Vintage Lenses on Modern Cameras: Using M42 on Fujifilm X

45930440104_6c2c3fb4f9_c

Asahi Auto-Takumar 55mm f/2.2 on a Fujifilm X-T20

Lenses can be quite expensive. Most new lenses cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a couple thousand. Many people want to expand their glass collection but simply cannot afford it. A good solution is to use vintage lenses from the film era on your modern camera. An inexpensive adapter will allow you to attach lenses from another mount to your Fujifilm X camera. This is a cost-effective way to add more glass to your current camera kit.

One lens mount that’s common to find is M42 screw mount, which was originally designed by Carl Zeiss in the late-1930’s. Several different camera brands used M42 at one time or another, including Pentax, Contax, Praktica, Fujica, Yashica, Cosina, Ricoh, Zenit, Olympus and others. Most camera manufacturers who used M42 had moved on to other mounts by the late-1970s, but some M42 screw mount lenses are manufactured to this day. Thankfully, your options for this mount are plentiful!

What I love about many of these vintage lenses is that they have exceptional image quality, yet they also seem to have their own unique character. Many modern lenses are precision engineered, which is great, but they lack character. What sets one apart from another is just how precisely it was designed and tooled. Vintage lenses often have flaws, which might seem like a negative attribute, but these flaws sometimes produce unique effects that you’d never find on a brand-new lens. It might be a certain bokeh, soft corners, lens flare–whatever the flaw is, it makes your pictures less perfect, which is the character that is often missing in modern photography. Actor Willie Garson famously stated, “Perfection is the antithesis of authenticity.”

The challenge with using older lenses is that auto-focus and auto-aperture are out the window. You will need to manual focus, which is made easier thanks to focus peaking and focus confirmation, but it is still a skill to learn for those who aren’t used to it. You will have to set the aperture yourself, which isn’t a difficult skill, but if you always use auto-aperture this might take some practice. For some people there will be a learning curve, but I believe that the manual features are actually a help and not a hindrance, since it slows you down and forces you to consider things a little bit more deeply. You also must ensure that “Shoot Without Lens” is selected on your Fujifilm camera, or else it won’t work.

These old lenses are often easy to find for a reasonable price. Some can be expensive, but most are not. In fact, if you shop around, you can get two or three different lenses for less than $100! If money is tight, this is probably your best bet for purchasing additional glass for your camera. Look at thrift stores, antique shops, yard sales, flea markets, Facebook Marketplace and eBay for good bargains. Below are three different M42 screw mount lenses that I have used on Fujifilm X cameras.

Helios 44-2 58mm f/2

33644264825_b6beb192d0_c

The Helios 44-2 58mm f/2 is a Soviet Union lens renown for its swirly bokeh. It’s a knockoff of the Zeiss Jena Biotar 58mm f/2 that was made in the 1940’s and 1950’s. This lens was mass-produced in Russia for many, many years and can be found for very little money. In fact, mine came attached to a Zenit-E camera that was less than $50. If there is one lens that epitomizes character, this is it, as it has fantastic image quality, yet it can be quirky, often in the best ways possible.

34497306045_54807e81e5_c

Tricycle In The Woods – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & Helios 44-2

34190840780_642ff55cfc_c

Snake River Fog – Grand Teton NP, WY – Fujifilm X-E1 & Helios 44-2

Asahi Auto-Takumar 55mm f/2.2

45983677334_fff371e3ac_c

The Asahi Auto-Takumar 55mm f/2.2 was made by Pentax in the late-1950’s and early 1960’s, and there was a nearly identical lens but with a slightly larger aperture (f/2) that was manufactured into the 1970’s. This is a great prime lens that produces beautiful pictures. It doesn’t have as much character as the Helios, but it makes up for it by how lovely it renders pictures. It’s definitely a favorite of mine! Oh, and I paid $35 dollars for it and the camera that it was attached to.

46605950441_06347f4a2f_c

Welcome To Ogden – Ogden, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 & Asahi 55mm

46770058102_23dbbc1f8e_c

Super Moon Illumination – South Weber, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 & Asahi 55mm

Jupiter 21M 200mm f/4

46815958622_a46c1a1bdf_c

The Jupiter 21M 200mm f/4 is Soviet Union lens that was manufactured from the early 1970’s through the late 1990’s, and a nearly identical earlier version of this lens was introduced in the late 1950’s. The image quality is nothing short of fantastic, but it’s super heavy and feels like a tank. It’s not something that you want to carry around all day. The Jupiter 21M can sometimes be found for less than $100, so it’s a really great bargain for what you get. It’s a solid long-telephoto option for those on a tight budget.

40616113442_22902f7d97_c

Layers of Grey – Canyonlands NP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

25786669377_25bf54cefa_c

Endless Canyons – Dead Horse SP, UT – Fujifilm X-A3 & Jupiter 21M

My Fujifilm X Camera Lens Recommendations, Part 1: Fujinon

41812460832_00207a5440_z

Perhaps you got a new Fujifilm X camera for Christmas, or maybe you’ve had one for awhile now, and you are considering the purchase of a new lens. What options do you have? Which ones are good? What should you buy? You probably have a lot of questions, and you’re hoping to find some sound advice. Well, my goal is to give you sound advice! I’m hoping that this article will be helpful for those who are in the market for a new lens for their Fujifilm X camera.

There are tons of great lens options, most of which I’ve never owned. You could spend a small fortune collecting camera lenses. I certainly don’t have that kind of money lying around, so I’ve only owned a handful of different Fujinon lenses. I’m not going to talk much about the camera lenses that I’ve yet to use, and concentrate on the ones that I have firsthand experience with. I want you to know that the lenses listed below are ones that I have owned and used, and my opinions are based on my experience of capturing photographs with them.

Just so that you are aware, I am providing links to Amazon where you can purchase these lenses if you want to. If you do, I will receive a small kickback from Amazon for referring you, which helps to support this website. Nobody pays me to write these articles. If you happen to decide that you want to purchase a certain lens that I have linked to, and if Amazon is the seller you would normally use, it would be great if you used my links to do so. I certainly appreciate it!

Now let’s talk about lenses!

Zooms

Zoom lenses are popular because you can cover a large range of focal-lengths without carrying three, four or five different prime lenses. It simplifies things and allows you to have a smaller and lighter camera bag. It might make your camera kit more affordable, too. Zoom lenses are versatile, but there’s always a trade-off, which might be sharpness, distortion or maximum aperture. While I prefer prime lenses instead of zooms, Fujifilm offers many compelling zoom choices that are worth considering.

Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS

29106048563_bb68cf3f9e_z

Mirrored Mountain – Mirror Lake, UT – Fujifilm X-E1 & 18-55mm

The first lens that I want to talk about is the Fujinon XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4 R LM OIS, which is one of Fujifilm’s best zooms, available at Amazon for about $700. If you have the cheap kit zoom that came with your camera, this lens is similar but better–definitely an upgrade! It has a larger maximum aperture and produces results more in line with what you’d expect from a fixed-focal-length lens. There are some professional photographers who use this as their primary lens because of its size, quality and versatility. If you want something better than your cheap kit zoom lens but still want the convenience of the standard zoom, this is a very good option that you should strongly consider. Alternatively, the Fujinon XF 16-55mm f/2.8 R LM WR lens is even better, but will cost you several hundred dollars more.

Fujinon XC 50-230mm f/4.5-6.7 OIS II

43276437840_df8a0ce201_z

Clouds Around Timpanogos – Heber City, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 50-230mm

If you have a standard zoom lens but would like an option with more telephoto reach, the Fujinon XC 50-230mm f/4.5-6.7 OIS II is a good lens that won’t break the bank, and it’s available at Amazon for about $400. This lens is surprisingly lightweight for its size and surprisingly sharp for the price. If you are a wildlife or sports photographer, you might not find this lens to be sufficient for your needs, but for those who only need a longer lens occasionally, this is your best bet because of its excellent value. Alternatively, the Fujinon 55-200mm f/3.5-4.8 R LM OIS is a better lens for a few hundred dollars more, or for about $1,600, which is a steep price, the Fujinon 50-140mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR is the best quality option.

Primes

I prefer prime lenses over zooms. Since the focal-length is fixed, the optics can be more precisely engineered, often resulting in sharper glass with fewer flaws. Often prime lenses have a larger maximum aperture than zooms. The disadvantage is that you will likely need three, four or five different prime lenses, which can cost a lot of money and add significant bulk to your bag, while one or two zoom lenses might cover all your focal-length needs. There are pluses and minuses to both routes. Still, I’d rather have several prime lenses than one or two zooms, but that’s just my personal preference.

Fujinon XF 16mm f/1.4 R WR

41957151624_6687925a06_z

Night Sky Over Needles Highway – Hill City, SD – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 16mm

The Fujinon XF 16mm f/1.4 R WR, which is available at Amazon for about $1,000, is an excellent wide-angle prime lens. It is sharp and fast and quite wide, which makes it particularly great for dramatic points of view and astrophotography. Not everyone needs a lens that’s as wide-angle as this one, but for those who do, this is a superb choice. Alternatively, the Fujinon XF 14mm f/2.8 R, which doesn’t have as large of a maximum aperture as the 16mm, is slightly wider and cheaper, and overall an excellent option.

Fujinon XF 23mm f/2 R WR

28148330558_fd06b231e1_c

Starry Nights – Park City, UT – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 23mm

Everyone should have a walk-around prime lens, and the Fujinon XF 23mm f/2 R WR, which is available at Amazon for about $450, is a great choice for that role. This lens is superb, small and lightweight, and the focal-length is good for everyday shooting. If you’ve never owned a prime lens before, this is an excellent one to start with. There are several good alternatives, including the more expensive Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 R, the more wide-angle Fujinon XF 18mm f/2 R, the more telephoto Fujinon XF 35mm f/1.4 R and the more compact Fujinon XF 27mm f/2.8, all of which are quality lenses that are worth having. Pick one, as you should definitely own one.

Fujinon XF 60mm f/2.4 R Macro

42769948535_3b2036238a_z

From Dust To Dust – Great Sand Dunes NP, CO – Fujifilm X-Pro2 & 60mm

One of my favorite lenses is the Fujinon XF 60mm f/2.4 R Macro, which is available at Amazon for about $650. This lens is a short telephoto (in other words, telephoto but not too telephoto), which gives you a little more reach than the kit zoom, and is great for portraits or landscapes. It’s a macro lens, if just barely, which allows you to focus closer to the subject than many other lenses. I find it to be quite versatile. The quality is exceptional, and it’s pretty small and lightweight for what it is. If there is one complaint it’s that autofocus is a tad slow, which is typical of macro lenses, but it’s not that big of a deal. Alternatively, the Fujinon XF 56mm f/1.2 R, which some consider to be the very best Fujinon lens, is a similar focal length, but it’s about $1,000, and the Fujinon XF 80mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro, which also gets brought up in the “best Fujinon” conversations, might be a better macro lens, but it costs about $1,200.

Fujinon XF 90mm f/2 R LM WR

31555093207_588cc915e7_z

Great Salt Lake Evening – Layton, UT – Fujifilm X-T20 & 90mm

A great portrait lens, which is also a great landscape lens when you are a distance from the subject, is the Fujinon XF 90mm f/2 R LM WR. It’s available at Amazon for about $950.  This lens is a bit big and heavy, but it’s super sharp and captures lovely images. Because of its focal-length, it can be tough to use at times, but in those situations where you can use it, the lens delivers stunning results! As far as image quality is concerned, this is my favorite Fujinon lens. Alternatively, the Fujinon XF 80mm f/2.8 R LM OIS WR Macro, which is more expensive and not quite as telephoto, is really your only other option (outside of a telephoto zoom lens), but it’s also an excellent choice.

The list of Fujinon lenses above, plus the alternatives mentioned, are only some of the lenses available for your Fujifilm X camera. There are other great Fujinon options, plus third-party lenses, that you might also consider. These lenses have worked well for me and my photography, and I believe that they will do well for others, as well. If you do go with my suggestions, know that I am sincere in my recommendations, but that doesn’t mean that those lenses are necessarily the right ones for you and your photography, because I don’t know what your exact needs are. These are definitely generalized suggestions, and it’s a good idea to consider what would be the best options for what you will be capturing. Anytime you see someone recommend a certain camera or lens or other gear, it’s smart to do your own research to better understand what your needs are and how to best meet those needs. I hope that this article has been helpful to you in some way in your search for a new lens for your Fujifilm camera!

Part 2 – Third Party Lenses For Fujifilm X