Super Takumar 135/3.5 
Sunday, May 31, 2009, 11:10 PM - Lenses
I had the opportunity to try a 135mm f/3.5 Super Takumar lens.

I have been surprised by the smooth handling of its focus ring, which is really pleasing to use. Even if it is only a Super Takumar and not an SMC Takumar, I did not had any flare issue (but I was using it with its dedicated lens hood).
Wide open, it is sightly soft on a 14Mp APS-C camera, but once stopped down by one step it is as sharp as what is allowed by this sensor.

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A few Rubinar 500/8 shots 
Tuesday, April 28, 2009, 08:30 PM - Lenses
This is a 500mm F/8 russian mirror lens (m42 mount) of Maksutov (not Matsukov, as I first spelled it) design, manufactured by LZOS.

Significantly more compact than a traditional 500mm lens, it is reasonably hand-holdable if there is enough light. While it is f/8, its actual transmission factor is about T/10, as the central mirror obstructs some of the light.

With such a focal length, you can shoot objects which are significantly far away...

... or isolate "details":

While it is advertised to be a macro lens, in reality it allows close-ups, but not more:

(this is an high-key shot, so if your screen is not properly calibrated, you might not see anything on this picture)

With this long focal length, you can shoot architecture with nearly no perspective distortion:

As it has no diaphragm, this might get a bit tricky if you are directly shooting against light. This picture is shot at 1/4000s, and it was quite close to have clipping on highlights:

This is likely why it is provided with a neutral density front filter.

The central obstruction makes the bokeh to look like doughnuts (torus):

With a bit of practice, you can actually use this feature to enhance your shots:

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Soligor / Vivitar 21/3.8 in T4 mount 
Friday, March 20, 2009, 04:41 PM - Lenses
This is an old T4 mount lens manufactured by Tokina, and released in 1977. This sample is branded as Soligor, but it was also released under the Vivitar brand.

The Soligor version on camera, next to the Vivitar version.

Using 72mm front filters, it is a mid sized lens, not too big, but not really small either. Weight is very reasonable, at 380g (including the T4 to M42 adapter).

T4 adapters are available for various mounts, so I am using this lens with a T4 to M42 adapter, and then an M42 adapter for my camera.

First, some bokeh samples, wide open:

Those are not that bad, but not that good neither. As with most wide lenses, bokeh is slightly harsh. Moreover, the maximum aperture of only f/3.8 doesn't really help in creating a narrow depth of field.

The minimal focus distance is a bit less than 30cm, which helps in creating some interesting pictures:

Distortion seems relatively low (on this pic I was not totally parallel to the building):

As it is a wide 21mm lens, by f/8 the depth of field is huge:

For an old lens, it is relatively flare resistant (but less than the SMC Takumar 17/4), even if it is significantly less resistant than modern lenses:

You can play a bit with its moderate flare:

Still, you will sometimes have some unwanted reflections, like those building lights that are reflected into the left sky part of the picture:

Sometimes with wide lenses you would like to be able to shift them in order to correct perspective:

Still, being able to shoot wide is handy:

Focus ring is smooth, but at about -5C it will start to be significantly stiffer, making the lens harder to use (especially if you are wearing gloves).
Sharpness is reasonable, but not exceptional: while it was fine by f/8 on my 6 megapixels KM5D, on the 14 megapixels K20D corners are noticeably softer than the center if you pixel-peep. You then have to close down aperture to f/11 in order to improve this behavior. On a 14 megapixels camera, diffraction will make you loose a bit of resolution by f/11, but then the overall result is more even across the whole frame. I think that it is adequate for printing 30x45 cm, but probably not much bigger.

(all tests done on APS-C cameras)
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1970-1971 catalogs of Russian lenses 
Wednesday, April 30, 2008, 02:50 PM - Lenses
Here are some old catalogs of Russian lenses, from 1970 and 1971. They are quite big, extensive (but of course are missing the lenses developped after 1971), and best of all, they include lenses diagrams. If you are interested into this kind of lenses, those will be quite usefull.

Table of content
1970 edition
1971 edition

Those catalogs were originally posted on the website.

note: each one is more than 400 scanned pages, so they are a bit on the heavy side.
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