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Tair 11 / 11A 135mm F2.8 Review RSS Feed

Tair 11 / 11A 135mm F2.8

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13 138,959 Fri June 2, 2023
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100% of reviewers $112.44 9.00
Tair 11 / 11A 135mm F2.8

Tair 11 / 11A 135mm F2.8
Tair 11 / 11A 135mm F2.8
Tair 11 / 11A 135mm F2.8
Tair 11 / 11A 135mm F2.8

One of several East Bloc sonnar derived 135mm lenses. Tair is the brand name given to many of the lenses produced by KMZ Krasnogorsk Mechanical Works.
There are several versions: Tair-11, Tair-11 black version with f32, Tair-11A, Tair-11T, and Tair-11K. Optics, preset aperture and 20 blade iris are consistent AFAIK.

Optical Construction: 4 elements in 3 groups,
Iris: 20 aperture blades.
Minimal focus: 1.2m - 11A, otherwise 1.4m.
Weight: 600g.
Size (Length/Width): 110/70mm.
Filter Diameter: 55mm.
Hood: built-in, sliding.
Typically available with M42 screw mount, some early versions are M39. In practice, the -A in the lens name means that the lens has the interchangeable KP-A/N mount. The design of this mount is that of a T-mount. It is straightforward to unscrew the grub screws and replace an M42 with the exterior/bayonet part of a PK T-mount. For practical purposes this and other -A lenses can be regarded as a swappable T-mount, and I think this is the case with some other Russian lenses as well eg the Tair 300 listed by DME.

There are some diligent comparisons of these sonnar lenses (although neither includes the tair):

135mm sonnar lenses tested
East bloc 135mm Sonnars comparison

Tair 11A review.

Big 135mm lens comparison test by BRunner on Canon full frame, including Tair.
Mount Type: M42 Screwmount
Price History:

Add Review of Tair 11 / 11A 135mm F2.8
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New Member

Registered: January, 2023
Posts: 2
Review Date: June 2, 2023 Recommended | Price: $120.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: 20 blades make the difference in bokeh!
Cons: on the heavy-side... but you can live with it...
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 5    Value: 8    Camera Used: Pentax K-70   

The lens is nice and well-built, the 20 blades make a huge difference and in the right conditions, produce an incredibly fascinatig Bokeh with perfect ball-shaped-highlights...
The cons are basically the bothering flares which occur when the sun shines somehow creating a layer of "gold-yellow" which kind of ruin the pictures...
The lens is heavy and didn't fit for street photography. For portraits is this lens in full-frame ratio probably a very good choice, for small-format it's also nice... but not for events since in this case the people would move to fast to get focussed perfectly.

This is for me a chill-out-lens, goof for flowers and sunsets kind of situations, static objects and pleasant vibes.
I would recommend going out and use only this lens without any other, in order to "understand" it and be part of the Soviet flare it gives.

New Member

Registered: March, 2016
Posts: 1
Review Date: July 7, 2016 Recommended | Price: $120.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Contrast, Amazing Colour and bokeh, Build like a tank, Preset F
Cons: Handling, Weight
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: Nex-7   

Nice lens, but too weight. Photos is amazing. Handling is ok, but pentax have much better handleing.
New Member

Registered: September, 2013
Posts: 3
Review Date: April 5, 2015 Recommended | Price: None indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Amazing bokeh, sharp enough for portraits at 2.8, great atmospheric perspective
Cons: Absolutely terrible handling (silver version), very low contrast, unbalanced weight distribution
Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 3    Value: 10    Camera Used: GX20, K3, MZ-30, some Zeniths   

Got it from a friend as a set of lens blocks and rings in a plastic bag.
After assembling, fine-tuning and using it for a week, I realised that this is a very specific lens.

First, it's quite unbalanced on both K3 and GX20 (it has most of it's weight in the fromt lens block).
Second, I got a 39mm version with a 39-42mm adapter ring, so it does not fix tightly and reliably on the camera.
Last, I was quite unimpressed with it's macro with macro-rings (due to low resolution). Jupiter-37 is much better at this.

But I've found a couple of scenes where no lens I've used can beat this one:
-Golden hour portraits (contrast distribution makes this lens sharp enough for portraits and the atmosphere perspective and "golden rays" make the pictures quite live and volumetric, despite it's 135mm'ness)
-Portraits in the forest (color cast from surroundings are easily correctable with this lens and the background bokeh is amazing)

As on film, it's great for color slide, but not so good for BW - not enough contrast to preserve borders in high key, resulting in detail loss and not so good for low key (the pictures nave not got enough contrast).
Senior Member

Registered: February, 2012
Posts: 191

3 users found this helpful
Review Date: February 19, 2014 Recommended | Price: $50.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Euhm.. BOKEH
Cons: Euhm.. somewhat heavy, min focus distance

It's my favorite 135mm's which I also tend to use with extension rings as a sort-of macro.. I own both a 11A and 11-2 (m42 mount), in end results they are the same (imho), great bokeh, superb handling (though the 11-2 has to be lubricated because it has a bit stiff focusing especially in colder weather).
It is sharp yet not harshly sharp.. hard to explain but that's what I like to most about this lens with of course the creamy background and round bokeh even stoppen down... I'll let some pics do the important bits of a review:

Left is 11A, right is 11-2:

Tair glasses by margreetz, on Flickr

Left is 11-2, right is 11A:

Tair compare by margreetz, on Flickr

not sure if I used extension ring here:

tair 11a - houtpantserjuffer portret by margreetz, on Flickr


vliegenzwam by margreetz, on Flickr


van elkaar genieten by margreetz, on Flickr


donder by margreetz, on Flickr
Junior Member

Registered: February, 2009
Location: Ireland
Posts: 30

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: September 4, 2013 Recommended | Price: $12.00 | Rating: 9 

Sharpness: 8    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 8    Value: 10   

I bought this when they were still doorstops with no residual value - very few had latched onto the great heritage of Russian glass and the jewels to be found in the FSU and even in the West, where these things were exported to, and disregarded by 'serious' photographers. More fool them.
Anyway, what isn't immediately obvious, is there's a T2 mounting ring on this and you can take off half of it and fit a Pentax K ring in its place, thus obviating the need for an adapter every time you want to mount this on the camera.

Reading the other reviews, I concur completely with them - it's heavy, but it's optically very good.

Horrors, this was taken on a Canon 10D, but do not despair, the others were Pentax...

Tair 11A Sea of Cars by Lensosaurus, on Flickr

Back to Pentax K10D...

Tair 11A Bee on dandelion by Lensosaurus, on Flickr

And a 100% crop of that

Tair 11A 100pc crop by Lensosaurus, on Flickr
Veteran Member

Registered: January, 2011
Location: Minahasa, North Celebes (Sulawesi)
Posts: 586
Review Date: December 23, 2012 Recommended | Price: $255.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpness, contrast, color tone... and BOKEH!
Cons: Heavy, yet it means well made as well
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 10   

If you're into bokeh and 135mm lenses, then this is a lens for you, period.
It's sharp and contrast, renders beautiful colors almost like SMC's, so it's just perfect.

Got mine from Russia, complete set with filters and case. It's well worth the 40 days of waiting
Senior Member

Registered: October, 2009
Location: Kolkata
Posts: 120

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: December 20, 2012 Recommended | Price: $30.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Balance, sharpness, bokeh, neutral colors
Cons: None
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 9   

The factory focusing screen is not the best one for manual glass. While using the Tair 11A, the lens focus perfectly with the factory screen even on the Kx. At the first beep while moving to infinity, the image pops into focus!
Bought mine nth hand from a small repair shop in Kolkata. It was cosmetically excellent. I had it re-greased though.

Heavy and thus beautifully balanced this preset lens has a bokeh like none other. Very neutral colours and excellent contrast. I like the preset ring as it shows the DOF so clearly. In extreme contrast situations it shall show PF, but overall it's CA is much better controlled than old Takumar or even manual Pentax Glass. The micro-contrast, could be better- but then a DA* 300mm spoils you rotten.

Now for some images:

28 nov 12 kx tair 11a boy 1 by ariban, on Flickr

11 dec 12 tair tourist and boat by ariban, on Flickr

11 dec 12 tair chacha by ariban, on Flickr

11 dec 12 fisherman by ariban, on Flickr

2 december 2012 kx tair 11 A f4 cactus by ariban, on Flickr

28 nov 12 leaves tair 11a kx by ariban, on Flickr

10 dec 12 digha beachside duo tair 11 A by ariban, on Flickr

11 dec 12 sadhu digha tair by ariban, on Flickr
Forum Member

Registered: October, 2010
Location: Klaipeda
Posts: 77
Review Date: November 14, 2011 Recommended | Price: None indicated | Rating: 10 

Pros: Beutifull lense, best my tested 135mm lenses
Cons: heavy

This is Russian Zenitar group lens.

I got Tair-11A from friend just or cleanins, after what i try it for fev weeks.
Best ever tested 135mm lens.
Just... heavy
Site Supporter

Registered: November, 2010
Location: California
Posts: 2,223
Review Date: November 6, 2011 Recommended | Price: $220.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Great IQ and Bokeh, easy to use, really neat colors
Cons: None so far.

I bought this lens after I saw its 20-blade aperture. However, it has become the one I use the most of my (now) five 135mm lenses. It is just perfect. The quality of the photos is similar to the SMC Takumar 85mm f1.9. The bokeh is just the best I have seen. The lens is pre-set, that is, one ring is set to the desired F, then focus wide open, then use the other f ring to stop down to the desired (set) F. You can observe the depth of field also and make any corrections if you want. It is just outstanding. I use it mostly in AV priority with my K5. I do recommend this lens. The problems is the time it takes to come from Eastern Europe. The price is OK, trying to go up, but stays ok. I will post some photos later on.

Mr Lincoln by Palenquero, on Flickr

Blue Bokeh by Palenquero, on Flickr

Just Another Rose by Palenquero, on Flickr

Condesa de Castilla by Palenquero, on Flickr

Rosa Rosada by Palenquero, on Flickr

Rose Madder by Palenquero, on Flickr

Rosa Leaves by Palenquero, on Flickr

Carriage by Palenquero, on Flickr
Forum Member

Registered: August, 2010
Location: Belgium
Posts: 60
Review Date: September 23, 2010 Recommended | Price: None indicated | Rating: 8 

Pros: Construction, killer look, character, 20-blade iris
Cons: Weight

When reading this, please bear in mind that this review is nothing more than my opinion about one sample of a lens. I’m nothing of a scientist. I don’t play with test sharts and other static « prepared » subjects. When I want to try a lens, I usually have a walk and take pictures of things and places I know, adding some homeshooting if needed.

This Tair-11A is a « preset » lens, which means : two aperture rings. The first has click-stops, but is only a limiter for the second one, which turns gently without any click to open or close the 20-blade iris. Select a f-stop with the first ring, and play with the second one to open or stop down quicky to the preset aperture. Once used to the system, it’s pretty cool.

This tele lens is heavy, built like a tank, suggesting it would be nice in army colours ! Its rear end is large enough to be solidly mounted with the M42 to P-K adaptor on a DSLR, which is a good point too. My sample is near mint and everything is smoothly working, but I don’t use it very often. It’s a little too big and heavy to travel with.

Nevertheless, I sometimes enjoy using this 135 mm prime during parties with family or friends, for discrete portrait shooting when people talk, smile, laugh… while having a drink. Of course, pictures are not often very sharp in such conditions, but there’s a gentle warmness over them.

Bottom line :
- Good portrait lens for those who like doing this with a 135mm prime (=200mm with APS-C sensors). Pleasant OOF rendition.
- For other purposes and for good sharpness, you’d probably need to stop down at f5.6 or f8.0 to increase the DOF and select shutter speeds of 1/250s and faster ; which means high iso settings in poor light conditions.
Veteran Member

Registered: September, 2007
Location: La Crescenta, CA
Posts: 7,450
Review Date: April 6, 2010 Recommended | Price: $125.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Excellent sharpness in general, wonderful bokeh, pleasant heft, 20 aperture blades(!), has a certain "cool factor"
Cons: Build quality not 100%, heavy, pre-set aperture can be annoying if you're not used to it

I really enjoyed using this lens. Wide open it's acceptably sharp and it gets very sharp stopping down. Bokeh is incredible at all aperture settings thanks to the 20 aperture blades (perfectly circular). It's heavy, and the build quality isn't great (both copies I've used had a bit of a rattle), but it gets the job done and then some. A wonderful portrait lens, and one I would still own if not for the K135/2.5.
Review Date: January 18, 2010 Recommended | Price: None indicated | Rating: N/A 

Pros: 2.8, good bokeh, enough sharp, round diaphragm
Cons: CA, contrast, color rendering

Good soviet portrait lens. I`m using it from the times of film cameras.
Little bit smooth wide open, but sharp down do 5.6 and more.
The best on BW full frame (was mostly used with ilford xp2).
On digital requires hard color works in PS because of problems with color rendering in heavy light condition scenes (best choise - do manual WB settings in such conditions). But if you got right ballance - your shot could be very nice - palette is similar to aquarele, air and so on.
One of my favorite lenses for creative photography.

Some samples:

Full sizes:
Senior Member

Registered: January, 2009
Location: Israel
Posts: 124
Review Date: January 9, 2010 Recommended | Price: $80.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: build, rendering, price
Cons: weight, flare resistance

Found this Soviet M42 lens w/o caps, but in great optical and physical condition in a used photo equipment store. Looks and built like an artillery shell The aperture has 20 blades which help retain circular OOF highlits. It closes down smoothly - there are no clicks, but you can preset the minimum with a second ring. Focusing is smooth (worse than my 50mm Super Tak, but beats most other lenses) and precise, thanks to the long throw, wide and comfortable focus ring. There is a built in retractable hood (see pics) which helps fight flare somewhat.
At F/2.8 the sharpness is acceptable in the center, but corners are softish (not a problem, considering primary uses for this lens). Sharp from ~f/4 and very sharp starting at ~f/5.6. Sharpness is somewhat uneven - there's a softer area right in the center. Extreme corners reach max sharpness by f/8. CAs are lower than moderate, but flare resistance is weak (no multicoating?).
The rendering is very "portrait-friendly", highly flattering for female portraits. Here's an example (F/4 IIRC) with on-camera flash pointed at the ceiling:

Conclusion: If you have enough space (or shoot outdoors) to use a 135mm as a long portrait prime, this is a very nice option. QC is known to be somewhat of a lottery, so try before you buy.
Add Review of Tair 11 / 11A 135mm F2.8

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