Tag Archives: vintage

Pentacon 135mm f/2.8 on A-Mount

Working with russian vintage lenses, broke me in on using vintage lenses on my Sony Alpha A99V camera. To my surprise was the quality of these old wonders amazing both in terms of sharpness and the way they treats light. Colors, Bokeh wow. Having seen the good light I wanted more, and I swapped myself to a Pentacon 135mm f/2.8. This lens is easy adaptable to the A-Mount while it has a M42 Mount.

When heading out on the vintage road, then the Pentacon 135mm 2.8 seems to be a good option. Let me start out with a word of warning, there is two editions of the lens, one cheap with 6 aperture blades and the original with 15 aperture blades,  the last one is widely more popular among hipsters 🙂 , and therefore much more expensive than the newer edition. The more expensive 15 aperture blade is also known as the “bokeh monster”. It is softer wide open than the cheaper 6 blade version. Both of them offers a really nice bokeh. Both editions is manufactured in East Germany and are copies of a Carl Zeiss Jena.  Optically they are identical, the lens i got is the cheaper version and it’s a very nice lens. It is reasonably sharp at f/2.8 but quickly getting sharper when stopped down.

The sharpness of the lens is undeniable, and comes over really clear. I usually use my Araucaria Araucana tree which stands proud in my garden. Light falls nicely in its sharp leafs. The colors stand very vibrant and well defined and look at separation qualities, this is what thrills me. The photo here is taken at a very overcast day, and the traditional bokeh bobbles isnt there.


Another flower I like to photo is a Peony which blossoms in my garden. Besides having very organic and interesting forms, then it has a deep red color. Usually with Minolta lenses the colors comes over too pinkish, but with this lens we are closer to the true color of the flower.


The bokeh of this lens is simply lovely, so round, simple and smooth. It makes bobbles almost without any effort from my side. To take this photo I placed a festoon hanging on my television (which also causes the strange double effect) the television and festoon is some 3 meters behind my subjects (the candles) and it bubbles so nicely, with a round and smooth bokeh. With intent is the bokeh not very busy, this gives the opportunity to enjoy how the forms is distributed over the image.


Moving the festoon in closer to my subject reveals why the 15 aperture blade edition is more sought after than the 6 blades. The form of the bokeh becomes a pentagon, and looses its smooth round form.


Here is another picture showing the difference in distortion over the photo.DSC00309

And another one showing how sharp and well defined the lens can be. Look how well 3 dimensional the result  becomes. Its simply outstanding.DSC00310

Here is a shoot from Rebild bakker, Denmark. taken late in the day, handheld at f/2.8, I adore the bokeh of this glass, it has a very smooth expression. Its ability to separate the background from the motive is perhaps what I love the most of this piece. It is almost like fern is photo shopped onto the background.


From Thorup, near Fjerritslev, North Jutland in Denmark. An historical trade village on the northern coast. Today its fishing which is carrying the activity on these shoorts, and to this day fishing boats is still being hauled directly up on the beach. Thorup Strand is one of Europe’s largest coastal landing places, with up to 20 fishing boats.


Not far from Thorup is cliffs of Bulbjerg. Facing Skagerrak this limestone cliff the breeding place of the black-legged kittiwake. It is a wonderful place to bring your camera. This photo is a construct of 3 pictures, as i was shooting 135mm.  Usually a more wide lens is recommended, or a really long to enjoy the bird, but as it turned out was the 135mm a really good match of the day.




Zodiak-8B on A-Mount

addling down on the same interesting stream usually leads to exciting new waters. Last week I posted a blog on my Tayir 33, a wonderful 300mm Russian lens, brought to renewed life on my Sony Alpha A99V. This week I am going wide, focusing on the Zodiak-8B, a 30mm lens which equals 16mm focal length in 35mm format.

The first glance at this beast tells you that we are dealing with an impressive piece of glass here, weighing in at 1kg of pure evil  glass and iron, and without doubt one of the best constructed lenses from the Arsenal factories.

Three lenses almost the same, but not quite

The Zodiak-8B, MC Arsat and the Carl Zeiss 30mm Distagon from Oberkochen for Hasselblad bears a remarkable resemblance, but they are very different from each others. I guess their use drives the outer design,  so it would be difficult for them to look very much apart. Comparing MC Arsat to Zodiak, then the biggest difference is to be found in the coating. Zodiak is single coated, where MC Arsat is multi coated. It seems clear that the MC Arsat in many respects, from the coating to the rear cap is an improved design. Comparing the diagrams between the Arsenal Zodiak/Arsat to the Carl Zeiss 30mm Distagon also shows a big difference in lens design, the Russians did not simply copy the West German Zeiss Design

Studying distortion and sharpness frame to frame, then it is clear to me that Carl Zeiss Distagon outperforms both Arsat and Zodiak on both parameters. The question does it outperform it sufficiently to justify the price difference as well? There is a huge difference in price between the Carl Zeiss (ranging from 2000-6000 usd) and the Arsat/Zodiak (200-400 usd). To me, I wouldn’t spend the extra cash to gain this small advantage.

Shallow DOF and beautiful Bokeh

One of the trees i love most in my garden is a Chilean tree an Araucaria araucana. The leaves are thick, tough, and scale-like, triangular, broad at the base, and with sharp edges and tips. My wife might think I adore the tree, but in reality they are great for testing lenses.  This shot was late in the day, overcast, and really close up with shallow DOF. the Bokeh formes nicely and with round textures.




Very few objects is so captivating as a deflowered dandelion awaiting it seeds to be carried away by wind. I took this photo quite close, backlit and handheld with the intention to see how well the lens would handle flairs. You can see bubbles forming to the right, I was surprised I didn’t get more of them, given the reflecting light.



It is clearly impossible to attach filters to the front of a fish-eye lens without cutting off the edges of the frame.  The genius of this lens is that the filters is situated within/behind the lens.  I would have loved if Samyang had shown same ingenuity with their 14mm. The lens comes with 4 light filters: blue, orange, green-yellow and the fourth neutral (protective, already mounted on the lens); front and rear cap; protective leather case.


Colors and detail

I love this lens ability to go close. Combined with its sharpness and amazing colours is this really a fun lens to work with.


The quality of the lens is also remarkable, I was surprised to see how sharp it was at all stops


300mm f4.5 Tayir-33 lens on A-Mount

The huge price difference between Zeiss lenses and Kiev, Arsenal and other Russian made lenses makes the russian lenses to be an appealing alternative to expensive Zeiss lenses. The downside of Russian lenses is often their quality control. Optically is Russian lenses often fantastically superb, but then they can also be very bad if you get a bad edition.

Tayir-33 is a medium format lens for cameras the hasselblad 1000f/1600f screw mount. You can find other versions for Pentacon Six (usually with a B in their name) or V for Salyut. This blog post is about using this lens on A-Mount Cameras using the adapter I described in my last blog entry. a 300mm Medium format lens on a A-Mount is for practical measurements around 180mm on A-Mount.


I am not going to dive into comparing the lenses head to head, to prove my argument, but simply show you my love for his glass through some snaps ive taken. The absence of colour fringing from the TAIR at all apertures is very impressive. Where other lenses might show problems with fringing when shooting totally open, then the Tair has no restrictions.

The Tayir is not expensive, you will be able to find it at NatCam for 140$, it’s a bargain that yields hours of good photography.


Wow yes, we are talking a beast of a lens. Metal outside, glass within, and the weight confirms that with its 1875 g. I love the zebra design of this lens, and it does look well on the A99V body.


IMG_0472 (1).JPG

Adapt to Vintage Glass

As you may have realized from my previous blog posts am i a huge fan of old vintage lenses. This love has grown so strong that I decided to completely switch from Sony A-Mount to Sony E-Mount. I sold my A77II, which I enjoyed for the past 2 years. But after I bought the A6000, the 77II found its place in my cupboard.

The reason for this step from A to E is the way shorter flange focal distance of an E-Mount Camera. The flange focal distance describes the distance between the last (rear) glass element of the lens and the sensor or film of the camera. As you can see in

the picture the flange focal distance of a conventional A-Mount (or any other camera with a mirror or translucent mirror) is way longer. The mirror and the flipping mechanism need space.


Flange focal distance

In this list, you can see the flange focal distance of several mounts (Full list can be found here). I personally use Minolta MD, Minolta A, M42 and Exakta EXA on my Sony Alpha 6000. If you want to adapt old or just different lens mounts to your camera without any effect to the infinity focus or the quality its important to always keep an eye on the flange focal distances. If the distance of the lens you want to  adapt is at least 1mm longer than the one you need on your camera you may be able to find an adapter in the WWW.

Sony E-Mount / Sony NEX 18 mm
Sony A-Mount / Minolta A-Mount 44,5 mm
M42 x 1 45,46 mm
Exakta EXA 44,7 mm
Minolta MD / MC / SR 43,5 mm
Pentax Q-Mount 9,2 mm

Some examples:

“I want to adapt a M42 lens to my Sony E-Mount Camera” à No problem. Look for an M42 to E-Mount adapter. Have fun.

“I want to adapt a M42 lens to my Sony A-Mount Camera” à Maybe a little problem. There are really thin adapters to buy. Make sure to buy a “good” one that has the exact measurements. Otherwise when it’s a little bit too thick or too thin you lose your infinity focus.

“I want to adapt an Exakta EXA lens to my Sony A-Mount Camrea” à There is no way to adapt the EXA Lens to A-Mount without either losing infinity focus or dealing with an extra lens inside the adapter. It’s possible but you either lose quality and light or the infinity focus.

“I want to adapt an Exakta EXA lens to my Sony E-Mount Camera” à No problem. Look for an EXA to E-Mount adapter. Have fun.

“I want to adapt a Pentax Q-Mount lens to my Sony E-Mount Camera” à There is no way to adapt the Q-Mount Lens to A-Mount without either losing infinity focus or dealing with an extra lens inside the adapter. It’s possible but you either lose quality and light or the infinity focus.

As you can see in the examples it’s always possible to adapt a lens. The only thing you might lose is quality and light or infinity focus. There are even some “smart adapters” which you can use to use autofocus lenses (Nikon, Canon) on your Sony E-Mount Camera. (Need to be the newer models to deal with the autofocus).

Photo examples

Meyer Optik Görlitz Primoplan 58mm f1,9

  • Camera : Sony Alpha 6000
  • Adapter : EXA to E-Adapter


Minolta AF 50mm f1,4

  • Camera : Sony Alpha 6000
  • Adapter : Sony LA-EA4 Adapter


Minolta MD 50mm f1,4

  • Camera : Sony Alpha 6000
  • Adapter : MD to E Mount Adapter


Adapt schema


I hope you enjoyed this post

I hope you enjoyed this little post like I did writing it. If you want me to review a special lens out of my portfolio of vintage lenses please comment here.

Kind regards,


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