These cheap Soviet lenses are as out of this world as their “Jupiter” name would imply

Jun 11, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

These cheap Soviet lenses are as out of this world as their “Jupiter” name would imply

Jun 11, 2016

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Join the Discussion

Share on:

maxresdefault

Jupiter was a class of lens made by manufacturers of the former Soviet Union.  There were quite a few different lenses in the Jupiter lineup, and in this set of videos from Mathieu Stern, we’re going to learn about four of them.

A lot of people tend to ignore older lenses, but I picked up a Jupiter-9 85mm f/2 lens last year, and it rapidly became one of my favourite portrait lenses, and it’s fantastic for video.  After seeing these videos, I might have to add a couple more to my list.

YouTube video

First up is the Jupiter-9, 85mm f/2.  This is widely regarded as one of those “legendary” lenses amongst users of older glass, and after getting one myself, I can absolutely see why.

I think it’s a stunning lens, and while they typically seem to sell for around £100-160 on eBay in the UK, you can occasionally find one that slips through the cracks and goes for £20-30.

YouTube video

Next is the 135mm f/4 Jupiter-11A, which is based on the Carl Zeiss “sonnar” pre-war design.  Reviews for this lens over on the Pentax Forums rate it highly for its sharpness, with the only downside being that its “ugly”.

But, if people are put off using this lens because of what people will think of them for using such a hideous lens, then that works for me.  It just keeps demand and prices down.

YouTube video

In stark contrast to the apparently grotesque appearance of the Jupiter-11A, is the beautiful silver version of the Jupiter-11.  Also a 135mm f/4 lens, and of a similar internal design to the Jupiter-11A above, this one seems to be much more appealing to portrait shooters.

This one is definitely going to be going on my list.

YouTube video

The final lens to be reviewed in this set is the hefty Jupiter-21M 200mm f/4, a somewhat sizeable beast.

We’ll have to wait a few more days for this one, though as the next video isn’t scheduled to be published until about June 16th.

Update: Mathiue has now posted the video for the Jupiter 21M (I think “M” in this case means Monster) 200mm f/4 lens.

YouTube video

Aside from the obvious sharpness that older lenses still have, I find they offer some very unique and special qualities when used for video.  Qualities and a character that modern lenses simply don’t have.  Modern glass is often too clean and perfect.

With the apertures in these lenses also being disconnected from control by the camera itself, it also makes them fantastic for timelapse as the aperture blades never move between shots, eliminating flicker entirely.

If you haven’t done so already, make sure you head on over and subscribe to Mathieu’s YouTube channel where he talks about some other excellent older lenses, offers advice on how to pick up great deals, and occasionally tackles the Weird Lens Challenge.

Do you use M42 or other older lenses?  Which are your favourites?  Let us know in the comments.

Filed Under:

Tagged With:

Find this interesting? Share it with your friends!

John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Join the Discussion

DIYP Comment Policy
Be nice, be on-topic, no personal information or flames.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

16 responses to “These cheap Soviet lenses are as out of this world as their “Jupiter” name would imply”

  1. You Can DIY Avatar
    You Can DIY

    Great! thanks I really love decorating ideas

  2. Ron Larsen Avatar
    Ron Larsen

    I have a Helios M42 58/2 modified for Nikon mount and love it. I would like to try other Russian lenses but would like to try them on a camera where they don’t have to be modified.

    1. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      How has it been modified? Does this mean you can use it without an adapter and still have infinity focus?

      1. Runnerron Avatar
        Runnerron

        Yes, I can focus to infinity without an adapter. There is a fellow in Poland that modifies all sort of old lenses. He’s on Facebook: palecwnosie bokeh factory. I already had the lens and sent it to him but he has a stock of lenses that he has modified. You should check him out if you are interested.

        1. Runnerron Avatar
          Runnerron

          Here is a price of lenses he modifies. http://www.palecwnosie.com/misc/pricelistnikon.pdf

          1. Kaouthia Avatar
            Kaouthia

            Nice, thanks for the info. :)

  3. Michael Dornieden Avatar
    Michael Dornieden

    I have bought a good Jupiter 8 on eBay for less than 25€.

    1. Ted Maxwell Avatar
      Ted Maxwell

      They’re often $10 USD or less or come free with FED bodies. Paid $8 for mine.

  4. Maria Zreik Avatar
    Maria Zreik

    Lama Saba

  5. Glen Barrington Avatar
    Glen Barrington

    I don’t have any Soviet era lenses, unfortunately, but I DO have some elderly Canon FL series lenses from that same mid 1960s, which I love. As an m43s user, the big advantage is that my camera only uses the sharpest center portion of the image that the lens projects. But that also means that my 28 mm FL lens behaves like a 56 mm FF lens. I win a little, I lose a little!

  6. Joseph Parry Avatar
    Joseph Parry

    NICE! I’m gonna look into this for the A7ii!

    1. Kaouthia Avatar
      Kaouthia

      I’m not sure there’s adapters available to put M42 lenses on those. I’ve seen lots for the crop NEX, though. If you find one, let Udi know. We were looking the other day and came across nothing. :(

      I’ll bring my Jupiter-9 in September, though, if you want to have a play. :)

      1. Joseph Parry Avatar
        Joseph Parry

        I just bought an M42 adapter :D Totally bring whatever in September, going to be A BLAST!!!!

  7. I'm With Her Avatar
    I’m With Her

    These lenses work best for B&W. AT that, they excel. For shooting color, there is really no advantage to them IMO. Why bother? The original Zeiss Sonnar design was never made with color in mind. And it shows.

    1. Brian Avatar
      Brian

      [url=https://flic.kr/p/AbWxoR][img]https://farm1.staticflickr.com/594/22439936729_e2c900e4d1_o.jpg[/img][/url][url=https://flic.kr/p/AbWxoR]Fall 2015[/url] by [url=https://www.flickr.com/photos/90768661@N02/]fiftyonepointsix[/url], on Flickr

      You’ve probably never shot with an original Zeiss Sonnar. This is with a 1934 Carl Zeiss Jena 5cm F1.5, uncoated optics. Fully color-corrected.