Pentax Takumar 35mm 3.5 Lens review
The Takumar 35 3.5 is a wide angle prime lens manufactured by Pentax. It was introduced in 1959 and was produced for several decades. These lenses were built for their Pentax-K and Spotmatic cameras. This 35mm lens is available in Pentax-K and M42 mount. The Takumar 35mm 3.5 is not the fastest 35mm lens in the Pentax line-up. Therefore it is often not considered as a purchase by many people who prefer to opt for a faster version. Yet, the value for money of the Takumar 35mm 3.5 makes it very interesting, especially when you consider its built quality and overall sharpness.
- Value for money
- Sharp in the center
- No vignetting
- Minimal distortion
- Ergonomics & built quality
- Very compact & lightweight
The Takumar 35mm 3.5 is exactly my type of lens: undervalued, often frowned at, abundantly available and fun to use. Let me explain: “f3.5? that’s so slow” a lot of people will complain. Good: let them buy faster lenses – that makes my Takumar less expensive. “It is like a kit lens. It’s not collectible” the collectors will remark. Good: no pricey collectors premium apply. What you end up with is a great shooter lens at a very tempting price. You won’t find many better bargains than that. The best thing is that it is not only the price that makes the lens interesting: it actually is a good lens.
First things first: size matters – and for me, the smaller the lens, the better. I tried a lot of wide angle lenses and this is one of the smallest and lightest around (bar the Leica M39 screwmount lenses and the itsy bitsy 30mm Lydith). At around 150 grams it is also very light. You might think: ok, sounds like a cheap lightweight plastic combo. No my friend, you are mistaken. The Takumar is all glass and metal. The craftsmanship, as with as Takumar lenses, is superb. It is a simple construction, yet feel very well made. The built quality is really good. Everything feels solid, sturdy and reassuring.
You won’t think twice about bringing this lens on a trip – it will fit anywhere and is not cumbersome at all. The 150 grams lens easily sneaks into your pocket. The Takumar 35 3.5 is not intrusive. It is rather tiny, all black, looks like nothing spectacular and if you are out on a stealth mode mission, this is exactly what you want. People will not notice the Takumar 35 which, is great for street photography.
The aperture settings are with clicks. The focusing is super smooth – really a joy to use. The full focusing from 45cm to infinity is about half a turn, which is great for photography but some videographers would prefer it to be longer. Focusing is very swift which comes in handy. This is a straightforward yet totally forgiving lens. The focus range is excellent for zonal focusing making it great for street photography.
Let’s move on to the image quality: this is a very solid performer! Sharpness is very pleasing, especially in the center of the image obviously. But even the corner sharpness is fine. There is some falloff in the corners but most wide angle lenses have that. Across the board image quality is almost persistent. The Takumar 35mm 3.5 does not really have to hide in terms of image quality. This lens is great for most outdoor situation.
OK, the strengths are definitely not in the low light situations. But in most situations you will not need a fast lens. Often you will step down the lens anyway. That’s when the Takumar 35 3.5 really shines. Loads of contrast and sharpness.
The Takumar 35mm 3.5 is also rather compact and feels well on a smaller sensor camera. On a cropped sensor camera the image turn out pretty sharp and saturated.
- Slight sharpness falloff in the corners
- Not the prettiest bokeh
- Minimum focusing distance
- chromatic aberrations
Let’s get straight to the elephant in the room: 3.5…that is not particularly fast.
There are plenty faster 35mm lenses around. Pentax Takumar made their own faster 35mm lenses, the f2 and f2.3 versions. The Flektogon 35 2.4, Olympus 35 2.4 and Schneider-Kreuznach Curtagon 2.8 35 are three faster competing examples. The Takumar 35 3.5 is not a low light animal. Pentax had other lenses in their line up to please the low-light, wide aperture urge. It was not made to capture candle light diners. The bokeh is really rather average. While some bokeh can be vivid and adding to the picture, the Takumar comes along as rather smeared and loveless.
No, the Takumar 35 3.5 feels best at home outside, with plenty of natural sun. The 3.5 is slower but it is still a sharp lens. Despite the coating the lTakumar 35mm also has some slight issues with chromatic aberrations.
Another drawback is the minimum focusing distance. 45 cm is not spectacular for a 35mm lens. The overall package of the Takumar 35mm makes it not very versatile. This is a lens best used for landscape and street photography shots.
There are plenty of 35mm lenses that offer a much wider array of use case scenarios. If you want to take pictures where the subject is in the distance and where lighting conditions are good, this Takumar is for you. If you want a less restrictive lens I would recommend investing a tiny bit more – there are plenty 35mm focal length options around!
Takumar 35 3.5 Versions
Several versions of the Takumar 35mm 3.5 exist. Rest assured, most of the difference are cosmetic and the only thing that really improves image quality is the advancement in lens coating throughout the years. Otherwise the different types of the Takumar 35mm 3.5 are very similar (if not identical) in terms of optical formula (5 elements in 4 groups), weight of around 150grams and number of aperture blades (5). Only the first version is slightly different.
- Minimum Focusing Distance: 45 cm
- Made in Japan
- 5 elements in 4 groups
- Aperture blades: 5
- Weight: ~150 grams
The first version of the Takumar 35mm 3.5 was introduced in 1959. Unlike the following versions, the aperture scale goes from f3.5 to f22. At a 147 grams, this is the lightest version.
- Aperture scale: 3.5 – 22
- Filter size: 46mm
If you have pictures, please do get in touch.
The second version of the Takumar 35mm 3.5 was introduced in 1962 and produced until 1971. This is probably the most common version of the Takumar 35mm 3.5. To complicate things even further, three different variants with the same branding were manufactured. The first, and rarest version, has an unchanged aperture scale of f3.5 to f22. Afterwards, aperture was reduced, ranging from f3.5 to f16. The distance scale is now also situated in a little “window. The filter mount is 49mm.
- Aperture scale: 3.5 – 16
- Filter size: 49mm
Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 35/3.5
The third version is the Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 35/3.5. As the name suggests the lens now has multi-coating (as opposed to the single coating of the previous versions. This should improve flare resistance.
- SMC Pentax 35/3.5