Updated: Mar 24
The Jupiter-9 is a well-known vintage lens that can produce fantastic results, itis actually a copy of the Zeiss Sonnar 85mm 2.0 and was produced in the USSR after WWII.
85mm is one of my favorite focal lengths and I was searching around for quite a while to find one of these in reasonable condition and at a fair price, which can prove quite difficult. It's usually one or the other, you can find one in very good condition but have to sell a kidney to afford it or you can find one fairly cheap, but looks like it's gone 10 rounds with Ivan Drago. Rarely will you find one both in good condition and at a good price.
After quite a while of searching, I actually found two of these, as a bundle, both in good condition and at a fair price for them both.
The 85mm f2 Jupiter-9 is a short telephoto lens that was made in the Soviet Union from the early 1950s up to the early 1990s. It mainly uses the M42 mount, but it was also built with the M39 mount.
The lens has the typical soviet preset aperture control, which can be somewhat confusing to use properly, but you'll soon get the hang of it.
As we like to use classes when speaking about the soviet lenses, the Jupiter-9 is the shortest lens from the Jupiter class in the M42 mount.
The Jupiter-9 lens is ideally used for portrait photography since it is a fast lens with a maximum aperture of f2.
The lens is not very sharp when wide open, but after a few stops at about f5.6 or f8, it gains some authority. When used wide open, the Jupiter-9 creates a very pleasant soft image, which results in dream-like photography. As nearly all Soviet-made lenses, this one has also a very nice bokeh.
The build quality is truly solid, as the lens displays only metal and glass and it’s quite heavy compared to newer lenses.
At first, the Jupiter-9 was only single-coated, later, nearly at the end of the production, the multi-coating was introduced. The last reincarnation of the Jupiter-9 design displays this feature.
The Jupiter-9 has a big brother, which is the 85mm f1.5 Helios-40-2 (I also have this lens) which enjoys a much better reputation, but is also 3 - 4 x the price of the Jupiter. I may review the Helios 40-2 at a later date.
The Jupiter-9 has a minimum focusing distance of 0,8m, uses a 49mm filter, and has 15 aperture blades. Normally the Jupiter-9 lens has a dedicated hard plastic container displaying the logo of the factory where the lens was produced. The same logo is present also on the original caps of the lens. Our lens displays the logo of the LZOS factory, where it appears that the Jupiter-9 was produced. Some Soviet-made lenses display various logos because they were being produced in more than one factory. But when it comes to the Jupiter-9, the lens has only the LZOS factory logo. This observation applies to the 3 known versions of the lens.
The Jupiter-9 is a very compact 85mm when compared to other lenses of the same focal length. For instance as referenced earlier, the Helios 40-2. Just look at the picture below to see what I mean.
This lens isn't very contrasty when paired with a modern digital camera, but change the image to Black and White and it's a completely different story. When shot in B&W this lens really comes into its own and images really start to stand out and take form.
Overall, it's a beautiful lens and is capable of producing some mesmerizing results when shot under the right conditions.
If you're on the lookout for a fast 85mm and your budget doesn't quite stretch to the Helios, absolutely go for the Jupiter-9 but remember what I said earlier about finding one in good condition, well, make sure that this is something that you look out for.
Russian quality control isn't always very good, and the build quality can vary drastically between lenses.