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M39 vs M42

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by MrMike, Jul 30, 2011.

  1. MrMike

    MrMike New to Mu-43

    Jul 30, 2011
    Hello all,

    I've just invested in an Olympus PEN and really enjoying the camera so far. Part of the appeal in getting one was the ability to try out different types of adapted lens with the camera.

    I'm currently looking at the old M39 and M42 ones on ebay.
    In particular I've been looking at the Industar 50- comes in M39 or M42 mount.

    I've already ordered an M39 adaptor and Industar 60...

    So the question I'm asking really, if given the choice between M39 or M42, what is better on an m43 camera?

    Thanks in advance.
  2. KVG

    KVG Banned User

    May 10, 2011
    yyc(Calgary, AB)
    Kelly Gibbons
    Most m39 lenses cost more I've found, but you have some amazing choices of quality glass.
  3. Markb

    Markb Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 9, 2011
    Kent, UK
    Optically there should be no difference but with better coatings on more recent lenses (not necessarily the case on FSU lenses). M39 was used by Leica and their Soviet copyists, M42 by numerous slr manufacturers, notably Pentax and Praktica.

    Basically it's the glass that matters, not the mount.
  4. M39 lenses are designed around the shorter flange distance of a rangefinder. M42 lenses are for SLR cameras with a longer flange distance. The M39 lenses will be smaller but more expensive, much more so in some cases. Canon was also a major player in M39 along with Leica and the Soviets. Voigtlander also did (perhaps still does?) make their lenses in the M39 mount.
  5. Markb

    Markb Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 9, 2011
    Kent, UK
    Oops, I completely forgot about the Canon (and indeed, Nikkor) lenses made for M39 rfs. I think Voigtlander have gone all M-mount now but they made some gems in M39. The 90/3.5 has to be used to be believed and the 35/2.5 in any of its variations is superb.
  6. rapsquared

    rapsquared Mu-43 Regular

    May 7, 2011
    Also, M42 lenses focus nearer than M39 lenses, M39 lenses' closest focusing distance is usually 1 meter since they were designed for rangefinders
  7. MrMike

    MrMike New to Mu-43

    Jul 30, 2011
    Thanks for all the swift replies. I've found this a great forum so far and appreciate your advice.
  8. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Yes, I concur... This is the hardest thing I've had to get used to with my Leica mount lens.

    I love though that it uses such a short flange distance, and maximizes the compact nature of Micro Four-Thirds. Being built for SLRs, M42 lenses and adapters are naturally longer and bulkier. M42 lenses can also be used on Four-Thirds DSLRs, while M39 lenses can't. M39 lenses seem to fit a PEN body like an old glove, though. ;) 
  9. carpandean

    carpandean Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Oct 29, 2010
    Western NY
    Also, since M39 was designed for rangefinders, there are basically no M39 zoom lenses, while there are many M42 zooms.

    However, as others have said, M39 is a more natural fit with :43: due to its short flange distance. They make great primes for our little cameras.
  10. Pan Korop

    Pan Korop Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 31, 2011
    Phare Ouest
    Voigting RF mount against SLR

    Voigting RF mount against SLR (with one notable exception : Olympus Pen F).
    • They're smaller, lighter, with way smaller filters (39, 40.5, 43...)
    • Their optical design isn't hampered by dealing with a mirror. 50 RF lenses are systematically better than their SLR counterpart, in the same brand!
    • Their iris has generally far more blades, since it doesn't need "automatic" preset

    1) There's Leica M mount, too!

    You can fit any M39 lens to M bayonet easily with a cheap adapter. The good M/:43: adapters (from Panasonic, Voigtländer, Metabones) are also more precise and just better made than most M39 rings.

    Vintage or modern M lenses are better than the M39 models they replaced.

    Also, many 50mm lenses in M mount focus as close as 0.7m. Not bad for 100mm equivalents, and more than close enough to distort anybody's facial features... :rolleyes: 

    2) Don't forget Contax/Nikon RF mount !

    In RF mounts, the scarcity of good Nikon S2 (or better) camera bodies got Voigtländer selling its Nikon S, S/C lenses at lowered prices. I prefer them to their Leica M, or M39, equivalents on a :43: : all have a much slower focus throw, which happens to be more comfortable on the :43: cameras for precise (enlarged) MF adjustment.
    One drawback : short focusing is limited to 0.9 to 1 m. Sometimes a nuisance with 50mm lenses, not with 75, 85, 105, 135 focal lengths.

    :cool:  Also, as the original Nippon Kogaku lenses, they're finished in chrome+black trim, so they look at home on both black and silver :43: bodies.
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