Review: Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0

Introduction

Sony A7s with Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0 and VM-E close focus adapter (Helicoid)
Sony A7s with Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0 and VM-E close focus adapter (Helicoid)

The Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0 is actually a copy of the Zeiss Sonnar 85mm 2.0 and was produced in the UDSSR after WWII. This is my favourite among the Jupiter lenses tested so far, read on to find out why!

Sample Images

jupiter 9 85mm 2.0 soviet bokeh portrait sony a7 review e-mount leica
Sony A7s | Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0 | f/2.0
jupiter 9 85mm 2.0 soviet bokeh portrait sony a7 review e-mount leica close focus flower tulip
Sony A7s | Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0 | f/2.0 | full resolution
jupiter 9 85mm 2.0 soviet bokeh portrait sony a7 review e-mount landscape water waterfall long exposure nd filter
Sony A7s | Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0 | f/11 | full resolution

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 quite early lens from 1958 here (the first two digits of the serial number are the production year, 58 in this case) which has the following specifications:

    • Diameter: 58.0 mm
    • Field of view: 29° (diagonally)
    • Length:  76.0 mm
    • Weight: 318 g
    • Filter Diameter: 49  mm
    • Number of Aperture Blades: 15 (rounded)
    • Elements/Groups: 7/3
    • Close Focusing Distance: 1.1 m (with Helicoid ~0.7 m)
    • Maximum Magnification: 1:11.3 (with Helicoid 1:7.3)
    • Mount: M39 (aka LTM or Zorki)

A Jupiter-9 in good condition usually starts selling for $145 at ebay.com (affiliate link). In Germany buying one in A-condition will set you back at least 115€. I got mine at ebay.de (affiliate link).

Handling / Build Quality

Sony A7s with Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0 and VM-E close focus adapter (Helicoid)
Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0

There is quite some sample variation with these lenses. This one had an easy to operate aperture ring but a very stiff focusing ring.  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 1.0 m takes about 120°, turning the aperture ring from f/2.0 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. Newer versions are still made from aluminum but painted black and don’t attract scratches as much to my experience.

Vignetting and colorcast

vignetting jupiter-9 85mm 2.0 zorki fed m39 rangefinder

Taking the physical dimensions into account vignetting is suprisingly low at only 1.6 EV wide open and rarely noticeable further stopped down.

Sharpness

infinity
jupiter 9 85mm 2.0 soviet bokeh portrait sony a7 review e-mount leica sunstars sharpness close coma resolution contrast
Wide open the lens is somewhat soft and not really contrasty in general. This can be favorable for portraits, for landscape and architecture, not so much. The center looks pretty good af f/2.8, the midframe at f/5.6 and the corners quite ok at f/11.

close focus
jupiter 9 85mm 2.0 soviet bokeh portrait sony a7 review e-mount leica sunstars sharpness close
For these shots I was using the VM-E helicoid adapter at maximum extension (around 4 mm), so keep in mind you are looking at 100% crops of photos taken at the extended(!) minimum focus distance. The lens was never intended to be used at these distances and does not incorporate a floating elements design either, still the performance wide open isn’t all that bad. Stop down to f/2.8 and things look very good here.

Flare resistance

jupiter-9 85mm 2.0 flare lens resistance sony a7s a7
Sony A7s | Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0 | f/11

The flare resistance is certainly nothing to write home about and the lens certainly shows it’s age here. You get ghosts, other artifacts and much lower contrast.

jupiter-9 85mm 2.0 flare lens resistance sony a7s a7
Sony A7s | Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0 | f/11

Coma

jupiter 9 85mm 2.0 soviet bokeh portrait sony a7 review e-mount leica sunstars sharpness close coma

Wide open the performance isn’t great here, stopping down to f/4.0 helps a lot. So stop down to at least f/4.0 when shooting city scapes or similar subjects.

Distortion

Distorion characteristics of Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0
Distorion characteristics of Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0

There is very minor pincushion Distortion which I don’t consider an issue.

Bokeh

jupiter 9 85mm 2.0 soviet bokeh portrait sony a7 review e-mount leica
Sony A7s | Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0 | f/2.0 | full resolution

Certainly one of the strong points of the lens, in case you like Sonnar bokeh. The edges get blurred quite a lot as can be seen in the example above. There are no onion rings, hardly any outlining and because of the 15 rounded aperture blades highlights stay nearly perfectly round on stopping down.
Interestingly mechanical vignetting is not really an issue, because of the small dimensions of the lens this really suprised me.

jupiter 9 85mm 2.0 soviet bokeh portrait sony a7 review e-mount leica
Sony A7s | Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0 | f/2.0 | full resolution


Bokeh, crop of upper right corner, f2.0 (before) / f4.0 (after)

Sunstars

jupiter 9 85mm 2.0 soviet bokeh portrait sony a7 review e-mount leica sunstars
Sony A7s | Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0 | f/11 | full resolution

If have written it before, you either have nice highlights on stopping down or nice sunstars and 15 rounded aperture blades lead to pretty bad sunstars:

jupiter 9 85mm 2.0 soviet bokeh portrait sony a7 review e-mount leica sunstars
100% crop from photo above

Chromatic aberrations

longitudinal

jupiter 9 85mm 2.0 soviet bokeh portrait sony a7 review e-mount leica loCA close focus
Sony A7s | Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0 | f/2.0 | 50% crop, minimum focus distance

The loCA correction is pretty good for such a fast yet old lens. In real world shooting I did not even once notice loCA in a bothersome way in any of my pictures. Only with the use of the helicoid adapter (which works as a 4 mm extension tube here) at the extended minimum focus distance loCA start to appear.

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). This is one of the few lenses where the outlinings are yellow and purple instead of magenta and cyan.


Sony A7s | Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0 | f/4.0 | CA 100% crop before/after extreme corner

Alternatives

Leica Summicron-M 90mm 2.0 pre-Asph:
This is still my preferred portrait lens when using A7 cameras. Better optics, way better build quality, about six times as expensive.

Zeiss Batis 85mm 1.8:
In case money isn’t really an issue and you prefer a native lens with AF and IS this lens might be for you. I haven’t used one myself but Jannik is currently using one and preparing a review.

Legacy SLR 85mm lenses:
85mm has always been a popular focal length so there are many legacy lenses to chose from. You can start having a look at this comparison.

Conclusion

good

  • bokeh
  • size / weight
  • price
  • correction of longitudinal CA
  • distortion
  • vignetting
average

  • correction of lateral CA
  • build quality
  • handling
not good

  • contrast/sharpness
    wide open
  • flare resistance
  • sunstars
  • coma correction
    (below f/4.0)

This lens has become quite the classic and I can definetly understand that. The lens is small, lightweight, affordable, offers great bokeh and stopped down sharpness isn’t bad either. Still I see it more as a special purpose lens for portraiture than a general purpose tele. Sharpness and especially contrast aren’t up to my taste for landscape and architecture, neither are the sunstars.
There are also lenses with better handling, as the aperture ring has no click stops you pretty much have to look at the lens when changing the aperture, which is something I don’t like. There also seems to be quite a bit sample variation. I have had two of these lenses so far, one with wobbly aperture ring and stiff focusing ring, the other one quite ok, so only buy from trusted sellers or be sure to try before buy.

So, who is this lens for? Anyone, who looks for a small yet fast and affordable portrait lens and can live with the so so build quality and handling. One thing is for sure: this is the biggest bang for the buck when it comes to rangefinder portrait lenses.

A Jupiter-9 in good condition usually starts selling for $145 at ebay.com (affiliate link). In Germany buying one in A-condition will set you back at least 115€. I got mine at ebay.de (affiliate link).

Sample Images

jupiter 9 85mm 2.0 soviet bokeh portrait sony a7 review e-mount leica stuttgart bokeh
Sony A7s | Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0 | f/2.0 | full resolution
jupiter 9 85mm 2.0 soviet bokeh portrait sony a7 review e-mount leica
Sony A7s | Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0 | f/2.0 | full resolution
jupiter 9 85mm 2.0 soviet bokeh portrait sony a7 review e-mount leica
Sony A7s | Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0 | f/11 | full resolution
jupiter 9 85mm 2.0 soviet bokeh portrait sony a7 review e-mount leica
Sony A7s | Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0 | f/2.0 | full resolution
jupiter 9 85mm 2.0 soviet bokeh portrait sony a7 review e-mount leica
Sony A7s | Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0 | f/2.0 | full resolution

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.

47 thoughts on “Review: Jupiter-9 85mm 2.0”

  1. Great review! I bought this lens about three weeks ago and have enjoyed the unique and dreamy look that it gives to portraits and other pictures. I’m pretty sure my lens is a later edition that the one you reviewed as it is shorter, wider and matt grey. Though I currently only use cameras with APS-C sized sensors I look forward to trying this lens on a full frame camera body.

  2. Great review! I bought this lens about three weeks ago and have enjoyed the unique and dreamy look that it gives to portraits and other pictures. I’m pretty sure my lens is a later edition that the one you reviewed as it is shorter, wider and matt grey. Though I currently only use cameras with APS-C sized sensors I look forward to trying this lens on a full frame camera body.

    1. They are quite different, yes. I was also taking a closer look at the Contax G 90mm 2.8 which seems to be a great everyday tele lens with rarely any flaws but the noisy AF and the not so great manual focus experience rather let me down.
      Optically the Contax is no doubt the better lens, but you buy the Jupiter for it’s soft rendering wide open which the Contax does not have.
      Luckily they are both decently priced, so you may be able to acquire both 🙂

  3. Nice review, I enjoyed reading it. I was wondering if you had a chance to compare the M39 vs Kiev mount versions of this lens. I have the Kiev version and conventional wisdom on the net suggest Kiev version may have better coating and better performance wide open in regards to resolution and flare.

  4. The Kiev and 39mm thread mount versions of the J-9 have the same optics and barrel; the focus mount and aperture ring are different. You can take the barrel out of a Kiev mount lens and put it into the M39 mount, just switch the aperture ring when you do- different thickness. The KMZ manufactured lenses had better quality control than later made lenses.

  5. Great review! I have got two J9, one black M42 from the 90s and one silver M39 from 1966. The black one is soft at f2 and gets sharper stopped down. The silver one is sharp wide open (on my 12MP Canon 5D) and is nice to focus. In the distance its blurry but in short distance a very good portrait lens. Here are 2 Shots between f2 and f2.8 – not sure.
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/tmertens/25217697523/
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/tmertens/25749200901/

  6. My Jupiter 9 is 1958 by Litkarino – bought from an Ukranian dealer and goy it fully CLA’d by a Bulgarian Lens repairman

    It is in excellent condition and after reading your comment – had it fitted with a China made Leica M helicoid and a Leica LTM to M adapter

    I use it for indoor close shots and find it quite effective together with my Sony A7II – thanks for sharing your expertise on this legacy glass

  7. My Jupiter 9 is 1958 by Litkarino – bought from an Ukranian dealer and got it fully CLA’d by a Bulgarian Lens repairman

    It is in excellent condition and after reading your comment – had it fitted with a China made Leica M helicoid and a Leica LTM to M adapter

    I use it for indoor close shots and find it quite effective together with my Sony A7II – thanks for sharing your expertise on this legacy glass

  8. I bought a J 9 on ebay with the Kiev mount. It has no aperture ring. Is there any way to mount it on a Sony A 7?

    1. I don’t have first hands experience with the Kiev J9, but Kiev should be the same as M42 so a M42 -> Sony-E adapter should work.
      I am quite puzzled it doesn’t feature an aperture ring though…

      1. How can I determine which mount it is?
        I believe it is an m42, however.
        I have thr Techart Pro Leica M mount lens to Sony e mount camera Auto Focus Adaptor.

  9. Awesome Review!! I just got the JUPITER-9 85MM F2 KIEV MOUNT RUSSIAN LENS 4/3’S the adapter for the Sony a7II would be the same as the M39? Because the lens is longer like the m39

        1. The adapter in your link is for M42 version. Not for Kiev rnagefinder lens.

          You probably need this adapter:
          https://www.amazon.com/Fotasy-Contax-Rangerfinder-Bayonet-Adapter/dp/B004UPHX8S
          If you have Kiev/Contax mount lens. Which looks like this:
          https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Jupiter-9-Lens-85mm-f2-For-Contax-Kiev-Rangefinder-RF-Mount/202130596774?hash=item2f0fec23a6:g:4scAAOSw4vFZ-GUP
          Can be also in black however.

          There is also another different Kiev mount.
          It is Kiev 10/15 camera, for which Jupiter-9 was also in production. The lens looks like this one:
          https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/JUPITER-9-automat-85-mm-f2-per-Kiev-10-15-passo-baionetta/122822356537?hash=item1c98c86e39:g:KN8AAOSwbYZXcoEN

          From your description it is not clear which Kiev mount lens you own but from links above you should find what adapter you need.

  10. Hi everybody

    I m interested by jupiter 9 MOUNT for my SONY A 7R
    I have adaptateur vm voigtländer ; Is it good to adapt a jupiter 9 85/2 MOUNT supposed M39 whith VM VOIGTLANDER as I can see in your revue
    Think you very much and have a good day
    Michel

  11. Thank for the review. I just got my copy and it’s in excellent condition, as far as the aperture and focus ring; however, I’m very disappointed with the image. No matter what I do, I can’t seem to get anything in focus. My Sony a6000 has focus peaking and it does not show with this lenses because nothing is ever on focus. Is this a bad copy or am I doing something wrong. Your images seem sharp enough to me, but I can’t get that sharpness out of my copy.

    1. There must be something wrong with your copy.
      You will often find very short ones on ebay which state being “M39” (and usually these are dirt cheap) but they only work on some kind of old SLRs without an additional tube.
      You mind posting a picture of your lens?

  12. Hello Bastian,

    Could you please tell me which one you think is better for portraits between the one you talked here about and the TOKINA AT-X MACRO 90MM 1:2.5?

  13. Bastian,

    I have some doubts, which one is better between the M42 and M39 mount? I saw some samples that Thorsten published in the forum, but it was not clear which one belongs to M42 and which one belongs to M39. Another doubt: Is this lens good for weddings and any kind of people portraits? If not, do you have another recommendation?

    1. Optically M42 and M39 should be the same, I prefer M39 because of the smaller size.
      First 2 digits of the serial number are the production year, I would prefer a newer one, but opinions vary.

      I don’t shoot weddings for free and I intend to offer my customers the best possible result so I would not use it as my primary lens.
      I might use it for some additional shots with that special look though.

      1. Then Bastian, is it possible to have a good portraits kit with the lenses mentioned here? If so, could you please recommend me that kit?

        Thank you very much.

          1. Hi Bastian,

            About the Juniper mentioned here, could you please tell me if the older copies are better than the newer ones?

            If I get the M39, which one can I buy among the following descriptions? (I am a little confused, I am planning to buy a A7 or A7ii)

            -Zenit-type SLR
            -KMZ for SRL
            -Leika/Zorki rangefinder
            -Leika screw mount
            -Zorki FED

            What about if I get the M42?

            -Zenit-type SLR
            -SLR

            I think that the before two descriptions related to M42 are the same.

            I have another doubt. The M42 is heavier, but smaller than the M39, so how can they have the same behavior?

          2. I cannot tell you whether the older or the newer ones are better.
            Apparently some of the first ones (dating back to like 195x) are still using Zeiss glass from Germany,
            but I am not sure that actually means anything. I would rather try to get a newer (black one).
            The casing is a bit more durable and they less likely suffer from any defects.

            You are looking for Leica/Zorki/Screwmount. Kiev/Zenit SLR should be M42.
            The rear barrel of the M39 is empty and made from aluminium, what the M42 ones are made from I don’t know, but they are wider.

            I also recommend to check out the link in the review describing the
            M39 versions: http://www.sovietcams.com/index.php?-229548952 and the
            M42 versions: http://www.sovietcams.com/index.php?-1898658725
            You will see that optical design is exactly the same.

            Usually the sellers on ebay put up pictures, so it should be easy to spot an M39 one.

  14. Quick question…if I buy this lens to use on a Sony A6500 crop sensor is it still 85mm or is this lens for a full frame making it around 135mm or so on a crop sensor?

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