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09-14-2010, 06:11 PM   #1
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Best Off-Brand M42s

I'm just getting serious about my photography, and my camera (Spotmatic, on it's way back from a CLA) is hungry for lenses. I just bought two in the marketplace, and I have a super-tak 55 1.8, a vivitar 135, a vivitar 28, a Petri 135, and a Super-tak 35.
All of these are nice lenses. I'm partial to Petri Optics, because they have striking cool colors. Some of the blues, greens, and purples are truly something to behold.
But, I'm far from being an expert. Super-taks are good, I think we all agree, but often expensive.
So, what are some good non-Pentax m42 lenses?
(Also, I'm using an actual M42 camera, so, as great as your K-mounts may be, K lenses really do me no good)

09-14-2010, 09:40 PM   #2
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Check the "M42 Crew" and "The off-brand club" on this forum. There are lots of good comments about those lenses.
09-15-2010, 04:53 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by PGillin Quote
So, what are some good non-Pentax m42 lenses?
Everything that's not Asahi is off-brand? Excellent! Start with Vivitar because they're ubiquitous, and often the same lenses are badged as Lentar, Albinar, Soligor, Sears, etc. Mamiya-Sekor and Fujica/Fujinon and Yashica/Yashinon have good reputations, with rising prices to match. The Russians are usually a good deal, in M42 or M39 -- Helios, Industar, Jupiter, Tair, Mir, etc. Many of those are Zeiss clones. Ah yes, Zeiss, and the other Germans: Meyer, Enna, Isco, etc. The world is filled with good screwmounts.

Some cheap-ish winners:

* Any pre-1990 Vivitar Series 1 (some costly)
* Tokina (Vivitar, Lentar, Soligor etc) 21/3.8
* Various Vivitars in 24, 28 and 35mm
* Isco Westron 35/2.8, fairy-dusted
* Mir-1 37/2.8, renowned for sharpness
* Meyer Oreston 50/1.8, fairy-dusted
-- BUT AVOID the Domiplan 50/2.8!
* Industar-50 f/3.5, the mighty mite
* Mamiya, Yashinon, Fujinon 50-55/1.7-1.8
* Helios-44 58/2, much-beloved
* Helios-40 85/1.5 or Jupiter-9 85/2
* Meyer Trioplan 100/2.8 and Telemegor 180/5.5
* Enna Tele-Ennalyt 135/3.5 and 240/4.5
* Jupiter-11 135/4 and Jupiter-21 200/4
* Tele-Takumar 200/5.6 (an overlooked gem)

OK, I cheated with that last, but it's too good (and cheap) to omit. The Super-Tak 55/2 is similarly neglected. If I were assembling an M42 kit of my small, cheap, overlooked lenses, it would likely include: Lentar 25/3.5, Mir-1 37/2.8, SuperTak 55/2, Enna 135/3.5, Tele-Tak 200/5.6. Alas, "small, cheap, overlooked" are rare in the 85-105 range. I'll cheat again and put my Meyer Trioplan 100/2.8 there.

So many lenses, so little time...
09-15-2010, 11:28 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
* Mamiya, Yashinon, Fujinon 50-55/1.7-1.8
Don't leave the Rikenon/Sears 50 and 55 out of this list. They are Tomioka-made and equivalent to the others in build and optical quality.


Steve

09-15-2010, 12:45 PM   #5
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For zooms, go as modern as you can find - Adaptall-2's and the later Vivitars - as lens design improvements can really be seen in them.

Apart from that, nearly any lens offers at least something, so often it is a matter of what flavor you prefer. Or outer look, or as with your Petri thing, the inner beauty.

What's missing from your line-up, or are you in General Acquisition Mode?
09-15-2010, 01:52 PM   #6
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Original Poster
All I have right now is a Super-tak 55 1.8 (Came with the camera, GREAT LENS), a Super-Tak 35 3.5, which I haven't shot very much, a Vivitar 135 2.8, and a Petri 135 2.8 and Vivitar 28 2.5 on the way.

I'd really like a good 80 or 85, and maybe a backup 50-55 if it's fast and can be found cheap.
Still, my kit is small, and I'm looking for a backup body as well, so I guess I'm in semi-general acquisition mode.
09-15-2010, 02:23 PM   #7
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The Viv 28/2.5 should be a good one - both versions have a good rep.

Probably the low cost way to an 80/85 is the Russian route, RioRico lists a couple.

As long as you don't mind the slow aperture, the 35/3.5 is one of the better Takumars, IMO.

You are right about the 55/1.8, so if you hanker for a different flavor, and a second body, you might look at the other brand M42 cameras with their kit lens.
09-16-2010, 04:22 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico:
* Mamiya, Yashinon, Fujinon 50-55/1.7-1.8
Don't leave the Rikenon/Sears 50 and 55 out of this list. They are Tomioka-made and equivalent to the others in build and optical quality.
Hmmm, would my massive newly-acquired Auto Sears 55/1.4 be a Tomioka? It came with a Sears TLS SLR, probably its super-kit lens, both in great shape. And did Ricoh make any of their own branded lenses, or acquire them all from glass foundries?

09-16-2010, 04:54 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by PGillin Quote
So, what are some good non-Pentax m42 lenses?
(Also, I'm using an actual M42 camera, so, as great as your K-mounts may be, K lenses really do me no good)
there are dedicated forums to manual focus lenses. Two most often used by myself:
Manual Focus Lenses
Manual Lens: Usage (Page 1) - Manual Focus Forum

personaly I have two Meyers: Trioplan 100 and Orestor 135. Both are unique - especially in bokeh.
09-16-2010, 08:12 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
Hmmm, would my massive newly-acquired Auto Sears 55/1.4 be a Tomioka?...
That is the conventional wisdom. The 55/1.4 is a decent lens. It did pretty well in Sean Carpenter's "Normal Lens Shootout" a few years ago (LINK). IIRC, it was bested by the contest winner (SMC Takumar 50/1.4).

Edit: It was pointed out to me that the SMC Tak was the runner-up with the A 50/1.2 being the winner.

QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
...And did Ricoh make any of their own branded lenses, or acquire them all from glass foundries?
It is hard to tell who made what back in the 60s and 70s. There was a lot of subcontracting of design and building going on along with simple rebranding. While some makers were renowned for and definitely made their own glass (Nikon, Pentax, Canon, Konica and others), I think that most of the other camera makers had lens making capabilities for at least some of their lines, but many worked with other makers for more sophisticated designs. The same was true of some camera bodies. Would you believe a camera in Nikon F mount reputedly made by Mamiya and sold under Nikon, Ricoh, and Sears name? (That would be the Nikkorex F.)


Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 09-16-2010 at 10:29 AM.
09-16-2010, 09:37 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
That is the conventional wisdom. The 55/1.4 is a decent lens. It did pretty well in Sean Carpenter's "Normal Lens Shootout" a few years ago (LINK). IIRC, it was bested by the contest winner (SMC Takumar 50/1.4).
The SMC 1.4 was the runner up. The A 50 1.2 was the winner.

I'm pretty sure the Ricoh/Auto Sears 55 1.4 is the same lens as the Mamiya-Sekor 55 1.4 the only difference being the style of focus ring.
09-16-2010, 10:19 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
The SMC 1.4 was the runner up. The A 50 1.2 was the winner.

I'm pretty sure the Ricoh/Auto Sears 55 1.4 is the same lens as the Mamiya-Sekor 55 1.4 the only difference being the style of focus ring.
Damn...should have double checked the final results! I was going by memory and forgot which of the lenses actually came out on top. The real tragedy of the shoot-out was the Helios 44M-4 which came out at the bottom of the heap. It had the misfortune of being paired against the A 50/1.2 in the first round in a single elimination contest.

As for the Rikenon 55/1.4 being the same as the M-S 55/1.4...Anything is possible, though it is important to note that Mamiya made their own lenses* (of excellent reputation, by the way) and the Tomioka heritage of the Rikenon is fairly well established. That being said, there is always the possibility of "cross-pollination" in the form of shared components (lens barrels and such) that would lead to similar appearance/construction across brands. I don't have either of the 55/1.4 lenses, but I do have the Rikenon 50/1.8 and the M-S 55/1.8 and they quite obviously have very different construction, coatings, and optical qualities.

BTW...If you own the Rikenon 55/1.4 and/or the M-S 55/1.4, you should contribute a review. There is also the need for a photo and additional technical details for the M-S 55/1.4.


Steve

*See Ron Herron's Mamiya pages. I also confirmed this with a former Mamiya employee who worked in SLR assembly in the late 60s to early 70s. He did the CLA on my 1000 DTL.
09-16-2010, 11:20 AM   #13
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to OP: get Helios 44. You will love it.
09-16-2010, 12:18 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Damn...should have double checked the final results! I was going by memory and forgot which of the lenses actually came out on top. The real tragedy of the shoot-out was the Helios 44M-4 which came out at the bottom of the heap. It had the misfortune of being paired against the A 50/1.2 in the first round in a single elimination contest.

As for the Rikenon 55/1.4 being the same as the M-S 55/1.4...Anything is possible, though it is important to note that Mamiya made their own lenses* (of excellent reputation, by the way) and the Tomioka heritage of the Rikenon is fairly well established. That being said, there is always the possibility of "cross-pollination" in the form of shared components (lens barrels and such) that would lead to similar appearance/construction across brands. I don't have either of the 55/1.4 lenses, but I do have the Rikenon 50/1.8 and the M-S 55/1.8 and they quite obviously have very different construction, coatings, and optical qualities.

BTW...If you own the Rikenon 55/1.4 and/or the M-S 55/1.4, you should contribute a review. There is also the need for a photo and additional technical details for the M-S 55/1.4.


Steve

*See Ron Herron's Mamiya pages. I also confirmed this with a former Mamiya employee who worked in SLR assembly in the late 60s to early 70s. He did the CLA on my 1000 DTL.
It gets confusing because Sears sold both Ricoh and Mamiya M42s. K-mount is a little easier. All but 1 Sears K-mount slr were made by Ricoh. The other was made by Chinon (KSX-P).
09-20-2010, 06:59 PM   #15
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Just picked up a Helios 44-M-4 yesterday at a yard sale for 10 bux on a Zenit 12XP back cap..

Love 58mm on APS-C! This is more how my eye sees the world. Quick mod on the ol' aperture pin, and yowsa!

A few from a walk-about this morning, Very little PP except for some exposure adjustments and slight contrast boosts (because I love high contrast):









Last edited by virgilr; 09-21-2010 at 12:14 PM.
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