The 8 Best M42 Lenses in 2023 For Your Cameras

There is always something good about vintage especially if you want to capture some image with an elusive quality or character. Old lenses are also good when you want to express uniqueness in every image you take.

Choosing the best M42 Camera lenses enables one to create his personal styles, character, resolutions numbers, and sharpness through image corners. In essence, buying an M42 is more or less going through the crucial details a person looking for a lens would be looking for.

The popularity of using vintage lenses on digital cameras has led to the creation of adapters that allow for easy lens mounting. Here are our top eight favorite lenses that you can use on digital cameras

Best m42 Lenses

M42 Lenses 2023 – Comparison

RankingProduct NameLens TypeMaximum Focal Length
17artisans Fixed LensFixed-non-zoom50 Millimeters
2Helios 44-2 Russian LensStandard58 Millimeters
3Jupiter Russian Portrait LensStandard85 Millimeters
4MC Helios F2 Russian LensStandard20 Millimeters
5PENTAX Takumar LensStandard55 Millimeters
6HELIOS 44mm USSR LensStandard58 Millimeters
7Industar Digital Camera Lens55 Millimeters
8Mir 1 V (B) Wide Angle Lens

1. 7artisans Fixed Lens

The lens is compatible with Leica M4 Cameras. It is a full frame model with a focal length of about 50mm and an angular range field view of 45 degrees. The product is made up of 7 elements in 6 groups all held within an aluminum body and copper core which is light and compact. The lens is optimized to work on full aperture giving sharpness and contrast in an image.


  • Light and compact with a sonar structure
  • Can be on autofocus when used with a Sony E-mount adapter
  • Superior optical quality
  • Low chromatic aberration


  • Quality control is very poor

2. Helios 44-2 Russian Lens

The Helios 44-2 Russian Lens comes out as a well-constructed compared to the recent plastic ones. You need to get used to its manual focus by training to be quick on getting a focus. A picture coming from the lens comes out as unique and beautiful. The angle of viewing can be reduced and convert the lens into an aperture portrait lens.


  • They are sturdy and well constructed
  • Ideal for portraits, landscapes, and macro shooting
  • Produces artistic pictures from color reproduction and smooth background color
  • You can smooth out minor blemishes and make transition softer


  • No lens cap or covers

Also read: 6 Best Case for Sony RX100 & Best Lens for Night Photography – The 15 Glasses That Top the Charts

3. Jupiter Russian Portrait Lens

The Jupiter Russian Portrait Lens offers good quality and a soft focus with an excellent out of focus rendition. It has a focal length of 85mm and a wider viewing angle of the range of 28 degrees. The lens is aluminum made that adds to the low weight of the entire lens. The lens does not produce onion rings because of the rounded blades that maintain the circular shape.


  • Easy to operate the aperture
  • Lightweight based on its aluminum construction
  • Favorable for portraits, landscape, and architecture


  • Stiff focusing rings
  • The aperture ring has no click stops

4. MC Helios F2 Russian Lens

Despite its longevity in the market, the MC Helios F2 is still far from being forgotten. If you are a student of fine art or portrait photographer, this is the lens you should have. There is a distinctive effect known as the swirly broken effect that draws many photographers towards the lens. The internal design is based on the popular Zeiss Biota lens.


  • The outer body is made of thick durable metal
  • Good for portraits, nature, and street photography
  • Produces sharp images


  • Does not have a zoom feature
  • You need the right conditions to get the swirl effect

5. PENTAX Takumar Lens

PENTAX Takumar is an old-time classic and promises to offer the best vintage lenses commonly available in the market. They have a nice length for portrait photography, and it may not perform so well in street photography.


  • Produces good images through color rendition
  • Photos can easily get an almost 3D effect
  • Has a smooth focus ring that always looks new even after prolonged use
  • Easy to use and master using the lens


  • You may need an adapter for some cameras
  • Has a heavy construction

6. HELIOS 44mm USSR Lens

HELIOS is an excellent tool that comes with its adapter and with front and rear lens cap. It lacks a ROM connection on the ring of the adapter, so diaphragm control has to be set manually. When using an adapter, the “stop-down mode” needs to be activated when calibrating the lens because the camera body cannot control the lens. You are free to shoot in manual or aperture priority mode.


  • xCompact design
  • Captive bokeh
  • Affordable
  • Easy to find in the market


  • Prone to flare
  • Heavy considering its size
  • Chromatic aberration

7. Industar Digital Camera Lens

If you are looking for an image that will come out as sharp and full of contrast. The lens frame has seven aperture blades and four elements. The coating is done for the front element while the rear ones have an anti-reflective coat. The focus is set to manual as the design of the entire lens is based on the Zeiss Jenna Tessar Design.


  • The center of the image remains sharp
  • Has a good contrast and micro-contrast
  • Good color rendition
  • The image produced has a lot of character
  • Compact


  • Has a lot of flaring
  • Difficult to adjust aperture
  • Does not fit on most adapters

8. Mir 1 V (B) Wide Angle Lens

The Mir 1 Wide Angle Lens has a beautiful design that spots a tank like full metal solid construction. The aperture adjustments do not require complex procedures to set them up. Therefore, this helps when handling videos during recording. The aperture blades give a round circle within the armature range. The focus ring rotation has a wide range of 270 degrees.


  • Does not break easily due to its solid construction
  • The aperture and focusing ring are easy to adjust
  • Creates unique flares
  • Has a smooth bokeh
  • Has very sharp imaging


  • Not suitable for taking close portraits
  • Not suitable for event shoots, films, and fashion videos
  • You need to learn how to create aperture and focus settings

The Buying Guide For M42 Lenses

The technical details surrounding the M42 camera lenses may confuse you if you are unsure of what to get for your specific camera mount. You do not need to worry because we also lined up a simple process to give you the kind of peace you need when looking for the best M42 Camera lens.

Think About the Subject

First, when picking on the lens to use, make considerations on the type of scenery you like to photograph. A person who admires landscapes or travel photographs should think of owning a lens with a wider view; sports enthusiast should buy one that facilitates zooming, the portrait lover will, of course, go for the normal camera lens.

Decide on the Aperture

Every lens has an aperture, which in plain terms means a “hole.” The aperture should be adjustable to let in more or less light. Bigger apertures work better in the dark; an aperture is unit of measurement is the f-stops. When you hit the shelves, every lens is known by its largest aperture. When working indoors or at night, look for lenses with low f-stops.

Look at all Possible Camera Options

Look around the internet or your manual and note the specific type of lens that can work with your device. Explore different mounting options that can work with your camera but remember there are always specific lenses that will work with particular cameras.

User Reviews

Once you select your options, get to a page with user reviews, and get an honest insight from legitimate users. In this case, most of our reviews came from Amazon; however, other sites that offer similarity to what we may be having on such review pages.

Reviews should more details on an in-depth review of how the lens in a different light environment, image sharpness, speeds of lens focus, and the weight of the lens. You can look for lenses with consistent problems to ascertain that the present error is not due to lens defects.

Image Stabilization

This is yet another important factor to consider when looking for M42 lenses. Generally, the feature helps minimize blur in images and comes in handy when working in low-light conditions. It also helps you shoot at slower shutter speeds and using smaller apertures so you don’t get blurry photos.

While the feature is common amongst many lens models, we recommend checking to see if it’s available on M42 lenses. However, lenses that come with this feature tend to be more expensive than those with no image stabilization.

Auto focus

The best M42 lenses should have a good auto-focus system that is capable of accurately shooting moving subjects.

Luckily most lenses provide photographers with the alternative to switch between manual and autofocus. Other lenses offer various autofocus options to choose from.

But overall, the best M42 lenses are the ones that can be auto-focus as they are easy to use. Besides, they provide more convenience.

Focusing Range

Also referred to as the focal length, this is how much magnification the lens can provide. Basically, the focal length is indicated in millimeters (mm).

So, the greater the focal length a lens has, the more magnification you get and the vice versa is true. Generally, a lens with a focus distance of between 8mm and 24mm is designed to offer a very wide angle of view.

However, lenses with focal length ranging from 85mm to 135mm enable you to work at a good distance from the subject. On the other hand, there are lenses whose focal distance range from 800mm to 2000mm. These are suitable for professional wildlife and sports photographers.

Build Quality

Also worth considering is the overall build quality of the M42 lenses you want to buy. The best lenses should be made of high-quality materials to ensure long-lasting performance.

Generally, lenses that are made of all-metal bodies plus aluminum shells tend to be highly durable. But if you plan to use the lenses for outdoor shooting, then you should consider those that are weatherproof.

Weight and Size

Last but not least, you need to think about the weight and size of your M42 lenses carefully. For instance, if you will be on your feet all day shooting, then the lenses need to be lightweight.

Additionally, for portability convenience, you need to take into account how big the lenses are. The lenses should be small enough to fit in your backpack without any issues.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, we’re going to respond to some of the frequently asked questions we came across while writing this review. So, read on.

Can I use old lenses on new cameras?

Recently, a lot of companies have changed how their lenses and cameras fit together. Therefore, old lenses may not fit in new cameras.

Do lens adapters really affect image quality?

Yes but those with no optical elements don’t affect any quality. However, if the adapter is not precisely engineered, it can affect the quality.

What’s the best M42 lens?

It all depends on what your needs and preferences are. However, it should produce great picture quality, easy to use in low-light conditions, portable, and with great focal length.


Now that you know what you need to buy, testing the lens before you purchase your selection. In our review, we go with the Jupiter Russian Portrait Lens because of its focal length and its ability to capture scenes within a particular range. The lens is also durable and light in weight owing to its aluminum construction. The PENTAX Takumar Lens may need an adapter to fit in on your camera, but it is also a good option if you want to carry out color rendition and get to know how to leave your images with an impressive 3D-like appearance.

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