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08-06-2019, 07:21 PM   #1
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Russian Lenses

I have learnt my lesson now. The experience with my first old Russian Helios 44K-4 manual lens was just glorious. It arrived in great shape, forced me to stop using any or all of the various auto camera functions, and allowed me to learn a little about the exposure triangle. I love this lens.

So, now to my second lens... This time it was a budget priced Tair-11A in “excellent working condition”. Shipped all the way from deepest darkest eastern Europe – one of the old Soviet states. Well, clearly excellent working condition means detached oily aperture blades and old, stiff helicoid grease.

The local camera repair shop won’t touch it, and the original eBay seller appears to be on an extended holiday and is not checking his email. Thank goodness it was cheap. Well, not so cheap now. I have found a guy in Ukraine that repairs these old lenses at a very low cost, and have shipped it to him this morning. I would have had a go myself, but would not have known what to do with all of the left-over screws and bits. I don’t love this lens. Maybe after we get to know each other better?

So, the lens will ultimately work out to be around the price of a good second hand Pentax prime lens – but the bokeh is going to be great. Well, that’s what I tell myself to make the pain go away.

I think I am cured of the old Russian lens bug.

08-06-2019, 09:18 PM   #2
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Russian glass is great! have a handful and enjoy using them when I do.....zenitar 16/2.8 fisheye (k mount) believe its the most expensive of the bunch, industar 50/3.5 not fast but sharp! helios 44m fantastic although an earlier version with more blades would be much better, jupiter9 85/f2 many blades and a wonderful piece of glass

may chase down a 135 & 200...….not sure of a 35/2.8 don't think I've ever seen one but certainly love to have it
08-06-2019, 09:24 PM - 1 Like   #3
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eBay Australia has a money back guarantee if the item doesn't match the description or broken or faulty as long as you paid through eBay Checkout or eBay Invoice. Seller has 3 business days to respond to the seller on disputes. After which file a claim with eBay and they will respond with a decision within 48 hours.

eBay Money Back Guarantee policy | eBay

Get your money back, keep the lens, fix it on your spare time. Win-Win.
08-06-2019, 10:20 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by Not a Number Quote
eBay Australia has a money back guarantee if the item doesn't match the description or broken or faulty as long as you paid through eBay Checkout or eBay Invoice. Seller has 3 business days to respond to the seller on disputes. After which file a claim with eBay and they will respond with a decision within 48 hours.

eBay Money Back Guarantee policy | eBay

Get your money back, keep the lens, fix it on your spare time. Win-Win.
Thank you for that good advice. I have contacted the seller - with no response to date. I will wait a few more days and then proceed to file a claim with eBay. I don't wish the seller any harm, but I am feeling a little disappointed. This experience is probably not a good reason to give up fast Russian glass. It is a beautiful thing after all.

08-06-2019, 10:58 PM - 1 Like   #5
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Tair 11A is a very easy lens to clean. I've done it myself. Besides, it's a terrific portrait lens.


And:

08-07-2019, 12:33 AM   #6
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Don't give up on old Russian glass! Most of it is optically very good and can give excellent results if used within it's limitations of "everything manual". It seems like the OP had a poor experience with a bad eBay seller, unfortunate, but claim your money back and find another, you won't regret finding a good one!
08-07-2019, 03:25 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Supakatti Quote
Tair 11A is a very easy lens to clean. I've done it myself. Besides, it's a terrific portrait lens.

How to clean up TAIR-11a lens - YouTube

And:

Tair-11 2.8/133 aperture blades repair tutorial - YouTube
Again, I appreciate the replies. I have sent the lens to Roman at Retro Foto House for repairs. I have looked at his videos, and will undertake basic dust cleaning and aperture de-greasing in future. I just did not feel confident in managing the twenty aperture blades as some are unattached. I don't know if it is appropriate to give Retro Foto House a plug, but here goes. Roman was responsive and his prices are very fair. His service appears to be as good as his videos. I will update the thread when the repaired lens arrives back in Australia.
08-07-2019, 04:42 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Aaron28 Quote
Russian glass is great! have a handful and enjoy using them when I do.....zenitar 16/2.8 fisheye (k mount) believe its the most expensive of the bunch, industar 50/3.5 not fast but sharp! helios 44m fantastic although an earlier version with more blades would be much better, jupiter9 85/f2 many blades and a wonderful piece of glass

may chase down a 135 & 200...….not sure of a 35/2.8 don't think I've ever seen one but certainly love to have it

I have a 135 if you're interested

08-07-2019, 04:46 AM   #9
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Might I also suggest you try some of the vintage Pentax lenses, some are superb and reasonably priced.
08-07-2019, 12:39 PM - 1 Like   #10
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I agree with the OP's instinct to give the seller a few days grace.

I once won on auction a Jupiter-12 in Kiev mount (35mm 2.8), and it was to come all the way from the Ukraine. For some reason there were no other bidders and I got it ridiculously cheap - maybe $20 or so.

Eventually it arrived, and I couldn't believe my eyes. The lens was nailed inside a handmade wood box, wrapped in paper, and tied with string. It was like getting a package from 1948. The only thing modern was the foam encasing the lens in its bakelite box.

I felt incredibly bad for the seller. They got very little for their efforts, after auction fees, and making the packaging. I was struck by the disparity between our western expectations, and the standard of living in other areas.

Frankly, I think old Russian (or Ukrainian) lenses should be treated as "as is" purchases. They are works in progress. Quality control was so poor on them, that many of them never worked perfectly when new. Buy them, and learn to repair them, upgrade them, and modify them into something useful, is my motto.
08-08-2019, 05:50 PM - 2 Likes   #11
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Conclusion

The seller finally responded to my original message about the detached aperture blades and offered a replacement lens. I declined the offer as the original lens had been shipped to Retro Foto House for repairs. The seller agreed to cover the cost of the repair to resolve the matter amicably. I am happy with the outcome. The seller (although slow off the mark) acted honourably, the lens is being repaired, and eBay provided a good platform to resolve the matter.

Would I buy a used lens from the seller in the future? Yes, the seller did the right thing without fuss or mess. I guess the take away for me is that these old Russian lenses - although built like Soviet tanks - and probably using the same lubricating grease - are old. They can have problems. However, I do like the solid build and the results produced - autofocusing plastic lenses are for wimps! Maybe it's time to learn some lens repair skills.

Last edited by KimWood; 08-08-2019 at 08:08 PM.
08-09-2019, 06:07 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by KimWood Quote
The seller finally responded to my original message about the detached aperture blades and offered a replacement lens. I declined the offer as the original lens had been shipped to Retro Foto House for repairs. The seller agreed to cover the cost of the repair to resolve the matter amicably. I am happy with the outcome. The seller (although slow off the mark) acted honourably, the lens is being repaired, and eBay provided a good platform to resolve the matter.

Would I buy a used lens from the seller in the future? Yes, the seller did the right thing without fuss or mess. I guess the take away for me is that these old Russian lenses - although built like Soviet tanks - and probably using the same lubricating grease - are old. They can have problems. However, I do like the solid build and the results produced - autofocusing plastic lenses are for wimps! Maybe it's time to learn some lens repair skills.
Glad to hear it worked out.

I've been bidding on Helios 40-2 85/1.5 lately. I've wanted to try one of these for a while but they keep going for more than I want to pay. I'll probably just bite the bullet and pony up for a nice one eventually.
09-20-2019, 08:24 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by KimWood Quote
The seller finally responded to my original message about the detached aperture blades and offered a replacement lens. I declined the offer as the original lens had been shipped to Retro Foto House for repairs. The seller agreed to cover the cost of the repair to resolve the matter amicably. I am happy with the outcome. The seller (although slow off the mark) acted honourably, the lens is being repaired, and eBay provided a good platform to resolve the matter.

Would I buy a used lens from the seller in the future? Yes, the seller did the right thing without fuss or mess. I guess the take away for me is that these old Russian lenses - although built like Soviet tanks - and probably using the same lubricating grease - are old. They can have problems. However, I do like the solid build and the results produced - autofocusing plastic lenses are for wimps! Maybe it's time to learn some lens repair skills.
I purchased a Jupiter 9 85/f2 from Retro Photo House in the Ukraine in December of 2016. He was awesome to deal with and I would recommend purchasing from him to anyone interested in anything he has to sell. He is a very reputable eBay seller. My purchase was made on 12/24/2016 and he was concerned about the holiday shipping and offered to refund my payment. I told him I was in no rush to get the lens and knew about the timing of the holidays. He shipped the next day and it arrived at NY's JFK airport 3 days after he shipped it. I thought, excellent, I would have it sometime in the next 5 days. Nope.

The problem with the shipment turned out to be the USPS!. After arriving at JFK, the lens went on an up and down the east coast tour after going through customs before finally arriving four weeks later!! I live in NW Ga and I watched the tracking show it arrive in Atlanta and then get sent back to Teterboro, NJ. After two days visiting at Teterboro it made its way back to JFK. I thought it was going back to the Ukraine! It stayed at JFK for another three days and then was placed on a mule's back and was walked back to Atlanta. My local post office person put a hold on it at Atlanta so it would stop the yoyo'ing up and down the east coast. It finally arrived and I couldn't be happier. Except with the USPS...
09-20-2019, 08:30 PM   #14
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I have oil on the aperture blades of my 44-2 and it doesn't impact performance at all. I think it's actually normal to have oil on the blades from what I've seen. Stiff grease on these is just a fact of life if it hasn't been serviced.

To be honest I've bought a decent amount of stuff from Ukraine and Russia and have never had a bad experience, normally everything was very well described and extremely well packaged.
09-21-2019, 12:35 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by ZombieArmy Quote
I have oil on the aperture blades of my 44-2 and it doesn't impact performance at all. I think it's actually normal to have oil on the blades from what I've seen.


Under some circumstances, oil on the aperture blades can cause extra internal reflections, thereby reducing contrast. Not a deal-breaker, in my opinion, but a point to consider if an otherwise good-looking lens isn't quite as contrasty as one might expect.


YMMV
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