Sunday, November 9, 2014

5-in-1 M42 mount lens review: Asahi, Pentacon & Sigma

From left to right: Asahi Super Multi Coated Takumar 55mm f2, Pentacon Auto 29mm f2.8, Asahi Super Multi Coated Takumar 28mm f3.5, Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f3.5, Sigma Pantel 135mm f2.8

Here are five M42 mount lenses that I'm about to sell shortly. If you've mainly shot with just a kit lens, M42 lenses are an inexpensive way to experiment with different kinds of lenses, perhaps to get a better idea what kind of shooter you are before spending a lot of money on a lens that is specifically designed for your camera system. Even though I own lenses that cost more and I'm perfectly happy with, I find it hard to resist a bargain priced M42 lens.

None of these are exceptional but they can usually be had for cheap and they are capable of some pleasing photos if you put in a bit of effort. I won't write too much on each one and let the images speak for themselves.

All sample photos below were shot using either a Sony A7 or Sony NEX 3N. All photos of the first four lenses were taken using a Panasonic Lumix GX7. The Sigma lens photos were taken using an Olympus Pen E-P3.

Asahi Super Multi Coated Takumar 55mm f2

I'm going to start off with my favourite lens of the bunch. It's compact and very nice to use. The f2 aperture is fast enough for me. Sure, it can be faster but the lens will be bigger. I'm happy with the compromise and with most of my current cameras being able to produce usable images at ISO6400, I'm not too worried.

I love how it flares and it produces images with really nice colour. Bokeh is pleasant.

I'm having second thoughts about whether I'll actually sell it. I probably still will but I may regret it a little. If I didn't already have about a dozen other fifties in my arsenal I'd definitely hang onto it.

Sample pictures below.

Pentacon Auto 29mm f2.8

Nothing special in terms of usability as well as image quality but it produces nice enough looking images. (I am aware that I say 'nice' a lot and I apologise. I should invest in a thesaurus.) Bokeh is decent when using a full frame camera such as the Sony A7. If you want to get a really cheap wide angle lens for a full frame camera, it might be worth a shot assuming you're able to get it really cheap.

Sample pictures below.

Asahi Super Multi Coated Takumar 28mm f3.5

Really small lens but at f3.5, it better be. Images are sharp even when shot wide open which is useful because my copy has a broken aperture mechanism. It does not close unless you push a pin on the rear of the lens which is inaccessible when the lens is mounted on the camera. I suppose I could've done a MacGyver and put a blu-tack on the pin. One of the glass elements wasn't super clear which may have affected the contrast in certain scenes. Fun lens overall when you take into account the fact that this lens can be had for peanuts.

Sample pictures below

Asahi Super-Takumar 28mm f3.5

Just like the previous lens except it's not multi coated. The copy I have has a working aperture mechanism so at least I'm able to close it every now and again. Same physical dimensions and I can't notice any difference in image quality. Bokeh is pleasant enough depending on how you compose a shot.

Sample pictures below.

Sigma Pantel 135mm f2.8

I hated this lens when used with an Olympus Pen E-P3. I rarely got a shot that I liked. Pictures were soft when shot wide open (something's broken with my copy and I'm unable to change the aperture) and I just didn't feel any kind of joy when shooting with it. But then I got a full frame camera (Sony A7) and I ended up having more fun with it. It felt better to shoot with and I was more satisfied with the photos I got. The images seemed sharper too. Same deal when shot with a Sony NEX 3N (APS-C sized sensor), I was happy with the pictures I shot with it.

It's a little chunky size-wise but not too heavy. It's decent enough to focus and change the aperture (assuming your copy doesn't have a broken aperture ring). It has a built in lens hood which is neat.

I had no intention of keeping it since I have a few other lenses around the 100-135mm range which I liked more but it was good to get some decent enough looking photos out of this lens.

Sample pictures below.


  1. Did you end up selling them let me know about the penticon

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