“Ninety-nine percent of the lenses are better than 100% of photographers.” – Scott Bourne
My friend Lynn Taylor from the Ogden Camera Club gave me this Minolta MD mount lens a few years ago. It’s in great condition, was still in the box with all the packaging materials. Has no scratches, no fungus, and no visible issues.
I don’t normally write about lenses, but who is Asanuma and who makes this lens? Doing a Google search didn’t bring me any closer to an answer for this specific lens, so I did the next best thing. I contacted my source for all-camera-related-questions, my friend Maurice. I asked Maurice if he ever sold Asanuma lenses in his camera store. He said back in the mid-1980’s he had sold a few and, “They were good enough quality secondary market lenses such as Vivitar, Tamron, Sigma, Tokina, and others.” Doing some additional research, Maurice found that Asanuma was essentially a re-branded Tokina lens. He also found additional information from a 1979 Photographic Trade News Master Buying Guide & Directory.
Asanuma Auto 35-105 mm F 3.5
13 elements, 11 groups; angle of accept. 62-230; f/3.5-f/16; macro capability; oversized rubber focusing and zoom rings; compact. Available for Pentax, Konia EE, Canon FTP, Minolta, Nikon, Olympus OM-1, Pentax K, Yashica/Contax, Fujica.
It doesn’t say anything about a Minolta MD mount, so maybe it came a year or two later? Looking at the specs, it appears to be something you’d find on a secondary market camera lens. What I would call an all-purpose lens because it’s a medium zoom that covers an acceptable f-stop range with macro features. The original box had a price of $338.00 USD. That’s about $956 in 2021. Not exactly a cheap lens for the early 1980’s.
I used the lens on my Minolta X-700. It’s hard for me to tell where the “sweet spot” of this lens is. Unlocking and using the macro focus brings things closer, but makes the images slightly soft. I haven’t taken any outdoor landscape images with the lens, but I think that’s where it would perform the best, wide focus, 35mm at f/11 – f/16. Overall, my images are better than what I expected with the lens. I shot a second roll at the same car show, and a third roll a month later at another car show. My results became better the more I used the lens.
I started off this post with a quote from photographer Scott Bourne. What does it mean? To me, I think the majority of the lens’s we photographers’ judge, based on specs and samples, are more capable than we are at making images. Including the Asanuma lens. I know two digital photographers that consistently blame their expensive autofocus lenses for missed shots. Yes, a lens can come off the production line with issues. We put our trust in the gold quality assurance sticker. But can the photographer be the reason for a poor quality images no matter the lens? Absolutely.
What secondary market or poorly rated lenses have you used to create your favorite images?
Camera: Minolta X-700 (1981)
Lens: Asanuma 35 – 105mm f/3.5
Film: Fomapan Profi Line Classic 100
Process: Cinestill DF96 Monobath (3 Min @ 26° C)