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Thread: M42 lenses

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    Post M42 lenses

    Hello, I thought I would post my first thread on M42 lenses as I recently bought some.

    I started looking into M42 lenses a while ago and ordered a Praktica super TL with a Pentacon 1.8/50 and then that lead to getting a Zenit E with a Helios 44-2 2/58 and came with a 3x teleconverter too and then got a zorki 4 with jupiter 8 2/50 lens but it's a M39 mount. I have received the Pentacon and Helios.

    The quality of the two are interesting and nothing exceptional but the controls are nice and easy to use and the all metal build makes it hard to ever buy a plastic lens again.

    Firstly the Pentacon 1.8/50
    It is a fun lens but would like more sharpness for a prime although it is still very impressive. Having to Manuel focus, set aperture, and set shutter speed is good and challenging but can get tedious. Not being able to focus further then around 2-4 meters because of the M42 to nikon mount moving the lens a tiny bit away from the sensor makes it a bit impractical but overall a great lens to have and good for a bit of fun.

    Here are some test images:
    [



    This is what it looks like:


    The problem I had with the pentacon was attaching it to my D90 as the pentacon has a depth of field preview button and has a little piece of metal that sticks out on the mount. So when I screwed it into my d90 it would hit something. I tried sticky taping it down but it popped back out after a while. If I screw the M42 to nikon mount in first when I attach it to the d90 I can't properly twist lock the mount in as the Pentacon will twist and unscrew from the mount. But I just have the M42 to Nikon mount screwed on tightly onto the lens and then only have to rotate it a tiny bit and it can lock without hitting any internal parts. Also found it annoying to have to push the depth of field button every time I changed the aperture from 1.8.


    Helios 44-2 2/58
    I prefer this lens over the Pentacon as he bokeh has a swirly look and it's so different. It's a fun lens to use but the Pentacon is much sharper but as always stopping it down will improve it. The Pentacon performs better wide open.

    Here are some test images of my dog (Kuba) with it.



    Some images from the bush:




    Both these lenses are manuel focus so I have ordered a Tenpa 1.36x eyepiece magnifier which should help significantly in focusing.

    As fun and as different these lenses are I wouldn't see them as a replacement for AI-S Nikon lenses as they just aren't practical for general use but you have to remember how cheap they are and I was able to get the Praktica for around $15 and the Helios for $25. One disadvantage of using M42 adapters on a Nikon is that it causes refraction and a softening of the image that makes it look almost dreamlike. Also it's worth getting a hood especially on the Helios as its only single coated and suffers from flare pretty bad. You can get one off ebay for like $4 so it's not a big problem. In the end I have no regret buying them and I am sure I will get great images out of them.

    My Voigtlander 58mm f1.4 lens came today which will be my main nifty fifty (fiftyeight) I will use. I can't even describe how sharp it is, also a great thing is it can meter with the any nikon camera (Nikon AI-S version). It only has manuel focus but I think that is great and the focus ring so incredibly smooth to use.. It is a great alternative to the Zeiss Planar T* 50mm f/1.4 ZF as it has very similar image quality and construction (made in the same factory). Loving this lens!


    Cheers
    Chris

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    Amor fati! ving's Avatar
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    i have an old asahi 50mm f/1.4. it too is a great lens. shame i have to use an adapter on the d90, but still fun to use

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    I was thinking about getting an asahi 50mm f/1.4 as they are one of the best M42 lenses out there but didn't. My mate got one today and loves it.

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    Hi dervish16
    I just got a Helios 44M-4 2/58 & have to have a go with it.
    Do any of these type of M42 lenses have 1:1 magnification Macro ?
    Cheers
    Col

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    Not sure about magnification ratios but my Pentacon has a 0.33 min focus distance.


    Here are some good macro lenses in the M42 mounts:
    • Super takumar 135mm
    • MC Volna-9 2.8/50 Macro
    • Takumar 50/4 (1:1 native macro)
    • Industar 61 L/Z
    • Takumar 100mm f4 macro
    • Vivitar Series 1 90mm/f2.8 macro
    • Industar 50mm f2.8


    Hope that helps
    Last edited by dervish16; 01-06-2011 at 12:11am.

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    Thanks dervish16
    I will have to keep an eye on them.
    Cheers
    Col

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    Member xjjohnno's Avatar
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    Carl Zeiss Jena Flektagon 20mm f2.8 @ f8ish, a very decent performer.



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    Thanks for sharing all that, folks. If your Nikon adapter has a lens, forget assessing the image quality of the lens you attach. Those dioptres really degrade.
    The Praktica Super TL was my first camera, bought from earnings stacking shelves in the local supermarket after school in 1975??. I was saving up for a Pentax Spotmatic SP500 ($149), but the Praktica was a jewel at $89.95, so I couldn't wait.
    I recently bought another one in as new condition for old time's sake. My Pentacon 50mm 1.8 is superior to my SMC Takumar 50mm 1.4, which surprised me. Good on full frame, even (you can use M42 lenses normally on a Canon body).
    I bought a 29mm and 135mm Pentacon to round out my 'new' Praktica kit, and both are fine lenses on the Canon (and produce very sharp Velvia's on the Praktica). The 29mm outperformed my 28mm f2 Ai-s Nikkor, with only extreme corners unsharp, and also easily outdid a 28mm f3.5 SMC Takumar. Those early genuine Pentacon lenses were Zeiss-derived designs, and should not be confused with the later Prakticars, which are reportedly Sigmas (back when Sigma was bad).
    The Praktica had bad press in Australia because it was cheap and commo, and because Hanimex kitted it with terrible cheap lenses. Avoid the Meyer lenses. The Domiplan is pretty bad and the Oreston? not up to Pentacon class. Another poor German lens is the Lithagon, so not all early German M42's are fine optics. Pentacon was a sister company of Zeiss, although they were all interrelated in the GDR, of course.
    But with the original German Pentacon lenses, it is a fine instrument. Pentacon and the Praktica lineage were SLR pioneers who helped to develope features you now take for granted on your D90, like instant return mirror, prism viewfinder, beam splitting lightmeter, auto diaphragm etc.
    Re macro, those 50mm lenses are symmetrical as far as I know, so a cheap set of extension tubes will give you excellent macro. When I go for a photo walk with my Praktica, I go with the challenge of knowing that the camera in my hand will stretch my photography to it's limit, as all fine cameras can do.
    Enough already!

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    Carl Zeiss Jena Flektagon 20mm f2.8 looks like a great lens xjjohnno.

    ecopix my adapter doesn't have a lens for that reason but can't focus at infinity which is annoying. Yeah the Praktica is a great camera. "My Pentacon 50mm 1.8 is superior to my SMC Takumar 50mm 1.4" wow thats surprising. Maybe yours is a special one as the takumar 50 1.4 is supposed to be one of the best. How do I find out if mine was zeiss or sigma derived?

    What is the difference if the lens is symmetrical? Aren't they all? How do you tell if they are?

    Thanks for the great info ecopix. I haven't used the m42 lenses in a while as I have a voigtander 58mm 1.4 which works much better on the d90 but the m42 lenses are great and have no regrets buying them. Just wish nikon cameras could focus to infinity on them

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    dervish16 all the Flektagons play nicely.
    The reason you don't get infinity focus is due to the register distance to the focal plane. Nikons are further away then the M42 lenses and the only way Nikon M42 adapters can compensate for that are by adding a lens element which can have iffy effects on image quality as mentiond by Ecopix. I use a Pentax which has the same register as the M42s. I've also got a pretty decent collection of M42 lenses.
    I suppose I should post a couple of pics of old Soviet technology.
    The Tair 300A, also comes as the PS or Photo Snaiper version which includes a gunstock and purpose built focus and aperture control to work with a purpose built Zenit SLR.





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    Member ecopix's Avatar
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    Hi again. Sorry to not respond to your questions.
    Symmetrical refers to the arrangement of elements either side of the diaphragm. The Planar design is the well known symmetrical lens design, and is famous for performing superbly as a macro lens with extension tubes. I’m only familiar with this through using Hasselblad lenses, but if you look at the Pentacon optical diagram at the below web site, you will see it is also quite symmetrical in arrangement. That it’s great with tubes was merely a guess, and the review at slrlensreview below seemed to think it was soft up close.

    Regarding how to tell a Sigma Prakticar from a Meyer Prakticar, I’m not sure. I think the 50mm lenses were probably Meyers. But there are a lot of Praktica enthusiasts out there, so a thorough web search could well show up your lens.

    Regarding my findings, yes, surprising that the Pentacons outperformed the Takumars (on the 5D2), and Nikkors. I was only shooting at f11 and f16, and was looking at what I call microfringing – fine red c.a around bright detail, which is a bugbear with older lenses on the Canon in my experience – as well as peripheral sharpness. It’s nice to use old gear, but a Canon L zoom will produce a cleaner image!

    I was unfair on Meyer. My Pentacon 50mm is way better than my Oreston, but the web sites say they are the same, so it’s obviously just an individual thing. Every little field you dabble in transpires to be highly complex, doesn’t it? I only had time for a very quick Google search, but if you’re interested, these may furnish more info for you.
    Cheers.

    http://www.praktica-users.com/lens/mlenses.html

    http://slrlensreview.com/web/misc-sl...ns-review.html

    http://camerapedia.wikia.com/wiki/42mm_screw_lenses

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    Member xjjohnno's Avatar
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    Eat German quality control had a bit to be desired, the Pentacons were supposedly Meyers rebadged due to Meyer Optik being absorbed into Pentacon.
    I took my Meyer 50 f18 out today and quite pleased with the results.
    F8

    Wide open

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    Hi,

    How about SMC PENTAX-M 1:2 50mm ? Anyone used it on a Pentax DSLR body?

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    Member xjjohnno's Avatar
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    Are you meaning the f1.2 or the f2. Both should work fine on a Pentax SLR in M mode and using the green button for metering. I currently own the 50mm f1.2 and have not issues with it at all.

  15. #15
    Sir Rattus79 - The Proclaimant
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    I have the Takumar 55 f1:2 she's a brilliant lens. but since I have now a sigma 50 1.4, it's on ebay

    Yay for not having to muck around with Stop down metering, and manual focus!!
    Greg Bartle,
    I have a Pentax and I'm not afraid to use it.
    Pentax K5
    Sigma 10-20 | Tamron 17-50 F:2.8 | Sigma 50 F:1.4 | Sigma 70-200 F:2.8 Plus a bunch of Ye Olde lenses


    Would you like to see more?
    http://flickr.com/photosbygreg

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