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TAIR-3S - Fotosniper 12 ensemble 300mm F4.5 Review RSS Feed

TAIR-3S - Fotosniper 12 ensemble 300mm F4.5

Reviews Views Date of last review
18 120,438 Sun April 23, 2023
Recommended By Average Price Average User Rating
100% of reviewers $79.81 9.28
TAIR-3S - Fotosniper 12 ensemble 300mm F4.5

TAIR-3S - Fotosniper 12 ensemble 300mm F4.5
TAIR-3S - Fotosniper 12 ensemble 300mm F4.5
TAIR-3S - Fotosniper 12 ensemble 300mm F4.5
TAIR-3S - Fotosniper 12 ensemble 300mm F4.5
TAIR-3S - Fotosniper 12 ensemble 300mm F4.5

There are several versions of the 4 element Tair 300mm f4.5:

Tair 3 This is the original one, different structurally to the later ones, conventional milled focus ring at the front of the lens, no preset. Often found in M39 mount (needs review page).
To adapt original M39 mount tair 3's to eg mirrorless, Thomas Bernardy on mflenses recommends: "a Zenit M39 4 ring set (cheaply available from Russia) and a M39/LTM to mirrorless adapter ...
The Zenit ring set includes a 16.4mm distance ring which is exactly the difference between M39/LTM (28.8mm flange focal distance) and Zenit M39 (45.2mm). Obviously this was done to enable the usage of Zenit/M39 lenses on the old Russian M39/LTM cameras like the Zorkis and FEDs. "

Tair 3S/3C/3 PhS (or FS). This one - the classic "Photosniper" variants of the Tair 300mm f4.5 designed to be mounted on a stock with focus operated by a disk on the underside of the lens.
Tair 3A/ 300-A The most conventional of the variants: preset t-mount lens, focus at the rear end of the lens (reviews here).
Tair 33 This is a larger medium format lens designed for the kiev (= hasselblad bayonet) mount cameras. Lenses for those are very difficult to adapt to other cameras.

The Tair-3 300 mm f/ 4.5 was manufactured at three plants:

Tair-3 4.5/300 S. A. Zverev Krasnogorsk Mechanical Plant (KMZ).
Tair-3A 4.5/300 - Zagorsk Optical Mechanics Plant, Sergiyev Posad (ZOMZ).
Tair-3 4.5/300 Kazan Optical Mechanics Plant (KOMZ).

Optics: 4 elements in 3 groups.
Weight: 1.6 Kg (excluding trigger mechanism and stock)
Length: 24.6 cm
Width (diameter plus focus wheel): 12 cm
Preset Lens: 4.5 to 22 in full stops, but mechanism permits infinite variability between minimum aperture set, and fully open.
Diaphragm: 16 straight blades.
Trigger Mount (can be used for Tripod): 3/8 inch (needs adapter to standard 1/4 inch thread) fixed to body rather than rotatable.
Mount: M42, but can easily take T2-PK instead.
If trigger mount is used for tripod, either the tripod head must allow the lens to be flipped, or the mount needs to be loosened and rotated, to switch between portrait and landscape.

Scan of original user manual posted here.
Mount Type: M42 Screwmount
Price History:

Add Review of TAIR-3S - Fotosniper 12 ensemble 300mm F4.5
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New Member

Registered: May, 2021
Posts: 15
Review Date: April 23, 2023 Recommended | Price: $85.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, unique design
Cons: None
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 8    Value: 9    Camera Used: Sony A7III   

I recently picked up the Photosniper kit (with the 3-phs) and even though I've only used this lens for about a week now, I'm already really impressed by it.

Even wide open it's surprisingly sharp. The colours and contrast are very nice, and I just love the unique design of this lens. I really recommed it.

My first impressions of the Tair 3-Phs:
New Member

Registered: March, 2019
Location: Ontario
Posts: 15

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: April 11, 2019 Recommended | Price: $140.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: reach, sharp, little to no lateral CA, natural colours, easy to focus, very sturdy and durable, easy to repair, 16-bladed aperture, great build quality, very easy to adjust infinity focus, indestructible rubber lens hood, good value
Cons: some axial CA, some CF, some ghosting, VERY heavy, preset aperture can be a pain
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 10    Camera Used: Sony a6300   

Mine is the latest Photosniper kit and comes with multi-coating. (produced in 1990 at KMZ for export)
This lens blew me away on so many fronts.
It looks so sleek and modern with its minimalistic look. Its black, powder-coated exterior is a perfect match for Sony mirrorless cameras. Every aspect of this lens speaks premium. It sure looks attractive! Judging by photos of the older versions, they look every bit as good as well, just with a slightly different aesthetic.
This lens is pretty well built. Everything runs smoothly, all the mechanics mesh together perfectly. There is some rattling of the components when shook, but that's not a problem at all. It is really easy to adjust infinity focus on this thing, thanks to the focus knob. To adjust infinity focus, you do not even need to take apart this lens, you just loosen the three set screws bearing the engravings, and screwing the ring in or out. You might have to reinstall the focus knob, but that's easy enough.
Personally, I would never use this lens without the gunstock. it weighs 1.4kg (3 pounds)! I've modded my gunstock so that it'll work with my Sony camera, and the combination handles very well. This lens looks (and almost weighs) like a rifle, so if you're familiar with shooting rifles, you'll love this kit. If you're not familiar with shooting, like me, you're still very likely love this kit. There is a reason rifle are built the way they are. The focus knob is a joy to use, though it does get some getting used to. With this lens, I have no qualms shooting down to 1/60s without any image stabilization (bust mode helps a lot).
Optically, this lens is as much of a beast as it is physically. Images are soft wide open. Stopped down to f5.6, sharpness becomes really good, and at f8, it is pin sharp. I generally shoot mine at f5.6, and it is more than sharp enough to resolve every single feather on an American robin. At f5.6, there is some axial CA, which is pretty bad by modern standards, but very well controlled when considering the price and age of this lens. In extreme highlights, this lens suffers from some ghosting. When focused properly, PF is well-controlled but definitely there. Any excessive PF I got seems to be the result of axial CA. At f8, all seems to be good. For a vintage 300mm lens with only 3 elements, this really is quite an unbelievable performance. It's unimpressive by modern standards, but has unbeatable value and is probably one of the best vintage super telephoto lens.
There is very little fault to find with the rendering of this lens. Bokeh is good for an f4.5 lens. This beast has 16 aperture-blades, so stopping down won't ruin the bokeh, at all. As mentioned, mine is the multi-coated version. Contrast is okay. This lens does not have the pop of Zeiss or Super/S-M-C-Takumars, but the rendering seems more natural as a result. The MC really helps with contra-light performance. I find that my copy of the lens generally performs okay when shot directly into strong light, surprisingly (I have never seen any flares). However, it absolutely hates stray light, and the hood is not long enough to make a difference. It has to be noted that on my lens, the coatings on the rear side of the second element have been pretty badly damaged, so it may not be a fair representation of the multi-coat on this lens.
All in all, this lens is a beast in every single aspect. If you have the biceps to wield it, this is a really good lens. This lens made me shelf my Spiratone Plura-coat 400mm f6.3, and my 200mm lenses now see the light less often. This lens is lightyears ahead of the Spiratone in terms of sharpness. My 200mm lenses are sharper (they are rated 10 for sharpness), sure, but this lens is sharp enough, and much more fun to use. Now that I think about it, this lens actually performs slightly better than my Super-Takumar 200mm f4!

Photos (all shot on Sony a6300, a 24mp APS-C camera, which is quite a challenge for lenses. All shot on a dreary day unless blue sky is present. All shot with AdobeRGB, so please view with a colour-managed browser, Chrome isn't good with colours)
American robin, shot at f8, slightly overexposed to reveal details in the feathers. Note the absolute lack of PF at this aperture.

Here's a particularly fat borb shot at f5.6. At this aperture the lens is already pin-sharp.

Colours are really nice on a sunny day. Bokeh is really good as well.

(Cropped to 4:3 for better framing of subject)

No, I don't feed birds, no matter how cute they may be.

PF and contra-light torture test at f5.6, note the axial CA

PF is pretty bad wide open

Wide open sharpness is usable, but not great.

(focus is on head)
New Member

Registered: July, 2016
Location: New York, NY.
Posts: 1

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: May 17, 2018 Recommended | Price: None indicated | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharpness, colour rendering.
Cons: Heavy, difficult to handle manually, CA
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 7    Value: 9   

This is an overall great lens.
Decided to take a walk in the park to test it and after about 20 blocks my arm was getting numb.
I had a tripod with me, but I didn't bother using it since it was a nice bright day and relied in my camera 5 axis stabilizer.
Focusing is kind of difficult when shooting without a tripod and pretty critical when subjects are moving.
Chromatic aberration is present on multicolor magenta and green which in most cases can be fixed in post production and not an issue when shooting for monochrome.

Unfortunately I'm not able to share more pix for now, but the attached here was shot from my window (notice the fence and the green grass in the background).
It was the closest distance possible (about 8.9 feet) and at f/4.5 (wide open).
New Member

Registered: March, 2017
Posts: 1

3 users found this helpful
Review Date: March 25, 2017 Recommended | Price: $200.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharpnes
Cons: Weight
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 6    Value: 6    Camera Used: QHY5IIL-Canon 600D   

I purchased mine without the pistol grip sniper mount for US 200 in Argentina. It is a very good lens for astrophoto. I put it over the Star Adventurer mount and with the QHY5IIL guide camera and take this photo of Omega Centauri (ω Cen or NGC 5139). 150 lights, 50 darks, 2.4 sec.

And this one with Tair 300mm on Canon 600D. One shot.

Nature photos:

New Member

Registered: December, 2016
Posts: 2

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: December 8, 2016 Recommended | Price: $80.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very sharp (wide open), color rendition
Cons: Preset not so convenient without fotosniper, good tripod mandatory
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 5    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax K5   

This lens is really like a tank, when you take a photo, your hands remember it

At the beginning, I was afraid how the M42 adapter will survive with the lens weight, anyway, I realize how solid is the Pentax mount.

According to me, it's a must have with an incredible ratio price/quality.
Junior Member

Registered: February, 2016
Posts: 44

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: April 22, 2016 Recommended | Price: $10.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: sharpnes
Cons: weight
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 8    Handling: 5    Value: 9    Camera Used: Praktica, N50, Rollei 35 SLR, various Pentax and now KS2   

Nice lens, have used it in several cameras with self made adapters. When used with auto preset as originally worked with the Zenith, the "recoil" was impressive, delivering enough torque to slightly blurr the image if you were not firm and steady. I took it apart and removed two of four springs from the return mechanism of the dia.
The focusing wheel is ackwadr but I love it.

Greetings from Chile.

Forum Member

Registered: February, 2014
Posts: 87

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: October 18, 2015 Recommended | Price: $50.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: sharpness wide open, colors
Cons: a bit huge and heavy
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 6    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax K5IIs   

I bought this lens because of the good reviews here.
My Tair 3s got a very oily diaphragm, so i decide to clean it from all of the old oil.



Manual focusing is a bit tricky, i think i'll buy a focusingscreen with microprism.
But now here are some shots.

You'll find more in my Flickr Album:

Edit: Today, I did s sharpness test for pixel peeper.
I think - you know how good the Tair is, but what is the best aperture for a real sharp picture?
So...let's see.
This is my focus indicator (here at F4.5)

Looks great, so far...or?
So, here're the 100% crops (resized):

Full resolution:

For best sharpness, use F11


edit: few pics of the Tair itself

New Member

Registered: September, 2015
Posts: 2

3 users found this helpful
Review Date: September 20, 2015 Recommended | Price: $100.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: razor sharp full open, great image quality overall.
Cons: none, is huge but a sturdy tripod will do the job.
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax ist DS, modified Canon AstroDSLR   

This is my 300mm of choice in Astrophoto: incredible sharpness, great contrast (better used with a dedicated hood), nice colours.
Its huge dimensions are irrilevant piggybacked on a telescope mount, so is not an issue for me; on the contrary, the unique focusing
mechanism of the PhS version is easy to convert in a motor assisted digital focus system (computer controlled): a valuable plus.
The T-mount system make it possible to use it with different body brands (need dedicated adapter).
I always use it full open, but I understand the strange aperture preset mechanism can be initially confusing... but genial once mastered.

If you are looking for a no-compromise wildlife or astrophoto medium tele, this is the lens for you.

P.s: I purchased mine without the pistol grip sniper mount, but I've never feel the need to use it.
Inactive Account

Registered: May, 2010
Location: Sydney
Posts: 217

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: September 9, 2015 Recommended | Price: $65.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Very sharp, built like a tank
Cons: Heavy, setting of aperture a bit rough
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 10    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: Pentax K7   

I bought the lens, minus the gun stock, off e b a y Slovakia, for US 65. It arrived two weeks ago and so far I have been very happy with it. It is quite sharp and easy to use handheld even without the gun stock. Nonetheless, I have bought a pistol grip with electronic shutter release cable for my Pentax K5 and K7. It should arrive by next month. I highly recommend this lens.
Veteran Member

Registered: March, 2015
Location: France
Posts: 363

1 user found this helpful
Review Date: May 26, 2015 Recommended | Price: $15.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: sharpness, bokeh, color rendition, IQ, can lock on the camera
Cons: minimum focus distance, slight flare, CA until F8
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 8    Value: 10    Camera Used: k-x   

First of all, I like manual 300 mm lenses. Tair 3S is no exception.

I bought it on the flea market for 13 euros, together with a pistol grip and a rubber hood. Aperture was stuck wide open, the reason being the rotten rusty springs that are closing the aperture. I have cleaned all the rust inside, re-lubricated the lens and replaced the springs and it worked great. I hated the sound of the cocking aperture (birds did too) so i removed the cocking aperture lever as well and now I use the pin that engaged this lever to engage the remote control of the shutter. If you have one, and did not lubricate the focusing mechanism, I advise this as a priority, I think it is essential for precision and long life of the gear.

They do not lie when they say that this lens is sharp, It is super sharp. I've tested it against my Sigma DL zoom 75-300mm f4 and Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 300mm f4 and I find it to be sharper than both of them. Not to mention the ease of use compared to the CZJ elephant.

Now, about the ease of use.

It is a heavy lens and it is difficult to carry around for hours but with a leather strap that goes with a pistol grip it is not a problem. It is very difficult to follow fast flying birds at close distance (swifts, swallows) without a pistol grip and I tend not to use it without it. It is also difficult to get around with focus mechanism in the beginning but I started to like it after a while and find it easy to use now.

One very interesting advantage with this lens is that it is possible to have infinity focus with any adapter used. I prefer to use the wide adapter that enables the locking of the lens. I have adjusted infinity focus by moving a ring with a lens name on it for a mm or so. Now I can have infinity focus and lock the lens at the same time. Another consequence is that it is now possible to use the green button metering and "catch in focus" option as well (with the paint removed from the adapter).

This lens is not the best choice if you want to take pictures of tiny insects, butterflies, flowers etc because it requires that you step back a lot. For the birds, minimum focus distance is not a problem, anyway, at least not in the countries where hunting is allowed.

To control chromatic aberration, I use it at F8 for still subjects or sky in the background and F5.6 for flying birds. It is sufficiently sharp at F4.5 as well and CA are acceptable as well.

All in all, great lens that I enjoy very much and I gladly recommend it.
New Member

Registered: December, 2014
Posts: 3
Review Date: December 13, 2014 Recommended | Price: $60.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Sharp, Solid build
Cons: Heavy, hard to set the aperture
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 6    Value: 8    Camera Used: K-r; K-5   

Its cheap, and have a special feel when use it because of the focusing mechanism. The IQ is very good, But its heavy for a long walk in the woods.
New Member

Registered: October, 2013
Posts: 10

2 users found this helpful
Review Date: December 14, 2013 Recommended | Price: $50.00 | Rating: 10 

Pros: Sharpness , Bokeh , Colors ,
Cons: Slight CA , Flare
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 10    Value: 10   

I got this lens with the Pistol grip removed , but the aperture mechanism is still the same . With a Fotox m42 to Pentax adapter it can infinity focus .


Super sharp compared to Sigma 70-300 DL Macro, and sharper than Soligor 300 5.5 .
I ve never held a Star series lens but the results i get from this lens , it is a Star for me

Focusing is smooth as is the aperture mechanism .

Not to heavy, weight actually helps stabilization.


Flare if u shoot into the Sun

Slight CA, but easy correctable in LR or PS .

Veteran Member

Registered: June, 2013
Location: Sunny Dun(ny)fermline, Fife
Posts: 405
Review Date: July 16, 2013 Recommended | Price: $62.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Handling
Cons: Weight, older tripod bush, preset iris
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 9    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 8    Value: 9   

Bought complete with the case (battered) and rifle stock - though like a lot of others I would never use the stock. The lens was bought on ebay and described by the seller thus "You will not often find this item in this condition and it is Well Worth Having to The Collector." It had quite a bit of fungus on the glass.
Thankfully instructions have been posted on dismantling the lens so I was able to get to the fungus which cleaned off quite easily - I was surprised.
The unusual turn wheel focus actually works really well and the results are pretty sharp
New Member

Registered: December, 2012
Posts: 1
Review Date: March 25, 2013 Recommended | Price: $120.00 | Rating: 9 

Pros: Sharp, easy to focus, great gun stock
Cons: Heavy
Sharpness: 10    Aberrations: 7    Bokeh: 9    Handling: 9    Value: 10   

I bought this lens for some wildlife and sports photography on the cheap. It has not disappointed!

I use it almost exclusively with the gun stock and have made the trigger electrical. This works as a charm! After some initial getting used to the focusing wheel in the front of the lens I now consistently have around 50% of my shots in focus, and that is for wildlife and rugby. Using the gun stock and trigger really gives great balance, smooth focusing and reduces shake considerably. There are some aberrations when shooting very high contrasty things, like a bird in a tree before white clouds.

Other people say the setup is very heavy, and they are probably right. However, it has not bothered me in the slightest. I do think that without the gun stock the lens is quite a bit harder to handle, even though I have had success with this on occasions where running around with a "gun" looks a bit weird. I am also of the opinion that the gun stock is more versatile than a monopod in situations where 300mm is too long to handhold.

Heres a shot I took of a pheasant (I think) today. Im not really much of a birder.
New Member

Registered: February, 2012
Posts: 17
Review Date: February 25, 2013 Recommended | Price: $50.00 | Rating: 8 

Pros: Sharp, fast, handles well, good bokeh
Cons: Huge and heavy
Sharpness: 9    Aberrations: 8    Bokeh: 10    Handling: 9    Value: 9   

The picture shows the full Photosniper 3 kit, including the trigger mechanism, rifle stock and the bundled Zenit camera; I believe it was sold between 1974 and 1982. The big lens at the heart of it is the TAIR-3. Mine is rather battered, has quite a lot of dust in it, and is missing the trigger mechanism and stock.

The other Photosniper on this site is the later Photosniper 12 based on the TAIR-3S. The maximum aperture is the same, but the lens tube is different.

The focus wheel under the main body of the lens works well. In spite of the 1.6 Kg weight I have no difficulty hand-holding and manually following focus from the touchline of a Rugby match.

The inscriptions on mine are all in Cyrillic; it self-identifies as a TAИP3-ФC 4,5/300 9668.

If 9668 is a serial number either they didn't sell very many, or mine is earlier rather than later.

Although it is an M42 lens, the M42 screw piece is attached in the same way as the outer piece of a T2 adapter is secured to its rotatable core, and it is the same depth. I managed to find a T2 adapter whose rotatable core matches the Tair 3 tube precisely, and so mine now has a PK bayonet.

Wide open the images straight from the camera are somewhat lacking in contrast, although the detail is all there. This lens is sharper than my Sigma 70-300 f4-5.6. However, wide open, pixel peeping fine texture (eg. tree bark) that should be pretty much black reveals itself to be very dark purplish-reddish, whilst highlights acquire a turquoise tinge. Unfortunately, these defects are simply magnified when I attempt to use a 2x or 3x teleconverter; the image looks soft, and the CA becomes intrusive. On most of my lenses, the Kiron 7 element 2x and Kenko 7 element 2x converters clearly outperform the Kenko 4 element 2x teleconverter, but on this lens they are all equally bad.

The 16 aperture blades ensure that the aperture is always round, and the bokeh is excellent.

Because this lens, even with the T2-PK bayonet, lacks the aperture sense lever of a proper PK or PKA lens, the Pentax 1.7x AF adapter doesn't add autofocus. But I find the CA of images taken with this combination (510 mm f7.65) acceptable.

Under challenging shooting conditions (hand-held in a strong wind) I was able to get sharper images with the Samyang 500 mm f6.3 mirror, though the differences aren't great (and neither are the photographs ); the longer exposure time due to f7.65 versus f6.3, or even random variations in 'seeing' (a townscape shot on a misty evening in a strong wind with the clouds changing minute by minute) may explain this.

Stacking the Pentax 1.7x AF adapter with a 1.5X PK Teleconverter (DOI or Kiron Matchmate) (which provides the necessary aperture lever) allows the AF to function, but the images are mushy.

The two 1.5X Teleconverters I have tried by themselves actually work well. The Kiron Matchmate 1.5X gives a sharp image, but Lateral Chromatic Aberration is apparent. The DOI 1.5X doesn't give any lateral Chromatic Aberration, but is less sharp. I prefer the Kiron, but the DOI is perfectly acceptable, and detail is apparent that you cannot see if you simply increase the size of the base digital image by 50 percent.

Overall, I recommend it.
Add Review of TAIR-3S - Fotosniper 12 ensemble 300mm F4.5

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