PENTAX 67 105MM F2.4 lens review
Some lens have a huge reputation to deliver outstanding images that is just not possible with other systems, and the Pentax 67 105 F2.4 lens is a perfect example of this. I bought the Pentax 67 system because I wanted to move away from shooting medium format with my Yahsica mat 124G and almost everyone that I spoke to said the same thing. The Pentax 67 105mm F2.4 lens is the closest you will get to large format look with a medium format camera, it was really sharp and had outstanding bokeh. So after doing some research and I found out that there are three versions of the lens but optically they were basically the same so I ordered a Pentax 6×7 camera that came with a few lenses, included a copy of the legendary 105mm F2.4 lens.
The three versions of the lens are as follows
- Pentax 105mm f/2.4 Super Takumar
- Super Multi Coated Takumar
- SMC Pentax
The differences between these three versions are minor, but the Pentax 105mm f.2.4 Super Takumar is the oldest version, being released in 1969(This is the version of the lens that I have). It was updated and replaced with the Super Multi Coated Takumar in 1971, which had improved coatings on the lens. Both versions of the lens had metal focus rings and the only way to identify the differences was the labeling on the front of the lens. The third version of the lens was released in 1989 and the body of the lens went through a redesign. The focus ring had become rubberized and the labeling on the front of the lens had been changed to SMC Pentax. The redesign of the lens also made the lens slightly lighter. All three lens share the same optical design but each version of the lens got different lens coatings and updated glass used in the lens. The two older versions of the Pentax 105mm f/2.4 used thorium glass elements which could lead to the lens becoming slightly yellow over time but the latest SMC Pentax 105mm f2.4 Super Takumar lens replaced the thorium glass elements with high-index non-radioactive glass.
All Pentax 67 lens are large beasts compared to 35mm lens but I was surprised with the Pentax 67 105mm F2.4 lens. For a standard lens with a fast aperture, I was expecting a huge fat beast with a massive front element but I was very a surprise because this lens is tiny, compared to the other Pentax 67 lens that I received. It is the smallest lens that I own for the Pentax 67 system. Just because the lens is small for a 67 system, does not mean that it does not have serious heft to it. The lens is constructed like a sledgehammer and I am pretty sure that if I threw the lens at a tank, the tank would be destroyed. As solid and hefty as the lens feels, it is easy to handle and feels nice and balanced on the Pentax 67 camera.
I’ve had my Pentax 67 gear for nearly one and a half years now and I’ve used the Pentax 105mm f.2.4 lens a lot. It is the default or carry around lens on the camera and I only really change the lens when I have a particular shot in mind that needs something longer or wider. But before I tell you about my impressions of the lens, lets first start off with the technical specifications.
|Focal length||105mm (35mm equivalent = 54mm)|
|Field of view||46°|
|Optical construction||6 elements, 5 groups|
|Minimum focus distance||100cm|
|Mount||Pentax 67 mount|
I say this in every one of my lens reviews and I will say it again. I really dont care a lot about technical specifications of a lens or testing in it in a lab environment by shooting charts. I only really care about what the lens feels like to shoot and the results it produces. Now the Pentax 105mm f.2.4 lens feels very good to use on the camera. The whole system is built for professional use, which means they lens are rock solid tools meant to be used for work and this lens is no exception to this. The all-metal body has a no no-nonsense design that makes shooting with this lens a real pleasure. The focus ring is butter smooth and reminds me of my Nikkor 50mm F1.2 lens for my Nikon. The depth of field with such a fast lens is razor thin, so you need to have a really good and smooth focus ring to nail focus with consistently and this lens provides exactly that. Focusing with such a small sliver of depth of filed is really not easy but the lens does what it can to make it easier for you. The aperture ring is a little stiff on my version but clicks into the different aperture setting with a nice audible click and I am pretty sure it will be very difficult to bump the aperture into a different aperture setting when using the camera. I would say that overall, the lens feels really good and has a craftsman-like approach to its design. It was built to be used by professional photographers and the pro-am or the amateur market was never even an afterthought. I really enjoy that aspect of the lens as I see my lens as tools to be used. I don’t baby my equipment and I expect them to be able to keep up with me in my daily shooting life.
The glass elements are big when comparing it to a 35mm format lens, so you have to be a little careful with the glass elements and make sure you don’t scratch them. If you have the first two versions of the lens, the glass elements might have yellowed over time but it really doesn’t affect the quality of the image. Luckily my version hasn’t yellowed yet but it is always a possibility with old glass like this, this is especially true for me as I have to keep the lens locked away in a dry box here in China otherwise fungus will eat away at the lens here.
This is a purely mechanical lens, no electronics on it at all. Thank god for that. I have never had a mechanical lens breakdown on me, but I have had over 20 modern lenses, with their electronics die on me. Sometimes mechanical is still way better than electronic, especially when it comes to pro gear. You can buy the PH-SB 67mm lens hood but I have never bought or used one.
Using the lens has provided some interesting images to me over the last year and I have enjoyed using it. It is the lens that is mostly attached to my camera and gets the most amount of shots taken with it on my Pentax 6×7. The lens is not the easiest to focus when shooting wide open. The depth of field when shooting wide open is horribly thin, I would guess that it is close to my Nikon 50mm F1.2 when shooting that wide open.
The biggest difference between focusing the Pentax 67 105mm F2.4 and a super fast 35mm lens is that the viewfinder on the Pentax 67 is huge, much larger than any 35mm camera so you can be more accurate with the depth of field but it is still not the easiest thing to do when handholding the camera. The images that the lens renders can be nice and sharp if you nail the focus but you have to be careful with the focus. When focusing the lens, the lens can extend a little, but this really shouldn’t be a problem as the closest focus distance is 100 cm. So this is not the type of lens that you use to take headshots with. I guess you could use it to do half body shots and you will be able to blur the hell out of the background. The bokeh is nice, and you can get some nice 3d pop for the subject in the image. The bokeh can swirl ever so slightly but nothing like some other classic lens from Russia like the Jupiter-8. I like the bokeh from the Pentax 105mm f.2.4 lens and I think most people would be happy with it.
When shooting black and white(I only shoot black and white film) the lens delivers images with a nice amount of contrast across multiple film stocks, and I am generally very happy with the images that I get on the negatives. There is very little to almost no vignetting with the lens and I have no idea about chromatic aberrations as I have only shot black and white with the lens. You can get chromatic aberrations with black and white film but it is much harder to spot and I usually don’t worry about it.
I don’t have a lens hood for the lens and I have shot the lens into the sun a few times but I haven’t found any examples of lens flaring in my images, so I will assume that the coating on this lens does its job really well. Pentax is well known for their lens coatings so this is no surprise to me.
The lens is sharp, or as sharp as all the other Pentax 67 lens that I own. Even when shooting wide open with its narrow depth of field, the parts of the shot that are in focus tend to be sharp. I have no worries about sharpness when shooting the lens wide open but it does seem to be sharpest when you are shooting the lens around F8.
This lens is supposed to be a great portrait lens, used to take half body shots but I am not a portrait photographer and I have very little to almost no desire to shoot them so I have no idea how it performance but most people say it is a really good portrait lens. I mostly use the lens while walking around town, and shoot things that are interesting to me. So this lens is really versatile as it can be used for many different kinds of shooting.
Does this lens live up to its reputation? Does it deliver large format results on a medium format camera? Well, I am not so sure about that. It is a really good lens, it is sharp wide open, it has unique bokeh, it has very little vignetting and I enjoy using it but I would not say that is worthy of its cult-like status(Very few lenses are worthy of their cult-like status in my opinion). I would say that if you own a Pentax 67 system, then this lens is a must own, but I don’t think it is as good as many people on the internet report it to be and I certainly would not recommend that you buy a complete Pentax 67 system to just shoot this lens. But if you do own a Pentax 67 system or you are planning to buy one, then this is an absolute must own lens.
- Image Quality: 4 out of 5
- Focus speed: 0 It is manual focus so focusing depends on your own focusing skills.
- Build quality: 5 out of 5