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Fast, sharp vintage glass

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Hey guys I'm new here.


I recently came upon a Helios 44-2 58mm prime lens and have been very impressed with it's unique character, image quality and sharpness even wide open, especially for the very reasonable price of £4 uk sterling, and it's de-clicked preset type aperture is ideal.


I'd like to complement it with a couple more vintage primes, one around 85mm and the other around 28mm.  I shoot a lot of HD DSLR professionally and often find myself in poorly lit, indoor "rock up and shoot" situations, so the priority for me is to have glass that is fast and stays relatively sharp when wide or close to wide open.

The flatter the better in terms of contrast and saturation and flare is a positive in my book.


I currently have a cheap cosina 28mm f2.8 which is average in every respect, and have nothing longer than the Helios other than slower zooms. I know fast and sharp generally means £££££££ and I cannot currently afford quality brand new primes.  I prefer older lenses anyway as I hate not having a manual aperture ring, so I was hoping you guys might have come across a few little vintage gems that might float my boat, preferably under the £150 mark.


I've seen some very nice images from the Jupiter-9 85mm, quite similar in character to the Helios, and they're right on the money, but most reviews suggest that they get very soft when opened up and I'm concerned that I wouldn't get good use out of it for this reason. 


Can anybody help me out in my quest for the holy grail in bargain vintage glass?


Cheers dudes.

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EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

use the following m42 vintage glass kit. Helios 44 58mm, MIR 35mm, Jupiter 9 85mm,  TAIR 135mm, with a Kowa anamorphic adapter up front. Lots of character but not exactly point and shoot.  havn't noticed any issues with softness, however I don't usually shoot totally wide open because of the anamorphic adapter.

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Hey Paulio.


You've definitely given me some food for thought.  


Which MIR 35 are you referring to as there seem to be 2 models knocking around on ebay, the 1B f2.8 and the 24N f2?  The 24's seem to go for considerably more money so I assume they are a better lens but as my bargain Helios proves, the most expensive isn't always the best.


I really like what I'm seeing from other people shooting with the Jupiter-9 so I'll probably invest in one anyway, it isn't too often where I need such a long focal length in the more unpredictable run and gun situations, tends to be wider stuff most of the time, especially as I'm often asked to shoot on a crop sensor.  With that in mind, can you suggest anything wider than a 35mm?  The Cosina 28mm is perfectly serviceable and pretty sharp at it's max aperture of 2.8 as are a lot of the cheap Japanese 28's of this era it seems, but I'd like something with a little more character.


Thanks for taking the time.

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I believe I have the MIR 24n, google for differences between  from 1b. I don't have anything wider than 35mm and never looked into it as I only shoot anamorphic and I would get vignetting below that. Maybe someone else can chime in on a good wide angle vintage lens with character.

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Thanks again Paulio, I'll look more closely at the MIRs.


As a potential longer candidate alongside the Jupiter-9 I'm reading some nice things about the Carl Zeiss Jena Biometar 80 mm f/ 2.8 with the pentacon six mount, I've never tried an adapted p6 mount lens, has anybody shot with one of these Ziess babys on a dslr? What were your thoughts?


Can anybody else offer suggestions on something wider than a 35?



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If you like the look of the Russain lenses, then stick to them as trying to mix & match footage between different lens makes will be a hassle.

But beware because buying Russain lenses can be a bit exasperating, since there are good copies & really bad ones out there.


Jupiter 9 is slightly soft/dreamy wide open, but stop down to f2.8 & it gets sharp (there are 2 different types as well - old version & newer version).

Mir 1b (37mm f2.8) - bit soft wide open but gets sharper as you stop down (there are loads of different version & some are better than others).

Mir 24 (35mm) - this is a multi-coated lens (so might be more difficult to match up with other single-coated ones) & the cheaper versions are the Nikon mount ones. Really nice lens.


There are wider lenses:

Mir 47 (20mm f2.5) - seen & heard good things about this one.

Mir 10a (28mm f3.5)

Mir 14a (24mm f3.5)


A good place to look & get advice for these lenses is:



Look in the forum section & do a search as there is so much info about old MF lenses (e.g. which versions are better than others etc...)

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Thanks for your input Bioskop. Inc. 


I love the Helios (just ordered a 44-m too) and am most certainly going to purchase a Jupiter-9 so your suggestion of sticking to single-coated Soviets makes sense. 


That MIR 47 certainly looks interesting, don't seem to be many knocking around though, I shall do some more research.  


Thanks for the forum link I will take a look around, but I asked the question here as I was looking specifically for advice from a video rather than stills perspective as what is desirable in a lens for one is not necessarily so for the other and lens forums tend to be sparse on input from people who use dslr's primarily for film making.


Anybody got anything info to offer on the Biometar, or any other vintage glass I might find useful, especially the wide stuff?



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The Mir 47 really does look interesting, but can only find pictures taken with it & no video.

However, in my experience if it takes nice pictures then the video will look good too.

I've bought loads of lenses that way & a prime example is the Helios 40-2 85mm f1.5 (big, heavy & pricey, but you can by brand new ones now).


The old Angenieux zooms produce a very good vintage look (for a premium) - they ain't that sharp, but their resolution is stunning!


I've just started to go the Nikon/Nikkor (ai-s) route & am wondering why i didn't take the plunge to begin with! They are the best wide-angle lenses i've used so far - v.little distortion compared to others.


People do recommend the Biometar (Andy Lee on this forum keeps banging on about it) & i've also seen some really nice stuff done with the Flektogon 50mm f4 (there is a 65mm f2.8, but rarely appears). 

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yes I will keep banging on about the Carl Zeiss 80mm f2.8 Biometar it is a stunning superb lens

very very sharp , great contrast too

mine is P6 mount made in 1963!! its 50 years old and is one of the sharpest lenses I have ever used

I use it on my GH2 and Canon with the appropiate adapter

Director Paul Anderson used this lens to shoot parts of THE MASTER on 65mm film - its that good!!


Mir 38 - 65mm is also very good -


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