Vintage Visions

As I venture back into 35mm film photography after a 20-year hiatus, I am fascinated with using old lenses with my Fuji X-mount camera. My Fujifilm X-mount system is super fun because I can adapt almost any lens mount via an inexpensive adapter. My Asahi Optical and Minolta lenses were new decades ago, and the image quality of the adapted lens can vary depending on the quality of the lens and the adapter used. However, the possibilities to use these decades-old lenses are nearly endless.

I adapted my SMC Takumar (M42) and MD Rokkor-X (SR-mount) lenses to the Fuji X-mount using M42-FX and MD-FX lens adapters. The M42 and SR mount lenses do not have electronic contacts, so they cannot communicate with the camera body. This means that autofocus and aperture control must be done manually. The Fuji X APS-C sensor has a crop factor of 1.53x, which means that a 28mm lens will have an effective angle of view of a 43mm (1.53x28) lens when adapted to the X-mount. Because of the crop factor, the depth of the field will also be affected. A lens that may have a shallow depth of field on a full-frame camera will have a deeper depth of field on the X-mount.

I have wide-angle and "normal" lenses that become "normal" and "short portrait" lenses when adapted to my Fuji X-mount camera.

Make Model 35mm focal length when adapted to X-Tran sensor
Minolta MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F:2.8 42.56mm
Minolta MD Rokkor-X 45mm F:2 68.4mm
Minolta MD Rokkor-X 50mm F:1.7 76mm
Pentax SMC Takumar 50mm F:1.4 76mm
Pentax SMC Takumar 55mm F:2 83.6mm

Camera Settings

When using manual focus lenses on Fuji X bodies, there are several important settings to remember:

  1. Enable the "Shoot Without Lens" option in Shooting Menu 3 to ensure the camera triggers properly.
  2. Configure the "Mount Adaptor Setting" in the same menu to inform the camera about the focal length of your lens and record it in the EXIF data.
  3. Access the MF Assist options in the Shooting Menu 4 for better focusing with manual lenses. There are three options:
    • Standard: This option allows real-time zooming into the image to check focus at the pixel level.
    • Digital Split Image (unavailable on X-E1 and X-Pro 1): This feature displays a split image rectangle, aligning the two halves when the focus is achieved. It resembles split image viewfinders on manual film SLR cameras.
    • Focus Peak Highlight: This mode highlights the areas of the image that are in focus. Newer cameras offer a choice of highlight colors, while older bodies provide high and low settings. Focus Peak Highlight is the preferred method of MF assist mentioned.

Lenses

My Mintola Rokkor-X lenses are known for their sharpness, contrast, and colour rendition. These lenses were produced in the 1970s and are compatible with a wide range of Minolta SR mount SLR cameras. They have a classic, all-metal construction and feature a focusing ring and aperture ring that are smooth and easy to operate.

My MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F:2.8 lens is a wide-angle manual focus lens useful for landscapes, architecture, and interiors. The maximum aperture of f/2.8 allows for low-light shooting and shallow depth of field.

Lens MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm f/2.8
Focal length 28mm
Maximum aperture f/2.8
Minimum aperture f/22
Lens construction 7 elements in 7 groups
Angle of view 75 degrees
Minimum focusing distance 0.3m (1ft)
Filter size 49mm
Weight 200g (7.1oz)
Dimensions 63mm x 44mm (2.5in x 1.7in)
Sunday 15 January 2023 · FujiFilm X-T3 at 1/1500 sec, ISO 320 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 at f/8

My MD Rokkor-X 45mm F:2 is a "normal" manual focus lens that offers a slightly wider than normal perspective on full-frame cameras, making it a versatile lens for various applications. The maximum aperture of f/2 allows for low-light shooting and shallow depth of field.

Sunday 15 January 2023 · FujiFilm X-T3 at 1320 sec, ISO 320 · MD W.Rokkor-X 28mm F2.8 at f/8
Lens MD Rokkor-X 45mm f/2
Focal length 45mm
Maximum aperture f/2.0
Minimum aperture f/22
Lens construction 6 elements in 5 groups
Angle of view 51 degrees
Minimum focusing distance 0.5m (1.5ft)
Filter size 49mm
Weight 225g (7.9oz)
Dimensions 63mm x 42mm (2.5in x 1.7in)
Aster · Sunday 17 January 2021 · FujiFilm X-T2 at 1680 sec, ISO 400 · MD ROKKOR-X 45mm F2 at f/2

The MD Rokkor-X 50mm F:1.7 lens was a popular "standard" lens for everyday photography and is often considered a "nifty fifty" lens. The large maximum aperture of f/1.7 allows for low-light shooting and shallow depth of field.

Allium canadense · Thursday 26 August 2021 · FujiFilm X-T3 at 1340 sec, ISO 320 · MD ROKKOR-X 45mm F2 at f/2.8
Lens MD Rokkor-X 50mm f/1.7
Focal length 50mm
Maximum aperture f/1.7
Minimum aperture f/16
Lens construction 6 elements in 5 groups
Angle of view 46 degrees
Minimum focusing distance 0.45m (1.5ft)
Filter size 49mm
Weight 205g (7.2oz)
Dimensions 63mm x 40mm (2.5in x 1.6in)
Sunday 13 November 2022 · FujiFilm X-T3 at 1/1500 sec, ISO 2500 · MD Rokkor-X 50mm F1.7 at f/2.8

Like the Minolta lens, the Asahi Optical Company manual focus lenses have a classic, all-metal construction and a focusing ring and aperture ring that are smooth and easy to operate. These lenses were also produced in the 1960s and 1970s and are compatible with a wide range of Pentax M42-mount SLR cameras, including those made by Pentax, Praktica, and Zenit. The lenses feature Asahi Optical Company's SMC (Super Multi-Coating) technology, which helps to reduce flare and ghosting and improves contrast and colour reproduction.

Saturday 1 April 2023 · FujiFilm X-T3 at 1900 sec, ISO 200 · MD Rokkor-X 50mm F1.7 at f/4.0

The Asahi Optical Company Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 50mm F:1.4 lens was a popular "standard" lens for everyday photography and is also considered a "nifty fifty" lens. The large maximum aperture of F:1.4 allows for low-light shooting and shallow depth of field. Its technical details are almost identical to the technical details of the Minolta MD Rokkor-X 50mm F:1.7.

My copy of the Asahi Optical Company SMC Takumar 50mm F:1.4 is from Dad's old Asahi Pentax Spotmatic II. It has some fogging in the lens, and a screw that holds the rings for the aperture markings is missing. It rotates loosely, which makes it very hard to set the aperture.

Lens Asahi Optical Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 50mm f/1.4 M42
Focal length 50mm
Maximum aperture f/1.4
Minimum aperture f/16
Lens construction 8 elements in 7 groups, including one aspherical element
Angle of view 46 degrees
Minimum focusing distance 0.45m (1.5ft)
Filter size 49mm
Weight 275g (9.7oz)
Dimensions 64mm x 43mm (2.5in x 1.7in)

Like the Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 50mm F:1.4, the Asahi Optical Company Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 55mm F:2 lens is a standard lens for everyday photography despite its 55mm focal length. It is also often considered a "nifty fifty" lens. The maximum aperture of f/2 allows for low-light shooting and shallow depth of field.

Coffee mug and saucer in black and white
Saturday 12 December 2020 · FujiFilm X-T2 · Asahi Optical SMC Takumar 50mm f/1.4
Lens Asahi Optical Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 55mm f/2 M42
Focal length 55mm
Maximum aperture f/2
Minimum aperture f/16
Lens construction 6 elements in 5 groups
Angle of view 43 degrees
Minimum focusing distance 0.45m (1.5ft)
Filter size 49mm
Weight 200g (7.1oz)
Dimensions 63mm x 62.5mm (2.5in x 2.5in)
Friday 21 April 2023 · FujiFilm X-T3 at 1180 sec, ISO 160 · SMC Takumar 55mm f/2 at f/4.0

These decades-old all-metal lenses are heavier than my mostly plastic Fuji XF27mmF2.8 R WR lens, which weighs 85g. The lightest of these all-metal lenses is the Pentax SMC Takumar 55mm F:2 lens which weighs 195g.

Wednesday 19 April 2023 · FujiFilm X-T3 at 180 sec, ISO 500 · SMC Takumar 55mm f/2 at f/1.0
Lens XF27mmF2.8 R WR
Focal length 27mm
Maximum aperture f/2.8
Minimum aperture f/16
Lens construction 7 elements in 5 groups, including one aspherical element
Angle of view 55.5 degrees
Minimum focusing distance 0.34m (1.1ft)
Filter size 39mm
Weight 84g (2.96oz)
Dimensions 61.2mm x 23mm (2.4in x 0.9in)

Soligor Wide-Auto 35mm F2.8 M42

I have often read that the 35mm (full-frame equivalent) is the perfect all-around focal length. On a 35mm camera, this focal length is wide enough for a scene to fill a frame, but long enough to isolate an individual subject. I had often also read that a 50mm prime lens, the ‘nifty fifty,’ is the most useful and complete all-round lens. Before the advent of zooms, most film cameras were fitted with 50mm lenses. It has been written that Henri Cartier-Bresson, whom many photographers hold in high esteem, used a 50mm lens for most of his photography.

A 50mm lens is a great addition to any camera bag because it's a versatile piece of glass. The point is that it is a great walk around or travel lens because it can help you photograph almost anything from your dog to mountains to small objects and everything in between.

Many photographers erroneously claim that the 50mm lens on a 35mm full-frame camera has an angle of view that closely matches the field of view of the human eye1.

I shoot mostly digital (APS-C), but I also own an Asahi Optical Co. Pentax Spotmatic II 35mm film camera. I went into the only local camera shop in Princeton to pick up a battery for the Spotmatic II and ended up buying a Soligor 35mm f/2.8 Wide-Auto M42 lens for $50.

I now have a good set of manual primes - 28mm 35mm and 55mm for my Asahi Optical Co. Pentax Spotmatic II which I can also use on my Fujifilm X-T2 at ~42 mm FF FOV, ~53mm FF FOV and ~84mm FF FOV.

FujiFilm X-T2 | Soligor Wide-Auto 35mm f/2.8 M42 | f/5.6 | ISO 400

As I have written a few times while writing about other old lenses, "it's all-metal, substantial, great construction, yadda yadda". Just about every old lens I've come across would get high marks for that.

This lens has an A-M switch, a smooth and damped focus with a beautiful range of only over 180 degrees, reasonably compact build and nicely knurled focus and aperture rings. However, I noticed a tendency to move the A-M ring when changing aperture and mounting/unmounting.

On a 35mm film camera, I would use this lens primarily for street photography work but it can be put to that purpose on an APS-C sensor camera as well. I used it at around f/5.6 to f/11, which helps with sharpness.

But it's the pictures that matter. They were all shot at f/5.6 on my Fujifilm X-T2 with a Fotodiox M42-FX adapter.

I do think the images are a bit soft but I am unsure if it’s the lens or just my poor manual focusing technique.

Name: Soligor Wide-Auto 1:28 f=35mm
Mount: M42
Tested On: Fujifilm X-T2 with FotodioX M42-FX adapter
Zoom/Prime: Prime
Focal Length: 35mm
Maximum Aperture: f/2.8
Minimum Aperture: f/16
Diaphragm Blades: 8
Price Paid: US$50
Product Ratings (1=miserable, 5=excellent):
Construction Quality: 4
Image Quality: 3
Overall Value For Price: 4
Recommended: Maybe

FujiFilm X-T2 | Soligor Wide-Auto 35mm f/2.8 M42 | f/5.6 | ISO 400
FujiFilm X-T2 | Soligor Wide-Auto 35mm f/2.8 M42 | f/5.6 | ISO 400
FujiFilm X-T2 | Soligor Wide-Auto 35mm f/2.8 M42 | f/5.6 | ISO 400
FujiFilm X-T2 | Soligor Wide-Auto 35mm f/2.8 M42 | f/5.6 | ISO 400
FujiFilm X-T2 | Soligor Wide-Auto 35mm f/2.8 M42 | f/5.6 | ISO 400
FujiFilm X-T2 | Soligor Wide-Auto 35mm f/2.8 M42 | f/5.6 | ISO 400
FujiFilm X-T2 | Soligor Wide-Auto 35mm f/2.8 M42 | f/5.6 | ISO 400
FujiFilm X-T2 | Soligor Wide-Auto 35mm f/2.8 M42 | f/5.6 | ISO 400

SMC Takumar 28mm F3.5

I'm experimenting with some vintage Asahi lenses and Fotodiox adapters.

I'm experimenting with some vintage Asahi lenses and Fotodiox adapters. I have my father’s non-working Asahi Optical Co. Pentax Spotmatic II which, after he passed earlier this year, became even more precious to me. My first film camera was a Pentax P3 which I still own. Earlier this year (2019), as a tribute to my dad, I bought my own Asahi Optical Co. Pentax Spotmatic II on eBay with an Asahi Optical Co. Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 55mm f/2, and I have slowly started to re-learn film photography.

I also bought up a Fotodiox Lens Mount Adapter Compatible with M42 Screw Mount SLR Lens on Fujifilm X-Mount cameras lens adapter that I can use on my Fujifilm X-T2.

Many websites keep propagating the “story” that a 50mm focal length on a 35mm full-frame camera is roughly equivalent to the field-of-view (FOV) of the human eye. The statement always seemed odd to me, given that when I look straight ahead, keeping my eyes from moving side-to-side, I see “wider” than 50mm FOV. The “50mm is standard” mantra also seemed strange, given what I had learned about FOV in graduate school during my “vision” classes. We were being taught about the human eye because designing displays and image processing algorithms requires understanding human vision.

The focal length of the eye is 17 or 24mm. However, only part of the retina processes the main image we see. This part of the retina is called the cone of visual attention, which is about 55º wide. On a 35mm full-frame camera, a 43mm focal length provides an angle of view of approximately 55º. The 43mm focal length closely approximates the angle of view of the human eye.

43 is not roughly 50. That’s a round-up of nearly 14%. And then saying 52mm, when using a 35mm focal length on a crop factor camera, is close enough to 50 mm compounds the error (20%).

Maybe it’s the engineer in me, but these sort of “errors” get passed around and become “truth”, and then we get stuck with them1.

With the 43mm focal length in mind, I purchased an Asahi Optical Co. Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 28mm f/3.5 lens. This 28mm lens, when mounted to a Fujifilm X camera, provides a 42.56mm (28*1.52) full-frame equivalent field of view, which is near enough to the actual visible focal length of the human eye.

📷 Asahi Optical Co. SMC Takumar 28mm f/3.5 | Canon EOS 5D Mark IV | EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM | f/4.0

My purchase came directly from Japan with the lens in a leather pouch and the lens hood in another leather pouch.

On my Fujifilm X-T2, this lens has a 42.6mm full-frame equivalent field of view within the range of the visible focal length of the human eye, making this an excellent lens for travel street photography. Between 1962 and 1975, Asahi Optical Co., which eventually become Pentax, manufactured various version of the Takumar 28mm f/3.5 for its range of Spotmatic cameras. Asahi Optical produced this version of the lens with a multi-coated layer designed to reduce lens flare. The lens was sold from 1971 to 1975 and was given the Super-Multi-Coated label.

The first time I used this lens was during my trips into Philadelphia for daily radiation treatments for my Graves Eye Disease. After each treatment, while I waited for the valet to bring the car around, I would stand on the street and take photos. I have used the lens mostly for street photography ever since. Street photography was something I hadn’t done much with other cameras and lenses, but learning how to use this lens was a big help. Instead of pointing the lens at people, I practised by looking down at the flip screen to use focus-peaking, which made me seem less threatening as perhaps some people thought I was using a film camera.

Like most Asahi Optical Co. lenses from the era, the [Asahi Optical Co. Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 28mm f/3.5 is all-metal and glass construction, it feels solid in hand and compliments the look and feel of the Fujifilm X-T2, the focus ring is silky smooth, and the aperture ring gives noticeable clicks as it moves through the half-stops, the lens has a 49mm filter ring and comes with a plastic lens hood, the lens has a maximum aperture of f/3.5, and the minimum aperture is f/16, with intermediate stops at ½ increments. This lens is not a lens for bokehlicious photography. The Asahi Optical Co. Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 55mm f/2 is a better choice for that. I shot most of my images at f/5.6, which works well for street photography and seems to be one of the sweet spots for sharpness in this lens. Because the lens cannot communicate with the electronics in the Fujifilm X-T2, when I attach vintage lenses, I tend to shoot the glass at one aperture setting to make it easier for me to add that metadata to the image later.

I know not everyone will be as into vintage lenses, and losing access to auto-focus is a deal-breaker for some. Still, if you are interested in trying out old manual focus lenses, the Asahi Optical Co. Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 28mm f/3.5 is highly recommended. The lens is inexpensive, and both the build quality and image quality are great. The Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 28mm f/3.5 is my second Asahi prime lens after the Asahi Optical Co. Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 55mm f/2 and probably won't be my last.

  • Name: Asahi Optical Co. Super-Multi-Coated Takumar 28mm f/3.5
  • Mount: M42
  • Tested on: Fujifilm X-T2 with FotodioX M42-FX adapter
  • Zoom/Prime: Prime
  • Focal Length: 28mm
  • Maximum Aperture: f/3.5
  • Minimum aperture: f/16
  • Diaphragm Blades: 8
  • Price Paid: US$94.95
  • Product Ratings (1=miserable, 5=excellent):
  • Construction Quality: 4
  • Image Quality: 4.5
  • Overall Value For Price: 4.5
  • Recommended: Yes

Other Reviews:

Lens Photos

Holly Hedge Estate | Sunday 28 April, 2019 | FujiFilm X-T2 | SMC Takumar 28mm f/3.5 | 1250 sec at f/5.6 | ISO 2000
Sansom Street, Philadelphia | Fujifilm X-T2 | Asahi Optical Co. SMC Takumar 28mm f/3.5 | f/5.6 | ISO 320
26 August 2019 | FujiFilm X-T2 | Asahi Optical Co. SMC Takumar 28mm f/3.5 | f/5.6 | ISO 400
Fujifilm X-T2 | Asahi Optical Co. SMC Takumar 28mm f/3.5 | f/5.6 | ISO 400
shaan williams
Wednesday 15 May, 2019 | FujiFilm X-T2 | SMC Takumar 28mm f/3.5 | 1125 sec at f/5.6 | ISO 5000
Kiran | FujiFilm X-T2 | Asahi Optical Co. SMC Takumar 28mm f/3.5
New Hope, Pennsylvania. | 5 October 2019 | FujiFilm X-T2 | Asahi Optical Co. SMC Takumar 28mm f/3.5
West College Street, Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio | FujiFilm X-T2 | Asahi Optical Co. SMC Takumar 28mm f/3.5
Aug 26, 2019, West College Street | FujiFilm X-T2 | Asahi Optical Co. SMC Takumar 28mm f/3.5

  1. For example, the also erroneous statements that we all, regardless of size or physical activity, need to drink eight glasses of water a day