Hamish Gill is a UK based photographer who writes 35mm compact, rangefinder, and lens reviews for his blog. We lent him a Jupiter 3+ lens and in return he gave it one of the most thorough reviews we’ve ever read!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Hamish Gill I’m a professional and hobbyist photographer with a specific interest in 35mm compact and rangefinder film cameras. I’ve been taking photos for 24 years, 10 of those I’ve been doing it in return for cash. I started out shooting film (obviously), shot both digital and film for a while, but now mostly shoot film – at least where it’s practical. I’ve just launched a commercial film photography company called Shoot Rewind and as such am now starting to enjoy the wonders of shooting film in return for cash – something I’m not sure I would have dreamed possible a few years ago. I also enjoy writing, which has become a secondary hobby I channel though writing often long meandering reviews about film cameras and lenses for my blog 35mmc.com
How did you get on shooting with the Jupiter Lens?
I really enjoyed it! It’s a fascinating concept that a lens originally designed in the 1920’s and copied by the Russians in the 40’s could then be released with a few tweaks in 2016. As a big fan of the modern 50mm f/1.5 ZM Sonnar – Zeiss’ modern incarnation of the early design – I was intrigued to see how this more close copy of the early lens would stack up today.
What turned out to be most interesting is actually not how similar these lenses are, but how different they are. The Zeiss lens does have its objective flaws and a strong character, but once you get used to it it’s very easy to obtain quite consistent results that don’t vary too much from one shot to the next. By the merit of this consistency it feels very much like a modern lens to use.
By comparison the new Jupiter 3+ feels much more like a vintage optic. Changes in direction of light and chosen aperture have a much more profound impact on the photographic outcome. It’s fair to say that by the standards of many modern photographers the new Jupiter 3+ lens will seem flawed in so many ways. But of course, that’s the beauty of it. Anyone who mistakes this lens as anything other than a lens intended to strongly impact of their photography is barking up the wrong tree. This lens is clearly about embracing imperfections, working with them, letting them impact on your work – both through desire and serendipity – and ultimately letting them form a part of the style of your work. I guess this is really the case for all the kits that Lomography produce, so I’m probably preaching to the converted here?!
For my experience, it was a lot of fun learning how this lens works and discovering how it impacted on my photography – I can definitely say that in the time I spent shooting with it I got some shots I’m really happy with!
Any tips on shooting with this Lens?
Obviously, you need to embrace the imperfections to enjoy this lens – again, preaching to the converted I’m sure … That aside though, it’s my view that to really get the most of any lens like this, the imperfections need to be learned.
Shooting the new Jupiter 3+ lens wide open results is images that are most susceptible to the lenses spectrum of character traits. There’s a much greater potential for veiling flare the wider the lens is shot. The lens is also softer when wide open, as well as being increasingly softer still toward the edges of the frame. Bokeh is also at its wildest wide open – with dappled highlights behind the subject and you can expect an edgy attention grabbing bokeh.
As a result of this, any of these traits can be played upon or controlled by adjusting the lens or altering the shooting environment. Stopping down the lens reduces the effect of all of the above, but simply framing your subject more centrally will increase potential for sharpness, having the sun over your shoulder will reduce flare, and decluttering the background of any spectral highlights can result in wonderfully smooth bokeh instead of distracting bubbles.
Ultimately for my tastes, the real trick to getting best results out of this lens is harnessing its inherent ability to give results that either play on its propensity to flare, it’s propensity to create a 3D looking image, or indeed both. Either or both of these traits can be harnessed simply by spending time learning how the light impacts on the results at different apertures. I go into greater detail in my review, but really the joy is discovering this within the realms of your own photography!
What’s coming up in 2016?
More photography, more cameras, more lenses, more blogging … And if all goes to plan I have a really interesting project lined up for late summer.
You can read the full Jupiter 3+ lens review by visiting his 35mmc.com blog.