Review MC Zenitar-ME1 1,7 / 50

According provided by lens MC Zenitar-ME1 1,7 / 50 many thanks to Igor.

Review MC Zenitar-ME1 1,7 / 50

Review MC Zenitar-ME1 1,7 / 50

MC Zenitar-ME1 1,7 / 50 considered legendary soviet lens for one simple reason - it has a diaphragm device in all with two petals. When closed, the petals form square hole. There are few lenses with such an unusual aperture shape in nature.

MC Zenitar-ME1 F 1,7 50 mm

View MC Zenitar-ME1 F 1,7 50 when focusing on MDF

The lens is quite rare and nowadays represents collectible value... At the same time MC Zenitar-ME1 1,7 / 50 was a standard lens for the rare and very expensive Zenit-18 camera, which could operate in aperture priority mode. The letter 'E' in the lens name stands for 'Electronic' (electronically controlled aperture). 'Zenith-18' could read the aperture value and, using excerpts, set the optimal exposure in automatic mode.

The diaphragm blades are made in the shape of the letter 'V', when two blades go over each other, it turns out to be a square. It may seem that there are 4 petals, but this is an optical illusion due to their specific shape. But the first prototypes MC Zenitar-ME1 1,7 / 50 really had 4 aperture blades. Also, the lens was produced in a version without multi-coating - 'Zenitar-ME1 1,7 / 50'.

MC Zenitar-ME1 F 1,7 50 mm

MC Zenitar-ME1 F 1,7 50 mm - rear view

The metal focus ring rotates approximately 240 degrees, the focus ring travel is not very smooth. When focusing, the front lens does not rotate, and the lens trunk lengthens slightly. The lens uses standard 52mm filters. The MDF is 45 cm. The lens has an aperture mode switch - 'M -A', which is very convenient to use on modern digital cameras. The aperture has a huge number of intermediate values ​​between F / 1.7 and F / 16 not indicated by the markings. The lens also has an infrared shift mark.

MC Zenitar-ME1 F 1,7 50 mm

Lens aperture control switch MC Zenitar-ME1 F 1,7 50 mm

The lens has a pronounced multi-layer coating with a greenish sheen. For the copy from my review, multi-coating did not help in any way when shooting in backlight and side light - in these cases, the lens catches a lot of glare and parasitic flares. It is strange that such an 'advanced' lens was not brought to mind. But if there is no light source in the frame, then the lens shows itself from a very good side - excellent contrast and excellent sharpness even at F / 1.7.

MC Zenitar-ME1 F 1,7 50 mm

The legendary square hole of the aperture of the MC Zenitar-ME1 F 1,7 50 mm. The petals themselves are matte black.

MC Zenitar-ME1 1,7 / 50 was manufactured at the Krasnogorsk plant in 1984 (judging by the serial number). I have no complaints about the assembly - everything is made of metal and glass, as befits good old film lenses. The lens barrel looks like two peas in a pod. Zenitar-M 50 1.7 и MS Zenitar-M 1,9 / 50.

MC Zenitar-ME1 F 1,7 50 mm

Enlightenment of the front and rear lens of the MC Zenitar-ME1 lens F 1,7 50 mm

How to use with modern cameras?

Lenses with mounting thread M42 (M42 X 1 / 45.5), such as the lens from this review, are very easy to use on almost any modern digital camera (both SLR and mirrorless), for this it is enough to choose the right adapter (adapter). You do not need to carry out any additional steps to modify the lens.

The cheapest adapters can be found at There are adapters (adapters) with a chip that provide more convenience during shooting, usually chips are used to confirm focus and / or metering exposure, and form the correct EXIF. The chip does not affect the image quality in any way.

For some SLR cameras (for example, with the Nikon F-mount), you need to use adapters with a corrective lens, which allows you to focus correctly at all focusing distances. For any mirrorless cameras, such a lens is not needed, and the adapter is a simple decorated hollow metal tube with an appropriate mount.

For SLR cameras

  1. Canon: For cameras Canon EOS with bayonet mount EF / EF-S need an M42-Canon EOS adapter, such an adapter with a chip can be found herewithout chip here.
  2. NIKON: For cameras Nikon DX / FXas well as for cameras Fujifilm и Kodak with a Nikon F mount, you need an M42-Nikon F adapter, you can buy such an adapter without a lens and a chip here, with a lens without a chip herewith chip without lens here, with lens and chip here. Why a lens? Why chip?
  3. PENTAX: For Pentax cameras with K mount, you need an M42-Pentax K adapter, you can buy such an adapter here.
  4. SONY/MINOLTA: For cameras with a Sony / Minolta A mount, you need the M42-Sony A adapter, you can find such an adapter without a chip at this linkwith a chip at this link.
  5. OLYMPUS/PANASONIC/LEICA: For cameras with a 4/3 bayonet mount (not to be confused with Micro 4/3!) You need an M42-4 / 3 adapter, you can buy such an adapter here.

For mirrorless cameras

  1. SONY: For cameras with 'E'/'FE' mount series SonyNEX и Sony Alpha you need an adapter M42-Sony E (aka M42-Sony Nex), you can find it at this link. An autofocus adapter is also available for these cameras. Techart PRO Leica M - Sony E Autofocus Adapterwhich can be found at this link.
  2. OLYMPUS / PANASONIC / KODAK / XIAOMI: For cameras with a bayonet mount Micro 4/3 (Micro 4:3) you need an adapter M42-Micro 4/3, you can find it at this link.
  3. CANON M: For cameras with Canon EF-M mount need adapter M42-Canon M, it can be found at this link.
  4. CANON R and RF-S: For cameras with Canon RF mount need adapter M42-Canon R, it can be found at this link.
  5. Nikon 1: For cameras Nikon 1 Series need adapter M42-Nikon 1, you can find it at this link.
  6. Nikon Z: For cameras Nikon Z series (FX/DX) need an adapter M42-Nikon Z, it can be found at this link.
  7. FUJIFILM X: For cameras with mount X need an M42-Fuji X adapter, you can find it at this link.
  8. FUJIFILM GFX: For medium format cameras G-mount need M42-Fuji GFX adapter, you can find it at this link.
  9. SAMSUNG: For cameras with NX mount, you need an M42-Samsung NX adapter, you can find it at this link. There are no adapters for the NX mini camera yet.
  10. PENTAX: For Q-mount cameras, you need an M42-Pentax Q adapter, you can find it at this link.
  11. SIGMA / PANASONIC / LEICA: For cameras with L mount you need an M42-Leica L adapter, you can find it at this link.
  12. LEICA: For cameras with a bayonet mount Leica M need adapter M42-L / M, you can find it at this link.

If you have any questions on compatibility and adapters - ask in the comments (comments do not require any registration at all).

The parameters shown in the photo gallery:
Everything is filmed on Nikon D700. On camera JPEG L (compression 'optimal quality'), without treatment. Functions: Control vignetting, ADL, noise reduction at slow shutter speeds, noise reduction at high ISO - were off. All shot in Picture Control mode SD (standard mode): contrast correction - 0, brightness - 0, saturation - 0, hue - 0, sharpness - position 5 out of 10. Used white balance: 'Auto', 'Daylight'. The size of the photos was reduced to 3 MP.

MC Zenitar-ME1 F 1,7 50 mm

View of the lens MC Zenitar-ME1 1,7 50 on ZK

Catalog modern brand lenses 'Zenitar' и 'Helios' can look at this link.

Comments on this post do not require registration. Anyone can leave a comment. Many different photographic equipment can be found on AliExpress.


MC Zenitar-ME1 1,7 / 50 is a very unusual Soviet 'fifty kopeck piece'. A characteristic feature of the lens is a 2-blade diaphragm, and as a result - an unusual bokeh in the form of squares (at closed apertures), as well as a 4-beam 'star'from bright light sources. The lens is sharp, contrasting, poorly tolerates backlight. Finding it on sale is almost impossible :)

Have you read the review of this rare lens to the end or looked at examples of photos? Then be sure to share this information on social networks (the buttons are a little lower).

Material prepared Arkady Shapoval. Training/Consultations | Youtube | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Telegram

Add a comment:



Comments: 63, on the topic: MC Zenitar-ME1 1,7 / 50 review


    class ... I really liked the bokeh. sorry not to buy it.

    • Serg

      disgusting boke to be honest

      • B. R. P.

        No worse than in “those your” Sigmas.

    • Michael

      I have a lot of interesting optics, including this one) 89048084609

  • Oleksandr

    May such, I want to sell, write

  • Rodin

    As if outplayed in a doom

  • Ilya

    Hello, there is such a lens, inherited :) But there is a problem in it - the diaphragm does not change in any way. For a long time he had already been lying with me, and so I nevertheless matured to put my hand on him. Can you tell me where you can find instructions for assembly / disassembly / repair for this instance or something similar?

    • Amateur

      The spring weakened there. Himself on her bent. In an Internet there is an instruction for a bulkhead. And interestingly, the spring there is of a different design than mine. So I did this, as in the photos on the bulkhead, and added to the standard one. Now they are enough to move the diaphragm blades.

  • Amateur

    Once a Zenith-18 with such a lens was bought by my parents at TSUM for 580 full-weight rubles. Well, very expensive. But it was worth it. The film was obtained with the same density and quality. What to shoot, what to print - no problem. Yes, and ever, ever and now I shoot them on film. On digital xenon, the lens also works well. If you are in no hurry.

  • anonym

    I bought it in 1984 with a Zenit-18 camera, then it cost 580rb. Now I sometimes put on CanonEOS-650D. Like it.

  • Novice

    Arkady! Please advise what to choose Helios 40 or Zenitar ME (from this review)? Helios 40 is offered for 11 thousand rubles, and Zenitar for 9 thousand rubles. Thanks for the answer.

    • Rodion

      Do you have to brag or shoot to someone?
      If you shoot - neither one nor the other. Do not suffer from nonsense.
      Well, if you want so much, there will be more benefits from the 40th. But take 40-2.
      And use it on bolder closed ones, and do not blurt out on 1,5 everything that comes across.

  • Novice

    Rodion! Thanks for the advice! I'm not going to brag to anyone. I love Soviet equipment and I like it. It was offered exactly the white Helios 40, 1963 of release. Then, what would they advise on Sonya A-65 for such an amount. Thanks for the answer.

    • Rodion

      If you need advice - write normally the camera and the purpose of the shooting.

      • Novice

        Hello Rodion! You just reminded me of a teacher from the university. The normal name for the camera is Sony SLT-A65. Purpose of shooting: portraits and group photos of family members, relatives, sometimes something landscape - on vacation. Sometimes filming is also possible. Thanks for the answer.

        • Rodion

          Here, fine.
          This means that it is not suitable longer than 50 mm - you can turn to Soviet fifty dollars or about fifty dollars: Zenitar 50 / 1.9 MS, Helios-44 MS. If you need more aperture, you can look at something from the 50 / 1.4 class, from Japanese (but not takumara).
          You can see something like the universal zoom 35-80 / 2.8 or 28-75 / 2.8 Vivitar Series 1 - not a bad option.
          You can use a regular whale as a shirik - not the worst option.

  • Novice

    Thanks Rodion! I have a Helios-19N lens from Kiev-81, as well as Jupiter 37a.

    • Rodion

      Well, that’s enough, in principle.

  • Algerd

    Is it possible to compare the usual 1.7 with this?

  • Lennaganci

    I would sell it if I'm interested in it, along with the Zenit 18 native device in a case
    Those interested can write to

    follow the date of publication please

  • Eugene

    Greetings. Sell ​​this lens, if interested, write to

  • anonym

    the range of application is limited because for me it is not suitable for shooting outdoors, but in the city and in all sorts of cyberpunk motives it will be interesting to look at the expense of unusual bokeh. Sharpness i like

Add a comment

Copyright © Blog author - Photographer in Kiev Arkady Shapoval. 2009-2023

English-version of this article

Versión en español de este artículo