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What M42 mount camera?

Discussion in 'Classic Models & Marques' started by chris_p, Mar 1, 2010.

  1. chris_p

    chris_p Member

    Hi all

    My first post here so, be gentle.

    I'm fortunate to have been given (in that usual "you're into photography - do you want this?" way) a Zeiss 50mm f/2.8 lens in M42 mount. For the past few months I've been toying with the idea of buying an Olympus OM to play around with but now I'm wondering about something with an M42 thread to it.

    I like the look of a Pentax Spotmatic but I've little (read as "no") experience with these cameras. Does anyone have any recommendations or tips on what to buy and what to avoid?
  2. zx9

    zx9 Well-Known Member

    Hi Chris, welcome to the forum.
    If you just want to play with the Zeiss 50mm f/2.8 (Tessar?) could you not get an adapter to fit it to your current DSLR. If you want to use it on a film body, I don't see the point in getting an Olympus and adapter, I would go for a Spotmatic over many of the other M42 mount SLRs. That said the standard lens supplied with most M42 mount SLRs would have at the time been rated far higher than the second(?)cheapest Praktica standard lens.
  3. Wheelu

    Wheelu Well-Known Member

    Welcome to the forum!

    Cosina made an M42 mount SLR in comparatively recent times, see here, but I would agree that it would hardly be worthwhile buying a camera for an old Zeiss Tessar (if that's what it is).

    Possibly the cheapest solution would to get hold of a Zenit SLR, but, in that instance, be sure that your lens does not have an auto iris pin that will jam into a screw head on the lens mount. Been there and done that :eek:

    An old Asahi Pentax would possibly be the nicest way to go, but you would really be wanting a 50mm f1.4 Takumar to complement that particular bit of kit.
  4. chris_p

    chris_p Member

    Thanks for the replies guys,

    I thought about an adaptor for my DSLR but it's not so much that I want to use the lens, more that I'd rather have a go with film. I've got a 35mm f/1.8 for my DSLR anyway so it's not going to add a huge amount.

    It is a Tessar and it does have an iris pin on the rear. I know it's not worth anything but quite fancied a play around more than anything!
  5. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    The Tessar is actually a decent enough lens reversed for close-up work.
  6. chris_p

    chris_p Member

    Hi Nick

    Actually, thats why I got it. I've got the Nikon 35mm f/1.8 which isn't great for reversed work as, being a G series lens, it's lacking a manual aperture ring.

    The only problem I found was that I got a diffuse bright patch in the photos I took with the reversed Tessar thanks (I think) to light bouncing off the iris blades. It changed size with the aperture (got smaller as I stopped down etc.) and doesn't appear at all if I use the Nikkor which has black coated blades.
  7. Wheelu

    Wheelu Well-Known Member

    A 50mm on a crop factor camera makes a good portrait lens - just a thought.

    If you want to try film and want to buy an old camera, I would recommend getting something that does not require electronics to work - pretty well unfixable and increasingly troublesome.

    All of the big names made decent cameras, but from my personal experience, the Pentax MX and the Olympus OM1 are both fun to use, being wonderfully small and with excellent view finders. They are both mechanical cameras, but have TTL meters that do require a battery. The OM1 uses a battery that is no longer available but there are fixes available. Further, the OM1 suffers from a slipping wind on problem - so put a film through before parting with your cash, although it can be fixed.

    Alternatively, possibly the best value old lenses are those that fit the previous generation of Canon cameras, as they cannot be used with a DSLR and hence are not much in demand, while old Pentax/Olympus/Nikon/Minolta glass remains very much sought after.
  8. chris_p

    chris_p Member

    I'd not really thought about the Canon FD mount. I'll have a look into that...

    I sort of got into photography with film but was really too young to put the effort in and learn. Digital gave me instant results (obviously) which meant I could see what was going on straight away but I sort of feel that I missed out on film and the more I look into it the more I like the idea (and challenge) of shooting film.
  9. FujiSigmaNolta

    FujiSigmaNolta Well-Known Member

    The Spotmatics are pretty much a symbol of the M42 in my opinion.
    But I have a Fujica ST605 and I stand by it, great little mechanical M42 camera with needle match metering. There's also the ST701 which has two synch sockets. But there's also the Chinon CE-3 for which you can still find some really neat accessories for it on Ebay. There's Praktica's too, there's one which I can't remember the model name now which has a removable finder. Then there's the Russians. Zenit have a reputation for durability, they might be ugly, but the lenses that usually come with them are pretty good too.

    I think the list of nice M42 cameras is too extense. Buy them all I say!! :D you would still probably have enough for film and nice lenses :D
  10. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    The VLC series. I've loads of Prakticas - I actually like them a lot - and quite a few Spotmatics, which are great. Another unsung hero is the Cosina CSR - it has spot and averaging metering, and you can get an attachment that gives it aperture priority autoexposure, which is fun.
  11. FujiSigmaNolta

    FujiSigmaNolta Well-Known Member

    Yes, the VLC, thanks Nick. I think Edixa also had one?
    The CSR also comes as the Sigma Mark I isn't it?
  12. surf_digby

    surf_digby Well-Known Member

    I too have a Fujica ST605, and it's a cracking, no-nonsense camera.
    Might be worth having a look around first and seeing what's available before you set yourself on a particular model and end up paying over the odds for it.
  13. Learning

    Learning Ethelred the Ill-Named

    I suppose that this lens was made by the East German branch of Zeis. A 50mm f2.8 is likely to be a 4 element in 3 group Tessar design. This design is brilliant for its simplicity and good performance (for its day). It is a modified Cooke triplet in which one element is replaced by a cemented doublet.
    The Spotmatic cameras, of which I have an example, were very well thought of in their day, but are notorious for having broken non-repairable meters. The SMC 50mm f1.4 Super Takumar would make a better partner.
    I would not spend much on a camera to use this lens but if you can pick up a body very cheaply (<£5) then it might be worth trying it for fun. A fully functional Spotmatic will cost a lot more than this.
  14. Kamepa

    Kamepa Well-Known Member

    The Praktica TL1000 and similar types are a really good mount for 42mm lenses and they are cheap and easy to find. The feature that makes them special for me is the depth of field preview/meter lever and adjacent front mounted shutter release. It is ergonomically brilliant but possibly more complicated design solution. I was using a Super-Takumar lens on my camera for some years.


    This is one I disposed of recently an MTL5B. They date from the 1980's and do not really have a classic feel to them like a Pentax has.

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