Jupiter is a Soviet class of telephoto lenses ranging between 85mm to 200mm. There are several known designs in the M42 mount, which trace their origins back to the optical formulas of Carl Zeiss (like other Soviet lenses do). After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the optical manufacturing factories were divided between the different Soviet Republics. The production, in some instances, continued into the 1990s.
The 135mm f4 Jupiter-11A was inspired by the CZJ Sonnar of the pre-WW2 era. The Jupiter is a very robust and well made all metal lens that has a great feeling to it. Like the Sonnar, it has a minimal focusing distance of 1m - which is pretty impressive. The multicoating treatment was applied beginning with a later design, the upgraded 135mm f3.5 Jupiter-37A. The Jupiter-37A lens was still being produced into the second half of the 1990s.
These lenses were manufactured in at least one factory, which is the KOMZ in Kazan, the Russian Federation. The 180mm f2.8 Jupiter-6-2 was also inspired by a CZJ Sonnar lens. Actually this lens is very hard to find and it’s rather pricey. It's a heavy one too, all metal and glass design. The 135 and 180mm lenses can also be found in the M39 mount, while keeping their specific chrome finish.
The largest focal length of this lens class was the 200mm f4 Jupiter-21M. This lens was still in production in the 1990s, this time in Russia at the VOMZ factory. Built like a tank and quite heavy, the Jupiter-21M is relatively easy to find and its price is rather low.
One of the most interesting lenses made under the Jupiter name is the 85mm f2 Jupiter-9 type. This portrait lens is hard to find and relatively expensive. The earliest designs in the M39 mount were made from chromed aluminum whereas the later designs in the M42 mount are all black and made of metal.
The Soviets remained true to their lenses in at least one respect: the number of aperture blades was always superior to that displayed by their "rivals". The 8 blades of the Jupiter-21M are really an exception, as other Jupiter and Soviet lenses have 12 or 18 blades, which contribute to their very pleasant and unique feeling.
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The 85mm f2 Jupiter-9 is a short telephoto lens which was made in the Soviet Union from the early 1950s up to the early 1990s. It mainly uses the M42 mount, but it's available also in the M39 mount. The lens has a preset aperture ring which is typical for many Soviet lenses. There are at least 3 versions of this lens.
The Jupiter-9 lens is ideally used for portrait photography, since it is a fast lens with a maximum opening of f2. The lens becomes really sharp after a few stops, at f5.6 or f8. When used wide open, the Jupiter-9 creates a very pleasant soft image, which results in a dream like photography. It has also a very nice bokeh.
The lens has a minimum focusing distance of 0,8m, uses a 49mm filter and has 15 aperture blades.
The Jupiter-11A 135mm f4 was inspired by the early design of the Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar. Its optical scheme, maximum aperture and minimum focusing distance (1m) are virtually identical to the Sonnar. The Jupiter-11A is a sharp, no-click aperture system lens that has a 12 blade diaphragm. It is solidly built and not too heavy for a vintage telephoto lens, weighing 390g. It uses a 52mm filter.
The 200m f4 Jupiter-21M is a Soviet medium telephoto lens mostly used for landscape, wildlife or portrait photography. Within the Jupiter class, this lens has the biggest focal length at 200mm. Other lenses in the line-up are the 85mm f2 Jupiter-9 and the 135mm f4 Jupiter-11A.
As the majority of the Soviet lenses, the Jupiter-21 initially had the M39 mount, later being fit with the M42 mount. Several versions of the lens were made: the Jupiter-21, then the Jupiter-21A and finally the Jupiter-21M. A great feature of these lenses is that they were always made of very solid materials: chrome, metal, glass and ebonite. Only later, during the 1980s and during the final production years in the 1990s some lenses were partially or even entirely made of plastic.
Many Soviet lenses were renowned for their sharpness and large number of aperture blades. The Jupiter 21M is no exception as the lens is sharp indeed. It has only 8 aperture blades, more than the class average of six, but less than other Soviet telephoto lenses, such as the Tair 11A, for example.
The lens is quite heavy so for optimal use a tripod is highly recommended. The glass is single coated, while some versions made after 1990s may feature multi-coating layer. The lens has a minimum focusing distance of 1,8m, uses a 58mm filter and weighs 970g.