Eric L. Woods

This Old Lens: SMC/Super Fish-Eye-Takumar 17mm f/4

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Subtitle

I am just going into my local camera shop to look I say to myself. I should know better by now.

Preface

Wanted more lenses for my SIGMA sd Quattro, but was unwilling to pay the premium for SIGMA SA mount lenses worthy of the Foveon sensor. Great lenses, and can be adapted to Sony but they cost more than the equivalent FE lenses I already possess. Solution? I followed the advice of Mattias Burling and picked up an M42 to SA adapter. Immediately affixed my appreciated but underutilized Helios 44-2.

Result? Success.

The expected swirl survived the crop.

At first I was trying to convince myself that this was it. But that did not last long after I became determined to pick up another Russian M42 Jupiter 9 like the one I briefly owned and used with my Zenit E. Currently on its way from Russia courtesy eBay.

Jupiter 9 on Zenit E

But I did not stop there. What do they have at my local camera shop I wondered? What could happen? A lot actually. At first I had fun mounting a ridiculous for this application Takumar 200mm f/4 for a non image stabilized 300mm effective full frame focal length.

S-M-C/Super Takumar 200mm F4

It performed well, and was very affordable…

S-M-C/Super Takumar 200mm f/4

…but that is a bit long and would not get that much use.

I picked up two lenses in all, but there was one that had been on my mind for years. The SMC/Super Fish-Eye-Takumar 17mm f/4.

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Had been tempted by this lens since first seeing it in early 2020. Even gave it a test spin.

Takumar 17mm f/4.5 Fisheye

But I fought it off. Adapting it to Sony could be done for less money and with a faster aperture by new manual focus lenses on the market like this and this. But when I combined this unique lens (more on that below) with the SIGMA sd Quattro something that defied logic happened.

S-M-C/Super Fish-Eye-Takumar 17mm f/4

More photo samples below, but first on to the categories. As previously stated with these posts there will be no spoilers as I will like all of these lenses.

Asking Price

Approaching $300 ($275 for this copy).

Value

A price approaching $300 for a manual focus f/4 fisheye sounds like a bit much, but this lens is unique in a few ways that defies comparison with other lenses in my opinion.

Why I Bought It

It is a very compact pancake lens, looks the business (We can pretend otherwise, but it matters.), and even comes with a snazzy metal lens cap and built in color filters. I say again… it has built in color filters that are selected by a dial on the lens. That is cool and worth a few bucks on its own.

Image Quality <Cheated. Cut, pasted, and edited the list from my last Pentax lens post.>

  • Flare
    • Yep. When shooting directly into the sun as one would expect but I like it. Which is good because I see no way to affix a lens hood.
  • Sharpness
    • Acceptably sharp wide open.
  • Colors
    • I really like the colors this lens produces.
  • Bokeh
    • Given its 17mm f/4 spec bokeh is not this lens’ thing, but if forced a bit of blur is possible courtesy the close focus.
  • AF
    • N/A and borderline not necessary for anything more than a few feet away given this lens’ spec.
  • Distortion (New add for fisheye)
    • Quite apparent in full frame, but as one would expect less prevalent when cropped here.

Versatility (Added category)

  • Being an M42 lens it can be mounted both the Pentax DSLR and Sony where full frame makes the full 17mm available.
  • AF is also on the table with Sony via the TECHART adapter.

Samples

Here are the SIGMA sd Quattro samples I took around the camera shop which led me to go ahead with the purchase featuring “A pretty Frontier” as Wilson put it. (Graham was also test running a GFX 100S that I stayed away from before I got any ideas. The shop has a used copy that taunts me from behind the glass case.)

S-M-C/Super Fish-Eye-Takumar 17mm f/4
S-M-C/Super Fish-Eye-Takumar 17mm f/4
S-M-C/Super Fish-Eye-Takumar 17mm f/4
S-M-C/Super Fish-Eye-Takumar 17mm f/4
S-M-C/Super Fish-Eye-Takumar 17mm f/4
S-M-C/Super Fish-Eye-Takumar 17mm f/4
S-M-C/Super Fish-Eye-Takumar 17mm f/4
S-M-C/Super Fish-Eye-Takumar 17mm f/4
S-M-C/Super Fish-Eye-Takumar 17mm f/4
S-M-C/Super Fish-Eye-Takumar 17mm f/4
S-M-C/Super Fish-Eye-Takumar 17mm f/4
S-M-C/Super Fish-Eye-Takumar 17mm f/4

And I liked it so much that I left it on for quite a while afterward. Here are samples from later on that same day.

S-M-C/Super Fish-Eye-Takumar 17mm f/4
Flare
S-M-C/Super Fish-Eye-Takumar 17mm f/4
Flare
S-M-C/Super Fish-Eye-Takumar 17mm f/4
S-M-C/Super Fish-Eye-Takumar 17mm f/4

Have not had it long, but I have already used it in the wild. More to come.

Conclusion

Another great Pentax lens. While I did not plan to pick this lens up I am glad I did. A great little lens.

-ELW

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