6. desember 2015

Jupiter-8 vs Jupiter-8 (vs Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm F2 ZM ) on a Leica M6

Three weeks ago, I decided to enter the Leica-field.
Since I have no interest in, or money for, the digital Leica's, I opted for the Leica M6 classic. The M6 has a battery-operated light-meter, but will continue to shoot without batteries.

I wanted the more vintage looking one in silver and black and coupled it with the impressive, and affordable Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm F2.0 ZM silver edition. This lens, compared to the (much) more expensive Leica lenses, is a real gem indeed.

My Leica is from 1996 and the planar lens is from 2006 (or newer, no idea how to interpret the serial, anyone??). Both were bought from eBay, from sellers in Japan. Both looks brand new (came in original boxes) and works wonderfully.

Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss planar F2.0 ZM

I got two Jupiter-8 50mm f2.0 lenses earlier this year as well, initially bought to play around with on my Zorki's.

However, they never really focused well on any of my Zorki-cameras, the reason for this is that they actually need to be adjusted for the camera they are supposed to be used on, Russian or otherwise.

Since I recently bought a Bessa R3M and right after that, a Leica M6, I decided that I would use my Jupiter-lenses on them, trough a M39 (screw mount) to M mount adapter.

M39 to M-mount adapter-ring.

Jupiter-8 lenses compared with Carl Zeiss planar f2.0 ZM

The difference between the Jupiter-8's and the modern planar is striking. The Jupiters are almost cute, since they are so small and compact, compared to the rather big planar lens. 

From left to right: Jupiter-8 silver, Jupiter-8 black, Carl Zeiss Planar F2 ZM

From left to right: Jupiter-8 silver, Jupiter-8 black, Carl Zeiss Planar F2 ZM
(Yes, I've polished the silver Jupiter, amazing what a little silver and metal polish can do to a rather scrappy looking lens body)

As one can observe, the Jupiter-8's are smaller in most aspects, compared to the Zeiss; They are a little shorter, and the barrel circumference are also smaller than the modern lens.

Anyway, after getting said adapter (not a Chinese one), bought fairly cheaply from eBay, I mounted the Jupiter-8 lenses on my Leica M6, to see how they fared there.

Leica M6 with Jupiter-8 silver

Leica M6 with Jupiter-8 black
 Sorry for the rather crappy shots in color, my iPhone is really starting to show it's age ^^

I used the silver lens as focus point for my black lens and vice versa, easier to distinguish what lens I shot with, after development of the film ^_^

- Click the photos to see larger versions

Silver Jupiter-8:

At f2.0, this lens showed significant "dreamy bokeh" at f2.0, as well as major back-focus, back-focus not really improved at F2.8, but the dreaminess is gone.

Black Jupiter-8:

At f2.0, this lens also showed significant "dreamy bokeh" (more than the older, silver lens), as well as back-focus to the same degree as the silver-version.

Carl Zeiss planar 50mm F2.0 ZM reference:

Superb lens IMO, usable at all apertures, sharp and nice controlled bokeh.

- Both Jupiter-8 lenses showed significant haze/dreamy Bokeh at f2.0.

- At f2.8, both Jupiter-8's are sharp, no more dreamy Bokeh, though both lenses were off (back-focusing) by around 10 cm on close-up minimum focusing distance (approximately 1 meter).

The Carl Zeiss is way better, but it is off course of a different design (Planar vs the Sonnar-design the Jupiters-8's have) and the Zeiss is also made 40 years after the black Jupiter-8. :)

Research and adjustment

There is a lot of information about various adjustments that can be done to the Jupiter-8 lenses (and other USSR-era lenses).

First you need to establish what kind of problem you have.
Both my lenses had back-focus at close up distances, infinity was ok.

Some lenses may be off in both ends, or fine up-close and bad at infinity, others may be adjusted to focus closer than 1 meter, others may simply be duds that cannot be corrected etc etc, all this affects what you need to read up on.

There is one name that keeps popping up when it comes to adjusting the Jupiter-lenses, and that is Brian Sweeney. This guy really knows his stuff, he has a lot of archived posts at Rangefinderforum and on Photo.net. Not sure if he is active on these forums these days, but I was able to find all the information I was after, by reading his helpful replies to people 10 years ago. ^^

Like this:

Trough google, one should be able to find a whole heap of information from this guy, he knows his stuff. He has explained what the problem with Jupiter and other lenses are, compared to Leica here:


There has been made a compilation of great 'Sweeney-information' here: http://aperturepriority.co.nz/2013/02/06/jupiter-3-f1-5-information-update/

Most of this concerns the Jupiter-3, however, much of it can be applied to Jupiter-8 as well.

Anyhow, my lenses needed "re-shimming", this means that one has to screw the lens apart and add more shims, so that the lens-elements are moved further away from the focus helical unit.

From Sweeny's notes, he mention that his experience was that most lenses needed one added shim, around 0.1mm to 0.15mm thick.
I don't have any shims, but I've also read that they often used paper-shims in the USSR.

So I made one shim out of paper, 0.1mm thick, measured after an already existing shim, located inside my lenses. This is fiddly, to be honest, so use an exacta-knife to trace out the new shims. (and be patient).

Some make shims from aluminum-foil, not sure how less fiddly that will be. :)

For actual disassembling of my lenses, I used this:

Basically, to open the lens, grab the aperture ring and the focus ring and twist until the units come loose from each other.

After screwing the lens apart, one should be able to see any shims already in place.
Use existing shims as blueprints for new ones (paper or aluminum-foil)
Snipped from http://www.pentax-manuals.com/repairs/j8service.pdf

After trying out my shim, take test-photos, develop and scan and inspect, I found that my silver-lens was still back-focusing. Actually, I had "halved" the focus error, more or less.

So I made another paper-shim, adding a total of 0.2mm to the distance between the lens unit and focus unit of the lens.

I then retried my setup, and wow....perfectly accurate focus! \o/

I made another two shims to my black Jupiter-8 as well, since the back-focus error on both lenses were exactly the same.

Post-correction note:

After performing a re-shim procedure, your aperture ring will no longer line up (naturally, as you no longer screw the lens as far in as before). 

To correct a misaligned focus-ring, you will need to loosen 3 microscopic screws on the aperture ring, done under a magnifier and using the smallest possible screwdriver you can get your hands on.

Most likely, if you forget to make new holes for the screws before screwing them in again, you will break the small screws when tightening, because they really cannot handle much of anything. I broke 3 of the 6 screws on my two lenses, but I did manage to get the aperture ring to stay.
Again, according to Sweeney:. "The best way to make tap holes is to use a hand drill with a triple-zero drill bit. The metal is fairly soft, it is aluminum. The idea is to make a hole for the end of the set screws to fit into"

Just be careful.

Regarding infinity focus or focusing at intermediate distance after re-shimming, Sweeney say that you can take advantage of the Sonnar-design's inherit focus-shift, as well as depth of field masking when you stop down your lens.

So basically, use f2-2.8 close up, 4f and smaller for longer distances and you should be fine across the range.

After adjustment:

Silver Jupiter-8:

Black Jupiter-8:


Practical results:

Leica M6 with Jupiter-8 silver, 1/30s @ f2.8
Fuji Acros 100 in HC-110B, 5 minutes
This particular shot has some flare from the flash behind the subject, made the shot really vintage looking :)

Leica M6 with Jupiter-8 black, 1/30s @ f2.8
Fuji Acros 100 in HC-110B, 5 minutes

Leica M6 with Carl Zeiss planar F2 ZM, 1/30s @ f2.8
Fuji Acros 100 in HC-110B, 5 minutes


I know the Leica purists may dislike the idea of using Jupiter lenses on a Leica M6. (some even have chronically OCD about using a quality lens as the Carl Zeiss on a Leica).

I say, who the hell cares?

The Jupiter lenses have their own character and yields shots that are completely different from the summi* lenses and whatnot. The Carl Zeiss planar yields sharpness and quality that rivals most Leica 50's, except for the $7 000 Leica APO-Summicron ASPH and the $3500 f1.5 Summilux ASPH.

2016-17-08 - Post-correction note 2: Collimation needed

Since my initial re-shimming, I used my lenses in various, practical settings and I discovered that although the lenses were prefect at 1 meter, they were increasingly front-focusing from 3-4 meters and up. So much in-fact that it bogged the hell out of me.

A permanent solution to this issue was necessary.

Again, Brian to the rescue;

In short; When you shim your Jupiter-lens, you make the focal-length longer. Some Jupiters are in the short range of the spectrum and a simple shimming may actually put the focal-length right at the Leica-standard. Most become too long and thus, you get an increasing amount of front-focusing, as well as loss of infinity-focus.

How to fix?

As Brian's page explains, you reduce the actual focal-length of the lens, by sanding down the optical fixture and re-adjusting the shims.

My procedure was like this:
* Put a small piece of masking-tape on the side of the bottom end of the optical fixture, so that it also covers the rear triplet.
* Use a sharp knife and cut the tape where the rear triplet meet the optical fixture.
* Screw out the rear triplet.

Why did I do this? Well, this is to gauge how much I have sanded down the rear part of the optical  fixture, I sand, clean and screw in the rear triplet, and check how much the tape on the rear triplet has moved, in relation to the part still stuck on the optical fixture, then I simply rinse and repeat.

* I started out by sanding down the optical-fixture, so that the rear triplet would screw in 1/2 round further than before.
* Then I did some checking (this is best done with a ground glass and a magnifier mounted in a camera) at a target at 1 meter.
* Then I adjusted (sanded) the original shim so focus was correct at 1 meter.
* Then I actually went to a fence outside and tested the focus on a sign on the fence, at various distances, with actual (bulk) film in the camera, developed and scanned, to see if the focus would slip over distance.

This is very tedious work though, but it's "safe" in the sense that you are unlikely to sand your way past the correct focal length.

Important experiences regarding collimation:
- Some Jupiters are simply too long; When you have sanded so far down that the rear triplet cannot come further in, you are basically stuck. If you have not been able to obtain good focus across the range by then, you have a "too-long" Jupiter.
Solution: If the lens is "not too far off" at 10 meters (30-40cm). Calibrate (the shim) to be perfect at 3-5 meters and stop down at further distances. (depending on your usage, one of my Jupiters was slightly too long and i calibrated it for 3 meters, since I use it for portraits, it's "ok" on most distances). If your lens is way off, you probably have a dud. Keep the lens, glass and parts in a box and use that lens as a parts-lens for other Jupiters.

- The sanding procedure will create dust, grit and metal filings that will pollute the glass in the optical fixture and the aperture blades.
Solution: I decided to sand down my lenses using wet sanding-paper. This prevents dust and the gunk can (for the most part) be cleaned out from the rear of the lens with a simple tissue, but make sure to check the rear class and the aperture-blades in the optical fixture as well, to see if there is any gunk there anyhow (it can also splatter).

If you have just purchased a Jupiter-lens, you will most likely need to clean and lubricate it, I made an entry, with pretty detailed descriptions, showing how to completely disassemble the helical for two different Jupiter-8 lenses, one simple-type and one complex-type (the latter is almost impossible to find instructions on, so it might be a good read).

DIY disassemble, clean and lubrication for two Jupiter-8 lenses:


3 kommentarer:

  1. I see many people getting into the Leica world but totally missed the main point. Leica is all about their amazing lenses. Why spend a bunch of money on a camera body and the go short on lenses or even using inferior ones. One does not a Leica camera for that. But by all means...

  2. I was aware that mentioning Leica in this entry could be controversial. :)

    But, the M6 isn't super expensive really. (anymore)

    You don't have to take my word for it, but do read up on the Carl Zeiss planar and you will see that the average opinion is that it's a superb lens and does indeed rival it's Leica counterparts.

    Even Ken Rockwell, normally a pretty biased and cynical guy, finds the optical quality of this lens to be excellent: http://www.kenrockwell.com/zeiss/zm/50mm-f2.htm

    Steve Huff had to take another look at this lens here:

    After reading reviews and discussions, I could find no reason what so ever to dish out for a *cron.

    As for Jupiter-lenses, I do know fully well the importance of good glass. But what happened to having some fun, while learning something new and end up with something with great character?

    Historically, sharpness and Bokeh has never played any role in the most iconic shots made with Leicas (or any other camera for that matter) anyway. But rather, the subject-matter, composition and/or historic value.

    But I digress, by all means, people may enjoy their Leica lenses and I will surely enjoy my CZ and the Jupiters ^^

  3. The point to a Leica- using some of the greatest lenses made over the past 85 years.

    The first lens that I used on the M Monochrom was a Jupiter-3. at F2.8, it out-resolved the sensor. I have 75 or so lenses in Leica mount, only 15 or so made by Leica.

    Well done job on adjusting the J-8's.