Buying a new 85mm lens and body, any recommandations?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras' started by illicium7, Dec 4, 2005.

  1. illicium7

    illicium7 Guest

    Hi all,

    I have been using 85/2 Jupiter 9 with a Spomatic body for a while and I
    liked very much the results I have been getting. However as you might
    all know, the Jupiter 9 is a preset lens and it is very slow and
    cumbersome to use and the spotmatic hasn't got the brightest finder out
    there. So I have been shopping around for a new combination of 85mm
    lens and mechanical body to enable me to work a little faster.

    Now I am quite a picky person with not a lot of money so I have to be
    very careful on what I buy, I made up a checklist of what I liked of my
    current setup and what I hope I can get with the money I will invested
    in a new setup.

    85/2 Jupiter 9
    f2 - I shoot mostly indoors and at maximum aperture
    nice optical quality, I am very happy with the photos I have been
    getting with this lens.
    preset lens - shooting at anything other than max aperture is very
    lousy mechanical quality - mechanically doesn't feel anywhere as nice
    as my takumar lenses.

    Spotmatic body
    Mechanical body - well understood and intuitive workflow. I work with
    mechanical devices at work and I have developed a certain "sensitivity"
    to mechanical things.
    Microprism finder - very handy especially when I want to focus on the
    eyes of my subject, split prism might not give me this ability.
    Dim finder - impossible to use in difficult lighting condition
    Reliability - The spotmatic is a good camera adn have give many years ,
    unfortunately my speciment are showing its age I have completly lost
    confidence in its reliability, I have also dropped it a few times and I
    think it is a little out of adjustment.

    Now I have saved money for a while and I can afford a new setup so I am
    looking for something that can let me work a little quicker. Hopefully
    I wil be able to:

    - Use a faster lens. - I wish I can afford f1.4 (I loved the conditions
    that my takumar 50/1.4 had allowed me to do) but f2 will do also, maybe
    a 85/1.4 will be too heavy.
    - Shoot practically at other apertures - Maybe I can afford some lights
    and a tripod later and can shoot at apertures other than f2
    - Work faster and improved workflow - Nice mechanical quality of the
    lens will be nice, I can work very fast with the excellent Takumars.
    Also a body I can use with confidence will also help me work faster.
    - Brighter finder - would make shooting a lot nicer.

    A friend had suggested a Canon F-1 with an FD 85mm, that would be the
    expensive and save option but I think it might be worth it.

    I was also tempted to get a Kiev 4a with another Jupiter 9, but I have
    not work much with rangefinders and I don't know how that would impact
    my style but I am quite tempted to experiment.

    So my question to all you experts out there.

    Can you recommand any other 85mm / camera combination that is nice to
    work with?
    Shall I experiment with the rangefinder? I have only money to afford
    Have anyone got experiances of moving from SLR to rangefinder, how did
    it impact your style? I would really like to hear about it.

    Many Thanks!
    illicium7, Dec 4, 2005
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  2. Rangefinder or SLR: Good question, especially if you can't afford both.

    Against rangefinder (as an only system) is its limitattions in telephoto
    (over 135mm) and macro.

    If rangefinder fits your needs, the Russian Leica screw mount cameras
    (Kiev 3, Kiev 4 & Leningrad) will give you back your Jupiter 9 and some
    other quite decent lenses (including the Cosina/Voigtländers - more
    below). The various Voigtländers rangefinders (=Cosina) can be
    satisfactory, and their lenses are quite good.

    My own reccomendation is: Aim for the top!
    At least in Europe, you can get a Leicaflex SL + Summicron 90mm f/2.0 or
    the Rolleiflex SL-35E (or some Yashica/Contax body) + Zeiss Planar 85mm
    f/1.4 relatively cheaply.

    My own choices:
    Standard SLR system is Rolleiflex (with some exceptional Zeiss lenses).
    Leicaflex SL for telephoto & Macro (because of its exceptional focussing
    Leica M6 (rangefinder), because of the rangefinder advantages (but not
    Lenigrad (Soviet leica M ranefinder clone with spring motor-drive); uses
    M39 lenses and has its charm...
    Chris Loffredo, Dec 4, 2005
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  3. illicium7

    Guest Guest

    There are several Spotamatics out there and many have brighter
    viewfinders than I assume yours has. Mine is an early model SP but the
    viewfinder is very bright, brighter than my two EOS bodies. I use it all
    the time for indoor concert work on dark stages. I have been told it was
    an option or was modified. Check the yahoo spotmatic group for listings
    of people who do this work. Also with the availability of Spotmatics it
    should be easy to pick up another in good condition for cheap with a
    better viewfinder. If not that I second the Leica SL recommendation.
    Guest, Dec 4, 2005
  4. illicium7

    Paul Furman Guest

    Paul Furman, Dec 4, 2005
  5. illicium7

    MXP Guest

    Nikon F3 is low in price now and the AI/AIS 85/1.8 is a very fine lens. Even
    wide open it is good.
    The F3 needs 2 x SR44 batteries to operate. Else it handles as a manual
    You can get different focus screens for it. The standard one has split image
    micro prism. You can get one with only micro prism. The F2 is pure manuel
    could be an option. But the F3 is a bit more ergonomical
    I have both cameras and they are very nice. The F3 has the possibility for
    priority. Seems you could make use of this.

    MXP, Dec 4, 2005
  6. 1) An Olympus OM1 or 2 with 85mm f2.0 would be a great compact combination-
    it's the only setup Jane Bown shoots with and she gets unbelievable results.
    A Nikon F3 with 85/2.0 would give a brighter finder, and give access to a
    wider range of lenses, but the body is a great deal bigger. The other,
    smaller manual Nikon bodies would work well too, but I prefer the F3 finder
    to that of my FM3a. The Nikon 85mm f1.4 is a killer lens, and manual
    versions are available relatively cheaply for the moment (the new Nikon
    midrange digital body is compatible with manual lenses, so that may change
    soon). A Contax with 85mm f1.4 AE would be a great kit too- the problem with
    the f1.4 lenses is the incredible size...

    2) I can't think of a reasonably priced RF system that has a fast 85mm these
    days. Leica and Voigtlander all have slow 90s that are (mostly) low-price,
    but Zeiss Ikon's 85mm is expensive. Contax had a 90mm f2.8 but I can't
    recommend the camera.

    3) For a while I was convinced I wanted a Leica M... until I actually
    photographed with one. With an SLR I use the whole frame to focus and
    compose, I can't get used to using just the RF patch to focus. It slowed me
    down, and the last thing I wanted was to be slowed down. Slowing down is
    what larger formats are for.

    Martin Francis, Dec 4, 2005
  7. illicium7

    Bandicoot Guest

    liked very much the results I have been getting.
    shopping around for a new combination of 85mm
    liked of my current setup and what I hope I can

    Spotmatics don't generally have dark viewfinders, so I'd go and look at
    another one and see if it is a lot better than your current one. If so,
    that might be the cheapest option for a replacement body, since you said you
    liked your SP.

    If you go that route, then you could get a Pentax 85mm to go with it. The
    Takumar 85mm f1.9 (scarce, big, but optically good) and Takumar,
    Super-Takumar, and Super-Multicoated-Takumar 85mm f1.8 (less scarce, and
    possibly better, but may cost a bit more) are all very nice lenses - you'll
    notice the difference compared to your Jupiter, even though that is a 'quite
    nice' lens itself.

    Alternatively you could look at Pentax bayonet mount bodies. This would let
    you continue to use any M42 lenses you already have via an adapter (though
    only in stop down mode.) The bayonet mount versions of the pentax 85mm f1.8
    are a lovely lens. The Pentax 85mm f1.4 is incredibly expensive (used) but
    the f1.8 is a relative bargain. The f2 is (from memory) better left on the
    shelf by comparison to the excellent f1.8.

    There are Pentax K-Mount bodies that would give you much of the same
    mechanical feel you like in your Spotmatic, and similar control layout. The
    MX would be my first choice but it can be pricey (takes interchangeable
    focusing screens though , which might be good for you, the standard has a
    split imae surrounded by a microprism circle, but microprism only ones
    exist.) At better prices, look out for something like a K2, or possibly a
    KM, or even an ME Super.

    Otherwise, there are other brands with mechanical bodies and decent to very
    good 85mm lenses that are available used at OK prices. An old Nikon FM
    would have a 'feel' not unlike you Spotmatic, for example. Some of the
    other suggestions you've had would be expensive, or involve a bigger change
    in handling style - only you know if that matters or not.

    Bandicoot, Dec 5, 2005
  8. For working in low light, a *good* rangefinder is much easier to focus
    (accurately) than a modern SLR. Compared to an *old* SLR like a
    Pentax, it's an even bigger difference.

    I found my Leica M3 with 90mm Summicron f2 lens to be *really really
    wonderful* for low-light people work. I let me get a lot cleaner,
    sharper pictures than I was getting with my SLR before then -- I could
    shoot at a slower shutter speed without camera shake, and I could
    focus much more accurately.

    However, the rangefinders in the old cameras aren't all necessarily
    good. The Leica M series bodies have really first-rate rangefinders
    -- but are both "good users" and often collector's pieces, so the
    bodies and lenses cost the earth.

    I wouldn't choose to work with a Leica III series at this point,
    though I know some people differ with that. That rangefinder isn't
    big enough or bright enough to be any special advantage.

    Something like an Olympus OM-1 had an especially bright viewfinder for
    the period. You can get replacement focusing screens to make for
    example a Nikon FM viewfinder brighter, too.
    David Dyer-Bennet, Dec 5, 2005
  9. illicium7

    Gordon Moat Guest

    The Nikon FM2 allows you to change the viewfinder screen, while the
    older Nikon FM does not. You could change a screen in an FM, but it
    would be a major disassembly and modification to make it work properly.
    An easier choice would be a Nikon FE, roughly same body as an FM that
    adds aperture priority functioning.

    Cost wise, since the OP was concerned about prices, a Nikon 85 mm f2.0
    can be had between $110 to $150. These work much better with the
    separate lens hood, but unless you find a used one with that the final
    price could be much higher. The 85 mm f1.4 is arguably better, but much
    larger, heavier, and substantially more expensive.

    While older Nikon is not a bad choice, I think there is a premium paid
    to have Nikon manual focus gear. Most other camera makes tend to be
    available at lower cost. In SLR gear, he might want to investigate older
    Contax and Yashica SLRs for comparison.
    Gordon Moat, Dec 5, 2005
  10. illicium7

    no_name Guest

    If you're looking for a manual K-mount camera, the K1000 can't be beat.
    It has one mode, metered manual.

    You set the aperature, you set the shutter speed. The meter will tell
    you if it thinks you have a proper exposure, but you take whatever you want.

    If the battery dies, you still have all shutter speeds from a purely
    mechanical shutter.
    no_name, Dec 6, 2005
  11. illicium7

    DD Guest

    I have an FM2n and I can't see a way to remove the focussing screen
    without first removing the mirror foam bumper. Am I missing something?
    DD, Dec 6, 2005
  12. What's this fascination with the K1000?

    It's more limited AND more expensive than other Pentax K- models (KM, K"
    Chris Loffredo, Dec 6, 2005
  13. illicium7

    no_name Guest

    The discussion at that point was MANUAL operation. What's your objection
    to manual operation?
    no_name, Dec 6, 2005
  14. illicium7

    Bandicoot Guest

    can be pricey (takes interchangeable focusing screens though , > >>> which
    might be good for you, the standard has a split image
    The KX and KM both offer only manual operation and have fully manual
    shutters. The K2 adds aperture priority, and has an electronic shutter -
    possiobly more accurate but that does make it battery dependent.

    The KM, KX and K2 have DoF preview, unlike the K1000.

    The KX and K2 have mirror lockup unlike the K1000.

    The KX and K2 have more sensitive exposure meters than the K1000.

    The KX and K2 both have a faster shutter synch. speed than the K1000.

    The KX and K2 have centre weighted exposure meters, unlike the K1000 and
    KM's full frame averaging types.

    The KX and K2 are set to meter up to ISO 6,400, unlike the K1000 and KM that
    go to 3,200.

    The K2 has a longest shutter speed of 8s, unlike the 1s of the others.

    Late versions of the K1000 were outsourced and made with a lot of plastic,
    while the other K bodies were (I beleive) made in Japan and (I know)
    remained metal.

    You see why a lot of us think the K1000 is overpriced on the used market,
    when these other K bodies are usually available for less money.

    Bandicoot, Dec 6, 2005
  15. illicium7

    Bandicoot Guest

    Modern, maual focus SLR I agree. Modern AF SLRs are often hard to focus
    manually, because their screens are bright but very fine ground, so the
    image doesn't 'snap' into focus the way it does on an older screen.

    Never met any SLR that is faster to focus maually than one of my LXs with a
    bright screen.

    Bandicoot, Dec 6, 2005
  16. illicium7

    MXP Guest

    Yes. If it works same way as the FE2 there is a tab just above the mirror
    foam bumper
    in the middel. If you activates this (press it upwards). Then the focussing
    screen holder
    comes down and stops before it hits the mirror.

    MXP, Dec 6, 2005
  17. Leicaflex SL and 90mm Summicron-R.

    uraniumcommittee, Dec 6, 2005
  18. None at all.

    Peter explained the advantages of the other "K"s far better than I could.

    Once upon a time, the K1000 had the reputation of being the "perfect
    student camera". People keep blindly repeating that, despite the facts
    being very different now.
    Chris Loffredo, Dec 6, 2005
  19. Too late: I beat you to that recommendation!
    : )

    .... Though I also added a Zeiss 85mm f/1.4
    Chris Loffredo, Dec 6, 2005
  20. illicium7

    Jeremy Guest

    I've picked up 2 P3n bodies and a 50mm f/1.7 SMC Pentax A, and am quite
    happy with them.

    It does require a battery to operate the shutter and TTL meter, but it lasts
    10,000 exposures or one year. No big deal to me.

    The camera operates fully manually or with program or aperture-priority
    automation. Reminds me of a combination Spotmatic and ES. The manual
    operation is not contrived--you just set your aperture and shutter speeds as
    you would on the Spotmatic or K1000.

    It has meter lock, which I've found quite useful (not available on the M42
    bodies) and it has a more advanced metering diode, not the old CdS cells.

    It is small and light, and the lens is tack sharp, with excellent bokeh.
    It's enough to make me set aside my Spotmatics and ESes. It's not completely
    manual, but it's "manual enough" for me. I like the availability of choice
    of manual or auto. It does beat having to choose which body to take along.

    And the SMC-A normal lens is still available NEW (50mm f/2) at under $75.00.
    I also picked up 2 kit zoom lenses, for when I need another focal length in
    a pinch. Most of my work is with the normal lens, but these two zooms give
    me a range of 28-210mm for those times that I need it. Yeah, they're slow
    and they probably aren't great in the quality department, but it does make
    for a simple and lightweight kit for walking about.
    Jeremy, Dec 6, 2005
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