What is this Russian Lens?

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by rick_drawbridge, Mar 11, 2013.

  1. I can't identify it and the seller is no expert. Branded "Made is Russia" with the numbers MTO500 NW61225. The filters are described as "2 amber, 1 red and 1 plain". Looks like a T-mount of some sort, with a screw mount fitting. Any ideas out there?
  2. I just bought one and it is winging its way to me as I write.
    It is a"Maksutov's Tele Ob'ektiv" e.g., http://fedka.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=332
    If someone doesn't beat me to it, and maybe even if they do, I'll be writing this one up.
    The lens won a grand prize at the Brussel's World Fair and many of them have a cyrillic inscription to that effect.
    It was the first mirror lens imported and sold by Spiratone, but under its own name, not the Spiratone brand. The "exclusive design" was a T-mount I think.
  3. I remember this Spiratone offer well. I wanted one. Got one later, but it is a Vivitar. The Russian one was really hot stuff at the time.
  4. Probably works well Rick, they all seem well made. Now waiting to see some images from it!
  5. Thanks, fellers; what a wealth of knowledge out there! I haven't bought it, Tony, just looking...
  6. A couple of years ago I answered an ad in the local paper, for some eyepieces and objectives for my Zeiss binocular microscope. The seller told me he had been the chief engineer of the Watson microscope company. I saw a large lens in a wooden box on his desk, and he asked me if I was interested. It was the Russian 500mm mirror lens, and we agreed a price of £25. It was complete with its filters and hood, all very heavy and well made, and in near mint condition.
    Sadly, before I got around to using it I decided to thin out my collection and I swapped it at a camera fair for something I was more likely to use. I forget what.
  7. Does anyone have any experience with these? I was thinking of getting the 1000mm f/10 version. How do they compare to the Minolta mirror lenses (other than the the lack of auto focus on the Russian ones).
  8. Rick,
    Interesting lens. I like the case.
    Thanks for posting that Spiratone ad. The dates for the magazine articles made my search much easier.
    Here is the article in Modern Photography Aug. 1965. It isn't an actual test but it is by Herb Keppler. An interesting thing is that there is a Spiratone ad showing this lens on the first page.
    Gee, I wonder how that happened?
    Page 1.
  9. Here is the Popular Photography article on this lens. It was written by James S. Forney.
    This is page 1.
  10. Here is page 2.
  11. Siegfried,<br>I have used (and still own) the f/10 1000 mm.<br>Its is a decent lens. Not particularly good, but not particularly bad either.<br>There is/was a lot of talk about needing to relax the too great tension on the mirror to get the best out of the lens. And i did that (easy enough), but can't say it made a difference. Sample variation, perhaps, with my example already having the mirror not too tight.<br>The bigger worry with that lens is that it's almost impossible to use. Big. Heavy. Needing a very, very sturdy support, and to be fixed to that using more than just the single screw the lens provides a socket for.
  12. Q.G., thanks for the info. I figured that the 1000mm version wasn't going to be a hand holdable lens. I've heard that contrast and color saturation is pretty poor with mirror lenses, which in the end I can deal with post capture. But how is the sharpness if you do everything right, i.e. sturdy tripod and take time to nail the focus?
  13. Siegfried,<br>It has been ages since i last used it (since i used a 35 mm camera, in fact - i put the MTO on my OM cameras. Last used it to take some pictures of the last total solar eclipse visible in Europe, in what, 1993-1994?), and i don't have samples at the ready, but it's like i said: not bad.
  14. Definitely worth collecting. D. Maksutov (IIRC) invented the design for a telescope (the Maksutov Cassegrain). The meniscus front element was ground to correct the spherical abberation in the primary mirror. Apparently this was easier than the classical cassegrain which relied on the quality of its parabolic primary to deliver sharp images. The MTO (and other mirror lenses) are largely based on this design. I remember seeing the MTO in an Edmund Scientific catalog and being very curious about it, but couldn't come up with the $100 needed to get one postpaid. I recall that some of these lenses were snuck into the USA before official import channels were available and it was well-received.
    BTW, different design from the Schmidt-cassegrain invented by Benard Schmidt in the 20's and mass produced by Celestron (Johnson. I think) starting in the 60's. It uses an aspherical corrector plate to correct the spherical primary and has an adjustable secondary mirror.
  15. Well, looks like the lens in my original post is mine for the equivalent of USD38.00. Obviously, I'll be interested to see what shape it's in. If it's in good condition, is this a reasonable price or have I over-stretched, as usual...? I have no idea what they're worth and I wasn't prepared to go much higher, sight unseen.
  16. Alas, my MTO500 arrived, but the mount(s) on it are something like 43mm screw mount (NOT M42, unfortunately). Nor is the mount on lens proper, M39 - again a mm or so out from the Leica/Zenit mount.
    I can't figure out what kind of mount it is, perhaps something for motion picture or astronomy?
    The vendor has a liberal return policy, so I may have to try again.
  17. This lens with an M42 mount or other major mount typically sells on eBay for between $100US to 200+. Most asking prices are higher end of that range.
  18. Thanks, JDM, if the lens is in good condition it would appear to be quite a good buy, which is a comfort. I'm sorry to hear of your mount problems; 43mm is oddball, though Miranda had a 44mm mount, as I recall, and the very early Zenits had a 39mm screw mount incompatible with the standard Leica model. I hope you can resolve the issues.
  19. My MTO (the later and longer one) came with a T2 mount: M42 x 0.75.<br>M42 lens mount has a different pitch: 1.
  20. QG,
    I can't figure mine out. the direct brass mount on the lens is neither M39 (of any kind) nor M40, even. It is much smaller than M42x0.75 T-mount (yes I tried that too).
    the chromed outer adapter screws onto the brass mount, but the diameter measures about 43± - too large to screw into either a T-mount or an M42x1 mount.
    I've emailed a Russian source to see if they have any idea or even an adapter to M42, Nikon, or whatever...
    Although the lens I got was well worn on the exterior, the optics look like new, and it has the wooden box and all the filters too, which is nice.
  21. Good news after all. I found an adapter that would connect this lens with EOS. The bad news is that it won't fit on either my APS-C or 35mm-sensor EOS digital cameras because of the forward bulge of the prism housing, but I am able to mount it on a Canon EF-M (the non-AF EF-mount camera).
    My copy of the MTO 500 is fairly 'brassed' on the exterior of the lens, but the focus with it seems very sharp and the rest of the kit (wooden box, filters) is close to pristine. I've put some film in the camera and will try it out as soon as my cold subsides and I can get out without coughing myself into tears.
  22. I dug out my MTO 11-CA 1000 mm to disassemble the mount and see what was hiding there.<br>I found it - quite unusualf - almost immediately, in the place i suspected it would be (hiding behind a Toshiba T1910, a good indication of how long it has been stored away).<br>But back to the important bit: What i discovered was that the mount was a standard T2, and 'below' that was just a grooved ring into which the grub screws of the T2 mount were screwed. I think this MTO 11-CA orginally came with either M42 or T2 adapter (i bought it at a flea market in Germany from some 'Russians', just before or after The Wall came down. Straight out of the factory, with the factory reek - oils? - still very strong).<br><br>That's of no help to you, JDM. Sorry!<br>But now that i dug out the lens... i'll see how i can put it to use again.
  23. Good news regarding the mount, JDM, though I had feared that it might not fit on the DSLR's due the face profile; the Popular Photography review mentions this problem, pointing out the the lens release button had to be unscrewed from the face of a Minolta SLR to allow the lens to seat. However, I'm primarily interested in using the lens in a closer-up mode with a slim extension ring, which may solve the problem. I'll just have to wait and see, I have a variety of T/T2 adapters to allow fitting to EOS, if the lens is usable.
    Since you're far better qualified than me to write a review of the lens I'll concentrate of getting some images to display, and leave the technical dissertation to you. If the lens is usable...
  24. Oh, I suspect that with your skills in composition, color, and excellent picture taking, Rick, there will be room for more than one report on this one. I can always claim the lingering effects of my cold, if my images turn out to be "banal," of course. :)
    I'd love to see what QG's 1000mm is like, too.
    Without seeing the film yet, but only looking through the finder, the focus seems to be pretty crisp. Not to anticipate the actual results, but it looks like it may at least equal the best later Spiratone mirrors.
    It's kind of a large beast, however. I finally worked the tripod ring around to center it on the camera, and I think I may tote along my super heavy/solid tripod as soon as I can get out.
  25. Well, my example of the MTO500 turned up today, well-used for sure, but with acceptable glass and mechanically sound. It has a basic M39 mount and came with with a Canon FD adapter attached. One question: it has a knurled ring towards the rear of the lens which I've marked with an arrow in the pic below; I'm guessing that slackening this off allows the tripod mount to be revolved to a position underneath the lens rather than on the side, where it's currently positioned. The ring won't move under reasonable force...Can someone confirm that this is indeed a correct assumption?
  26. Ah. To be honest I haven't figured out exactly what the knurled ring is for. I suspect to steady the lens when you attempt to twist the collar.
    However, I found out that when I took out the 3/8"//1/4" adapter screw-in for the tripod mount (I think that was fixing the collar in place), put a very tiny amount of naphtha on both sides of the collar - after a little twisting, the tripod collar did rotate. How to prevent it from rotating without screwing in a tripod OR the small white metal plug that did come with mine, is another matter. Perhaps the knurled ring plays some part?
    It sounds like we have the same model, all right. Does yours have the Brussels Prize inscription?
  27. You know the adapter I mean, I'm sure.
  28. Thanks, JDM; the adapter in mine is immovable with an appropriate tool, so rather than risk burring the brass I've applied a few drops of penetrating oil and will leave it overnight. No, mine has no "Grand Prix" inscription. How does the Serial No. N661225 relate to yours?
    I'm sure there must be a simpler way of positioning the tripod mount!
  29. Normally, but it's a little dim in the image above to tell, there is a screw driver slot in the top of the adapter.
  30. Mine is serial # 61380, whatever that means. Only 5 (five) digits.
  31. Much later,
    I did a report on mine at http://www.photo.net/classic-cameras-forum/00bVwA ,
    and the adapter I had turned out to be an official Miranda 39mm>44mm adapter.
  32. Hi,
    I just refurbed an MTO 500mm. The knurled ring actually holds the lens together.
    On the opposite side of the tripod mount screw on the "rotating ring" (yours isn't rotating) there are 2 grub screws with a brass "dot" between them. Loosen those 2 screws. They adjust the tensioner Underneath the dot. If it's still stiff the lube has dried.
    BTW, it came with an m39.
    Hope that helps.
    "Yes I took it completely apart and sweated the whole time."
  33. Ah yes, I'd wondered what those tiny screws were all about...Thanks, Jason, and congratulations on a magnificent refurbishment, brave fellow that you are! Mine also has the M39 mount but I stepped it up to M42 to fit it to some of my old SLR's. Hope you can post some pics from your copy.

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