Your favorite M42 manual focus lenses

Started 7 months ago | Discussions thread
verybiglebowski Veteran Member • Posts: 4,534
Re: Your favorite M42 manual focus lenses


My choice would be

CZJ Flektogon 20/2.8 MC

Carl Zeiss Distagon 25/2.8 ZS

Carl Zeiss Distagon 35/2 ZS or CZJ Flektogon 35/2.4 MC

CZJ Pancolar 50/1.8 MC

CZJ Pancolar 80/1.8 MC

CZJ Sonnar 135/3.5 MC

CZJ Sonnar 200/2.8 MC

The reason behind my choice is based on the color spectre transmission similarity across the range, very solid sharpness, solid mechanics and easy servicing.

Except for the Distagon 25/2.8 and 35/2, all lenses above are of a same CZJ generation with a similar coatings and used glass, making it a nice, ballanced, full-range selection.


CZJ Biotar 7,5cm f/1.5 (II version, slim)

Without a doubt this is my long term favorite M42 lens with a unique combination of the mid frame sharpness and surrounding aberrations.

There are many other formidable creative lenses, CZJ Pancolar 55/1.4, Pancolar 75/1.4, Carl Zeiis Ultron 50/1.8, Tomioka 55/1.2, Takumar 35/2.3, Steinheill Quinons, Kreuznachs, MOG Primoplans (75/1.9 and 58/1.9), Biotar 58/2, Tair 11 (and 11A) and so on…)


In my experience, Japan made M42 lenses are mostly less interesting than European production of that time (in M42). With a few exceptions, (most Takumars and Tomioka), all these Tamrons, Sigmas, Soligors, Viviitars and similar brands are not that hot in M42, no matter how cheap they can be.

It is rather personnel taste than anything else, but what should be avoided is buying any of these lenses without possibility to return them. The condition of the particular sample can ruin the lens reputation. I experienced a few lenses (Zeiss Planar 50/1.7, Minolta Rokkor 58/1.2 and Nikkor Ai-S 105/2.5) that were looking like new but have very flawed optics without any visible issues. Even professional lens servicer wasn’t able to find a viable reason.

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