The best Soviet lens for portraiture

Here in Radozhiv, a vote was taken on the best Soviet portrait lens with a focal length of 85 to 135 mm. Its results are shown below.

The best Soviet portrait lens

The best Soviet portrait lens. A total of 25 people voted. The image is clickable.

A large number of reviews of Soviet optics will find here. Results of voting for the best Soviet fifty dollars can be found here.

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Comments: 166, on the topic: The best Soviet lens for portraiture

  • Nicholas

    On the crop is a movie-type PO2-2M (2.0 \ 75) embedded in a suitable helicoid. I also want to try OKS (2.0 \ 100), Zh-24, Zh-25.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      As for the cinema, as soon as work experience appears, I will try to create a separate article. For the ACS they write interesting things on the forums, and indeed cinema lenses are a popular thing.

    • Diamond

      I have a RO2-2 covers a full production frame KMZ

    • Diamond

      as a portrait painter is really good

  • Nicholas

    And yet, IMHO, if we are talking about crop cameras, lenses from 50 mm should be considered as portraits. The same Biometar / G-44, etc.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      50mm is not a portrait lens, although the leads on the crop are similar to portrait ones. For cropped cameras, the focal lens will remain the same, only the angle will change and you will need to run around with your feet (I think you yourself know) - personally, I'm not at all afraid of this. Portrait will remain portrait and cropped, this is important. My girlfriend on the crop shoots with Jupiter-37 and will never switch to 50mm for this. I wrote it for a reason, the best portrait portrait among 85-135. I will try to create a section "the best Soviet fifty dollars", you can write what copies of Soviet optics you would like to see (only Soviet copies or analogues).

      • Sasha

        Arkady, recently became the owner of Jupiter-37A for Nikon3100. Does this lens have a constant focal length of 135? I can not understand how they shoot portraits?

        • Arkady Shapoval

          Yes, this is a prime lens with a fixed focal length. Shoot portraits like any other lens - move back to the desired distance, compose the frame, use light, shoot.

  • Nicholas

    Hmm, well, I do not share this prejudice about “portrait photography starts at 85 mm”. There is an angle of view, there are geometric distortions, there is a resolution and the nature of the picture. And actually the FR itself is indifferent. On a medium format camera it will be 180 mm, on a 35 mm camera - 85 mm, on a crop - from 50 mm, on a soap dish with a scanty matrix - something about 10 mm. As far as I understand, 85 mm and above has historically developed primarily due to the angle of view on 35 mm cameras - and, accordingly, the distance from the subject of photography - in which the perception of the model by the photographer and the lens is maximally aligned. Requirements for a fifty-kopeck piece - the standard one for a 35-mm one - really differ from the requirements for a portrait lens. The staff member should be sharp. But do not forget that the resolution of the optics should be divided by the crop factor - that is, on the crop, sharp lenses will seem softer, because the same area of ​​the object being shot will be “described” by fewer lines. For a medium format, 30 lines / mm is a perfectly acceptable resolution that allows you to get great, sharp images. For FF - already very, very so-so (just right for a portraitist); and for a soap dish it is simply unacceptable. Therefore, as a portrait photographer, I suggested considering such “soft” lenses as Biometar / G-44, and not Zenitar-ME or Industar-50. Well, almost any modern super-luminous fifty-kopeck piece is quite soft in the open.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      I agree that these are all prejudices about the focal one, you can also take a portrait on fisheye (which by the way many people do), but given the distortions and the desire to get a stronger selection of the subject, focal 85-135 for ff and crop fit with a bang. Therefore, I adhere to the classic but at the same time verified by personal experience range for the portrait. For 50mm, I also recommend using it as a portrait on cropped matrices. But if there is a choice, 85-135, and sometimes all 180 or even 300mm, then agree that the choice will fall in the direction of 85. Managing perspective, depth of field is much more pleasant.
      From personal prejudices - it is more pleasant to shoot a portrait with a short telephoto camera, most likely due to the communicative nuances when working with people.

      • SONY

        In fact, it is not the focal length, not the angle of the field of view, but distance from photographer to portrait subject. It should be about 1,5 m. Which is closer, which is further, the face will already be somewhat distorted relative to the "classic" perspective.
        To take a portrait on the shoulders from a distance of 1,5 m, you need 135 mm EGF (not FR).
        To take a portrait from the distance of 1,5 m across the chest, you need 85 mm EGF (not FR).

        For crop, we get that for a portrait on the shoulders we need an 85 mm lens (no more).
        For crop we get that for a portrait on the chest we need a 55 mm lens (no less).

        Another thing is that few people will notice the difference between shooting with 1,5 m and 2,5 m. So you can put 135 mm on the crop. But for a classic portrait, this is not correct: the face will look a little different from what it is used to see in life (we rarely see a person as much as 2,5 m). But 135 mm on the crop is perfect for shooting a fragment of the face.
        With the installation of 50 mm on the crop, the situation is simpler: it doesn’t interfere with taking off the same 1,5 m, and then cropping what we need.

        So both 50 mm and 135 mm can certainly be used for shooting portraits on a crop (and I personally use it), but if we say “the best lens for photographing waist, shoulder portraits” on a crop, then we should look at focal lengths of 55-85 mm.

        • Arkady Shapoval

          Please note that the vote is simply titled “The best Soviet lens for portrait photography,” and that lens distortion is important for portraits.

        • Stas

          It is not correct to compare the distance of “looking” at the face with your eyes and the camera. our vision is binocular and the portrait is “embraced” with a gaze from both sides (we see both ears). From an adequate portrait distance according to your estimates, both ears will not be seen like that, you need a margin of distance. This is the very same 1,5 - 2 times, i.e. at least 85 mm on the crop for a shoulder portrait

          • Sergei

            About gorges - so this is only the situation of a portrait in the forehead - full face in the sense. And on a half-turned face or another angle, it is already different. In my opinion, artistic portraits are quite realistic to shoot with EGF starting from 35mm (sometimes even wider, but be careful :)) ending with 200-300mm. There are people who are photogenic in almost all EGFs, and there are for whom this range is narrowed - some people are contraindicated in shirik, and for some, telephoto is 135.

          • Anatoly

            It's ridiculous. But basically true. It should be simpler, especially clean on an amateur site.

        • Lancet

          “In general, it is not the focal length, not the angle of view that matters, but the distance from the photographer to the person being portrayed” - the storyteller, however ...

          • Oleg

            So it is written in authoritative textbooks. There is no reason not to believe this. 1.5 m - support

          • Leonid

            You can immediately see the perspective that you have no idea. But Vista has been over five hundred years old.

      • afbezgin

        Televisions make the face flat, a quote from a pre-war German photobook appeared, it was written there that lenses with 85 mm fr are preferable for a male portrait, and 135 mm for a female or vice versa, I could be wrong, but the meaning of the difference was precisely
        in this, then practical Japanese all unified up to 100mm.

      • Anatoly


  • Nicholas

    About highlighting the subject due to the depth of field - I almost agree; about distortions - no. “Almost” - because with an open aperture of 1,2 ... 1,4, the depth of field will be extremely small for a fifty-kopeck piece. As for distortions, the example with a fish is not entirely correct, since this is a lens in which the distortion was deliberately not corrected. But, by the way, if for FF 16 mm is always a diagonal fisheye (since it is almost impossible to correct distortion for FF), then for crop it is quite a usual width, like 24 mm on FF. And the distortion is about the same as on the 24 mm FF.

    However, I myself prefer a short telephoto. But in my links about sigma (album in "contact", PO2-2M) I managed to make only a few frames - it was almost impossible to choose a point where no one would fit between me and the subject. And here I somewhat regretted that I was not with me a super-luminous fifty-kopeck piece. Since legs in these conditions, alas, do not help ...

    • Anatoly

      On the crop, the optimal portrait lens is closer to 60-85-150 mm. "Edges" - for experimenters. However, the genre "portrait" (as well as other photographic genres) is so-a-a-so multifaceted. You can get tired of listing ...


    Best Soviet portrait painter? Both the Ju-37A and K-5N are good, but most of the most successful - from my point of view - portraits (not auto!) I shot with my beloved HELIOS-44 Made in USSR M39. It is sharp enough on a full hole to catch the eyes and lips, bring the neck and ears into the side, and even at aperture 16 it allows you to out-focus the background on the plane. In addition, it allows almost 4x crop without noticeable loss of quality, that is, it is equivalent to a zoom of 58-200 mm (and this is with a two full hole!). I think that both Jupiter-9 and Helios-40 (shot both) - as portrait photographers - are not suitable for him.

    • Nicholas

      Sprinkle 4X with G-44? His permission, to put it mildly, is already low. Without a crop - it's still normal for a portrait (well, more precisely, with a crop of 1,5 - 1,7 - 2, on budget digital mirrors); but this is 4 times more - no, thank you ... However, the “white” 44th (M39) may be better. Or perhaps you are just very lucky with the copy. Although, if you print 10 * 15, then yes, 4X will still look quite normal ...

  • I am very delighted with tairams 11a I am shooting with a convector with a convector cutting pictures with saturation.

    • Anatoly

      And with a 10x magnifier plus!

  • Sergei

    Hello, I choose a light one (fifty dollars), re-read a bunch of forums and got a little confused, some praise one another quite different, which is better to choose from a number of manual Soviet optics so that you can really buy, so that the sharpness is normal and the soap is interesting in the background , I liked (Zenitar-M 50 / 1.7) there is the same with the square diaphragm bokeh is very interesting, maybe someone will give advice if it’s worth looking for Zenitar, or maybe he should look at something standing. Thanks in advance

    • Arkady Shapoval

      It was necessary to clarify which system is needed - Nikon, Pentax, Kenon. For Nikons, I recommend Helios-81N, very sharp, very cheap and with interesting bokeh. For Kenon, I recommend Helios-77m-4. As for the lenses, they are all good, just because of their age and the quality spread, there are not the most successful copies, but this is not a reason to consider any of the lenses to be bad or good. The lens needs to be inspected and tested upon purchase. I understand that the more advice they give, the more they confuse it, I advise you to buy any suitable one and just start shooting.

  • Sergei

    Thank you for Otk Arkady, for the Nikon system, tell me why is Helios-81N better for Nikon, and Helios-77m-4 for Kenon, what’s the trick, and still I would like to hear something about Zenitar-M 50 / 1.7 of two petal aperture, you didn’t get such a copybook, its bokeh was horrible as I liked.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Nikon will have a semiautomatic diaphragm, I think it simplifies the work and increases the output of good photos. Helios-77m-4 is easier to use on Kenon, as there will be infinity without alterations. Again, it is not my lot to say that one of the lenses is better or worse. As an example, a two-blade diaphragm gives a really specific square bokeh that you like, but I don't like at all. There are a lot of unnecessary subjective opinions here. If in Kiev, I can give Helios-81N a taste, write to the e-mail in contacts. If you take Zenitar, I would be grateful for the opportunity to conduct a test.

  • Sergei

    No, I’m not from Kiev, but I’m often there’s another question, can you tell me where in Kiev you can find photos of flea markets to feel optics with cookies and not via the Internet, of course, if you know.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      It was once possible to find it in the poultry market, I saw it once in Kardachi. On Andreevsky they sell as souvenirs at frenzied prices. From Internet shops - this is a photo fund. If you are serious about it, please refer to the contacts from the manual optics section.

  • To be honest, I am a little sausage when a 50mm lens is called a portrait lens. Besides, “cleverly” appealing with phrases like “angle of view on the crop”.
    By the way, the very term “angle of view” is illiterate.
    I'm not going to get into an argument. Unfortunately, in recent years, photographs are being taught on and-no forums (where one woman said), and not from books. Yes, and books, it seems that lately authors-scammers write “on the materials of forums”.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Article 85-135, not about fifty dollars.

    • anonym

      I fully support !!!

  • Eugene

    I have 3 lenses at my disposal: Helios 44M, Jupiter 9 late export (Unfortunately, not MS) and Jupiter 11 on M39.
    And everything would be fine if I had to crop 2.0, because, unfortunately, I use Olympus.
    So, in my case, Helios turns into 116mm, Jupiter 9 to 170, but Jupiter 11 generally to 270 (such a good telephoto).
    I don't want to talk about Jupiter 9, because apparently not the most successful specimen came across to me - it lathers up to 5,6
    But Helios, oddly enough, gives a pretty good result with pretty good sharpness on a fully open aperture and bokeh he pleases.
    Jupiter 11 I haven't really tested it yet, but from those shots that I did just as well pleases sharpness and contrast. But in my case, it is already turning into a rather powerful telephoto, and to take portraits you need to run quite a lot.

    And I have a question for you. Which of these lenses in my case is still better to relate to this focal distance and what are (if any) disadvantages in using Jupiter 11 for portraits taking into account such a crop?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      For use on crop 2.0, the most convenient option is Helios-44, and it turns out closer. Disadvantages of Jupiter-11 - to go far, if you go deeply into the subtleties, then on Jupiter-11 distances are less naturally transmitted compared to the human eye, how this will affect the idea in the photo is the third question.

  • Eugene

    Hello, Arkady. Now I’m looking for what kind of lens to buy, I’m stuck in the choice between Tair-11A and Jupiter-37A, based on the vote, people consider Jupiter a more interesting variant, but why? After all, tair is lighter if I’m not mistaken. What are the advantages, and what is better to choose?
    I am interested in the focal lengths of these lenses on cropped matrices. Where can I see the calculation formula?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Here is the calculation formula for you: EGF = (Focal length) * (Crop factor). People vote for the best, not interesting. Yu-37A is the best, because it is simple, affordable with a good picture. Tair-11A loses because of the difficulty in the search, price and soft picture.

      • Anatoly

        I thought and still believe that this kind of voting ... bogeying down the Volga. The occupation is empty and stupid. There is no dispute about tastes and preferences.

        • Alexander.

          I think these forums are useful. After all, if you do not know anything, then it is better to find out a lot of useful things here. And then filter it out yourself.

      • mAlex

        I would venture to suggest that the U-37 is the best, because it was spanked at one time more than the Tairov and Kalainar combined. And the price - it is somewhat cheaper than the G-40 in any condition. Which, for all its legend, is also not good in all hands.

        • Rodion

          To be honest, Tair-11 is not the best solution. Yes, his picture in a full frame is interesting, but the optical quality is noticeably inferior to Jupiter. Jupiter 37 is generally a more predictable and much more comfortable lens. So, even being the owner of both T-11A and Jupiters 11,11, 37A, 11A in the past, I made a choice in favor of Jupiter. Moreover, as a result - Jupiter-XNUMX from Kiev. The most compact, very colorful and sharp lens.

  • Andrei

    Not bad Takumar 135 3.5. Although this is not a Soviet lens, please pay attention to it, there are too few reviews on Takumars ...

    • Nicholas

      Takumar is a Pentax brand for sale in the US ... that is, it is Pentax.

  • Sergei

    To all amateur photographers and a professional, good day! I often work with the Jupiter 37A lens, it stands on the Nikon D3100 camera. The quality of the images taken is sometimes amazing! High-quality light transmission, smooth blurring of the background. I have it installed through the adapter ring, with a corrective lens and the ability to focus to infinity. I would like to try other Soviet lenses, I have Helios 44-2 in line.

    • Vladimir

      Better put Nikon's tail on Yu 37a

  • Slam

    Perhaps off topic. But…
    Tell me, will there be a rating-vote of the Soviet fifty dollars? I'm really looking forward. And I’m sure that I’m not the only one who wants to see this kind of post.
    Thank you

  • Arkady Shapoval

    Well, we’ll do it, it’s not difficult to do it. Maybe you have suggestions for the participants? I think to make a vote for the best fifty dollars (from 45 to 58mm), or take strictly 50mm?

  • Slam

    I agree with you. After all, if you do not take such distances, this will weed out a whole fleet of Soviet lenses)

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Voting created, but 58mm put it in a separate topic.

  • Peter

    I chose Kaleinar 5 N - because his competitor is one legendary Jupiter 9. I did not use other types of Helios 40, Jupiters 11, etc. do not like it.
    Kalainar is a simple amateur lens with a huge depth of field, sharp. Jupiter 9 is inferior in sharpness.
    I use Kaleinar 5n - at Kiev 19, it is more convenient than Jupiter -9 at Zenith TTL :)

  • Nat

    My favorite Soviet lens is Zenitar 1,7 / 50
    Why is he not in the survey?)

    • Arkady Shapoval

      He is not in this survey, because Zenitar 1.7 50 does not meet the survey criteria of 85-135mm. He is in another poll about the best Soviet fifty dollars. Please read the article more carefully.

    • Anatoly

      Well, questions !!!!

  • Peter

    I do not understand something. How can you choose the G-40, most of them voted for it - heavy, huge, expensive, in good condition is rare. Only a few have shot on it, they understand the intricacies of this lens even less. It can be said to be a collectible rarity - a rich person can afford to photograph such a miracle.
    My friends and acquaintances do not have this photo lens, in our city there are few copies of the G-40. I’ve never met a man filming on the G-40.
    Jupiter 37A - Jupiter 11 - are they not telephoto lenses - they can only shoot out of hopelessness that there is no Jupiter 9 - a beautiful portrait lens - with a huge and glorious history.
    Kaleinar 5 is a comfortable, edgy, versatile portrait - street.

    Here - a person voted for Vega 12 - this is also a good ersatz version of Kaleinaru

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Most likely, Helios-40 (2) is very well promoted on the Internet

  • Yura

    Good afternoon, I have a Nikon 5100. What is the best quality shot you recommend to me?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      The best "quality" does not exist. I recommend Helios-81N and Kaleinar-5N.

  • Denis

    Yuri, I have 5100, I use Kaleinar 5H, Arsat 81H (Helios 81H) and Jupiter 37a (Bynet Nikon). take these lenses and you will not regret it.

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Thanks for the optimism!

  • Boris

    Shot with all of the listed lenses. Most liked Tair-11 in white and black. It is suitable for a female portrait, as already written here. But in general it is just interesting in drawing. And on the crop of kenon 550 is very happy. White or black has not yet determined who won. Jupiter 9 also but I shoot more .135mm lenses.

  • Arkady Shapoval

    And they already say that this is Chinese plastic, and that they have real Helios :)

  • Konstantin

    Amateur photographer, reflex camera for the second year Nikon 5000d. I have two lenses Helios 44 and Nikor 2.5-105, took a day to try Helios 40. With 105 I get classic portraits from my point of view, sort of like a calendar 5 analogue of Soviet Nikor, with Helios 40 more artistic with with a twisted background it’s hard to focus and without a chip to quickly select an exposure tormented I got some pretty good shots. Helios 44 is very artistic easier to focus than long focal lenses, it twists strongly with colors until I figured out the corrective for assssi, unlike 105 e do not require color correction, and of the portraits 44 to get interesting with a very interesting background twisted. for classic portraits, probably the best portrait portrait is 105-2.5 analogue (5N calenar).

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