Lenses for Zenit (M42) - what to do?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by OldBodyOldSoul, Feb 3, 2012.

  1. OldBodyOldSoul

    OldBodyOldSoul Member

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    So I am going to be lazy and ask here before spending hours browsing the internet.

    Feel free to ignore me if you think I should do my own research, which I will, but if you have mercy and some time on your hands any help will be appreciated.

    Soo.. I grew up shooting Zenit E with some or another version of 44mm lens and that's all I had. I learned a lot using just one camera and one lens, but nothing about other lenses available in the mount. Later I switched to Nikon and that's where I've been since.

    Suddenly I find myself with a brand spanking new Zenit TTL and following lenses (all in like new, likely never used, condition):

    1. Carl Zeiss Jena 25mm f/4 Flektogon
    2. Berogon 35mm f/3.5
    3. Helios 44M 58mm f/2
    3a. Gelios 44-3 58mm f/2 MC
    4. Revuenon-Special 135mm f/2.8
    5. Iopiter-37A 135mm f/3.5 MC
    6. Jupiter-6-2 180mm f/2.8
    7. 3M-5A 500mm f/8 Reflex
    8. MTO-1000A 1100mm f/10.5 Reflex

    Apart from the two Helios', which are standard and actually not as bad as one might expect, and the abominations in the shape of two mirror lenses weighing about one ton each, how are the others? Anything respectable here? I couldn't find any info on the Berogon 35/3.5 (says "Lens made in W-Germany", the lens is quite small) and not much on the Flektogon either. The 180/2.8 is I believe heavier than all my Nikons combined... What is this Revuenon-Special thingy, it doesn't look half bad?

    Finally, while Zenit TTL looks better than my old E in about every possible way, plus it's "new", I have doubts. Its finder is... well... not exactly bright, though not many prisms will win that contest against F3, and ffs it's Zenit which I grew to not exactly like to put it mildly (my E fell apart) so I would like to try some of these lenses on some other body. I looked at the other active M42 thread, and Pentax seems to win the "popularity" contest. Any advice? Anyone using the TTL and thinks I should give it a chance?

    I have various Nikkors and two F3HP, two FM, an F100, and I definitely don't intend to stop using them (I'd rather shoot myself in both knees) but these lenses are making me curious so I need to do something about it.

    Sorry for the long winded post, and thanks. I will get my web shovel now and start digging for info.
     
  2. loman

    loman Subscriber

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    I don't know about the longer lenses but the carl zeiss jena 25mm is a classic.
    The jupiter 6-2 180mm f2.8 is a copy of the 180mm carl zeiss jena f2.8 lens. This one is quite rare. If the copy is anything like the original it should be stellar.
    The MTO-1000a is also quite rare and should be worth a penny or two.
    I would just shoot with the kit, but get another body, like a spotmatic. The Zenit ttl has the worst viewfinder of all the zenits I've tried.
    Kind Regards
    Mads
     
  3. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    The Flektogon 25mm is very good, just sensitive to flare.
    The Jupiter 135 & 180 have excellent reputations, though I've never used them.
    Also the MTOs are supposed to be way above-average mirror lenses, if you like mirror lenses.

    Keep in mind that you can get a Pentax Spotmatic for almost nothing now and that is a very sweet M42 camera...
     
  4. Pumalite

    Pumalite Subscriber

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    All M42 son good, but get the supertakumars. I agee; get a spotmatic. I have 6
     
  5. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    A couple of weeks ago, I bought a book from a charity shop. The title is 'Discovering Rewarding Photography - The Manual of Russian Equipment' and it is written by Ron Spillman.

    Produced in 1971, it is a combination of photography tips and a catalogue of a company called Technical and Optical Equipment (London) Ltd.

    Technical and Optical were the UK importer of Zenith cameras and accessories along with products from Fed, Zorki and Kiev.

    http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61GCmx5LUsL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

    I was going to give this book away anyway so if it is of any use to you, send me a message with your address and I will post it to you.


    Steve.
     
  6. OldBodyOldSoul

    OldBodyOldSoul Member

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    Thanks guys.

    My 2-hour dive through internet gutters looking for info on Berogon 35/3.5 and Revuenon-Special 128/3.5 resulted in almost nothing, and what was there was in Japanese. That fact does say something about them, right? Or maybe it doesn't. I'll give them a workout and draw my own conclusions, but I won't expect much.

    So, Flektogon, Jupiter-37A and Jupiter-6 should be good. That's great as I get a good combo of wide, normal (Helios) and telephoto that can be handheld. The Jupiter-6-2 is a heavy beast - much, much heavier than my 180/2.8ED AI-S - and it doesn't feel handhold-able at all. It's almost a shame that it's a good lens, because now I have to try it instead of leave it aside or use it to crack walnuts. Or coconuts, in case of MTOs. Who in their right mind would ever lug these beasts around?! The 1000a weighs almost 4kg!

    I guess I'll be on the lookout for a Spotmatic then. One question, possibly of the dumb kind: These lenses have a pin next to the rear element that stops down the lens. Do all M42 cameras use the same principle or do I have to pay special attention to that area? I am not necessarily opposed to testing these lenses only wide open, but would like to know that in advance. EDIT: Now I see that not all lenses have the pin... more reading on M42 mount is in order.

    Thanks again. If anyone has something to add, please do.

    P.S. - Steve, you've got a message.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 4, 2012
  7. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    Cool set. Spend $10 and get an M42 to Nikon adapter and use these on your Nikon bodies.
     
  8. OldBodyOldSoul

    OldBodyOldSoul Member

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    There is an M42 adapter for Nikon? I thought Nikkors could be adapted to everything and nothing to Nikon. I guess I was wrong?

    That 1000a would look sweet on one of my FMs, perfect for stealth street work :smile:
     
  9. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    Yup, eBay search "M42 Nikon adapter", $10 for cheap ones direct from China or HK. $35 or so for "better" ones. Will have to meter using "stop down" mode so keep that in mind.
     
  10. pekelnik

    pekelnik Member

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    There is an adapter, but it needs a lens (that can degrade the optical quality) to be able to focus to infinity.
     
  11. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    Clarification please? The auctions on eBay are claiming infinity focus....
     
  12. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    Most later M42 cameras work with that pin-actuated diaphragm mechanism. (Spotmatics, ect...). Earlier ones don't.

    Be careful as some M42 cameras designed to allow full-aperture metering (Spotmatic F, Pentax ES, Fujica 801, maybe some Mamiyas) can't mount some lenses properly (the 25mm Flektogon being one, at least on the Pentaxes and Fuji).
    No problem with other "plain vanilla" Spotmatics and other M42 cameras.
     
  13. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    I'll also confirm the fact that M42 adapters for Nikon need an optical element to allow infinity focus.
     
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  15. OldBodyOldSoul

    OldBodyOldSoul Member

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    Rol_Lei_Nut, thanks for the clarification. I just did some reading on M42 and it is more complex than I originally thought ("M42 is M42, right?").

    I am definitely skipping any adapter that contains glass. Besides, I have (almost) everything I need in my Nikkor lineup. These M42 lenses will go on a M42 body, all I have to figure out which.

    Aaand... Rol_Lei_Nut, I went digging in apug archives and found your post on M42 cameras http://www.apug.org/forums/viewpost.php?p=787019 . I've learned that Rolleiflex made SLRs with different mounts, I am not sure which (or all?) camera you were talking about. I have a Rolleiflex SL35 that looks and works like new (with equally beautiful HFT 50/1.4), but never had time to use it. Would that one work as you described there (I don't mean in the last paragraph, with different finders, motor drive etc)?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 4, 2012
  16. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    The Rolleiflex SL35 is more or less a "copy" of the Spotmatic (or at least heavily inspired by it), but with a bayonet mount.
    The nice thing is, that with an adapter, it can use M42 lenses keeping their automatic diaphragm (it activates the pin in the lenses which have them), making it essentially a 100% M42 camera as well.
    While I slightly prefer the Spotmatic (and am still looking for a mythical Spotmatic modified with a Rollei mount), in your case, I'd definitely get hold of an adapter (they're usually fairly cheap) and give your Rolleiflex a try.
    Another advantage is, if you get several adapters, your M42 lenses effectively become bayonet mount lenses, albeit still with stop-down metering.

    The Rolleiflex I mentioned in a recent post is the SL35-E, an electronic and AE model which was notoriously unreliable when it came out, but surviving working ones (the ones that were "good" in the first place or were properly repaired) can be nice and reliable cameras. Personally, I find it handles quite well, better than the SL35, despite my general preference for 100% mechanical cameras.
    BTW: essentially the same mount and same ability to use M42 lenses via an adapter.

    The one(s) I mentioned with the built-in motor and inchangeable magazines are the SL2000F, 3001 & 3003 (also essentially the same bayonet mount).

    The Rolleiflex option for using M42 lenses could be quite good, also because you can pick up some Zeiss lenses which can fill some FLs where M42 lenses don't shine or where the Zeiss ones are especially nice for some reason.

    While a few prototypes of the Rolleiflex 35mm SLRs had M42 mounts, the production models all had basically the same bayonet mount, but with a few tweaks over time to allow full-aperture metering and displaying the chosen diaphragm. Basically all the lenses will fit all the cameras, but will lose full-aperture metering in the "wrong" combinations.
     
  17. EASmithV

    EASmithV Member

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    I have a Zenit E and a Helios 44M 58mm f/2, and find it quite an excellent lens. I've never seen swirl in 35mm before I shot that lens.

    For a solid feeling m42 camera, I recommend a Pentax Spotmatic.
     
  18. OldBodyOldSoul

    OldBodyOldSoul Member

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    Rol_Lei_Nut, thanks again, that was very helpful.

    EASmith, Zenit E and Helios 44 always makes me feel warm inside and aggressive at the same time as it was my first kit. It was a love/hate relationship that didn't end well for the poor E. I may go to my parent's place and take a look at it again, I know it's still there.
    I definitely don't remember the swirls - at the time I didn't know anybody doing LF so even if I saw them I didn't put much thought into it. Maybe it's only your copy of the lens that does it. Don't do any sudden moves around it, don't yell much and never ever grab the E by the lens, or it might stop doing the swirls. Or it might stop doing anything altogether. It's a weird thing, that Helios.
     
  19. gorbas

    gorbas Subscriber

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    Boris, you can mount MTO 500 and 1100mm on Nikon (Or any other SLR body) with infinity focus if you simply swap original lens mount with T2 mount. MTO lens mount is identical as "outer" T2 mount. You do not have to use standard internal T2 ring with 42x0.75mm thread. I did it to my MTO 500 almost 25 years ago and also did it with MTO 1100 when I had one. It works!
     
  20. OldBodyOldSoul

    OldBodyOldSoul Member

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    Hey, I wasn't expecting to see you here :smile:

    I sort of understand half of what you are saying there. For whatever reason, those two mirror lenses have mounts that allow them to be mounted to any SLR without much work, and that includes Nikon. Somehow I was convinced that Nikon's flange distance was at the extreme that didn't allow mounting any other lens without either losing infinity or adding glass to fix the problem; Apparently, that's correct only when standard mounts are in question. I've heard of T-mount and seen "adaptall" lenses/adapters/whatever but never paid much attention because 1) I had what I wanted available in Nikkor lineup and 2) previous sentence.
    I'll definitely look into it. This M42 thing is developing into a mini-saga now. Who would have thought. Everything should be easy and simple (haha).

    I'll have to grab one of my Nikons tomorrow to reload, then I'll come back to this. It's fun though, I like this M42 thing.

    EDIT: Ah, I got it now. A little bit (more) of reading never hurt anybody. So F mount does not have the largest flange distance as I previously thought.
     
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  21. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    Is this true of M42 lenses with an adaptor on bayonet mount Pentax cameras?


    Steve.
     
  22. gorbas

    gorbas Subscriber

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    Boris, Of course you can check does your MTOs have 3 screws fixing m42 mount, if they do, go and find T2 Nikon adapter and small screwdriver and in 90 sec you will have mirror lens with nikon mount and infinity. The hardest thing in this operation is to line up T2 adapter and lens so you can use tripod mounts on the lens properly (in level). "Everything should be easy and simple" - I agree!
     
  23. Ralph Javins

    Ralph Javins Member

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    Good morning, OldBodyOldSoul;

    Yes, you do have some nice lenses in there.

    I like the Helios-44M f:2/58mm lens in one of its later incarnations the best. And, for me, I prefer the 58mm focal length for a "normal" lens on a 35mm camera.

    The LZOS 3M-5A lens that I have actually performs pretty well, but I am not sure that I am going to claim that any 500mm lens or the MTO 1000mm lens are "hand holdable."
     
  24. OldBodyOldSoul

    OldBodyOldSoul Member

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    Hi Ralph,

    I like 58mm too and since my photography started with one of the versions of Helios-44 it's sort of carved into my shooting style. Voigtlander Nokton 58/1.4 is one of my favorite lenses on Nikon, period.

    Unfortunately, the 44M has (just now) developed a sticking blades problem. Not the worst kind so maybe it will sort itself out in time (it's been idle for more than 16 years). I won't put all my hopes in that happening, plus I can always stop it down manually.

    You people are not doing me any favors by saying how those mirror lenses are actually good. I need a 4kg lens like I need a hole in my head.
     
  25. gorbas

    gorbas Subscriber

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    Well Boris, I really like my MTO 500. Bough it in 1982. A few years back I had good deal (actually in Belgrade) on reflex Nikkor 8/500 (Ai vintage) , bought it, tested and sold it. MTO was better, tad slower, but produced nicer pictures. With 800asa on nice sunny day you are fine handholding it. For MTO 1100mm you need good tripod, even on sunny day.
     
  26. OldBodyOldSoul

    OldBodyOldSoul Member

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    Oh, I am definitely going to try both of them but only after I try the rest of the lenses, because after hauling those big, fat babies around, on tripod or not, I might need some sick days. After that, who knows.
    I didn't like the 500/8 Nikkor, but there are different versions of it and there should be one that's better than others (one of the more recent ones I think). I have no idea which version I tried.

    I just realized that there is a Praktica Super TL there too, I just didn't bring it over. That might work better than Zenit TTL, until I get my hands on a Spotmatic or find the adapter for Rolleiflex. Praktica has a somewhat better/brighter finder than the Zenit, if my memory serves.