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09-08-2017, 08:40 AM   #1
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Helios 40 vs Jupiter 9

I have never compared these two lenses head to head, but I just finished scanning some film and it seemed to me that I have far more focus misses with the Jupiter, than with the Helios. It's not a scientific comparison, as haven't calculated the rates, but I could think of only one shot where I missed focus with the Helios wide open, but there were several where I completely missed focus with the Jupiter. Both were mounted on the LX. So that made me wonder if the Jupiter is just softer wide open, or is it is just a random outcome. What kind of experience have you had with these two?

09-08-2017, 08:51 AM   #2
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can you post the pics for comparison purposes?
09-08-2017, 10:40 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by IgorZ Quote
that made me wonder if the Jupiter is just softer wide open, or is it is just a random outcome. What kind of experience have you had with these two?
Can I ask, what are the years of manufacture for your Helios-40(-2?) and Jupiter-9?
09-08-2017, 10:41 AM   #4
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Lens rendering can be different between lenses. Like, one is more low contrast, the other has more pronounced bokeh, etc. And this can make it easier or more difficult for you to tell where the focus is.
It could also be because of the subjects, if you took photos of different things and some of the things were lower contrast or moving or something.
Even things like you feeling different, being more impatient or anxious on one day, could affect manual focus.

But the most likely explanation could be "focus shift." With some lenses, the focus can change as you stop down the aperture. You focus wide open, but the focus shifts when you stop down for the photo. Some lens designs have more of this than others.

09-08-2017, 02:29 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
But the most likely explanation could be "focus shift." With some lenses, the focus can change as you stop down the aperture. You focus wide open, but the focus shifts when you stop down for the photo. Some lens designs have more of this than others.
Actually, this is most likely the problem. The Jupiter-9 is a Sonnar design, which - I'm led to believe - is known for focus shift. So, if the OP is focusing wide open then stopping down to a different aperture to before taking the photo, it could well be inaccurately focused...

I mostly use mine on my A7 MkII, and generally focus with the lens set at the required aperture rather than wide open, so focus shift isn't a problem.
09-08-2017, 06:01 PM   #6
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The OP mentioned shots wide open, so maybe not focus shift...

If it's genuinely missed focus and not 'this lens is just better than that one...' due to different characteristics (field curvature, sharpness across the frame, whatever) then I'd guess it's something about the mechanics of the focusing action and how s/he interacts with it.

That said, there's plenty of room for lots of talk about other lens foibles 🙂

-Eric
09-11-2017, 11:28 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by pepperberry farm Quote
can you post the pics for comparison purposes?
Sorry - busy weekend, didn't get around to posting photos. I could, but would it help since they were taken on different days and probably on different film? Would it be more helpful if I just post a little test?

---------- Post added 09-11-17 at 11:32 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
Lens rendering can be different between lenses. Like, one is more low contrast, the other has more pronounced bokeh, etc. And this can make it easier or more difficult for you to tell where the focus is.
It could also be because of the subjects, if you took photos of different things and some of the things were lower contrast or moving or something.
Even things like you feeling different, being more impatient or anxious on one day, could affect manual focus.

But the most likely explanation could be "focus shift." With some lenses, the focus can change as you stop down the aperture. You focus wide open, but the focus shifts when you stop down for the photo. Some lens designs have more of this than others.
I find that Helios is lower contrast, so I guess it should be more difficult to focus. Regarding focus shift, thanks for bringing it up, I never heard of it before. I think most of the photos that were out of focus were shot wide open, so that's probably not the explanation. But now I now why sometimes the focus is not where I want it to be when I shoot CZJ Biometar 120mm... I find it focuses closer than where I remember focusing. Will try focusing stopped down, although sometimes it's hard to see much with the split prism...

---------- Post added 09-11-17 at 11:35 AM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by TwoUptons Quote
The OP mentioned shots wide open, so maybe not focus shift...

If it's genuinely missed focus and not 'this lens is just better than that one...' due to different characteristics (field curvature, sharpness across the frame, whatever) then I'd guess it's something about the mechanics of the focusing action and how s/he interacts with it.

That said, there's plenty of room for lots of talk about other lens foibles 🙂

-Eric
Yes, I did shoot them wide open quite a bit. But I also thought that optically, Jupiter 9 was better than the Helios. Maybe it's my copy...
09-11-2017, 02:09 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by IgorZ Quote
Yes, I did shoot them wide open quite a bit. But I also thought that optically, Jupiter 9 was better than the Helios. Maybe it's my copy...
This is why I asked about the years of manufacture, Igor. As a general rule (though by no means always the case), I find the late 1960s to early / mid 1970s Soviet lenses to be better than the 1980 / 90s versions optically. I'm not sure why this would be the case, but I've seen it with so many different models.... Jupiter-9, Helios-40-2, Industar-50 / 50-2, Mir-1 vs 1B etc.

09-12-2017, 06:31 PM   #9
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J9 is a Sonnar design and it does have focus shift when stopped down. (but by right, if you shoot wide open or focus stopped down, it should not be the issue).
It is certainly softer than the Helios in the center wide open, but should not be too soft.
The J9 is famous for copy variations and if its not sharp enough in the center at wide open, then it probably isn't a good copy.
I have one that is like this as well, but it was resolved after I sent it in for servicing, another copy worked well right off.
09-13-2017, 05:22 AM   #10
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I guess OP should do tests. First a sharpness wide open test (not focus test; just try changing focus on a test target until you get best results), then a focus test with wide open and then changing aperture without moving focus ring to see if focus changes (or just DoF).

Last edited by Na Horuk; 09-13-2017 at 05:40 AM.
09-13-2017, 12:41 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
This is why I asked about the years of manufacture, Igor. As a general rule (though by no means always the case), I find the late 1960s to early / mid 1970s Soviet lenses to be better than the 1980 / 90s versions optically. I'm not sure why this would be the case, but I've seen it with so many different models.... Jupiter-9, Helios-40-2, Industar-50 / 50-2, Mir-1 vs 1B etc.
The Helios is early 60s, I believe '61. The Jupiter is mid-70's, maybe 1975. That definitely seems to be the case that early models have better quality, aside from the coatings, perhaps.

---------- Post added 09-13-17 at 12:43 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
I guess OP should do tests. First a sharpness wide open test (not focus test; just try changing focus on a test target until you get best results), then a focus test with wide open and then changing aperture without moving focus ring to see if focus changes (or just DoF).
yes, have been meaning to get to it since Friday, but there is always something in the way... Perhaps tonight...
09-13-2017, 12:54 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by IgorZ Quote
The Helios is early 60s, I believe '61. The Jupiter is mid-70's, maybe 1975. That definitely seems to be the case that early models have better quality, aside from the coatings, perhaps.
An early 60s Helios-40? Oh my... <drool>

Hmm. I'd still expect that Jupiter-9 to be good, though. My best copy optically is an M39-mount model from the 60s, but I have a 1972 model that's very close. Is your Jupiter-9 the old pattern body, like mine below?
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09-13-2017, 01:16 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
An early 60s Helios-40? Oh my... <drool>

Hmm. I'd still expect that Jupiter-9 to be good, though. My best copy optically is an M39-mount model from the 60s, but I have a 1972 model that's very close. Is your Jupiter-9 the old pattern body, like mine below?
yes, it is exactly this one.

Helios is nice, but I think I like it on film better. What's your experience?
09-13-2017, 01:52 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by IgorZ Quote
yes, it is exactly this one.
OK, well, I'd expect it to be good optically, at least when focused spot-on

QuoteOriginally posted by IgorZ Quote
Helios is nice, but I think I like it on film better. What's your experience?
I may not be the best person to ask, for a couple of reasons:

(1) I have very little experience of film photography
(2) My main interests in owning the Helios-40-2 were to add to my Soviet lens collection and, secondly, to get the signature swirl at fast apertures, especially on my full-frame gear

I really like the Helios... BUT, it's definitely not a lens for excellent contrast or, especially, edge-to-edge sharpness. In fact, it doesn't warrant pixel-peeping in the centre of the frame until at least f/2.8 (better still, f/4) and f/8 if you value the borders. Borders shouldn't matter, though, since the primary use case for the lens is portraiture at fast apertures (that's certainly how most people use it nowadays).

As an all-round lens, I'd take the Jupiter-9 any day of the week, and twice on Sundays That said, the Helios-40(-2) is quite unique in its rendering, and a lot of fun

Last edited by BigMackCam; 09-13-2017 at 01:57 PM.
09-14-2017, 09:53 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by BigMackCam Quote
OK, well, I'd expect it to be good optically, at least when focused spot-on



I may not be the best person to ask, for a couple of reasons:

(1) I have very little experience of film photography
(2) My main interests in owning the Helios-40-2 were to add to my Soviet lens collection and, secondly, to get the signature swirl at fast apertures, especially on my full-frame gear

I really like the Helios... BUT, it's definitely not a lens for excellent contrast or, especially, edge-to-edge sharpness. In fact, it doesn't warrant pixel-peeping in the centre of the frame until at least f/2.8 (better still, f/4) and f/8 if you value the borders. Borders shouldn't matter, though, since the primary use case for the lens is portraiture at fast apertures (that's certainly how most people use it nowadays).

As an all-round lens, I'd take the Jupiter-9 any day of the week, and twice on Sundays That said, the Helios-40(-2) is quite unique in its rendering, and a lot of fun
I agree, Helios is a bit of a specialty lens... On the other hand, it does sharpen up and lose it's swirls once stopped down, but you can't make the Jupiter swirl. It is the low contrast which I think is problematic a bit (depending on light) when using Helios on a digital camera.

I finally took some photos last night, but didn't get around to posting them. Hopefully, I'll get to it tonight and then we'll see if it's the lens or the operator error.
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