useful and want to learn more, dig into some more lens reviews and helpful guides below: 

  1. Buying a mirrorless camera for your vintage lenses
  2. How to use vintage lenses on digital cameras
  3. Check out all the other vintage lens reviews

And if you think others will enjoy this Takumar 28mm f3.5 review too, help them find it by sharing or pinning.  😀

16 thoughts on “Super-Takumar 28mm f3.5 Lens Review”

  1. Those are some superb shots! Too many people worry about lens sharpness, you’re shots are plenty sharp. It’s usually the operator that creates out of focus images. Go out and take pictures and stop worrying about sharpness. I would worry more about composition, subject matter and a properly exposed image first. These vintage lenses to my eyes create a much more 3D look with pleasing colors, much better than the sterile modern day lenses. Thanks for sharing your experience with the lens and the photos. I LOVE the corn shot, that was so well seen and captured! Be well, Mike C.

    Reply
    • Thank you Mike. I agree with everything you say. Just go out and shoot! And that good composition is good composition whatever the lens. Thanks for reading and commenting. Stay well. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Thank you for your detailed review! Can you comment on handholding vs tripod use for this lens? Based on stopping down to f8, did you get sharp shots handholding? I am considering the lens but with film. With your digital are you using high ISO which may be a luxury you have with a nice Sony digital mirrorless? I wonder if your review would change if your shots were too slow to handhold or you could not use f8 without a tripod.

    Reply
    • Hi Lauren. Thanks for the kind words.

      This might be a bit of a roundabout answer. First off, I’ve never used a tripod with this lens so everything you see was handheld.

      I’ve looked at the EXIF data for a few of the most recent shots I took with this lens (they’re in the last post of the #leesixtyfive project you can see in the main menu). They tend to have been shot at ISO 400 or 800, with the shutter speed plenty fast enough to get no motion blur.

      There’s no aperture value in the EXIF of course but I know for sure they were shot at f8 or even f11 if the light was good enough, because that’s what I walk around with it set at when I do street photography. The depth of field in them backs this up.

      Setting the camera to ISO 400 and certainly to 800 was just me playing it safe because as you suggest they don’t come out much different to ISO 100 on that camera anyway.

      Based on that and thinking about film… I know there’s plenty of 400 film around but I understand you might not want to be shooting 800 film a lot. 🙂

      Having said that though, I’ve shot a few rolls of 200 and even 100 film myself handheld out in the streets and found f8 to be fine so long as the light is there. Not with this lens, but another one at f8. You can see these shots in the Film Photo Essays archive if you wanted to.

      I don’t want to presume anything but… I think most people would be okay shooting at f8 without a tripod. If not with 100 film then 200 and 400. Depending on the light and subject of course. But for where I am and what I shoot, which is mainly fluid street scenes, I’ve found all film from 100 to 400 to be fine handheld at f8.

      Does that help? Let me know if not. 😀

      Reply
  3. Your review is proof that good information has lasting value. I’m just starting to venture into Takumars. I’ll spare you the story of my 50/1.4, but it’s a good story. I’m eyeballing this lens, and almost certainly will be unable to resist. Will be shooting on an Olympus Micro 4/3 body so effective FOV is same as 56mm. Hard to find vintage lenses in the effective wide range. In any case, thanks for your excellent review.

    Reply
    • Thanks for commenting D.R. Yeah, it seems to me the 50mm f1.4 and 55mm f1.8 get talked about the most but this 28mm is a beauty too, in my opinion. I shoot mine on APS-C and really enjoy that extra width. Am sure you’ll love it on your Olympus. Sounds like a good way to get a great value near-50mm angle.

      Reply
  4. great review! I recently purchased one to use with my sony a7rii and it gives pretty great results. great colors and contrast right out of the lens. Almost gives you the look that a Voigtlander 35mm f1.7 ultron gives but for a fraction of the cost ($750 vs. $25).
    Whats strange to me is that it doesn’t vignette as much as I would have thought. my SMC Takumar 50mm F4 macro and 135mm f3.5 vignettes much better.

    Reply
    • Thanks Erick. Happy to hear you’re enjoying the lens and finding it such great value for money. Certainly feel the same when I’ve used mine. 🙂

      Reply
  5. It is gratifying to see young photogs find and use these veteran optics on their newer tech bodies. I am older than my copy of my own SMC version of the 28/3.5, having been a shooter since 1965!

    I agree it is an excellent lens, albeit slow, but compact and like many vintage lenses a perfect companion for street and other clandestine shooting practices. I suggest you collect a good number of the better Taks (cheap and superior to many M42 variants) and see how each contributes a unique personality to your kit.

    Reply
    • Thank you for another thoughtful comment, Bstrom.

      It’s gratifying to see older (sorry) photogs finding my site 🙂 Do you publish your work anywhere? Feel free to reply with a link, let us take a look if you like. 🙂

      This is the second Tak that I’ve owned and used. The other is the 55mm f1.8. Both have been excellent and I agree I could / should seek out more.

      I do want to add some brand variety to my little collection too (even if they’re not so good, just to try) but I don’t recall hearing a bad word said about the Taks so I’m sure more of these would be solid purchases too.

      Cheers.

      Lee

      Reply
      • I can recommend the Helios 44-2 and/or 44-M for sweet bokeh effects, Zeiss’ elderly 50/2.8 silver Tessars, and the Mir 37/2.8 is also popular.

        I fiddle a lot with enlarger lenses on a bellows or helicoil which are great closeup optics for flora and the like. All are very inexpensive and easy to use once setup.

        I should create a blog to post all this activity but am too busy to keep it current like real bloggers do. I do post on the Pentax forum under the Lens Club listings for Taks, Rusian and my own Enlarger thread. Enjoy visiting these sites in the meantime – keep up the good work.

        Reply
        • That’s brilliant mate. Thanks for the recommendations and the kind words. Sure am planning to keep up what I’m doing here. You too. 🙂

          Cheers!

          Lee

          Reply
  6. Just order my 28mm today before reading your post. Actually I have read your blog few days ago when I explorer about Takuma lens. Very good article. I am a newbie to camera but I really falling in love with vintage lens! Thank you so much from Bkk.

    Reply
    • Hey Emily. Thanks for the nice comment. Always nice to hear someone new is falling in love with vintage lenses. Hope you have a lot of fun shooting with your Super-Takumar when you get it.

      Cheers!

      Lee

      Reply
  7. Thank you for your awesome post. Both your reviews on this and the 58mm 1.8 have swayed me into purchasing them (with a bit more research of course). I have the 58mm so far and am waiting on the 28mm. This will be my first foray into manual vintage lenses and quite honestly I can’t wait to take the plunge. I’m just hoping the excitement lives on after all the trial & error.

    Reply
    • Hey Saahil, that’s great to hear you got something from this review! Thanks for the kind words.

      I’m sure you’ll soon get the hang of manual focus lenses and will hopefully enjoy them for a long time to come! The Takumars are great ones to start with. The trial and error maybe never stops 🙂 but you do get better at capturing what you want to capture. I also find the satisfaction in manually getting the shot you want never goes away.

      Thanks again for commenting, it’s much appreciated.

      Lee

      Reply

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