I picked up a Jupiter 8 lens because I wanted a small, low-cost manual focus lens. I like the idea of getting one of the Voigtlander lenses, but I’m pretty put off by the price of them.

Just to give you a little context, the Jupiter 8 is a 50mm f/2 lens made during the Soviet era. It can focus from 1m to infinity and is compatible with Leica cameras.

After some research on a few photography sites, I discovered the Jupiter 8 lens and after a quick scout on eBay, I found one for about £25 including postage. That’s a saving of about £300 on a Voigtlander 40mm, but can you tell in the final images?

Firstly I will say that the build quality leaves a little to be desired. If you had never heard of the lens before you could tell it was probably cheap by one twist of the aperture selector ring. Unfortunately, there’s no nice clicking here – it’s a fluid aperture ring that is easily knocked out of place. Not as easily as my Helios 44-2, but that’s about as easy to spin as my road bike wheel. The body of the lens feels a bit flimsy, but after using it a few times I think it could withstand a bit of rough usage. The focus ring on my copy is very smooth, which makes for a pleasant experience when shooting.

As I’ve said, the lens is a Leica-fit so it sits very close to the body of my Sony A7ii with a cheap adapter, which means it’s low profile and looks very unassuming. I’m anticipating using this adapter a fair bit in the future (once I’ve saved enough for a Leica film body and an accompanying lens) so it was a no-brainer really.

In terms of performance, I’m actually quite impressed with what you can get for £25. Sure, there’s quite a bit of distortion and some fringing at points, but if you stop down it’s a sharp, portable lens that delivers some sharp results. All in all, a very good example of a budget lens that can yield some interesting results on a mirrorless camera.

Here are 5 frames with the lens, all shot on my Sony A7ii. You’ll see that if you miss focus then things can get a bit messy, but if you nail it then the lens is plenty sharp enough.

21st November 2018

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