Quick Review: Jupiter-11 135mm 4.0

Introduction

jupiter 11 135mm 4.0 soviet bokeh portrait sony a7 review e-mount leica

The Jupiter-11 135mm 4.0 is another copy of a Zeiss lens, this time the Zeiss Sonnar 135mm 4.0. This one is really cheap, but is it also as good as the Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0? Let us find out!

Sample Images

jupiter 11 135mm 4.0 soviet bokeh portrait sony a7 review e-mount leica
Sony A7rII | Jupiter-11 135mm 4.0 | f/8.0
jupiter 11 135mm 4.0 soviet bokeh portrait sony a7 review e-mount leica
Sony A7rII | Jupiter-11 135mm 4.0 | f/5.6
jupiter 11 135mm 4.0 soviet bokeh portrait sony a7 review e-mount leica
Sony A7rII | Jupiter-11 135mm 4.0 | f/4.0

Specifications / Version History

The outer apperance of the lens has changed over time and regarding the optics early versions may actually use Zeiss glass produced in Germany and some later ones may have different coatings as well. So in case you are curious, take a look at the page sovietcams.com, for additional coverage.

I am reviewing a rather late lens from 1991 here (the first two digits of the serial number are the production year, 91 in this case) which has the following specifications:

    • Diameter: 49.0 mm
    • Field of view: 18° (diagonally)
    • Length:  96.0 mm + adapter
    • Weight: X g
    • Filter Diameter: 40.5  mm
    • Number of Aperture Blades: 15 (rounded)
    • Elements/Groups: 4/3
    • Close Focusing Distance: 2.5 m!
    • Maximum Magnification: 1:X
    • Mount: M39 (aka LTM or Zorki)

A Jupiter-11 in good condition usually starts selling for $45 at ebay.com (affiliate link). In Germany buying one in A-condition will set you back at least 60€. I got mine at ebay.de (affiliate link).

Handling / Build Quality

jupiter 11 135mm 4.0 soviet bokeh portrait sony a7 review e-mount leica
Jupiter-11 135mm 4.0

There is quite some sample variation with these lenses. This one has an easy to operate aperture ring but a focusing ring with uneven resistance.  You can either try fixing this yourself with the help of some tutorials or videos on the internet or bring it to a repair shop instead.  The best idea is of course to buy your lens from a trusted seller. I can recommened this ebay shop (affiliate link) as I have bought lenses there myself.
Turning the focusing ring from infinity to 2.5 m takes about 170°, turning the aperture ring from f/4.0 to f/22 takes about 80°. The aperture ring has no click stops. I prefer click stops but in case you consider filming with this lens you may prefer it the way it is. There is no official hood I know of. Using filters is not a problem as the filter ring doesn’t rotate.
This lens is made from aluminium which contributes to the low weight but is also very good at attracting scratches.

jupiter 11 135mm 4.0 soviet bokeh portrait sony a7 review e-mount leica
Jupiter-11 135mm 4.0 with generic 40.5 mm hood

The previous owner bought a generic 40.5mm thread hood for this lens, as we will see later you really need one of these…

Vignetting and colorcast

jupiter 11 135mm 4.0 soviet bokeh portrait sony a7 review e-mount leica

At f/4.0 and f/5.6 the extreme corners are significantly darker than the rest of the image which can be quite distracting.

Sharpness

infinity
jupiter 11 135mm 4.0 soviet bokeh portrait sony a7 review e-mount leica
Across frame sharpness is actually pretty good already wide open. Stopping down to f/5.6 boosts contrast a bit, but this lens never reaches the resolution figures of modern lenses or even the Leica 135mm 4.0 Tele Elmar.

Flare resistance

One of the worst performances I have seen so far. Even on an overcast day you will encounter severe issues with veiling flare. In this example the upper half looks quite okay while the lower half is overshadowed by veiling flare:

jupiter 11 135mm 4.0 soviet bokeh portrait sony a7 review e-mount leica
Sony A7rII | Jupiter-11 135mm 4.0 | f/5.6

These shots look like there is no contrast whatsoever, also because of veiling flare:

jupiter 11 135mm 4.0 soviet bokeh portrait sony a7 review e-mount leica
Sony A7rII | Jupiter-11 135mm 4.0 | f/4.0
jupiter 11 135mm 4.0 soviet bokeh portrait sony a7 review e-mount leica
Sony A7rII | Jupiter-11 135mm 4.0 | f/4.0

With a lens hood the performance improves quite a bit, but it doesn’t always help and in the end I can only rate this performance as being very bad.

Distortion

jupiter 11 135mm 4.0 soviet bokeh portrait sony a7 review e-mount leica

There is some minor pincushion Distortion which I don’t consider an issue for most applications.

Bokeh

jupiter 11 135mm 4.0 soviet bokeh portrait sony a7 review e-mount leica
Sony A7rII | Jupiter-11 135mm 4.0 | f/4.0 | set to minimum focus distance

A maximum aperture of f/4.0 at 135mm isn’t exactly breathtaking when talking about the ability to separate subjects from the background. But the minimum focus distance of 2.5 m makes things really difficult. To give you an impression how bad this is: you can’t even get close enough for a full head shot with this lens….

Nevertheless, because of 15 rounded aperture blades highlights in the background stay round even on stopping down.

Sunstars

jupiter 11 135mm 4.0 soviet bokeh portrait sony a7 review e-mount leica
Sony A7rII | Jupiter-11 135mm 4.0 | f/11

With those 15 rounded aperture blades you will barely see sunstars at all. See our “Best lenses for Sunstars” article for further reference.

Chromatic aberrations

longitudinal

This lens is not very fast and the often somewhat lowish contrast masks this issue. Still the loCA correction seems to be quite okay, probably better than the Leica 135mm 4.0 Tele Elmar.

lateral

In the corners you can spot some lateral CAs which can be easily corrected in post, as can be seen in the example below (100% crop).


Sony A7rII | Jupiter-11 135mm 4.0 | f/11 | CA 100% crop before/after extreme corner

Alternatives

Leica 135mm 4.0 Tele Elmar:
Except for price and weight better in every regard. In case you have use for a 135mm 4.0 better consider this still very affordable Leica lens.

Canon EF 135mm 2.0L USM:
This is still one of my most favorite portrait lenses on the A7 cameras. This is also a much better lens in almost every regard, but it is also considerably bigger, a little heavier and of course way more expensive.

Samyang 135mm 2.0 ED UMC:
This is even be a bit better optically than the aforementioned Canon lens, but it is even bigger and heavier.

Canon FD 135mm 2.8:
Shows a bit more CA and optically inferior to the aforementioned lenses, but still a better choice and at a similar price.

Conclusion

good

  • across frame sharpness (except for extreme corners) already at f/4.0
  • correction of longitudinal CA
  • size
  • price
average

  • bokeh
  • correction of lateral CA
  • distortion
  • vignetting
  • build quality
  • weight
not good

  • minimum focus distance of 2.5m!
  • flare resistance!
  • maximum magnification
  • sunstars

As some of you may remember I wasn’t overly impressed by the Leica 135mm 4.0 Tele Elmar. A slow 135mm lens with bad minimum focus distance which does not excel in any category does not serve me a purpose. Thing is, this Jupiter-11 is much worse compared to that Leica lens. And while Leica lenses are usually very expensive this is not the case here, you can easily find one for less than 200$.

Considering the unusual vignetting pattern, the disastrous flare resistance and the ridiculously bad minimum focus distance I can’t really recommend this lens to anyone.

Rather have a look at the Leica 135mm 4.0 Tele Elmar if you want something small with great build quality or at the Canon FD 135mm 2.8 if you want something better suited for taking portraits.

A Jupiter-11 in good condition usually starts selling for $45 at ebay.com (affiliate link). In Germany buying one in A-condition will set you back at least 60€. I got mine at ebay.de (affiliate link).

Further Reading

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My name is Bastian and for many years I have been mostly shooting Nikon DSLRs. As of today I have made my transition from Nikon to Sony and I am mainly using small but capable manual lenses. My passion is landscape photography but I also like to delve into other subjects from time to time.

8 thoughts on “Quick Review: Jupiter-11 135mm 4.0”

  1. I can really recommend the Nikkor 3.5/135. AI or AI-S only, not the older versions. Hardly larger than the rangefinder lenses, integrated lens hood, better coatings and good edge to edge performance (though admittedly not as good as the 2/135 lenses you mention). The AI has the longer focus throw than the AI-S, so some people might prefer it. The f/2.8 is quite similar – maybe a tad sharper in the center, and a bit worse in the edges.

    1. The f.2.8 AI-S version of the 135mm Nikkor comes with just a one ounce weight penalty vs. the f.3.5 iteration, which some may not expect.

  2. Look out for a Jupiter 37-A lens. It has a much better color rendition and contrast and practically no chromatic aberrations at all. Highly usable für landscape photography on modern sensors.

    1. And the best version of the 37A is considered an “MC-H-30” lens. At the time of production, it was sold for 120 roubles when an “MC” version was sold for 100 roubles and an ordinary version without mc was sold for 55 roubles. (I have one for sale, by the way 🙂 )
      Look how sharp it can be corner o corner at f4 – https://cloud.mail.ru/public/4Uo2/edAvKQN68

  3. Hi Bastian,

    Great review as always.

    I am surprised you did not compare it with the Tair 11. It is a fantastic lens and faster. It is heavier however as expected. I have it and love it. It has 20 aperture blades and melts away the background into a smooth paste.

    Cheers

  4. Minimal focusing distance a bit shocked me in your review at first. I had to check my copy of the lens. And it is definitely 1,5m. The only diference is mount. Mine is Contax/Kiev. Contrary to the Jupiter-8 (or Sonnar 5cm) the Jupiter-11 has its own helicoid, so only simple(and cheap) adapter is needed.

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