Asahi Super-Takumar 50mm f1.4 Lens Test

This is yet another great lens test video I found on youtube that proves how great vintage lenses are. This Asahi Super-Takumar 50mm f/1.4 lens test was shot by a filmmaker Stefano Rinaldo with a Sony VG10 camcorder. The VG10 is not considered to be a very popular camera, but with a combination of great glass and great light he produced some amazing looking images, which proves that there is much more to an amazing looking images than just a high-end camera.

Here is what Stefano had to say about his Takumar 50mm f/1.4:

This video was made with my Sony NEX-VG10 and the Super-Takumar… no special color correction but only “sunset” picture style on the camera. Super-Takumar 50mm f1.4 it’s a superb prime lens famous for his high toxicity construction’s material glass. I love this lens! It’s very sharp wide open, awesome bokeh and also very cheep (less then 100$/€ on eBay).

Indeed the Asahi Super-Takumar 50mm f/1.4 is one of the most “toxic”/ “radioactive” lenses. There is a lot of debase on how safe these lenses are and as there is no single opinion on this. I personally don’t have a problem with using such lenses and truly believe that they pose on danger when used for the purpose the designed for. Someone said that it can only be dangerous is you eat the actual glass from this lens. I guess not many of us eat lenses as snacks, so we all should be fine 🙂

Click to find this lens on Ebay
Click to find this lens on Ebay

I try my best to make this website a great resource people interested in vintage lenses for video use, so I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and it will help you save some money on your future lens investments. I’ve joined the ebay partnership program to help me run this website and fund my monthly lens giveaways, so if you found this post useful and would like to help me produce more similar content, please use the links in this post if you’re planning to buy one of these lenses or use this link if you want to buy anything else on eBay. You will not be spending a penny more using these links, while still helping me as I will get a small percentage from any purchase or successful bid you make. A win-win solution for everyone!

7 Responses to Asahi Super-Takumar 50mm f1.4 Lens Test

  1. Fyi, there are two versions of this lens. The original “Zeiss killer” – with 8 elements and the slightly radioactive glass, and a 7 element version that replaced it a year later, after the reviews came out judging the Asahi 50mm superior to the Zeiss 50mm. This 7 element version is not radioactive, half the price on eBay, and easily distinguished from its earlier version by 1: the red mark on the distancescale is between the numbers “4” on the 7 element, outside the “4s” on the 8. Also, the glass in the “8” does not turn yellow, while the “7” does. This is due to the glue used to bond certain pieces of glass together, and has a negligible effect on the image.

    • 7 elements version radioactive is not half the price on eBay, You can deyellowe back element. 7 elements version is better when 8 elements.

      • I placed my Super Takumar 50/1.4 (7 element version) front down(without filter) on a small mirror, with a cheap IKEA LED desk lamp (the $15 dollar bendable model with base clip). After 2 days under this intense light, the yellowing was gone. Good news, LED does not emit much heat toward the lens…and it’s cheap and fast. I found this approach within multiple sites on the web. Was unsure of the lack of UV from the LED would be a problem…it wasn’t. My M4/3 white balance did not require this treatment…I was more concerned with the slowing down of a fast spec’d lens(by up to 1 full stop) due to the yellowing. Problem solved.

    • Sorry, but you are incorrect regarding the Super Tak 50/1.4. The 7 element did replace the 8 element, specifically removing one element from the rear group by utilizing Th02. Thorium was added for its highly refractive / low dispersion properties. This allowed the rear element to be less curved and lens design to be more compact. The ThO2 is not in a coating, but homogeneously (up to 30%) contained within that element. Thorium has a VERY long half-life (over 14 Billion years) and decays by Alpha particle emission. Alpha’s have very low kinetic energy but are highly charged (+2); essentially Helium nuclei stripped of electrons. They are stopped by the dead human skin layer…so shielding by camera/lens metal, plastic, clothing, other glass elements (etc.) and/or distance makes them essentially harmless. The danger is when the glass is in close proximity to one’s eye surface. Here, the organ is directly exposed and poorly shielded from the effects. Hence why the use of ThO2 in eyepieces was banned long ago. Of course, Alpha particle ingestion is bad because the Thorium could concentrate in an organ susceptible to Alpha radiation. Highly unlikely as this would require one to grind the lens into fine dust and then ingest. The decay chain of Thorium is rather short-lived relative to the half life of the parent isotope, consisting of both Beta and Alpha decay at various stages. These ionizing forms of radiation are relatively low in penetration (easily shielded by surrounding structures…glass, metal + distance). Under normal uses, Thoriated camera lens glass is a non issue. Just my opinion as a nuclear engineer and former Chemistry and Radiological Controls (CRA) officer on a nuclear submarine.

  2. Incidentally, the yellowing of the 7 element Super Takumar 50mm/f1.4 is not especially due to the irradiation of coatings, cement or glue. It’s the glass itself…specifically the glass element in which the Thorium Oxide is homogeneously present. Within this element, the ionizing radiation causes defects in the chemical bonds with the glass. These defects introduce new wavelength absorptions (i.e. darkening of glass). The defects will RECOVER over time if the ionizing source is removed. However, since the ThO2 is homogeneously present in the structure (up to 30% concentration), an equilibrium will be reached. The higher the concentration of the ThO2, the darker that eventual equilibrium. High intensity light accelerates the RECOVERY of these defects. However, the lens will gradually trend (darken over years) back toward equilibrium in between “RECOVERY” treatments.

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