Weekend photo report: Test of old Soviet lenses with Canon EOS 600D

There are a lot of discussions in Russian Internet community about competition of old soviet manual lenses for SLR cameras and modern lenses for DSLR and SLR cameras produced by famous brands. It's easy to find reviews and comparison test of different kinds of both categories but nothing can be better than your own practical experience.

Today we had a photo walk in a centre of Moscow together with my friend Alexey Korostylev. He prepared three old Sovier manual lenses with M 42 mount for us, there are:

TAIR-11A 2,8/133

HELIOS-44M 2/58

YUPITER-9 2/85

Unfortunately this HELIOS is specially designed for ZENIT cameras and which has automatic aperture control and it's impossible to change the aperture manually on it. So, finally we had only two lenses for hands on.
This part pf the test refers to hands on of the lenses on Canon DSLR EOS 600D. We used adaptor ring M 42 to EF to mount lenses on a camera. The second part of this report refers to hands on of the same lenses on Canon SLR camera on Canon EOS 3000n you can read on a blog of my friend: Alexey Korostylev and his post Toys for boys: TAIR, YUPITER and CARL ZEISS. It is in Rusian but I hope all know how to use Google translator.
Lets start with photos overview:

TAIR-11A 2,8/133

This lens has a focal length 133 mm and f-stop 2,8. It was designed for 35 mm SLR cameras. On a cropped matrix it looks like telephoto lens. We didn't recognized hard distortion on it. Picture looks geometrically straight. There are slight chromatic aberrations are  present. But the main problem in my opinion is difficulties with focusing and low contrast of this lens. To ensure that you took a sharp image you need to move a little bit a focusing ring to both directions and take additional pictures (focusing bracketing). Otherwise your results can be far from focus. Sure, these conditions corresponds to aperture 2,8. Even after number of attempts we didn't get really sharp pictures with aperture 2,8.

If you reduce the aperture you can solve problems with focusing and get sharp pictures faster by single attempt. Pictures looks smooth and detailed but you need to add more contrast and shift up saturation slider in Lightroom to get acceptable coloration. In my personal opinion this is result of the difference between glass dispersion which is used for lens construction in compare with modern lenses.

YUPITER-9 2/85

Next guy is YUPITER-9 lens with focal length 85 mm and f-stop 2. This is a Soviet copy of Sonnar Zeiss Jena. Otical construction was developed in 1931. The problem with contrast and colours is the same as previous lens has. But these YUPITER has significant weak point: it can't be as sharp as original famous lens is. Geometry, smoothness of the picture looks nice but all pictures at 2,0 are not really sharp.

The problem is improved at aperture 5,6

On a picture below you can check out bokeh of the lens but you will not find sharp point on it.

Same story with focusing on inf:

But this lens has a very interesting side-effect of it not perfect quality. On aperture 2,0 high contrast objects has moire around. The picture looks like made on really old low quality photo set up. If you need to get this artistic effect you can easily do that with YUPITER-9. Two pictures below perfectly illustrated this feature of the lens. The first one was token at  aperture 2,0 and the second one (where this effect is disapeared) at 5,6. Oly these two pictures in this report has no correction and mentioned as is after converting from RAW.

You can see original colours and contrast of YUPITER-9.

Our common opinion about these Soviet lenses that it would have been great in the past for Soviet photographers which had limited access to really good optics for cameras. But now these lenses can't compete  with high class lenses by Carl Zeiss for example. At the same time some middle range autofocus lenses can be replaced with these ones if you don't care about manual focusing and correction in photo editors.
To confirm our conclusion I would like to show you few picture from this photo walk which we took with Carl Zeiss Distagon 2/35. I gues the difference will be obvious for all. Pictures  below were converted from RAW with slight shifting of Recovery slider in Lightroom.

Once again, you are welcomed to visit web page of my friend and read another story about these lenses on filmed Canon SLR EOS 3000n: Toys for boys: TAIR, YUPITER and CARL ZEISS

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