(c) Frank Mechelhoff 2005 - Copies allowed only for personal usage
Usage of my pictures only up to 500x300 pixel and with referencing to the source
Contact: taunusreiter "at" yahoo.de
                             Update 2. August 2010
2.2-55mm Preset takumar
slightly incorrect - a 1957 preset Takumar at a 1958 Pentax K with auto-diaphragm mechanism.. my Asahi-Pentax (1957) is away for shutter-repair currently - and from this perspective both models look quite identical...

Early standard lenses

1957 "Preset" Takumar series - weird stuff: 3 lenses of 3 different design families... or are they four??

Preset Takumar 55/1.8
The basic lens : The 58mm 1:2.4, lens design taken from the Asahiflex. The first standard lens lens for the Asahi-Pentax 1957 , "preset" type with dual aperture rings. The preset mechanism works fast on these lenses and smooth like silk.
Comparing these pictures you can see that it's slightly longer than the other one with a thick (though not large) front element. 5 elements in 3 groups, you've got a classical Heliar type..! It speaks for  Mr. Suzuki's - lens designer at Asahi Optical then - knowledge, or admiration for the German lens design  that he took the famous pre-war Voigtlander large format portrait lens as a starting point to design Asahi Opticals first standard lens of higher speed for the "Asahiflex-II" in 1954.
There is no other Heliar type standard lens for 35mm still photo film that I know of, neither for SLR nor Rangefinder cameras, before 2001 Voigtlander/ Cosina made a remake with lower speed (f/3.5)
No cocking, no aperture pin, no automatic diaphragm on these early lenses! focussing scale either "meter" or "feet" according to market, never both. Be careful with these screw-mounts (alloy thread!)
Hot, very hot... In 1957 it was not so clear in Optical business which standard lens design will win the battle - the only one Gaussian type  in this bunch - the 55/2.2, and the least expensive one to build. It had one element less than all later well known versions: 5 single elements - quite uncommon an idea in the 1950's years, if not to say curageous.

This type was kept as the "cheaper" choice in production for 1958 (Pentax "S") in 1958, with dual scale (feet and meters) and higher S/Ns.

I found this one (with feet-scale) on a 1959 Pentax H2 -  automatic diaphragm never worked with this preset lens in 46 years... I estimate contrast isn't up to later standards, due to its simpler construction. Don't confuse with the later Auto-Takumar 2.2/55mm which have the modernized 6-elements design!

Fastest and rarest standard lens for the Original Pentax: Takumar 58mm 1:2.0

Unlike all later types which are Gaussian without exceptions - until present! - a Sonnar type (6 elements/ 4 groups, the second group beeing a cemented triplet).  This was also the first Pentax lens with an Infrared marker.

From this perspective, you can clearly see this lens has bigger and more protuding "glass" than the 55mm/2.2 at a very comparable speed , thus probably leading Mr. Suzuki rightfully to the adoption that the Gaussian design was the best point to start with developing faster apertures like f/1.8 and later, f/1.4

Pictures taken with this lens

The last preset lens, replacing the expensive to manufacture 58/2.0 was a Gaussian 6 elements/ 5 groups (Ultron type) was probably developed towards the end of 1957.

This is the rarest of the preset lenses, sold in small numbers with the Pentax S (the last remaining preset SLR in 1958). It was also the fastest SLR lens of the world in the 50/55mm range back than! (with just the 75/1.5 Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar beeing faster)

This lens starts a long series of famous Gaussian design standard lenses of this speed and focal length becoming Pentax standard for the next 40 years.

S/N's from this lenses are prior to the "zebra style" Auto Takumar shown in the next table.

1958-1961 "Auto-Takumar" series with semi-automatic diaphragm

 1.8 black
For the Pentax K with auto-diaphragm-mechanism innert the mount there was a need for a new set of lenses to support this feature (also the 1957 preset series can be used).

The first approach was a semi-automatic diaphragm which needs to be cocked by a lever 90 degrees for each exposure to full aperture (see cocking lever under the "Feet" scale) and was released by the camera when triggered just before shutter fires.

Top-of-the-line lens in 1958 was the Auto-Takumar 55/1.8, with fasciated focussing ring, having dual scale "meters" and "feet". Available only with the Pentax K.  Known as the "zebra style lens" (only Pentax lens with this outline).

This was also the first of the famous Gaussian design (6 elements in 5 groups) becoming Pentax standard until the next 40 years for the 50-55mm focal length of that speed.
In 1959 there were 3 "standard" types - now all  Gaussian designs: with 6 elements in 5 groups:
  • 1.8/55mm "zebra-style" or black (limited to the "K"/ King model
  • 2.0/55mm black with chrome f/-stop ring
  • 2.2/55mm black with chrome or black f-/stop ring
All of them were manually to cock "Auto-Takumars - and in fact, are pretty much the same lenses. It was a "price policy" thing  which allowed Pentax to earn some more money with the 1.8/55mm, but no real reason why the 2.2/55mm were su much cheaper these days.
Most of them were later changed to "Super-Takumar" type lenses which worked nicely with the older cameras without need to be cocked. But these later series add size and weight too!
There is no difference in glass or performance (except the last S.M.C. types multicoating). So please keep and beware them

A lens of the 1970's? Wrong!

This Auto-Takumar 1.8/55mm was the top-of-the-line lens for the Pentax S3 (1961). Despite of beeing labeled "Auto-Takumar" it was in fact the first full automatic diaphragm lens (no cocking lever longer needed, Auto/Manual switch) - exactly that what Pentax later on called Super-Takumar.

This was, also, the first Pentax standard lens which had the "focussing scale window" (later becoming a typical Pentax characteristic) and the aperture ring next to the camera body. Note that this one runs counter-clockwise! It is also the first standrad lens with an 49mm filter which became standard with Pentax. Older lenses have a smaller 46mm filter.

Test: How do these lenses compare in pictures and figures?

1958 lens size compared to newer lenses

1.8-55 vs 1.4-50
Difference in size between the 1958's top- lens (f/1.8) and of 1972 (S.-M.C, f/1.4). The length from fiter-mount to lens mount is 33.0mm vs. 41.3mm, weight is 176g vs. 254g. The f/1.8 is even 1mm smaller than the black f/2.0 and f/2.2 with no measurable difference in weight. The 1960's black Super-Takumar 2.0-55 (setting the standard filter size to 49mm) is 35.8mm long (192g)  but the longer helicoil for shorter minimum distance of 0.45mm compared to 0.55m of the 1958-1959 Auto-Takumar series probably requires more room in the barrel.

Standard Lenses (cont.)


more, more, more...
left to right: Preset Takumar 2.0/58, Auto-Takumar 1.8/55 (Zebra),  1959 Auto-Takumar 2.0/55 , 1960 Auto-Takumar 1.8/55 (without cocking lever, reversed f/-stops), 1971 S.M.C. Takumar 1.4/50, 1977 SMC-M 1.7/50 (K-mount) - comeback to small size of the beginning (and similar design like the "zebra" as well)

Auto-Takumar 3.5/35mm (1959 small size everyday wideangle)
This was one of the first Japanese wideangle SLR lens designs and continued in production in different mountings into K-bayonet era (1979). Compact, 46mm filter like the 55mm f/2.0. Not exactly a fast lens but compact, and very sharp. Together with the one seen in the next picture, First Pentax lens with f/-stop-ring near to the lensmount.
One must add that this design is very close to a copy of the German Voigtlander Skoparon 3.5/35 ~1952 (wideangle lens for Prominent leaf shutter Rangefinder camera). Probably Voigtlander just have forgotten to patent this design for international market, or did it just for leaf-shutter cameras.

Precursor of the 35/3.5 was the (slightly larger) Takumar 1:4 f=35mm (Preset-Lens) - produced for the Original Pentax (AP), S and K series, and was the first Japanese wideangle SLR lens ever.
It was build from May 1958 - Autumn 1959. They seem to start with a S/N of 156,xxx and ending in the 214,xxx area, whereas the first 35/3.5 (which is much more common) is first known with a S/N of 246,xxx.
There are different statements about lens configuration of the f/4 lens, whether it was build as a Retrofoucs Tessar (5 elements) like the 35/3.5 or -Triplet (4 elements).
The preset lens has clickstops at full f/-stops. Through the finder brightness is significantly improved with the f/3.5 lens.


Auto-Takumar 2.3/35mm (1958)
Auto.-Takumar 2.3-35mm
One of the world first Retrofocus- wideangle lenses - and in 1958 the fastest SLR 35mm lens with f/2.3. An argument for press-photographers to buy PENTAX in these years.... Build until 1962, then replaced by an f/2.0 with even more size. But it's build sleek (weight 306g, length 8.1cm)
Probably the first and soley 65mm Filter mount Pentax lens. Chrome lens cap included. A sun shade for this monster? Who knows...


Auto-Takumar 2.8/105mm (1959 back diaphragm ring moderate telephoto with 4 elements)

105mm f/2.8
A telephoto with 4 elements in 4 groups - Ernostar type - dual helicoil construction, 1959-1962. It has the typical "black & chrome" outfit of that era. Quite compact as well.. even the  front lens sits deeper recessed than with later Super Takumar designs, a sun-shade is usefull. This lens is backlite-sensible to some extend.

Takumar 3.5/135 (preset black& chrome telephoto lens 1957)
Takumar 135mm
Takumar 3.5/135mm has a preset diaphragm with two aperture rings in front. Dual helicoil construction, means the aperture rings will not move when you set focus. You preset the aperture witrh the chrome one having click-stops, then set focus, at last close the diaphragm with the black one which moves very sliding, and release! Quite as fast as Autofocus! It has 46mm filter exactly like the early 55mm and 35mm. Compared to it, the Aoto-Takumar 2.8/105 with 49mm filter is more compact. It was available as preset lens as well.

Takumar family
In the early 1950's photographs were used to Rangefinders, so beeing very demanding onto craftmanship, finish, compact size and weight. So the whole first Pentax SLR lens series was very lightweight compared to other competitors, or own later models, especially 1970's equipment:
Auto-Takumar 2.8/105 (300g), Takumar 3.5/135 (324g), Auto-Takumar 1.8/55 (176g), Auto-Takumar 3.5/35 (just a handfull 136g) - all with slip-on caps of the right vintage.
For a collector used to later equipment this  is a quite amazing fact. (figures incl. rear caps)


Compact size and Craftmanship
Pentax lenses are well-known in the photographic world for their small size and low weight, with no less on functionality and craftmanship.
See this example: Despite of beeing faster (just a fraction of an f/-stop) the Takumar 3.5/135 is shorter and ligther in weight than the Voigtlander Color-Dynarex 4/135 (Rollei QBM mount lens) which was a well-honored compact German telephoto lens in the 1970's.

FUJITA F.C f=135mm 1:4.5
Not exactly a Takumar but probably the most compact 135mm lens ever build, either Rangefinder or SLR type:
length 6.5cm
diameter 4.5cm
weight 208g (without caps)
focussing down to 5 ft
no information about the lens design (telephoto type, obviously)
somewhat mysterious origin (my suggestion is it was build somewhere around 1958)
There were dotzends of small optical companies in Japan dissapearing in the late 1950's, early 1960's. Probably FUJITA was one of them. From a list of Japanese lens makers (1958) : Fujita Optical Industrial Co., Ltd., 4-195, Harigaya, Urawa-Shi Saitama (Urawa) 3503, 4700 C. Fujita
Full manual lens, the screwmount end looks that it could be altered with small effort and was build in various mounts (probably Exakta)
Left to right: Takumar 100/3.5 for Asahiflex, Fujita 4.5/135 (M42), Takumar 135/3.5


I created this pages because of lack early PENTAX lense information on the net, to help myself with my own small Pentax collection. I'm in no way an expert on Pentax early SLR cameras - not only, because I'm a German and in early 1960's Germany PENTAX doesn't existed, or were known. This slowly changed in the late 1960's (Spotmatic cameras) by US market influence. Most people have no clue that PENTAX build cameras before the Spotmatic - fewer know how nice and well-build these were. So feel free to contact me if you think there is a mistake. For my feeling, early Pentax collectors are very rare people so it's good to know them. At least for me, lenses are equally imortant to cameras (at least), and I like it to use them fitting together in age. I'm also intereted in all lenses mentioned here, pictures and diagrams as well. So if you like, please contact me: Frank.Mechelhoff "@" gmx.de
This list is not complete in case of long focus lenses (more than 200mm) and every veriation except major differences in design. Too much stuff for my small brain..!

Have fun!

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