Asanuma Lens

“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.

Minolta Z-700 with Asanuma Lens
Minolta Z-700 with Asanuma Lens
Minolta Z-700 with Asanuma Lens

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)

3 thoughts on “Asanuma Lens

  1. Nice images with this lens. I have never heard of Asanuma either, but there were any number of third party lenses sold back in the day to photographers who could not justify the cost of the camera manufacturer’s lenses. It is only now that I have been able to collect some Zeiss glass to go with my Contax! I have a couple of Tamron Adaptall lenses that are very capable, and a Panagor zoom lens which also could have been made by Tokina. For anyone shooting film on a budget, these lenses are all very capable. The same applies I think to the kit lenses that came with my Canon DSLR. For the price of them, they are amazing. You have to be a pretty skilled and committed photographer before the difference in lenses really becomes an issue!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Not a bad lens at all! I’ve gathered up a fair number of third-party lenses over the years, initially adapting them to digital cameras. In particular, a tele-lentar 135mm f3.5 (m42 mount) and a soligor 105mm f2.8 (T2 mount) were excellent for macro work (with extension tubes). I’ve switched to film only these days and have yet to try these on film, but I’m certain they’ll be fantastic performers. Neither cost over $40 and are in excellent shape. Thanks for bringing up the third-party hidden gem lenses!

    Liked by 2 people

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