Lens Review: Jupiter-9 85mm f2

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Lens Review: Jupiter-9 85mm f2

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 was also built with the M39 mount. The lens has the typical soviet preset aperture control, which can be somewhat confusing to use properly.

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. Other related lenses are the 135mm f4 Jupiter-11A and the 200mm f4 Jupiter-21A.

The Jupiter-9 lens is ideally used for portrait photography, since it is a fast lens with a maximum opening 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 “power”. When used wide open, the Jupiter-9 creates a very pleasant soft image, which results in a dream like photography. As nearly all Soviet made lenses, this one has also a very nice bokeh.

The 85mm f2 Jupiter-9 lens sells between 100 and 200 euro depending on the version, but despite its rather low price, the lens isn’t easily accessible. The build quality is truly solid, as the lens displays only metal and glass and it’s quite heavy compared to newer lenses. For certain lenses, a refresh in a special laboratory may be necessary to assure that the focusing mechanism is working properly. As for the quality of the glass, opinions tend to be somewhat divergent. Some say that there are relatively big differences and it would seem that it’s only a matter of pure luck to find a truly good Jupiter-9 lens. But the general opinion is that the earlier versions are better than the newer ones (despite of the progress made with the glass).

At first, 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 ‘brother’, the 85mm f1.5 Helios-40-2, which enjoys a much better reputation.

The lens 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 is 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.

As a curiosity, we ignore if the lens has the same optical formula, but our version, as mentioned above, has a minimum focusing distance of 0,8m. Nevertheless, a (not so much) earlier version (SN beginning with 74) also with the M42 mount has a minimum focusing distance of 1,15m.