Archive for December, 2021

Russian Portraits…

How is that for click bait 😉 No, I do not have portraits of Russian models for you this month. But I do have a lens that may have been used to make portraits of Russian models say 50-60 years ago. This is the Jupiter 85/2 for Contax rangefinder cameras. This portrait length lens features a nearly circular 11 blade aperture that provides silly soft and round bokeh balls even stopped down a bit.

These older USSR made lenses typically fall short of the sharpness and contrast levels achieved by contemporaries from Leica or Zeiss, but they do make nice images none-the-less. In this amazing world of mirrorless bodies, adapters have become easy to find for lenses like this. I am using this lens on both my R5 full frame and my M6 Mk II in 1.6x crop.

If you have a body with IBIS these old lenses can be hand held a few stops slower than without, making them that more useful. This lens has a rather long minimum focus distance of roughly 4 feet. My Contax RF adapter doesn’t offer a close focus helical so I am stuck there. On the 1.6x crop the distance is fine. Even on the full frame it still works perfect for a waist up shot and decent for a head and shoulders shot.

This lens is fairly soft wide open and doesn’t get real sharp even stopped down. It is further crippled by the soft contrast which can make an image appear softer than it is. That said, the lens is ideal for portraits and the contrast can easily be punched up in post with nearly any editing software.

You can find these lenses at camera shows such as the PhotoFair or on Ebay for around $100-$200. There is a definitive ‘retro’ look and used with black and white you absolutely get that 1950s feel. Don’t be afraid to try these old lenses out. If you don’t like them you can get most of your money back by reselling it. These lenses are old enough that they are not depreciating anymore.

I made some portraits but no Russian models, sorry guys 😉 I didn’t even have American models, nope just animal models. But I made a few images of my dog and cat to test the lens out. I used some basic Lightroom raw adjustments highlight and shadow control along with the dehaze to pop the contrast a bit. These were handheld indoors at night so the IBIS had to work to keep things sharp-ish.

Overall I like the look of this lens. It definitely needs help on sharpness but for portraits of people especially those who are self conscious about the face, the lens is ideal. I just grabbed couple random shots of the animals, take a look at the photos below.

Muffin chillin on the bed. EOS R5 with Jupiter 85/2 @ f/2 ISO 1600 1/80 sec
Muffin the poser. EOS R5 with Jupiter 85/2 @ f/2 ISO 1600 1/100 sec
Muffin getting annoyed. EOS R5 with Jupiter 85/2 @ f/2 ISO 1600 1/100 sec

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