I couldn't really get that much closer with this lens - albeit it is a Macro designated (and for it optimized lens). Well, i knew that it would natively only focus down to 75 cm... So, i used the No 1 extender tube, in order to get a little bit closer.


Sharp and optimized for Closeups/Macro

The image background looks, neutral. You can tell that it is a different lens design compared to (for example) the Pentax 67 Takumar 105mm f 2.4 lens, which has a very special character. I also notice that this Macro lens indeed is optimized for close-up photography, because the definition of small details is much better (compared to a lens you focus to it's minimum distance, where the performance start to drop in the fine details).


Wide open aperture ƒ 4.0

Here in my first image with that lens, i saw no fringing, and finer details where better rendered. In a neutral way, like you would expect from a macro lens. Oh and no, I didn't stop the lens down. This was taken at wide open aperture ƒ4.0 - with a slightly sharpening applied to the inner details of the brush.



How relevant is "super" micro sharpness ?

Remember, that because the overall size is so huge - the image appears very sharp. It is of course not hyper sharp like in modern optics, but sharp enough to make a big impression in images with an emulated 150 MP sensor. I am not creating prints for the Empire State building, you know.

When they create lenses for medium format, and large format camera, with even bigger negative sizes - the 100% sharpness wasn't a primary goal. You always got images with very well defined sharpness coming from a large format camera, due to their huge negative film sizes.

On a 35mm film , the sharpness of a lens was much more crucial in detail - simply because the surface of that "little" 24x36 mm film negative, revealed these things a lot more, as you had to enlarge it much more, compared to large negatives that didn't need the same enlargement onto the photo paper.

The latter however appeared overall sharper, more defined (and far less noisy)


Now - the other way around

Albeit i also noticed the opposite phenomena: that when you slap, let's say a major expensive, very modern Leica Summilux-M 35/1.4 ASPH FLE lens on a (film based) Leica M6 - the difference on film isn't really major, especially not with Black & White film. You barely would notice any difference between today's lens designs vs the best lenses from the end of the 70s Leica performing on film negatives.

So, despite this 35/1.4 ASPH lens being extremely sharp... yet the film doesn't really show that much of a difference, if any at all. (Plus the modern lenses, really look disturbingly boring on BW film - as if all character has vanished).


The spirit of classic lenses

Older Leica lenses from the 70s are much more "aligned" with a film-based Leica M - and have a certain character, which flows into the overall image expression, enhancing it in a subtle way, making it look classic, traditional photographic. Like a subtle signature being "written onto film". It can be something like slightly darker corners and slightly less contrast or sharpness in the corners, which give that overall classic photographic feeling.


Today's modern, digital lenses: hyper perfection

Today's lenses however are often made to hyper perfection. Also quite often pretty BORING ! Buy hey, we really wanted this. We geeks, we consumers of photo equipment, where the hunger has no limits, and we become worse photographers *LOL*

Now we have it, incredible high performing lenses of all kinds. Often literally huge lenses, more often they not - 1 kilo heavy or more. With hyper micro sharpness and resolution.


But, where has the spirit gone ?
Chinese lenses have gotten a lot better, and still have character left

You can still find it in the lesser perfect Chinese 'copy cat" lenses - which are very affordable, have gotten much better as well - but are not hyper perfect yet. So, there you have "modern" lenses with character still, as they often use a bit older lens designs, but with modern manufacturing processes. Not such a bad combination actually - because they really gotten a lot better lately.

(I think of the Laowa Argus 28mm f 1.2 lens as a primary example, as one of the much better lenses that have come out lately. I think it is phenomenal - and has exactly that "Leica" kind of spirit left in the look when you work in black & white with it. It isn't hyper sharp, but sharp. It isn't flawless, but have character like few other lenses have today. That a lens performs this well at wide open aperture ƒ1.2 - in a moderate wide angle lens... well, that is a true achievement. Without having lost character, feel or spirit - nor is it a "bad" or "cheap" lens in any way. I think some of the Chinese optical companies, do want to accomplish better lenses. And it has shown, that they do that along the road.

Also: these Chinese lenses are lot more gentle to the wallet, given how expensive modern brand lenses have become. However, many times they are still making camera lenses with manual focus. That too keeps the cost down.

If a lens is good - I have no problem with manual focus.


When lenses for film - met digital sensors

Why I am critical about chasing special camera lenses when used for film - is like trying to play the expensive chasing game. Those "differences" are not worth it, nor particularly visible on film material. Whether you have an APO lens or not, doesn't make much difference. It makes more difference when a lens is used on a digital sensor, of course. But on film - i think that wanting game is wasted with time money and effort - especially when using Black & While film - where you don't see any difference really.

So, enjoy the cheaper, more common lens versions.

Back again, to the
Pentax 67 SMC 135mm f 4 Macro

It shows a very respectable performance on a modern digital sensor - and for me it is really worth it. It's actually first time in my life, I bought a medium format lens with the designation "macro". I never bought one for the Mamiya RZ67 pro camera system...



Does not work well with close-up lenses

When I tested this Pentax 135mm Macro lens with the Marumi +3 achromat close-up lens - the combination was a lot worse - due to strong fringing (blue-green) suddenly being introduced. (i think, or assume, perhaps just guessing here: that the Marumi close-up lens works better on ordinary lenses - but not on macro optimized lens designs).

So, not recommended.


Use extender tubes instead

The quality is so much better when using Pentax 6x7 extender tubes instead (in order to get closer to your motive/subject/object). You can even combine all three tubes in order to get down to 1:1. Now since i am using a digital camera, the exposure factor that this combo results into (somewhere around 7.2x) is not really a problem. but when using film - you have to calculate the light that is "swallowed" by using all 3 Pentax 67 extensions tubes combined.

It looks pretty funny, kind of funky - when combining all tubes together... I only tested this in a couple images. In more general close-up photography, I may use the shortest tube only, or none at all.

I wouldn't want to use all three tubes together on a real Pentax 67 II camera. Yet - with a Fujifilm GFX 50s II camera - it works (i use often longer exposure times indoors anyway, so shutter movement or "bounce" isn't a problem)



Impression of the lens ?

I am aware that the main image doesn't really say much about the lens. Usually you need to test a lens with many more images in order to see where it is going, and how it performs. But yeah - it was just an experimentation, a first feeling and impression, in order to get a hunch of what a lens is capable.

Primary: i like this lens' optical performance because is better compared with using a different lenses which are not optimized for close-up photography. (Even if you can use them too, but need to stop down more, or see, how much you can get away with the optical performance degradation or not)


Neutral rendering style

This Pentax 135mm macro lens renders in a rather neutral style... without any particular "character".

However it is also said, that it makes good portraits with film, because there is a slight overall, kind of pleasing, natural softness - when using it wide open at aperture ƒ4.0.

It isn't a pronounced softness. It looks more like general contrast softness in a natural way; without overlaid glow, nor "cheap, degraded feeling". Which of course fits portraits just perfectly, because remember, this lens only focus down to 1:3 (75 cm) - but more than enough close for portraits.

Once you stop it down 1-2 stops - it gets crisp (as most Pentax 6x7 lenses do).


"Dynar" • the type of optical design

I expected the neutral look from this lens - given its different optical design; 5 lenses in 3 groups, a so called 5 element Dynar type. A postwar Heliar type (if i understood that correctly, which I am not 100% sure). There are also prewar types, which are based on the original Dynar design from 1904 (albeit back then was called "Heliar", and later Dynar ?)

Here is the US patent on the Dynar design, from year 1904


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