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Situation

I have this Takumar 200mm lens mounted on a Canon 60D with an m42 adapter. I really like the lens because of the bokeh it creates but the photos are so soft. I tried all the f numbers from 3.5 to 22 and see absolutely no difference.

The lens is very clear and there is no fungi, oil or scratch at all.

Example image

Here is an example photo taken with that lens, shooting conditions as below. I'm actually not sure about the shutter speed and aperture as the EXIF data seems not to be recorded correctly with this adapter.

Aperture: ?
Shutter speed: 1/8000
ISO: 640
Daylight, handheld

If you open this full screen and zoom in you can see the image is soft all over even the rock/area within the focus range

enter image description here

I use my other Canon lens the same way but results are much sharper than this lens.

Question

What makes the photos with this lens so soft? Is there any way to fix it? Would e.g. using it with a full frame camera help?

  • 3
    Could you post a picture or two as an example? Based on that it would be clear if this unsharpness is unusual for this lens (i.e. it would need adjustment or repairs), or that it's similar to what others are getting (i.e. you're hitting the limit of the lens). – Saaru Lindestøkke Jul 12 at 11:39
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    Are you sure it's lens un-sharpness and not blur from camera motion? With a 200mm on an APS-C sensor you'd preferably need to be shooting with shutter speeds 1/250 or shorter, if handheld. – Kahovius Jul 12 at 14:56
  • @Kahovius I used my tripod and shot the same subject with different f number in an attempt to find the sweet spot but no luck. When I compare it with my modern Canon 300mm the croped photos are too soft. Maybe I shouldn't compare it with this lens but comparing to the photos I see peoople uploaded from the same lens, mine is disappointing. – xbmono Jul 13 at 0:13
  • @SaaruLindestøkke I will upload some photos soon – xbmono Jul 13 at 0:13
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    "Takumar" covers an awful lot of territory, going right back to before coated lenses were a thing, and while they were always at least "good" lenses for their time, they won't necessarily measure up to modern expectations if they're one of the older varieties. If it doesn't say "Super Multi-Coated" or "SMC" on the front, the softness may be due to internal reflections/veiling glare. – user93022 Jul 13 at 8:38
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Any number of issues with an adapted lens can be the issue with perceived softness.

  • The lens itself may have a decentered/loose element. There may also be element separation, or other issues. M42 lenses are typically 40-50 years old and can be hard to find in good operating condition.
  • The adapter could be too thick/thin for proper focusing.
  • Trying to judge critical focus through the viewfinder is harder, because of stop-down metering, and the fact that there are no manual focus aids in modern digital-era viewfinders which are optimized for autofocus.
  • The sensor stack over the sensor could be causing issues (although that's more of an issue with mirrorless cameras).
  • Using distance scales and DoF scales on the lens to zone focus may be inaccurate, as those are for full-frame, not crop.

There may not be much you can do other than to get the lens serviced/checked out, possibly try a different adapter, and to use a tripod and do critical manual focusing with the LCD and liveview + magnification or focus peaking.

| improve this answer | |
  • is there a way to rule out adapter issue? If I want to change the adapter for testing, is there a way to find out whether I should get a thinner one or a ticker one? – xbmono Jul 13 at 8:57
  • @xbmono The adapter only adds space. The adapter isn't doing anything else. It is not the source of any problems. – scottbb Jul 13 at 17:56
  • @xbomono, Try focusing with liveview and magnification, and see if there's any point in the distance range where you can achieve good focus. If the adapter's too thick, it limits the far end of the focus range; if it's too thin, it limits the near end of the range (think: macro extension tubes). Part of this depends on how you're focusing. Modern dSLR viewfinders are set up for autofocus, not manual focus, and it can be difficult to judge focus by eye. – inkista Jul 13 at 22:01
  • @inkista with live view things are super sharp! As I mentioned I did a full test with each f stop on a tripod to see if any issue with movement or focusing. So I don't think this related to focusing from what you're saying because with live view things are just fine – xbmono Jul 14 at 7:19
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    @Olivier, OP said he's using a Canon 60D (dSLR), so focus peaking isn't really an option without Magic Lantern, and then only in liveview on the LCD; not necessarily a practical option for bird shots. – inkista Jul 17 at 0:58

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