Its about time I went and wrote a proper review for this lens, it is 1 of my favourite lenses to get out and use. I have been a bit slack in the getting out and using it department of late though.
So the lens, the Tair-11a lens is a 135mm f2.8 – f22.0 aperture prime lens, available in M42 mount (this is the mount you will want if you would like to use it on a DSLR – you can get an M42 adapter for all the major DSLRs). The lens uses the older preset style of aperture control (which is completely manual of course) which is located at the front of the lens, instead of the rear of the lens like a more modern lens. The lens is manual focus, and the focus on my copy is VERY smooth, a real pleasure to use, however different copies will vary with amount of use. Things wear out over time people! It has a small built in sliding hood, but a longer screw in hood would probably help prevent flare and increase contrast a little. The minimum focus distance is a fairly long 1.2m, so you wont be doing any macro work, but as a portrait lens, it works beautifully. There are some more detailed specs on the Zenit website, including this great cut away image of the lens.
It is a big heavy lens, feels good in the hand, but you will want to chuck a battery grip on your DSLR if you have one. With the battery grip on the body the lens/body combo is much more balanced, without the battery grip the whole lot wants to tip forwards out of your hand a little, and holding it can become a chore after a while. The metal body has some nice solid grooves machined into it, which make it very easy to hold and focus with.
At 135mm focal length this lens is a 200mm equivalent FOV on a 1.5x crop body (such as my Pentax) so its not something you will want to be using if you are right up close to the action. The lens is ultra sharp, even the pixel peepers will be happy with this one (provided you nail the focus of course ). The colours are that lovely old single coated type, kind of similar to an old colour film shot (I’m a fan as you can tell). The single coating does however mean it is very prone to lens flare, so always be careful shooting towards a light source and use a hood (as I mentioned a little earlier) if possible. The real winner for this lens, is the bokeh. The Tair-11a boasts 20 aperture blades, giving a nearly perfectly round aperture at all openings, you can get some really great out of focus blur in your shots, and when you are shooting 135mm at f2.8, the DOF can get quite narrow, so there will be plenty of out of focus stuff to see. You can see the rest of my Tair-11a shots here on the blog.