"Universal" lens screw mount

Discussion in 'Film Discussion and Q & A' started by voodoo_child, Oct 26, 2006.

  1. voodoo_child

    voodoo_child TPF Noob!

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  2. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    Voigtlander used to be a German camera and lens maker, the name is now owned by Cosina, a Japanese manufacturer which has been making cameras and lenses for quite a while but these are usually relabelled as Vivitar or something else. The "Universal" 42mm mount is usually known as the M42 mount; it was used by Praktica, Pentax, Fuji and several other companies. There is an enormous selection of cameras and an even larger selection of lenses from Japan, Germany and former Soviet countries. Quality obviously varies but some great stuff can be found for very little money. The only thing to bear in mind is that with the exception of Cosina/Voigtlander, no one (as far as I know) makes lenses for the mount any more. This is actually not a problem if you like fully manual cameras, since there are M42 lenses available to cover pretty much any requirement.

    The Voigtlander Bessaflex looks interesting, however remember that you could easily get an older Pentax or Praktica for less money, although the Voigtlander does have some features the older ones won't, like a shutter speed of 1/2000. Plus of course it'll be new and covered by a warranty, which can't be said for old second hand cameras. Another option, if you like more automatic features in your cameras or plan to own a digital SLR at some point, would be to get an autofocus camera made by Canon, Pentax or Minolta, and buy an adapter that would enable you to use M42 lenses on that camera. This would then enable you to use M42 lenses, but also modern autofocus lenses, without having to have an extra camera body.
     
  3. jamespetts

    jamespetts TPF Noob!

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    My very first (proper) camera was an M42 screw-mount Practika TL-Super from the 1960s/1970s. Although there are a few lenses available for it secondhand, I always found the choice of lenses in all the shops that I visited far more restircted than, say, old Canon FD mount leses or Nikon lenses, or even Pentax bayonet lenses.

    M42 screw mounts also have the disadvantage of being quite fiddly to use: it is very easy, for example, to drop a lens when unmounting it, as I did once, permanently damaging it.

    The bayonet or breach lock fittings of older (or even recent) Canon, Nikon or Pentax cameras (or even Minolta or Olymups, although there is less available, I find, for those) are far easier to use and cause fewer dropping problems.

    I should advise against getting a camera with an M42 screw mount lens fitting for those reasons.

    Edit: Looking at that camera, I am rather suspecting that you are paying for the name, and would get a much better deal buying a secondhand Nikon, Canon or Pentax, for example. If you are really interested in manual focus, consider old Canon FD equipment (good quality available at generally good prices because discontinued, although a huge range consistently available secondhand), or Nikon or Pentax manual focus equipment of old (and Pentax bayonet, rather than Pentax screw, for all the reasons mentioned above).
     
  4. cosmonaut

    cosmonaut No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I think some of the older Yashica cameras, electros, I think used these type lenses. My Dad bought one at a yard sell for twenty bucks and it came with three lenes. You can buy a newer AF camera for less than this. You can also buy a used maunal SLR on e-bay for less than this, and it will probably do as good if not a better job....
     
  5. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    That probably was the case then, but now you can often find more M42 lenses than FD ones, especially on Ebay, and it's possible to get fast primes that cost significantly less than equivalent lenses for other mounts.

    That's more a matter of opinion; I don't find the screw-mount system much harder to use, and some people actually prefer it.

    Those are all good recommendations, and to them I would add the manual focus Minolta cameras, but the thing about FD lenses is that while they will work on the manual focus cameras for which they were designed, you won't be able to use them on an autofocus film or digital SLR should you decide to buy one. Adapters for M42 lenses however are readily available for Canon EOS, Pentax bayonet and Minolta AF mounts - pretty much everything except Nikon. For that reason I would still recommend M42 lenses, although I agree it might be better not to invest a lot in an M42 body (but IMO the same applies to FD-mount or manual focus Minolta bodies - Nikon or Pentax is a different story due to more continuity in the lens systems).
     
  6. voodoo_child

    voodoo_child TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for all the info everyone!
    I havent actually decided on buying anything yet, I just want to keep my options open.
    Basically I want a no-frills slr, I have looked at a lot of discontinued models(k1000, nikon fm's, etc.) but this Voigtlander caught my eye as it does everything these old cameras do and its brand new with warranty.
    Good point about thinking of future camera's, I do plan on buying a dslr one day...
     
  7. jamespetts

    jamespetts TPF Noob!

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    Hmm, looking on eBay, I did not see anything particularly exciting: a great deal of old Russian and East German lenses (of potentially dubious quality) at very low prices indeed and a very few lovely Takumars (I have one myself) at more ordinary prices, but nothing very exciting in terms of focal length or maximum apature. Looking on Ffordes, there were very few M42 lenses there (11) compared to, for example, Canon FD lenses (127) or Nikon manual focus lenses (~170). Perhaps it is a US versus UK thing?
     
  8. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    Possibly... I'm in the UK too so I wouldn't know :)

    The Russian and East German lenses are potentially dubious, but some are also potentially very good - I don't think you can get a lens like the Jupiter 85mm F2 for other mounts at the same price. Some of the Pentacons are good too. Admittedly you take your chances regarding build quality on some of the Eastern European lenses, but then there are plenty of Japanese lenses too: Rikenons, Chinons, Fujis, Mamiyas, Yashinons, plus of course the Takumars... and often M42 lenses don't show up as such on Ebay because the sellers don't know what they are. Canon FD lenses are probably a safer choice in terms of knowing what you're getting.

    For me the main advantage of M42 lenses though (apart from price) is being able to use them not only on my M42 Fuji SLR but also on my Pentax film and digital SLRs, my Minolta autofocus SLR, and even a Canon EOS if I get one (interestingly the EOS cameras will also work with manual Nikon lenses, but not Canon FDs). If that's not an issue and you'd rather not use autofocus cameras (or would prefer to keep lens systems separate) then I agree FD (or Minolta manual) might be a better choice.
     

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