Top 18 Best Value Soviet (USSR) Lenses

Made all across the Soviet Union, these manual focus lenses continue to attract a following today – for the quirkiness, high sample variation, unique rendering, and straight up value for money.

Whether you’re using them on Soviet-era film SLRs or adapting them to your mirrorless camera, these lenses are plain fun.

Some of the best value Soviet lenses out there:

Wide Angle Lenses

  • Zenitar 16mm F2.8: A fun fisheye at a reasonable price, best on full frame or film. Still made in Russia today.
    Mounts: M42, EF, F, PK.
  • Mir-20 20mm F3.5: Modified Flektogon design. Center sharp wide open, sharp by f/5.6, get the MC (Multi coated) version. Lots of fun.
    Mounts: M42, F, PK.
  • Mir-24 35mm F2: Sharp, smooth bokeh. One of the best lenses of the USSR; prices are creeping up fast.
    Mounts: M42, F.
  • Mir-1 37mm F2.8: Flektogon design, lots of flaring, sharp; popular for video (clickless aperture, like the Helios 44).
    Mounts: M42.

Normal Lenses

  • Zenitar-M 50mm F1.7: very sharp, great bokeh. One of USSR’s best. Radioactive. Lower contrast but smooth out-of-focus areas.
    Mounts: M42.
  • Helios 77M-4 50mm F1.8: Swirly bokeh from f/1.8 – 2.8. High CA; “love it or hate it” for its out-of-focus areas. I prefer it to the Helios 44.
    Mounts: M42, PK.
  • Jupiter-8 50mm F2: Sonnar design. Glowy and soft wide open, sharp when stopped down. Lots of character, fun bokeh.
    Mounts: CRM, M39.
  • Helios 81H 50mm F2 (ARSAT H): Russian “H” = English N. This lens is for the Nikon F-Mount, not M42. Swirly bokeh (but not on the level of Helios 44).
    Mounts: M42, F.
  • Industar-61 50mm F2.8 L/Z: Unique bokeh; soft wide open, sharp stopped down, M39 (FED) is better than M42 (Zenit).
    Mounts: M42.
  • Industar 50-2 50mm F3.5: Very tiny Tessar clone; sharp by f/5.6; high sample variation.
    Mounts: M39, M42.
  • Helios 44-2 58mm F2: Swirly bokeh! Biotar copy, also in Zenit-E kit. 44M-4/5/6/7 are, sharper, more vivid, but less swirly.
    Mounts: M42.

Telephoto Lenses

  • Helios 40-2 85mm F1.5: Zeiss Biotar copy, a bokeh legend! Punchy colors, contrasty. Older version: 66mm filter and heavier.
    Mounts: M42.
  • Jupiter-9 85mm F2: This is not a sharp lens, but has character like no other. Experimental portrait king.
    Mounts: CSM, M39, M42.
  • Kaleinar-5N 100mm F2.8 MC: Only 6 blades, but excellent sharpness, colors, minimal distortion. Great portrait lens (value king).
    Mounts: M42, F.
  • Tair-11A 135mm F2.8: Bokeh monster (20 bladed aperture); Excellent for portraits, beautiful out of focus areas.
    Mounts: M39, M42.
  • Jupiter-37A 135mm F3.5: Bokeh on a budget, sharp, good for portraits, flares — get the MC version (and hood)!
    Mounts: M42.
  • Jupiter-21M 200mm F4: Very sharp / good colors, no tripod collar, hates backlight, lots of flaring, old school (less contrast).
    Mounts: M42.
  • Tair-3(A) 300mm F4.5: The Bazooka (or RPG?) Sharp from 5.6 onwards; originally part of the Photosniper kit. Big and heavy, but excellent.
    Mounts: M39, M42.

Comprehensive Soviet lens websites:

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