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!