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The New Canon EOS 6D and Classic M42 Lenses

Dustin Abbott

February 8th, 2013

Updated April 25th, 2013.  Added Helios 44-4 to list.

Hello to those interested in shooting some of the classic (and sometimes great) M42 lenses in the modern world.  I discovered the world of M42 while shooting a 60D body and of course crop bodies have no problem with mirror tolerance on almost any M42 lens.  I knew when I switched to FF that some of my favorites would not work as well or at all.  There are lists out there regarding the 5DC and to a lesser extend, the 5DII.

One of the things I was eager to test when my 6D arrived was the mirror tolerance on my M42 collection.  Photos of the build show that it is narrower than the 5DII, and I wondered if that would create less tolerance for mirror fouling.  Here is a list of my current M42 kit and my findings:

1)  Anything 85mm+ is almost never a problem.  There tends to be a fairly deep well in them and nothing fouls the mirror.  I have an Image/Vivitar 135mm f/2.8 that is no problem, nor is my Super Takumar 150mm f/4
2) SMC Takumar 55mm f/1.8.  Works fine at all focal lengths.
3) SMC Takumar 28mm f/3.5.  Works fine at all focal lengths (and is a killer lens, BTW).
4) Super Takumar 35mm f/3.5 – still hangs close to infinity.  Has been my worse offender on the 5DII and so have only used it on my 60D.  Is marginally better on the 6D but still not really an option here.
5) Helios 44-2.  I love this old lens, particularly for portraiture, and I was very happy to find that it now works almost to infinity focus without hanging the mirror, which is a big improvement over the 5DII.  It is far more of an option through normal viewfinder focus than before.

6) Helios 44-4.  I recently added the newer design Helios 44-4 to my kit, and am very happy to report that it works perfectly in every aspect on the 6D.

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised to find that there seems to be a little more mirror clearance in the 6D, so those lenses that were on the edge with the 5DC or 5DII may be usable with the 6D.  I have found that some M42 lenses just work better on a FF body.  Some get shown up as being inferior, of course, but for some the narrower depth of field inherent in FF gives them more character.  Happy shooting!

3 thoughts on “The New Canon EOS 6D and Classic M42 Lenses

  1. Adnan says:

    Have you tried the CZJ Flektogon 35mm f/2.4 M42?

  2. Dustin Abbott says:

    Adnan – I haven’t. CZJ lenses are too expensive to try on a whim, unless you find them at an estate sale or pawn shop.

  3. Wolfgang Grosse says:

    Hi Dustin, I have the 6D and I got a Helios 44-2 (M42) on Ebay ( http://www.ebay.de/itm/191826665764?_trksid=p2060353.m2749.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT ). Did you try the 44-2 on the 6D? I’m a little bit afraid of the mirror.
    Greetings from Germany
    Wolfgang

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