Zenitar 16mm Fisheye Lens (Review)

The Zenitar 16mm is a manual focus (f2.8-22mm) fisheye lens with an impressive 180 degrees view. The optics are quite good and the feel quite clunky (it is after all, a Zenit product). I have used two versions – the Nikon F (AI) mount and the Praktica M42 mount. I found both to be excellent. I currently use the M42 mount on my Praktica (film SLR) bodies (MTL 3, LTL 3, etc.), and, using the Fotodiox M42 to Nikon adapter, on my Nikon D-SLR bodies. Using the lens on a D40, some of the fisheye effect is lost to the 1.5 crop “magnification” (sic) factor that accompanies using a lens designed for a 36 x 24 mm frame on a Nikon DX sensor, which measures 15.8 x 23.6 mm. Nonetheless, the lens performs very well and the results are good. Used on a full frame DSLR (FX sensor) or a film camera (in my case a Praktica or a Nikon F2) the fisheye effect is very impressive indeed. If you don’t mind using a manual focus lens, this jewel is a bargain at $200 for the M42 version ($220 for Nikon F mount). It can be purchased on eBay or Amazon.





Praktica MTL 3, Zenitar 16mm f2.8
© Thomas Altfather Good.

Notes: Using the Zenitar with film, I consistently found that my shots were underexposed by about one f-stop. Opening the aperture one stop more than the light meter suggested (or setting the ASA/ISO dial to 200 rather than 400 for Tri-X) solved this. On a DSLR there is no light meter (non-CPU lenses are not compatible with the D40) so using the sunny f16 rule and adjusting as necessary works just fine. The DSLR must be in manual mode to use this lens. The command dial (on the Nikon body) sets the shutter speed and the lens aperture ring sets the f-stop. Other issues: if you use an M42 adapter on a Nikon body be certain the adapter fully depresses the auto-aperture pin on the lens or it will not stop down correctly.





Nikon D40, Zenitar 16mm f2.8 (F Mount version)
© Thomas Altfather Good.

If you google this lens you will see numerous references to the poor quality pinch-type lens cap that ships with the lens. I found that the factory issued cap is best left at home and replaced with a 62mm Kaiser or Schneider Optik push on (or slide on – the nomenclature varies) plastic cap. I use the Kaiser. It is almost a centimeter deep and will not fall off (unlike the original). In addition, the Kaiser (available at B&H Photo for $10) protects the front lens element. The petal shaped barrel that houses the lens protrudes beyond the glass which prevents the lens cap from touching the lens proper. This is useful because there is no practical way to mount a filter on the lens.





Praktica MTL 3, Zenitar 16mm f2.8
© Thomas Altfather Good.

Recommendation: for the money this lens is a great deal. While it isn’t fancy, it works very well. And if you discover that you like the lens, there is a flickr group where you can share your images. Enjoy!

Fotodiox M42 To Nikon F Adapter (Review)

Fotodiox M42 to Nikon Adapter with Infinity Focus – Simply The Best

Features: Easy on/off, infinity focus, auto-aperture support, well made, inexpensive. This is simply the best M42 adapter currently available. If you are looking to use M42 (aka Praktica or Pentax) screw mount lenses on Nikon D-SLRs, read on…

This is the correct adapter to buy if you are looking to mount traditional M42 (42mm x 1mm screw mount) lenses on Nikon D-SLR camera bodies. Having tried a variety of other adapters – in vain – I’ve found that this adapter addresses all of the issues one may encounter. Read more