ZM-5A (Ze-em-five-a (looks like 3m-5a)), mirror-meniscus, telephoto zoom made in the USSR. Models ZM (Zerkalny Maksutov) is, to some extent, a continuation of the series MTO (Maksutova telephoto lens, or Meniscus telephoto lens) with minor modifications. Optical solutions are used in the ZM and MTO mirror-meniscus objectives D.D. Maksutova, Soviet scientist, optician. Many thanks for the lens provided for the review. Alexey Ganichev from the town of Kadnikov.

Lens for SLR cameras with M42 screw connection. This lens is installed on modern SLR and mirrorless cameras through the appropriate adapter. Read the article about adapters.



Review of the lens ZM-5A

The 3M-5A was positioned as a lens for professional astrophotography and photo hunting. Produced at KMZ and LZOS at different time intervals in history. This copy was made at the LZOS plant (Lytkarino) in 1983 (we believe the first two digits of the serial number, yes). Heavy, big, condo. A real Soviet TV set. For attachment to a tripod, connectors are provided for portrait and landscape "modes" of shooting. A quality mark can be seen on the lateral surface of the body.

ZM-5A and mirror-meniscus systems

Mirror-meniscus systems are actively used in telescopic construction. The system was invented by Maksutov back in 1941, and found wide application in optical engineering after the Second World War. More letters about comrade. Maksutov here... Based on his experience of the war years, the production of lenses began. MTO-500 and MTO-1000 (MTO-250 was also developed, but I did not find information about it on the internet), and then went into production 3M-3, ZM-4A, ZM-5A, ZM-5SA, ZM-6A, ZM -6B and ZM-7, as well as their enlightened versions (MS).

Technical characteristics of MS ZM-5A

Focal length - 500 mm.
Maximum diaphragm - 8,0.
Number of lenses / groups - 4/3.
Minimum Focus Distance - 4 m.
Aperture fixed, no aperture possible
Resolution center / edge  - 40/20 lines / mm.
Enlightenment - multilayer
Hood - built-in
Attachment for attachments - thread, diameter 77mm.
Optics mount - system of replaceable adapters "A" (m42 / A).
Actual weight - 1,2 kg.
Length - 152 mm.

Lenses similar to the ZM-5A

3M-3, ZM-4A, ZM-5A, ZM-5SA, ZM-6A, ZM-6B and ZM-7. MTO-500, MTO-1000

Lens diagram ZM-5A

Optical scheme of mirror-meniscus telephoto lenses and Maksutov telescopes:


MS ZM-5A in operation

The 3M-5A is a really large lens. You put it on a Canon carcass without a battery pack, and the camera looks tiny.

The body is metal, the hood is retractable, metal, with a threaded thread for light filters. The inner surface of the hood is matted, the lens hood covers the focusing ring (travel mode). Filter diameter - 77mm. The light filters in the delivery set occupied a special place - on the inner lid of the wardrobe trunk, screwing into each other.

To protect the front lens, a metal cap is screwed onto the lens. In the center, behind the front lens, is the same meniscus.


The focusing ring, which is, as it were, created for leisurely focusing, with its measured stroke affects the efficiency of focus control. For this reason, the ZM-5A is not suitable for dynamic shooting conditions. The minimum focusing distance is four meters. Infinity with flight, starts at a hundred meters. Thanks to the "flight", the lens can be easily mounted on a Nikon DSLR. “Fly” means that the lens has free travel beyond the infinity sign on the focusing ring.


The aperture at the lens is fixed at f / 8, in bad weather and with old digital SLR cameras, especially with hands, it is problematic to shoot.


Depth of field control

The movement of the focusing ring and the depth of field of the lens allows you to make correct shifts in one direction or another, without flying the focused object far. 500mm on a cropped camera is like almost 800 at the corners of the lake. It is realistic to make a close-up of a person / his parts and fragments at a distance of 200-300 meters. The depth of field is deep enough for leisurely shooting, but on cameras with a smaller viewfinder, LiveView is better. Better than LiveView - only interchangeable focusing screen for manual optics.


Due to the design feature lens, light sources, and indeed any glare in the out-of-focus area turn into "bagels".

Sharpness, detail

The lens is sharp enough even for modern multi-megapixel matrices. Together with the post-processing crop, the zoom turns out to be "ogogo!" The moon with ZM-5A turns out quite nicely.

ZM-5A photo of the moon

Detailed enough for handheld shooting. ISO 3200 and 1/800 seconds on Canon 1300D, focusing by LiveView zoomed in. With the K-1 converter, the lens acquires a doubling of the focal length to 1000mm and the same drop in the illumination level (diaphragm “Clamped” to f / 16).

Contrast, color, aberration

The lens has a peculiarity - it really does not like backlight, side light. Despite the presence of multi-coating in my copy, the frame is immediately and unconditionally illuminated. Often a lens hood does not help, but recomposing the frame does.

Magnification ZM-5A

Well, of course it is. Approximation. When I was asked what kind of zoom he had, I showed these photos:

Body and build quality ZM-5A

Build quality lens no complaints. The hood has a slight free play in the stowed state, however, there is no play in the photography position. The blackening of the case is of high quality.

Subtleties in working with ZM-5A

The average working ISO for shooting on a clear sunny day is 640. Sharpness is good, when sighting through the viewfinder of cropped cameras it is possible to miss with focus, but also to hit the target too. It is more realistic to hit than when shooting on Jupiter-37A, for example. The easiest way to shoot is in Aperture Priority (Av) mode, when the camera adjusts the required shutter speed based on the current aperture value and the light in the frame. Focal length lens and constant diaphragm involves using a tripod when shooting.

It is worth considering that due to the large diameter lens, for some cameras the lens may not work with the built-in flash.

Advantages of the ZM-5A 500/8 lens

  • ZM-5A and in general, a series of lenses MTO and ZM - most affordable telephoto lenses of all analogs in focal length. For the price, for the quality of the picture.
  • Bagels in hips create an additional artistic effect when shooting certain scenes with people in the frame.
  • ZM-5A fulfilled metal and glass, is not afraid of frost and shake.
  • ZM-5A can be used with Canon and Nikon cameras, with mirrorless cameras. The versatility here is acquired due to the realized power reserve of the focusing ring "for infinity".


Adapters for cameras and lenses

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4 comments to “MS ZM-5A 8/500 | review with examples of photos "
  1. Thanks a lot for the review. They showed the way to life for my ancient 3M-5FA 1973-74 release. I thought he had only coexistence with the film Zeniths, for which he was bought, but it turns out that he is still suitable for digitalization! Now there will be a headache, to which figure to tie it, if not to Canon.

  2. “In the center, behind the front lens, the same meniscus flaunts” - the front lens is the meniscus. And in the center is a reflective spot.

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