Update 2: This lens is currently disassembled whilst I try to correct some problems it had due to a poorly performed service before I owned it. In the meantime, a collection of my work shot on this lens can be found here. Once I’ve cleaned it, fixed the faults, polished it up and put it back together, I’ll be doing a completely new post reviewing it.
Update 1: Further thoughts and test images can be found here (used it to shoot one of my bearded dragons and an Australasian bustard) and here (butterflies to show off it’s semi-macro capabilities and Wolfang Peak to show that it’s useable as a landscapes lens).
Owing to the fact that since I got into photography a whole heap of friends and relatives have handed me old film gear that they no longer needed, and thus I have a few very nice M42 screw mount lenses, I decided it was high time that I actually started using them. Adapters to mount M42 lenses to EOS bodies are quite cheap, and M42 lenses themselves are generally quite affordable as well. So last week I purchased 2x M42 to EOS adapters, plus a set of 3 M42 lenses that came with an adapter and a Praktica TL-5B. The first order showed up, but they were the wrong items (Olympus OM lens to EOS body), but luckily the second order showed up and I’ve been able to play around with my lenses and the adapter that came with that.
Anyway, after I’ve had a bit of a play around with each of the M42 lenses on my EOS-60D, I’ll do up a bit of a post about what I think of the image quality and usability, etc. For now, this is my first thoughts on one of the lenses I ordered – a Carl Zeiss Jena DDR 135mm 1:3.5 MC S. I’ve done a bit of a reading, and this is apparently a very highly regarded 135mm lens, that’s held its own quite favourably in terms of image quality compared to newer lenses. So far, after a quick shoot in the front yard at ISO 1000 because of very heavy cloud cover, I’m certainly not disappointed.
All in all, I am very happy with this lens, although I do think it will need a service if I’m ever going to use it on an actual M42 mount, because the automatic aperture stop down doesn’t quite work correctly. That’s not a problem in Manual mode, so it works great on the EOS adapter. Usability, naturally is a little bit so-so. Being a mechanical aperture stop down, there’s no way for the camera to send the command to stop down, so if you’re shooting less than wide open, you need to focus with it wide open, and then manually step down by turning the aperture ring before pressing the shutter button. Alternatively, you can attempt to focus and compose with the lens already stopped down and deal with a (very) dark viewfinder. Also, obviously, manual focus can be a bit of a pain in the ass on a camera that’s designed primarily for auto focus. Modern focus screens have none of the split prism or other visual focussing aids that older manual focus cameras had, so things can be a bit challenging. You can get M42 adapters that have an EOS chip on them, that allows the AF confirmation system to work (half press the shutter button while you manually focus and the AF confirm light will flash once you’re focussed), however I’ve found that to be less than useful – when the focus light flashes the image doesn’t seem to be perfectly focussed. *shrugs*
I’ll do a more in depth review once I’ve had a bit more time to play with it, particularly in better lighting conditions. I’m also planning to give it a shot on my EOS-3 on film, so that should be interesting.