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Zenitar-ME1 servicing advice?
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 08, 2018 8:22 pm    Post subject: Zenitar-ME1 servicing advice? Reply with quote

Hi all...

I recently took delivery of a beautiful Zenitar-ME1. It's in "as new" condition, but unfortunately has a slow and sticking diaphragm. In (M)anual mode, it will stop down to about f/5.6 but no further. In (A)uto mode - using the diaphragm pin to actuate - it stops down to around f/5.6 slowly, but doesn't open up when I release the pin until I switch back to (M)anual.

Looking through the glass, I can see what I believe is lubricant where the diaphragm blades cross over, and I'm fairly confident that cleaning the whole mechanism would restore operation to normal.

I also own the more common six blade Zenitar-M 1.7/50, and have previously serviced that lens, including a full dismantling and cleaning of the diaphragm. My question to the forum: Is the Zenitar-ME1 largely the same as the Zenitar-M 1.7/50 internally, except for the number of blades; and will the same approach to diaphragm servicing work for the ME1?

I'm also a little concerned about the electrical contacts and how they couple to the diaphragm... When I remove the rear of the lens, is there anything that can spring out and get lost easily, or is there anything else I should be concerned about?

I have the option of returning the lens to the overseas seller for a full refund, but it's such a perfect example except for this one problem - and I doubt I would find another one this nice for a long time, if ever. If I can negotiate a reasonable discount and service the lens myself, I'd prefer to keep it. That said, if it's a complicated lens to service - more so than the M 1.7/50 - then I might not wish to risk it. Although I'd be shooting with the lens occasionally, my main interest in it is as a collector's piece.

Any advice or assistance would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks in advance Smile


PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2018 6:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here, the disassembly (in Russian, but with step by step photos) https://nesovet.livejournal.com/403073.html

and the diaphragm schematics


PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2018 5:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I only tried lubricating the focusing ring which is really easy, just 3 simple screws on the focus ring. Have not tried anything beyond that.


PostPosted: Sat Mar 10, 2018 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anatol_M wrote:
Here, the disassembly (in Russian, but with step by step photos) https://nesovet.livejournal.com/403073.html

and the diaphragm schematics


Thank you, this is very useful indeed!

It's quite different to the Zenitar-M 1.7/50, but I guess that was to be expected. That diaphragm "cartridge" is unique... not like anything I've worked on before, but it doesn't look so bad.

If the seller is prepared to agree to a reasonable discount, I guess I'll keep the lens and service the diaphragm myself.

Thanks again, I really appreciate the information Smile


PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2018 7:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Thanks again, I really appreciate the information


You are welcome! I was looking at this lens back in the days, gathered some info, but found it overpriced and went for the Helios77-M4 export model instead.


PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2018 10:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anatol_M wrote:
Quote:
Thanks again, I really appreciate the information


You are welcome! I was looking at this lens back in the days, gathered some info, but found it overpriced and went for the Helios77-M4 export model instead.


It's certainly overpriced now!!

I'd been wanting one for my collection for a couple of years, but couldn't bring myself to spend the inflated prices. Eventually, this one turned up at a slightly better price than expected, but still way over the top for what it is optically. It's really more of a collector's piece for me.

The 77M-4 is a lovely lens, at a far better price / performance ratio...


PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2018 6:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

BigMackCam wrote:
Anatol_M wrote:
Quote:
Thanks again, I really appreciate the information


You are welcome! I was looking at this lens back in the days, gathered some info, but found it overpriced and went for the Helios77-M4 export model instead.


It's certainly overpriced now!!

I'd been wanting one for my collection for a couple of years, but couldn't bring myself to spend the inflated prices. Eventually, this one turned up at a slightly better price than expected, but still way over the top for what it is optically. It's really more of a collector's piece for me.

The 77M-4 is a lovely lens, at a far better price / performance ratio...


This is the first I'm learning of these. Looking at some images comparing the Zenitar M50/1.7 to some Takumars, it seems close enough in raw performance but the coatings don't stand up to SMC... low overall contrast. What would be a fair price for these lenses?


Last edited by Teemō on Sun Mar 11, 2018 7:02 pm; edited 1 time in total


PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2018 6:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

well the ME1 is quiet rare, it has a one of a kind square aperture, I use it mainly for video.


PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 10:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Teemō wrote:
This is the first I'm learning of these. Looking at some images comparing the Zenitar M50/1.7 to some Takumars, it seems close enough in raw performance but the coatings don't stand up to SMC... low overall contrast. What would be a fair price for these lenses?


I'm passionate about my Soviet lenses, but none of them have coatings that compete with SMC, IMHO. There are some gems, though... the Zenitar-M 1.7/50, Helios-77M-4, the humble (and largely plastic) Zenitar-M2(S) etc... There are plenty more that are worth trying Wink


Last edited by BigMackCam on Tue Mar 13, 2018 12:03 am; edited 2 times in total


PostPosted: Mon Mar 12, 2018 10:11 pm    Post subject: Re: Zenitar-ME1 servicing advice? Reply with quote

BigMackCam wrote:
I have the option of returning the lens to the overseas seller for a full refund, but it's such a perfect example except for this one problem - and I doubt I would find another one this nice for a long time, if ever. If I can negotiate a reasonable discount and service the lens myself, I'd prefer to keep it.


UPDATE: The seller - a great guy I've bought numerous lenses from over the years - has offered me a generous discount in recognition of the problem, and I've gracefully accepted. It means I get the lens for considerably less than current market value (although that's still too expensive, really!!). I just need to service the diaphragm, which the disassembly photos should enable me to do quite easily - when I can find the time and courage Laughing


PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2018 7:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BigMackCam wrote:
Teemō wrote:
This is the first I'm learning of these. Looking at some images comparing the Zenitar M50/1.7 to some Takumars, it seems close enough in raw performance but the coatings don't stand up to SMC... low overall contrast. What would be a fair price for these lenses?


I'm passionate about my Soviet lenses, but none of them have coatings that compete with SMC, IMHO. There are some gems, though... the Zenitar-M 1.7/50, Helios-77M-4, the humble (and largely plastic) Zenitar-M2(S) etc... There are plenty more that are worth trying Wink


I always read mixed reviews of Russian glass. I've only had the opportunity to try an m39 Industar-61 L/D and was pretty dissapointed. Lens seemed like new and glass was very clean but results were awful on m43. I'm tempted to pick up another copy but my issue was largely with the coatings giving a completely yellow cast and veil. Sharpness (as far as m43 goes) must have been about as expected for a Russian Tessar. Otherwise my only experience with a Tessar has been an Agfa Color-Solinar 45mm F2.8 on film which was really excellent, including the coatings.

Are there any Russian m42 lenses you can recommend that are particularly worthwhile trying, or are they all somewhat inferior to native/OEM glass? With m42, I'd be able to use them on my Minolta SLR.


PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2018 9:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Teemō wrote:
Are there any Russian m42 lenses you can recommend that are particularly worthwhile trying, or are they all somewhat inferior to native/OEM glass? With m42, I'd be able to use them on my Minolta SLR.
USSR lenses are somehow unique. It's a love or hate relationship. As you have already discovered, the coatings are not up to "western" standards. However, bokeh and "color tint" tend to be great. Mechanically they are either built like a tank (eg. the Helios 44-2 family) or really fragile (eg. Jupiter-3).

For M42 there are plenty good USSR made lenses.

The KMZ Zenitar-M is famous for its sharpness and smooth bokeh. Early KMZ Helios 44-2 has its unique swirly bokeh. KMZ Helios 40-X got also a very nice swirly bokeh. LZOS Jupiter-11 or 37 are very nice Zeiss clones with a full circle aperture. KMZ Tair-11 is a so-called bokeh monster (although with poor corners).


PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2018 11:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Teemō wrote:
Are there any Russian m42 lenses you can recommend that are particularly worthwhile trying, or are they all somewhat inferior to native/OEM glass? With m42, I'd be able to use them on my Minolta SLR.


It depends on what you consider to be good and bad in a lens. What I would call "character" and find appealing, you might consider to be flawed... It's very subjective.

In wide angle, I'd recommend the MIR-10 3.5/28. For moderate wide angle, the MIR-24 2/35 or an early 1970s "Grand Prix Brussels" MIR-1 2.8/37 (not the MIR-1B). For "normal", there's lots of choice... any of the Helios-44 range (especially the multi-coated variants), the Helios-77-M4 and Zenitar-M 1.7/50 are particularly nice, and the Zenitar-M2 (and slightly cheaper, more flimsy M2S) is surprisingly good. Earlier Jupiter-9 2/85 is great for short tele work, and the Jupiter-37A 3.5/135 is a lovely longer tele - as are the Telezenitar-M 2.8/135 and Tair-11A 2.8/135. The Telemar-22A 5.6/200 is great for longer tele work (though obviously not the fastest). and the Tair-3 4.5/300 is excellent.

All of these are perform well optically when used to their strengths, but I'll say again, your assessment of what makes a good or bad lens may well be different to mine. Most of those I listed are pretty sharp and render out of focus areas nicely, but they're not going to give the kind of razor-like, edge-to-edge sharpness and super-high contrast associated with modern lens designs, and most will need stopping down a little to provide decent performance (although I rather like the wide open rendering of some models).

The multi-coated lenses tend to have better contrast than those with only single / partial coatings, so where possible I'd recommend those... and using an appropriate sized hood is a good idea to reduce flare, including the veiling type that kills contrast. Alternatively, a well placed hand can help Smile


Last edited by BigMackCam on Wed Mar 14, 2018 1:52 pm; edited 1 time in total


PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2018 1:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had the Helios-44-3 and sold it, as even the center resolution was below my expectations, the flare was nasty too. Also I disliked it's overall construction and operation, that preset diaphragm ring is strange (of cause it may have been just my copy, and those Belorussian 44-3's are all kind of an odd-ball in Helios family).

Helios-77-M4 on the other hand is a joy to use, its build quality is actually better, than some of my Japanese lenses and bokeh is insane. Although it easily catches all sorts of ghosts when exposed to strong counterlight, the results are "artistic" and really cool. You almost can spot a unicorn riding a rainbow in there =)
But it's better to look for Latin inscribed versions with Jupiter logo, they have a different coating which works better then the one on domestic version with the VOMZ logo.

The H-77 :



PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2018 4:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's an extensive list, thank you very much y and Mack! I only knew 3 of them before.

I agree Anatol_M, that image from the 77 is very appealing! The bokeh on that one seems like a strange mix of very smooth with conventional, ringed cats eyes.

Something that's always confused me is the sheer number of models/production variants and also the different factories/brands involved, that seem to be producing the same or very similar lenses? And export/latin-script lenses are always superior?

And is there a preferred shop or seller to purchase Russian lenses in good/guaranteed condition?


PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2018 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The bokeh on that one seems like a strange mix of very smooth with conventional, ringed cats eyes.

Don't forget, that this is a Biotar type lens but a one stop brighter than the classics, so the bokeh is swirly and very pronounced.

Quote:
Something that's always confused me is the sheer number of models/production variants and also the different factories/brands involved, that seem to be producing the same or very similar lenses?


They were not commercial enterprises but huge state factories making mostly military hardware from binoculars to satellite recon systems, so a lens blueprint would be distributed to them from the developer institution in some bureaucratic fashion. Although each factory may have introduced some of their own ideas, like different coatings. But of cause it's not that simple, so different models are sometimes numerous)

Quote:
And export/latin-script lenses are always superior?


Not necessary, for example Arsat 100mm f2.8 (in Latin) seems to have a bad rep as they were built after the dissolution of USSR from last-batch parts with low QA, and original Kaleinar (inscribed in Russian) may have a better quality. So, it's a good idea to study the history behind every soviet lens you'll want to buy =)

Quote:
And is there a preferred shop or seller to purchase Russian lenses in good/guaranteed condition?

Can't say anything about E-bay sellers, I bought mine from a local auction. But I just did some googlin, and surprisingly one is for sale in Australia =) https://www.ebay.com/itm/Helios-77M-4-MC-50mm-F1-8-M42/192481250036?hash=item2cd0c6caf4:g:cecAAOSwRHVamc~r[/quote]
Quote:


PostPosted: Wed Mar 14, 2018 7:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anatol_M wrote:
Don't forget, that this is a Biotar type lens but a one stop brighter than the classics, so the bokeh is swirly and very pronounced.


I can see why you'd say this, but technically it isn't a Biotar-type. There are similarities in the arrangement of six elements in four groups, with the aperture between the second and third groups, but the element design is quite different to a Biotar. I understand what you were getting at, though Very Happy


PostPosted: Thu Mar 15, 2018 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok, lets say, that the lens has internal vignetting (probably accompanied by astigmatism) that strongly influences the OOF rendering =)


PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2018 11:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anatol_M wrote:
Ok, lets say, that the lens has internal vignetting (probably accompanied by astigmatism) that strongly influences the OOF rendering =)


Agreed Smile I realise I was being quite picky and specific Laughing


PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2018 12:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cheers for the info!