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-   -   Which is your favorite FSU "normal lens" and why? (http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=97967)

Thomas78 11-19-2010 01:50

Which is your favorite FSU "normal lens" and why?
Which FSU lens is your favorite 50-52 mm lens?
Why did you choose it and what are its (optical) benefits?

Welsh_Italian 11-19-2010 02:37

My favourite is the I-61 because the photos I produce with it always surprise me with their clarity and detail.

I have also used the J-3, I-50, Fed-50 collapsible.

sevo 11-19-2010 02:44


ebolton 11-19-2010 03:04

I have the I-61, the J-8, and a collapsible Fed-50. They're all pretty good optically. The I-61 is easiest to use.

Brian Sweeney 11-19-2010 03:09


I suspect the OP is asking about LTM lenses.

I also have a Helios-103 and Menopta 53/1.8. Those are in Contax Mount, but i have made a Helios-103 in LTM.

rbiemer 11-19-2010 03:55

I currently own and use one or two :rolleyes: ;
I have Industar 50 (both the rigid and collapsible), Industar 26, Industar 61L/d, and a Jupiter 8. I had a J-3 that, thanks to Brian, was set up correctly.
I like the J-8 the best of all: it is my primary 50mm. I enjoy several things about it, starting with the price I paid for it (something around 25 USD) and proceeding to the focus tab which lets me prefocus fairly close with out having to look at it. And I have come to like the lack of click stops; I don't have to decide whether to set just a bit too small or too large and aperture.
Add to the physical things about the lens that I like the fact that I have used this lens to take some of my favorite photographs and it has become a lens I will not lightly part with.
I know there are lots of better(in quite a few objective measures ) 50mms out there but I like this one!

MV72 11-19-2010 03:56

The Helios 103 and the Jupiter-8 are probably my favourites in terms of sharpness (one on a Kiev and the other on a Canon P). But the 26 and 61 are not bad either once relubed for convenience sake. I'll get an idea of how the I-50 can performs when I've finished the film left in my FED-2.

As I haven't run a side by side comparison shooting the same "target" with each 50mm lens I can't be more specific. I'll post some shots asap.

Maybe some of you lads have done that test. But mainly we know russian glass is very good for the money.


MV72 11-19-2010 04:03


januaryman 11-19-2010 05:43

I favor the Industar 61 l/d

Reason? results.

I do love the Helios 103 as well, but the Kiev 4AM I own? I just don't like it very much. Too much backwinding to ensure proper frame spacing.

paulfish4570 11-19-2010 05:53

I-61 because of the aperture click stops, tabbed I-26 because it looks so stinking cool, and is just about a match for the I-61 on images ...

jwnash1 11-19-2010 05:53

Helios-103 and J-3

20620004 by jwnash1, on Flickr

Taken with Helios-103 on Kiev 4AM

Mablo 11-19-2010 06:07

Jupiter-8 is a great lens but I always fumble with the click-less aperture so it's Industar-61 for me.

OlliL 11-19-2010 07:56

I like these threads.
Just bought a I-61 for 10€.

Brian Legge 11-19-2010 08:15

I may love the J3, but I haven't had the pleasure of shooting with one yet. ;)

I've used the I50, I50 collapsible, I10 collapsible, I64 LD and J8. I've had more keepers with the J8 than anything else. I do have a soft spot for the I50 collapsible though for its compact size.

I don't really have any complaints about any of these lenses, assuming they are in good condition. I have entirely too many of these lenses at the moment and need to sell a few once I decide if I'm going to keep anything beyond the two called out above.

gho 11-19-2010 13:11

Clearly the trusty J8. It is sharp, delivers nice contrast, has minimal distortion and is fast enough for low light work, not to speak of its compact size.

Brian Sweeney 11-19-2010 14:35

"not on the List", because of rarity, but a favorite.

1949 ZK Sonnar 5cm F1.5, wide-open, on the M8.

Brian Sweeney 11-19-2010 15:47

Hard to find a Helios-103 in LTM, much easier to use on a Contax/Kiev or Nikon.

The Menopta is a rebranded Helios-103, came out in the 90s.

Helios-103 on the Nikon RF:

Thomas78 11-20-2010 01:34

Thank you for all your replies!

The Helios seem to be a really nice lens, judging by the pictures.
Too bad ist seems to be hard to get with LTM...

Brian Sweeney 11-20-2010 05:27

I've found that the collapsible I-50 is virtually identical in performance to my post-war Coated Elmar.

Elmar Lang 11-20-2010 06:05


in my opinion, the best normal lens is the Jupiter-8, immediately followed by the Jupiter-3. the lack of the click-stop (on the J-3) is not a real problem.

I use both with my Kiev outfit.

Being honest, in the practical use, I don't even see significant differences between the Jupiter-3 and the CZJ Sonnar 50-1,5 "T" (my example should be from 1941/42).

Best wishes,

Elmar Lang

gb hill 11-20-2010 08:25

I like the Jupiter 3 50/1.5. When one is shimmed right for whatever camera, only much more expensive lenses can out preform it. MOF wide open it's better than most any Canon rf lenses & I have seen. Besides it looks awesome on my silver & black Bessa R. I have several russian lenses & one lens I wish to try more is the rigid 50/3.5. It'a a great portrait lens that I found out quite by accident.

wdeskiew 11-21-2010 02:04

My absolutely favourite is Helios-103. Sometimes I use Zorki-4 then I put the I-61 on it.

Wahoo 11-21-2010 12:43


Originally Posted by wdeskiew (Post 1474204)
My absolutely favourite is Helios-103.

Are these any good ? I've got about a dozen plus the one on a Kiev 5.

I shall just have to try a couple.

Here's a photo with a '66 I-61 panda from last year.

Brian Sweeney 11-21-2010 13:10

The only problem with the Helios-103 is that the aperture blades are shiny and can produce an off flare. I blackened the ones in my copies.

Wahoo 11-21-2010 13:18

Helios 103 - using a Sharpie

Originally Posted by Brian Sweeney (Post 1474604)
The only problem with the Helios-103 is that the aperture blades are shiny and can produce an off flare. I blackened the ones in my copies.

Yes Brian, I read your informative sticky post about three years ago using a Sharpie.

I would prefer to read the post again before attempting the 'operation'

I've seen some excellent photos on RF taken with the 103.:)

Sonny Boy Havidson 11-21-2010 14:04

I have owned a FED 50/3,5, colapsible Industars 22 and 50, a 1975 Jupiter 8 and a Leica Summar (not FSU). I prefer the Industars 50 and 22 for there great performance, flare resistance (especially when compared to the Juptier 8), contrast and collapsibility. As far as bokeh is concerned, the winner is the Jupiter 8 but - as previously said - it is really prone to flare even with a hood and its aluminium construction made it less durable. The Summar was a bokeh machine but not versatile enough.

My current

paw080 11-24-2010 22:20

Hi Guys, My favorite "Normal" lens is two lenses actually. So I don't know why
the query is restricted to 50-52mm sizes; My two all time favorite normal lenses
are the Helios 103 53mm-f1.8 on my Kiev and the Helios -44M 58mm F2 on my Zenit TTLs
and my Zenit 12xps. These lenses just make better images than my other
"Normal " FSU lenses. I have 2-3 examples of all the FSU lenses listed in the
poll. They also are very good performers.
Yes I know, the Zenits are SLRs...but that Helios - 44M is darned good...


tbarker13 11-26-2010 10:10

I only have one - a J-3, that was worked on by Brian. I use it for portraits - and just love the results.

Livesteamer 11-26-2010 17:38

I voted for the I 22 perhaps because I got a good one and my I 50 is not as nice. I love the small size of these lenses. More often I use a J 8 with a focusing tab. It has really clean glass and delivers wonderful images. I think it's from 1956 Joe

kievman 11-30-2010 00:02

Any of those lens can produce excellent results. I have every russian 50 except the j-3 and the I-26/22 and I really have a hard time deciding wihich is best. the Bokeh on the J-8 is fantastic and the helos-103 is so sharp. it really is hard to beat in that catagory. it reminds me of some zeiss glass I own. and it has great color rendition, plus its so cheap compared to German and Asian Glass. it really cant be beat!!!!!!!! Brian, great photos!!!!!!!!!!!!! Kievman

Thomas78 11-30-2010 05:44

Tim, that are really nice portraits!

Spider67 11-30-2010 11:04

Great portraits Tim!
I like the I 61 Panda

sweathog 12-01-2010 07:58

In my time I've owned a J8 and a J3.
The J8 was great, easy to use, great results.

However, I then got a J3 (quite possibly from Krosya). I guess I got lucky, but it worked a treat on my Bessa R. I really loved that lens. Why did I love it? Because it gave me shots like this:

Stephy by Tom Swanborough-Nilson, on Flickr

I'm actually currently looking for a J8 to go on my new Bessa. Unless I find a J3 at a bargain price. Currently it seems that it's cheaper for me to buy a Zorki with a J8 than a J8 on its own. Odd.

David Murphy 12-02-2010 15:03

Without a doubt it's the Industar 61, the sharpest 50mm class lens for the money I've ever seen. However it's quite often badly made and said to be radioactive, so my vote actually went to the Industar 22, an amazing bargain of a lens (if the condition is acceptable).

Thomas78 12-03-2010 06:13


Originally Posted by sweathog (Post 1481451)

Stephy by Tom Swanborough-Nilson, on Flickr


This picture shows a very nice atmosphere.

How did you do the lighting?

wolves3012 12-03-2010 12:24

I voted for Jupiter 8 and Industar 22. The J-8 I like very much but I prefer the I-22 when minimum bulk is needed and the light isn't poor. I'm also impressed by the I-61 and very impressed with the H-103. Actually, come to think of it, I have *no* bad FSU lenses!

julio1fer 12-03-2010 16:36

I have used Industar -50 (collapsible) and -61, Jupiter-8 and Helios-103. The Tessar-types I-61 and I-50 are sharp and pretty serious lenses. The Jupiter-8 has the best OOF, while the Helios-103 is, IMHO, the best overall lens - considering sharpness, contrast and OOF rendition.

I know, I should try the Jupiter-3!

The Helios-44 mentioned above is also an excellent normal lens, but it is for the evil SLR Zenit series.

Rhodes 12-06-2010 03:12

POssibly jupiter-8. But I also enjoy my I-26, quite sharp and loved how the photos come up. I sold it with my zorky-4. My jupiter 8 contax mount is going today with the kiev 4 and now I down to my trusty J-8 (ltm).

myM8yogi 12-06-2010 04:59

I agree with Greg.

My choice is a 1953 J-3 re-lubed and shimmied for Leica-M, then close-focus modified. This is a fantastic all-rounder regardless of the price.

It's fast. It's very lightweight. It looks like a cheap old lens, and nobody objects to having their photo taken with it. It's almost like they look at the age of the lens and subconciously understand that every facial blemish will not be recorded in exacting detail.

At 1.5 or f/2 it is just great for portraits and low light work. Not too sharp, but not soft either. Lots of "glow" in black and white. In good light I mostly shoot this lens at f/2 for depth of field reasons, but I really appreciate having an extra stop when I need it in low light.... which I frequently do.
By f/5.6 onwards it is a different lens - properly sharp and precise. I really value this for landscapes and detail shots. Because the character changes so much when stopping down, it's almost like having two lenses in one. I have never had a lens that changes it's character so much, and I find that I am considering this change of character for creative reasons just as much as depth of field. So it really is a lens that affects the way I visualise a scene. Hard to explain, and kind of weird for a "standard/boring" focal length, but it has wormed it's way into my brain for sure.

1) It can flare spectacularly on occassion. I am talking about a full-on curved rainbow streaking across the bottom of images. I use a vented hood, and I only see this effect in very bright backlit scences, but it sometimes gives such a strange ambience to a scence that I just have to bin the shot or .
2) I wish it had a focussing tab ..... any ideas Brian???
3) No apperture stops, and they work in the wrong direction for my VF exposure meter. Not a deal-breaker, but something I would put right if I were designing a new one.

This is my first 50 sonnar, and I am pretty much in love with what it offers for such a small size. If I ever have the misfortune to do anything horrible to it, I would very seriously consider the ZM 50 sonnar because i love what the J3 has given me, but would like the above three drawbacks addressed. But unless I actually break the J3 I simply cannot justify the cost of a new ZM given my extreme satissfaction with the J3.

After my experience with the J3 I really do consider the 50mm sonnar design in general to be the perfect walk-around standard lens for me on a 35mm rangefinder.

OlliL 12-07-2010 05:46

Industar 61 at f4

F1000004 von oliverleschke auf Flickr

I couldn't get lower, since the film was rated ASA400.
I like the OOF area of the lens and won't complain at 10.

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