Russian lenses have become popular over the last few years, in particular, the Jupiter brand. The Jupiter series of lenses are Russian camera lenses made by KMZ during the Soviet era.
They were made to fit various cameras of the time, including the Leica and the early Zeiss Contax rangefinder cameras. They are copied from Zeiss pre-war designs, with incremental improvements such as coatings introduced during production.
I am lucky enough to have a few but the one I want to talk about is the Jupiter 11, with a 135mm f4 M42 mount, commonly known as the incredible rocket ship lens... I love it!
My Jupiter 11 is built on the design of the Zeiss Sonar lens but with better coatings. Mine is from the 1970’s and some might say it's ugly, others might think it's beautiful. It certainly does divide people. Personally, the only thing that concerns me is how does it perform optically.
Having a 135mm telephoto lens is unusual for me but I will only use lenses that go up to 90mm. This simply comes from realising that holding and getting the focus spot on a lens can take some doing above the focal length of 90mm.
In terms of construction, It can be a bit of a lottery getting a good one due to the fact that there was little or no quality control. However optically the Jupiter 11 I own is beautifully sharp with stunning out of focus rendering and gorgeous tones. So optically I couldn't wish for anything else. For me the one thing that slightly let’s it down is the handling, But then it's from the 70s, what do you expect?!
Jupiter lenses were built on mass. But unlike Zeiss, there was little or no quality control. Consequently for a long time they have been considered cheap, although on a recent trip to the London camera shops, Jupiter lenses were pricey. Im told they’re not going down either so my advice… Grab them while you can!
I love mine, its beautiful. If you buy one you won't be disappointed!