Zenitar-M 1.7 / 50 | review with examples of photos

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Focus and iris operation

Simple enough for modern cameras, and also not difficult for film cameras with a diaphragm pusher. It all comes down to the fact that you need to turn the aperture ring to the required value, aim at the object and press the shutter button. On-the-fly depth-of-field control does not have the adequate response required for, for example, video filming. Without a retainer, the ring becomes too light, and with a retainer (the same notorious ball), there is a significant effort, sound when switching, unnecessary shaking of the camera. We make a discount, after all, on the fact that the model lens was created for photography, and appeared in the series more than 40 years ago.

Aberrations, hips Zenitar-M

The coating of the front lens is yellow-orange, the lens has a built-in light filter from the factory. Gives some "film" to the picture. If you are a fighter for consistent color consistency, then this lens is not for you. Zenitar-M behaves very interesting when shooting high-contrast scenes. Comparing with Helios 44M, for example, it was found that the drop in contrast is not so critical, and the blue border in the transitions does not kill the image much. On the contrary, it looks quite natural for the technologies of the 70s. In practice, chromatic aberration is not detected at diaphragms of 2,8 and above.

Boke lens even. Not so much, of course, to completely blur the background into shades of its constituent colors, but it quite allows you to focus on the necessary elements of the composition of the picture. The depth of field is shallow, as befits a fix. Focusing through the viewfinder of a digital camera, without a focusing lens or LiveView, adds a film-like effect to the picture. I used LiveView in all scenes. The lens can also be set to hyperfocal distance to shoot from the belly without looking through the viewfinder. But, this is for special occasions. We don't pay attention to people, but we look at the blurring of the background:

Unfortunately, during the test exit from the comfort zone, the weather in the world was disgusting, and it was not possible to fully test the work lens with the same backlight and side light. When shooting in the studio, it turned out that the flash of a pulsed light source knocks out details on the face of the model. They, of course, are pulled out of RAW at times, but this only adds work, and does not get rid of it. It is worth keeping in mind a similar feature.

Due to the small number of aperture blades, at values ​​other than f / 1.7 and f / 2-2.8, nuts from light sources can be seen in the background.


Present. On a 1,6 crop (Canon) it is absolutely no hassle. On a full-frame camera, it disappears at f / 4 (blackout becomes even).

Sharpness, contrast, color

On an open aperture, Zenitar-M gives a soft picture. Sharpness is not ringing, but the software is not so hard to consider an open aperture as a recommendation “to use a lens at an open aperture for artistic techniques”. Quite a working diaphragm... Sharpness develops at f / 2 and peaks at f / 8. At the same time, Zenitar-M 1.7 / 50 has a sharpness in the center according to the TU USSR between Helios-44M-5 and Helios-44M-6.

The contrast is at a normal level, practically does not require editing during development. Drops when strong light hits the object. In general, as I understand it, shooting in reflected light with a pulsed source is a slightly specific requirement from this lens. The color is good, when developing RAW, the program does not go crazy, as, for example, with the same Helios. Zenitar-M MS has the best performance in working with re-reflected and parasitic light, due to improved enlightenment.

Advantages of Zenitar-M

  • Any serviceable Zenitar-M is now able to compete for picture quality with modern plastic autofocus competitors, both in price and in picture quality (in comparison with lensmi of the lower price range).
  • Lack of autofocus and electronic aperture It should not be embarrassing, because, for example, in portrait photography, electronics may not be used.
  • Relative cheapness Zenitar-M, gives a tangible advantage when choosing lens a novice amateur photographer. It is not difficult to find it, and unlike Helios, Zenitar-M 50 \ 1.7 has a smoother blur and a working aperture of 1,7.
  • Indestructible construction. The lens is not afraid of frost, temperature and humidity changes, drops. The metal case will not crack in case of an accidental impact, the absence of electronics will not let you down at the right time. It can be thrown in the forehead of the attacking villain, and then removed further.
  • Can be used with almost any digital camera, through the appropriate adapter. About adapters below.
  • A good choice novice portraitist. 50mm in full frame, and equivalent to 80mm in 1.6 crop.
  • Range indicator focusing and depth of field for calculating hyperfocal distance will allow you to shoot without looking through the viewfinder.
  • Built-in anti-theft. Optics are not sold very quickly, and similar optics can be sold for years. For a potential villain, this is "such a prey".

Using Zenitar-M 1.7 / 50 on modern cameras

Attention! A lens with 1.6 crop will have EGF (equivalent focal length) and the viewing angle is equal to 1.6x50 = 80 mm!

To work on digital cameras, you will need an adapter from the M42x1. The easiest way is to install Zenitar-M 50 \ 1.7 through an adapter on Canon EOS with bayonetohm EF and EF-s. Chipless adapters are inexpensive. Pay attention when buying an adapter for lens, are your adapters compatible for work with Zenitar-M 50 \ 1.7, do they have a flange for blocking the jumping mechanism of the diaphragm? Despite the presence of a switch on the body, the adapter with a flange will save you from unnecessary hassle when the diaphragm spontaneously switches to the “auto” mode.

By ordering things from the links below, you help the project cover the costs of site maintenance and development. List of adapters, systems and bayonets (direct links for ordering)

When ordering, it should be borne in mind that cheap adapters of poor quality with a lens on bayonetf Nikon F significantly spoil the picture. Adapters without a lens reduce the maximum focusing range (due to the difference in focal lengths). Adapters with chips come across poor quality, exposure metering and confirmation of focus on some models of cameras may suffer from this.

Alternatives Zenitar-M 1.7 / 50

The main probable use of Zenitar-M 50 \ 1.7 in photography is bust portraits. On cropped cameras like Canon EOS 1100D, EOS 60D, EOS 650D, EOS 1300D, EOS 300D, EOS 600D, etc. with bayonetOhm EF-s and a crop factor of 1,6 will have an equivalent focal length 50x1.6 = 80mm. For video shooting with changing the depth of field "on the fly", as already mentioned in the article, it is not quite suitable even after removing the aperture ring retainer.


Adapters for cameras and lenses

Sometimes I buy photographic equipment from the USSR and not only. You can offer your write me. Help the project: 5469 1200 1062 4624. Comments can be left without registration and SMS

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See comments

  • I don't think it makes sense to say this lens is “insestructable” when it actually needs constant repairs!

      • I use it on Panasonic GH2.
        My Japanese lenses have better build. Zenitar is better than cheap modern plastic lenses.
        The previous owner tried to fix something. I think it was cleaned inside, but I don't know why.
        Optical quality of the lens is very good. Lens hood is recommended if shooting in front of the sun or bright light.
        It is sharp at 1.7 and very sharp at f2. The bokeh is nice - straight, clean, not swirly, creamy.
        Contrast is not strong, but this is not a problem to fix on the computer.
        Colors good. Little bit cold/blue. But it's made in Russia so it should be a bit cold, yes? :)
        This lens is very good for flowers and perfect for portraits.

        • I have not tried it on a full frame camera, but on a Canon 7D crop it seemed to me a very good lens. However, in terms of price / quality, I prefer Helios 44M-4 and 44M-5 (6), I really like this biotar adaptation IRL

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