A Buying Guide: How to Tell the Different Pentax 105mm 6x7 Lens Versions Apart
So, you've been searching Ebay and you've seen that there's obviously more than one version of the legendary Pentax 67 105mm f/2.4 for your Pentax 645 or Pentax 6x7 system. There's obviously a large difference in price, but does it really matter?
Well, in short...
Yes, it does matter.
What's in this article:
- What's the same between the different Pentax 105mm versions?
- What's the difference and why does it matter?
- Are the differences between the different Pentax 105mm lenses worth the cost?
Pentax 105mm f/2.4 Super Takumar vs Super Multi Coated vs SMC Pentax
What's the same?
All three versions of the Pentax 105mm f/2.4 are exactly the same as far as internal design. That is, the design, not necessarily the glass, is the same.
What's the difference?
Let's start with a what's what:
In order from earliest (and least expensive usually) to newest (and usually most expensive):
- Super Takumar (Introduced in 1969)
- Super Multi Coated Takumar (introduced in 1971)
- SMC Pentax (Introduced in 1989)
The original Super Takumar is easily recognized by the words "Super Takumar" on the front, while the words "Super-Multi-Coated Takumar" indicate the next version introduced in 1971. Both of these versions have a metal focus ring.
Each version featured an updated coating that provided better micro-contrast and sun-flare control. This means that each successive version will have a more "3d" effect than the one prior, as well as better overall contrast and light control. This is due to the improved coating on the lenses.
The newest version is typically quite a bit more expensive and can easily be recognized by "SMC Pentax" on the front and by the rubberization on the focus ring, vs the metal of the older versions. This latest version is also slightly lighter than the older versions.
The older lenses are more prone to balsam separation, fungus, and yellowing. Yellowing, in particular, is an issue that the two older versions encounter due to the radioactive material (sounds scary, but it's not that unhealthy) due to the use of thorium glass elements.
Thorium glass was cheaper and was thus a popular choice. If and when it yellows due to the radioactivity, it can cause the color transmission to be less neutral and, well...yellow. The SMC Pentax version did not use thorium glass, but instead a high-index non-radioactive glass, which, again, in theory, should mean an improved image and no yellowing.
Another point to the SMC Pentax.
Is It Possible for the SMC Pentax 105mm to Yellow?
Some people report seeing yellowing on the SMC version, but this is only a property of the lens coating reflecting certain light. A true "yellowed" lens will show a yellow color, no matter which light is reflecting off of it. The SMC, if yellow in certain light, will reflect various colors when the elements are pointed at different angles/directions.
Is the SMC Pentax worth the extra cost?
So, is the SMC Pentax worth it? If you shoot backlit quite a bit, having the extra contrast and flare control is highly desirable. That, coupled with non-radioactive non-yellowing glass, and a higher chance of avoiding the degradation (balsam separation, fungus) of older lenses may just be enough to warrant the upcharge.
Keep in mind though, a well cared for, yet older version lens that's been stored and used properly may be in much better shape than a newer lens that has been abused. Always check the description of the lens you're buying thoroughly to ensure spending more than you should or getting a lemon.
Now, head over to Ebay and start trying to identify them! And if you would...
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