Previously, I wrote about my desire to stick with one camera, one lens, one film, one year. I’m still there. I have kinda been thinking lately about the gargantuan size of the 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 . It’s had me looking on eBay for another Summicron to replace the one I stupidly sold. I gotta quit selling my cameras and lenses…
I have a pretty sizeable collection of vintage lenses, mostly m42, K., and FD mount, but not a lot of Leica M. Ok, I have one M-mount lens, and it’s a far cry from “made in Wetzlar, Germany.” I do have a handful of earlier Leica L39 (LTM) lenses. The last time I used them was on my Canon 7 rangefinder, and they weren’t focusing properly. I decided to try one out on the Leica, and opted for my NOS Jupiter 8 50mm f/2. I may be breaking my “one lens” rule, but in the spirit of it I’m still using the 50mm focal length, and both lenses have clickless apertures, and both are from communist countries. So, they’re kinda the same ?
As you can see above, the lens size difference means a lot. It’s hard to get a candid shot when you point HAL’s eyeball at somebody, but that tiny Jupiter is perfect. There is a bit of a caveat, and that’s the fact that it’s impossible to know if you have a good one until you blow a roll past it. So this afternoon, I did just that. I wanted to know if this little champ was more than just a shelf piece. I was pleasantly surprised.
It’s a nice lens. Not super sharp below f/8 , but not blanket-soft either. It has a decent contrast. I’m actually thinking some of the softness in the image above is from the Rodinal. It is a tad grainy. I have to admit I was skeptical because of my experience with it in my other camera.
f/8 seems to be the sweet spot for this lens, which kinda sucks for the Leica. That means I gotta shoot slower film or pull the faster films, and I don’t like pulling film. Maybe I can get an orange filter for it to knock it down a step. This is as close as it gets to anything (~ 1m) and it is really sharp.
It is definitely in its element as a portrait lens. I wish I had taken at least one portrait, but I was on a quick walk up the street and even around the yard just to get some focus testing done. I’ll possibly do some portrait work with it this weekend to see how it does with people faces.
Now for the less surprising aspect of this lens: It is just average at long focus. Anything more distant than 3 meters is going to just be acceptable but not super sharp. This could be me and my lazy focusing, or it could be the calibration of the Leica rangefinder, but I don’t think so. I zone-focused and still was off the mark and got softer images.
Still, nothing to complain about. The shot above was 5 meters away and it’s not too bad. I think maybe I’ll just make it an “f/8 and be there” lens for when I’m out casually doing street photography, but then kick things up a notch when doing close-up portraits.
The other odd thing is the focus throw. It’s around the world and back again. I almost sprained my wrist going from left to right. My other fifty mil is a short-throw lens.
Well, it was fun plinking around with another piece of Soviet hardware. The stuff is a mixed bag, but I have a fondness for it. That’s why I have a shelf full of “Made in USSR” cameras and lenses.