Jupiter 37a 135mm f3.5 revisited

Jupiter 37a 135mm f3.5 revisited

This is a vintage lens I previously tested, quite some time ago, in another system (m43) quite some time ago. I have also used it a bit on the X-E2 and X-T1. I thought of re-appraising its qualities when used with the latest generation of Fujifilm cameras, such as the X-Pro2, X-T2 and X-T20.  

This is an M42 mount lens, which can be easily adapted on Fujis using a cheap and widely available eBay adapter (lower than 20 euro/dollars in most cases).

There is a nice collection of vintage 135mm lenses to choose from, for various mounts. 135mm was (and still is) a very popular focal length for shooting portraits, when used with a 35mm format camera. On an APS-C the frame becomes equivalent to (practically) 200mm, which, again, is a popular option, useful for both portraiture applications as well as long(-ish) telephoto shots.

Most 135mm vintage lenses are f2.8, while there are also a few f2 examples (the Canon FD 135mm f2 comes to mind). Another example of a great lens in this category is the Pentacon 135mm f2.8.

When it comes to the Jupiter, it starts with a 2/3 stops disadvantage, but, on the other hand, it happens to be quite sharper in its largest aperture than most other 135s are at f4. Being a slower lens also makes it much, much smaller, which is critical when used on a small-format mirrorless camera.

Its size and low weight give it great operability, even with the smaller X-T20. We should also note the clickless aperture, which, apart from being extremely smooth in use, will be a boon for video use.

Pros don’t stop here: adapted on the X-Trans III bodies, I found the Jupiter to provide great contrast, very nice colors and rendering and, due to the 12 bladed diaphragm, very pleasing bokeh. It’s sharp enough for most applications, even wide open, and doesn’t suffer from any noticeable chromatic aberrations.  I’d say its image quality can easily be on par with most modern 135mm lenses on the field, excluding a handful of very expensive and very large and heavy ones.

Of course, there are cons:  even with the latest multicoated version (mine isn’t) there are flares and loss of contrast when shooting against strong backlight; no competition with modern lenses here.  That said, even with my older copy this is easily fixable using the dehaze slider in Lightroom, plus a few other tweaks. Also, something common with any manual focusing telephoto, you’ll have to be really careful with focusing accuracy; this may take some time but it’s quite easy with the focus aids in Fuji cameras.

In the Fujifilm ecosystem, we also have the incredible 50-140mm f2.8 pro lens, which covers this focal length. The Fujinon beats the Jupiter in the IQ department hands down, with the possible exception of bokeh. It’s also weather sealed, has IS and top built quality.

But the Jupiter is unbelievably cheap (a good copy can be found for less than 50 euros), is very light and practical, and, being all metal, guarantees it will still be working for decades. You can have it in your bag when going for a shooting, just in case.

You can find technical data for this lens on the following link:

http://allphotolenses.com/lenses/item/c_48.html

Check out a small gallery, shot with the X-Pro2, X-T2 and X-T20:


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