A subjective look at Jupiter-11 4/135 M39 @ Fujifilm X-Pro1

Jupiter-11 is a fast full-frame manual focus telephoto prime lens which belongs to Soviet Jupiter family of lenses. It was produced since 1940s at KMZ (Krasnogorskiy Mechanicheskiy Zavod) and exists in variations for the rangefinder cameras Kiev and Zorki and also with M39x1 thread mount for the SLR cameras. The lens has preset aperture in its SLR variation. The lens was also produced by KOMZ (Kazan Optical and Mechanical Plant) as Jupiter-11A with adapter ring variation and by Arsenal Plant as Jupiter-11 avtomat with bayonet mount for the Kiev-10 and Kiev-15 cameras.

The reviewed copy of Jupiter-11 is the SLR variation with M39 thread mount and interchangeable M39 — M42 adapter ring, was manufactured at 1967 at KOMZ as indicated by the special symbol on the housing near the front element. The maximum aperture of the lens is F/4 and the focal length is 135 mm but the real focal length according to manufacturer’s manual is 133.12 mm. For this review the lens was used with the Fujifilm X-Pro1 camera with a crop factor of 1.53 and the effective focal length of the lens «became» 204 mm (full-frame equivalent). The lens was used via M42 — Fuji X adapter without chip. There was no focus confirmation, but the metering was performed by the camera automatically in the stop-down mode. Theoretically all you have to do is just to select the desired aperture and rotate the manual focus ring until you have your subject sharp in the EVF or LCD in Live View mode.

Jupiter-11
Jupiter-11

The lens looks pretty long being mounted on Fujifilm X-Pro1 and the M42 – Fuji X adapter adds extra 30 mm. Moreover the silver housing of the lens clearly stands out so please don’t expect that you’ll be unnoticed walking around the city with such kit.

Fujifilm X-Pro1 + Jupiter-11

Build Quality and Characteristics

Overall the build quality is excellent. The silver housing is narrow, is made I guess from anodized aluminium and the mount is made of brass. The length of the lens is 83 mm when it’s focused at the infinity and not including the caps.

Jupiter-11
Jupiter-11

The manual focusing ring is located in the central part of the housing, it’s ribby part has width of 13 mm. The ring is well damped but rotates with excessive and variable resistance. The condition of various control elements of the lens depends on the year of manufacture and the level of preservation of a particular lens. There is a distance scale and a depth of field scale of course. The front element is pushed forward by 17 mm when focusing on the minimum distance of 1.40 m. The angle of rotation of the ring is almost 360 degrees and is more than sufficient to provide very accurate focusing. Such impressive angle of the rotation however has a side effect — the infinity and 1.4 marks on the distance scale are located so close that sometimes you don’t have any idea where the ring needs to be rotated to.

Jupiter-11
Jupiter-11

The preset aperture ring has width of only 4.5 mm, located at the front part of the housing, has the following marks from above: 4 – 5.6 – 8 – 11 – 16 — 22. Interestingly the intervals between the marks are different: the largest interval between 4 and 5.6 and the smallest between 16 and 22. Anyway the intervals are bigger than those of Jupiter-9 which has very dense marked 5.6 — 16 aperture values and a comparably large font of the scale. The narrow aperture ring is located below the preset aperture ring. It rotates smoothly and steplessly between F/4 and the pre-set aperture. You have to wide open the aperture in order to select a bigger pre-set aperture. The situation becomes complicates due to the fact that you can sometimes forget to close the aperture by the corresponding ring and take the photo for example at F/4 instead of F/16. For me personally such method of closing of the aperture is inconvenient because it is not possible to control the aperture simply and efficiently by performing a minimum of actions. On the other hand when used with modern digital cameras with Live View feature and/or EVF such method of aperture control has its advantages — the photographer can effectively choose the desired depth of field.

Jupiter-11

Ergonomically the lens looks good — the intervals between control rings are big enough and the manual focusing ring is ribby.

The lens has iris type aperture with 12 blades.

The diameter of the filter thread is 40.5 мм — a common size nowdays. The filter thread does not rotate when focusing, making it easy to use polarizing and gradient filters. No filters were used during shooting for this review.

Optically the lens consists only of 4 elements in 3 groups and is based on Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar 135mm F/4 for the rangefinder cameras. The lens has magenta optical coating so the images taken with this lens usually have a slight magenta cast which could be easily removed during the post-processing.


Optical Results

The lens is pretty sharp wide open in the center of the frame. With further closing of the aperture the sharpness increases of course. The overall contrast could be better but given that the optical design of the lens is very old and the coatings are not the best in the world by today’s standards the reduced overall contrast is forgivable.

Vignetting is not noticeable with APS-C sensor, the same goes to distortion and lateral chromatic aberration.

The quality of bokeh is very good. The background blur is very soft and creamy. The degree of blurring, however, also depends on the distance between the front element of the lens and the subject, the distance between the subject and the background. The out-of-focus highlights are round at any aperture.

Despite the fact that Jupiter-11 is fully manual focus lens with a complex system of aperture control the reportage shooting is quite possible.


Summary

The Jupiter-11 makes a good impression and ergonomically doesn’t leave much to be desired — the control ring are comfortably arranged on the housing and allow shooting by feel and touch. The sharpness is good already wide open. Despite the fact that Jupiter-11 is not a fast lens the narrow depth of field at F/4-5.6 is possible. The background blur is soft and creamy and the out-of-focus highlights are circular at any aperture. I can easily recommend this lens to everyone who need a budget telephoto lens suitable for portrait shooting.

Author of the review and photos: Evgeny Artemov, eugene.artemov@mail.ru

Comments:

Andrea Carnevali - 15.01.2016 в 02:56

The author says «the filter thread does not rotate when focusing» but in my Jupiter 135-11 DOES rotate (40.5 mm filter, M39 mount, built from KOMZ).

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