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11-28-2009, 06:22 AM   #1
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Russian made lenses

How good are the Russian made M42 lenses? I'm thinking of getting something to make a normal lens after the crop factor is added. Does anyone have a recommendation and what would a fair price be for a good quality lens. I don't have a lot of funds to spend. How do the compare to the Super- Tak lenses?

Thanks,
Gary

11-28-2009, 06:40 AM   #2
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I suggest you take a look at Soviet lenses club. Helios-44 in it's various forms is generally liked by all and it's really cheap.
11-28-2009, 07:28 AM   #3
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The glass & designs are for the most part excellent, primarily copies of Zeiss formulations. The problem is quality control. If you get a properly constructed copy, consider yourself lucky, as the build quality of the best of them doesn't come close to a Pentax M42 Takumar.
11-28-2009, 03:45 PM   #4
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Wow I disagree with Ray a tad here

The many russians in my bag are at least the equal to my SMC and super taks. I have yet to get a russian 'dog' but I have got a Carl Zeiss dog and some super taks that are less than stellar.

As with any used lenses, it can be hit or miss... but I can highly recommend the Greatest $20 lens the Helios 44m, the Tair 11a the Jupiter 9's and 11's the Industar 61 and many other cheap lenses. If you want to pay a little more there are even some more amazing russian variations out there.

Having said that there are great Pentax mf lenses too. the smc 55 1.8 can be got for song... but a lot of the pentax variants have gone too high in price for me.

Check out the Soviet lenses club thread as recommended, and go to mflenses.com for some good info on russian german and japanese lenses.

https://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/pentax-slr-lens-discussion/31430-soviet-lenses-club.html

http://forum.mflenses.com/

11-28-2009, 04:37 PM   #5
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I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. I have many Russian lenses, albeit for my Russian Kiev (Contax copy) and Zorki (Leica copy) cameras, not M42s..... same construction. I usually order a few of whatever lens I am looking for to increase my chances of obtaining an acceptable example, keep the most decent of the bunch, & sell the others. The lens materials feel like tin & cheap metal, the focusing & aperture action is clunky, poorly damped & glitchridden, marginally acceptable on the best of them, especially when compared to the butter smooth, beautifully damped, playfree & glitchfree focusing action & high quality build & materials of M42 Takumars. I do, however, agree that the optical quality is excellent on most of these, which is why I put up with their physical deficiencies. Their cameras, by the way, suffer with the same problems.

Last edited by raymeedc; 11-28-2009 at 04:54 PM.
11-28-2009, 04:43 PM   #6
Igilligan
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Deal

I respectfully agree to disagree.

And I think we can both agree that they all spank the non-limited FA plastic junk. 8^)
11-28-2009, 04:53 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Igilligan Quote
I respectfully agree to disagree.
And I think we can both agree that they all spank the non-limited FA plastic junk. 8^)
..... Amen to that!
11-30-2009, 12:23 AM   #8
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I have three Russian lenses:
  • LZOS MC Jupiter-9 85/2
  • KMZ MC Zenitar 16/2.8 Fisheye
  • KMZ Helios 44M 58/2
All three of these lenses have standout optical qualities and I am not planning on selling them at any point. Both the J-9 and the Helios have well-deserved reputations for great bokeh. The Helios also has excellent center sharpness at all apertures. The Zenitar has performance that rivals the best of its Japanese competition.

A lot has been said about the build quality or lack of it of Russian lenses. I bought the J-9 and Zen new from rugift.com (not recommended) and the Helios used from an eBay seller. I can summarize my impressions regarding build in a few bullet points:
  • All three of my lenses have a "robust" construction
  • Finish details are rough in places
  • I have seen better Japanese lenses
  • I have seen worse Japanese lenses
  • My Helios has a very stiff focus ring due to old grease, but that is a fairly minor issue.

Beyond build quality is the issue of quality control in manufacture. The my first Zenitar copy was hopelessly flawed. None of the controls (focus, aperture ring, aperture mechanism) worked and the lens mount had a flaw that ruined my favorite film body on initial mount. I got a replacement lens that works quite well and is quite dependable. While my second Zenitar is much better than the first, it still had an issue with attaining infinity focus. This is easy to fix, but not what you expect in a new lens with a nicely signed inspection certificate from the factory.

Do I like my Russian glass? Emphatically YES!

Having said that, I would temper my enthusiasm by suggesting that the buyer should be aware of potential for flaws and take care not to spend too much unless there is an option for easy return or physical inspection before purchase.

Steve

11-30-2009, 12:25 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Igilligan Quote
I respectfully agree to disagree.
And I think we can both agree that they all spank the non-limited FA plastic junk. 8^)
My FA 35/2 is highly offended. Plastic, yes, but darned nice plastic...

Steve
11-30-2009, 12:52 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
My FA 35/2 is highly offended.
Steve
These new-fangled lenses are so thin skinned..... my old Takumars rarely take offense at any derogatory remarks aimed at them. To be fair, though, they probably aren't aware much of the time that these remarks are aimed at them, as old age has probably dulled their senses a bit.
11-30-2009, 09:20 AM   #11
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In terms of the russian lenses and a cheap "after crop" normal,

I am not sure you will ever get a better lens than the SMC takumar 35mm F2.

I paid $70 for mine.

There are some russian lenses out there but at about the same price for a smc tak, but unless there is a particular need / want for a lens, I am not sure there is value.

I looked at some, with a half thought of perhaps building a russian only kit, but when I look at how my helios 44 (58mm F2) is put together, (or perhaps the fact that everything was loose when I bought it) i have serious quality doubts.

I bought the helois 44 out of curiosity, and the fact I only paid $10 for it in as is condition.

I have played a little with the helois but not enough yet to give a good answer on bokeh or sharpness.
11-30-2009, 10:45 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lowell Goudge Quote
In terms of the russian lenses and a cheap "after crop" normal,
I am not sure you will ever get a better lens than the SMC takumar 35mm F2.
I paid $70 for mine.
.
Unless, as the OP didn't mention lens speed, but did mention price restrictions, he opted for the superb 35mm/f:3.5 Super or Super-Multi-Coated Tak at half the price of the f:2.
11-30-2009, 10:48 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by raymeedc Quote
Unless, as the OP didn't mention lens speed, but did mention price restrictions, he opted for the superb 35mm/f:3.5 Super or Super-Multi-Coated Tak at half the price of the f:2.
unless you have some clairvoyant abilities, where in this thread did the OP mention he bought a 35mmF3.5 for half the price of an F2?

I won't argue with his choice, and maybe his definition of not a lot of money is less than mine but I thought $35 for an SMC Tak 35 F2 was not a lot of money.
11-30-2009, 10:52 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
My FA 35/2 is highly offended. Plastic, yes, but darned nice plastic...
Steve
PLastic?....PLASTIC?!!! At those prices it should might better tagged as "Plastique"? Sounds so much more upscale, trendy and status aware.
11-30-2009, 11:29 AM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by brecklundin Quote
PLastic?....PLASTIC?!!! At those prices it should might better tagged as "Plastique"? Sounds so much more upscale, trendy and status aware.


I got mine while they were still relatively cheap ($289)...lucky me!

Steve
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