Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Jupiter 37A, Jupiter 11A, Tair 11A

Lens ratings: Excellent

Next to the Helios 44, my favorite Russian lenses are the 135mm trio consisting of Jupiter 37A, Jupiter 11A, and Tair 11A. The Jupiter 11 and 37 models are copies of the Sonnar design, but the Tair appears to be an original design. The maximum aperture and minimum focusing distance are as follows:

Jupiter 37A: f/3.5, 1.2m
Jupiter 11A: f/4, 1m
Tair 11A: f/2.8, 1.2m

The MFD may vary on other variants than the A series.

The Jupiter 11A and 37A are more compact, the f/2.8 Tair 11A is bulkier. The Jupiter 11A came with a reversible metal hood; the Tair 11A has a built-in hood that slides nicely over the front element. The Jupiter models both have 12 aperture blades, maintaining a round aperture at all f-stops, but the Tair tops them with its 20 blade iris.

The Tair 11A is the rarest model, with the Jupiter 11A and 37A showing up a bit more often and thus at a lower price (although the faster aperture and number of blades are also reasons for the higher price of the Tair).

I like all of them - they make great outdoor portrait lenses. I am not yet able to tell the difference between them when used at the same aperture. The Jupiters are pretty sharp straight from their maximum aperture. The Tair is a bit softer at f/2.8 and can suffer from some CA at this aperture, but from f/4 onward I can notice no difference between them. The Jupiter 11A is nice for offering the closest MFD of the set - 1m, the Tair for offering the fastest aperture - f/2.8. The Jupiters have a 1 ring dual function aperture ring, while the Tair uses a 2 aperture ring mechanism.

Like for the Helios 44, I like the resistance of these lenses to CA, their good microcontrast, and their special way of rendering out of focus areas.

Here are some samples from Jupiter 37A:

Here is a sample from Jupiter 11A:

And here are some samples from Tair 11A:

[UPDATE 2013/05/22]: I have recently used the Tair 11A on the Olympus E-M5 and I examined its performance wide open more closely. Resolution is very good. The lens is also very vulnerable to flare, but this weakness can be used for artistic effect. CA behavior tends to vary with light and, more specifically, we are dealing with LoCA - red in front of the focal plane, green behind. LoCA can be quite strong at times, but fortunately, they do diminish when stopping down.

[UPDATE 2014/03/19]: I have recently uploaded a set of portraits taken with a variety of lenses and can now provide two samples taken with each Jupiter lens:

Jupiter 11A

Jupiter 37A

[UPDATE 2014/03/20]: And here is a sample from the Tair:

Tair 11A 135/2.8

1 comment:

  1. I also have the troika but have not really used the Jupiter-11 LTM lens so far. Must really try it out. It is of 1955 vintage so it must have some sort of celebrity status. It is in reasonably good condition for it's age. The other two are like new and of the two perhaps the Jupiter-37A is a little sharper but the Tair-11A is an excellent lens in it's own right.