Another vintage Soviet lens to review, this time the Jupiter-8 F2 50mm with the Leica M/L39 screw mount. Seeing is believing, so check out the video which will give you more details and video samples.
The lens is a Soviet clone of the earlier Zeiss Sonnar 2/50 design without reaching the same level of excellent performance. However, the price at around 40$ is much lower than the Zeiss. It has a relatively simple design with 6 elements in 3 groups. The small flange distance of the original Leica M/L39 mount allows for neat, slim adapters on modern mirrorless cameras. The lens was mass produced for decades in the Soviet Union and is available in large numbers on the used market for a relatively low price of about 30-50$.
We have two cameras: an Olympus E-PL5 (m4/3) and a Fuji X-M1 (APS-C). Note that I do not have a digital full frame camera so corners will be cropped and we are looking mostly at center sharpness. The lens becomes a 75/100mm equivalent on these two cameras.
So what about resolution, contrast, colors and handling? Well, overall performance ranges between mediocre and good depending on the aperture setting and lighting conditions. Check out my flickr set with this lens for full resolution images. Take a closer look at the following sample images.
Image performance has quite some range and different copies will behave differently. Colors and contrast are somewhat washed out at F2 with a notable improvement towards F8. Bokeh is rendered in between calm and slightly busy depending on the lighting. Something to note: minimum focus distance is 1m or 3ft so not good enough for close-ups.
Ergonomics are acceptable with a slim and clickless aperture ring on top that can be turned unintentionally. My copy has a bit of loose tolerances and the rotation of the rings feels somewhat uneven. Soviet quality is not Zeiss quality.
So what are my conclusions? The main pros of this lens are its small size and slim adapters that allow for a truly small camera package unlike the M42 lenses and their huge adapters. Resolution is good enough for smaller internet sized images and FHD video. Interestingly enough, there is very little flare on this copy.
However, there are some important negatives as well. Soviet quality control was unreliable and the quality, including optical performance, ranges widely. This particular lens has somewhat washed out colors and is relatively soft at F2 and not perfectly sharp at F8 either. Overall, this lens has less image performance than most of my M42 lenses like my Asahi SMC Takumar 1.4/50 or Zeiss Jena Tessar 2/50.
Buying this lens is a quality lottery and sellers are more likely to get rid of bad copies, so I would advise to go either for a better M42 lens, or find enough coins for a high-quality Zeiss lens, or play the lottery long enough until you find a good copy.
Thanks for reading! You can check out more of this blog or my YouTube channel.