Takumar 50mm, Forty Years and I'm Still In Love

November 22, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

In the fall of 1970 I met a girl named Connie at Colorado State University. She had a Asahi Spotmatic camera along with a 28mm and a 135mm Takumar lens. I worshiped the ground that girl walked on; she was pretty, she lived in Aspen, she knew photograpy. But she didn't have much interest in me. A year passed. We had no relationship but I did purchase an Asahi Spotmatic along with a 28mm and a 135mm lens from Sundry Trading Company in Tokyo, Japan. "Very pleased sir to receive your esteemed order. We are mailing you by air..." I had no better reason for the selection than, this was the camera and lens kit Connie had. 

 

Years passed. I didn't get far at CSU but the camera was a good one and I used it for two decades. I cursed the 135mm lens. It was a useless length. 100mm? Nice portrait lens. 200mm? Good telephoto. But the 135 was a dog. The 28mm, on the other hand was a good lens and the f1.4/50mm was excellent. 

 

Fast forward forty years. Just a few months ago I finally threw away the old, moldy, broken Spotmatic. But, I was wise enough to keep the lenses, which I can use on my micro-four-thirds camera using an adapter. The 135mm has serious fungus. It can't be sold so it languishes in a drawer. The 28mm is in good condition though I rarely use it as I don't need a manual lens in its length. But, the f1.4/50mm - this is a lens to cherish. 

 

Moldy around the edges of the front lens, cranky aperture ring and paint missing all over, I love this lens. It's hard to explain. I've picked up half a dozen lenses on eBay that are the equal of the old Takumar but they just aren't the same. There is a certain richness to this lens. A velvet feeling when you focus in on something. A creamy bokeh that just isn't matched. A memory of a relationship - even a life - that never happened; in the Rockies with a beautiful girl and fine photographic equipment. Sigh. 

 

So the old f1.4/50mm lens keeps on going. I've found it kind of fuzzy wide open for low light use, but stopped down a bit it's still as sharp as ever. Used as a semi-macro, it's clarity, richness and colors are unequaled. I love it. It goes all the way back to my first SLR and every time I use it, I dip into the memories of over forty years. Every camera, every photograph, every girl. It's just love.


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