Fujinon M42 lenses

Standard Lenses

#1 The "original" 50mm f/1.4 (left) & 55mm f/1.8 (right) lenses featured an unmodified M42 screw-mount offering stop-down metering only. The lenses were fully compatible with all makes of M42 camera bodies. Their construction was 7 elements in 6 groups, and 6 elements in 4 groups respectively. They had a distinctively peaked metal focus ring, and a similarly peaked silver aperture dial. There was no EBC version. The "original" lenses were designed for use with the ST701 body. The 55mm lens is relatively abundant today; the 50mm less so.

fujinon 50mm f1.4 lens.jpg
fujinon 55mm f1.8 lens.jpg

#2 The "all-black originals" can be seen in some advertising literature for the ST701, and have a black aperture dial. The image on the left shows a first version ST701 with a complete set of all-black lenses. The image to the right is from leaflets in Danish and Spanish, and shows a third version ST701 with the same all-black lens, as do the illustrations in that camera's instruction manual. After an extensive Internet search, I eventually found the evidence that this lens did indeed exist (shown centre - an f/1.8 55mm for sale on eBay USA). Obviously, they are extremely rare.

fujica st701 advert.jpg

Click to view as a PDF

fujinon m42 f1.8 lens.jpg

1. "1.8/55 FUJI PHO" can be seen on the bezel.

2. The focus ring is metal with "peaks".

3. Most importantly, the aperture dial is black.

fujica st701 advert.jpg

Click to enlarge (inside page shown below)

All lenses from here onwards retained an M42 thread, but with fitting modifications to allow the transmission of the lens aperture setting to the camera's metering system. This was accomplished by a small tab that protruded from the aperture dial perimeter at the rear of the lens. The tab rode in a shallow groove at the outer edge of the camera body's lens mount flange (the shiny circular plate), and engaged with a movable outer ring on the lens mount flange that rotates against light spring pressure. The position of the tab, relative to the camera body, changed for each aperture set (i.e. it moved with the lens aperture dial), and so communicated aperture information to the camera body. The lenses also featured a lens lock, which was a small depression in the mating surface that accommodated a tiny retractable stud on the camera body. This was added to ensure correct lens tightening and safeguard against accidental detachment. 

fujica body aperture indexing tab
fujica lens aperture indexing tab

#3 The "open-aperture metering Japanese ECB" 50mm f/1.4 & 55mm f/1.8 (right) lenses had a distinctively ridged and rubberised focus ring. I believe these lenses were EBC only (here's an extract from a 1970s Fujinon lenses leaflet that explains Electronic Beam Coating). Their construction was 7 elements in 6 groups, and 6 elements in 4 groups respectively. This type of lens can be seen in some third version ST701 advertising leaflets, such as the one shown below where the standard lenses are #2 "all-blacks". I believe this was the first type of EBC lens, due to its association with the ST701. Judging by the location of today's sellers, these lenses appear to have been sold only in the home market (despite being advertised in Denmark and Spain - and possibly elsewhere), and are rarely seen for sale outside of Japan today. This is currently the most expensive style of standard Fujinon lens (however, in September 2021, I bought an f/1.8, in the UK and in excellent condition, for £29.99 (inc p&p).

The ST801's instruction manual list two more standard lenses: an f/1.9 55mm and an f/2.8 45mm pancake, which appear to have been #3 type: but I haven't been able to find a photo of either lens "in the wild".

fujica st701 advert.jpg

Click to enlarge

japanese fujinon 55mm f1.8 EBC lens.jpg

#4 The "familiar" open-aperture metering 50mm f/1.4 (left) & 55mm f/1.8 (right) lenses had a flat rubberised focus ring. Their construction was 7 elements in 6 groups, and 6 elements in 4 groups respectively (i.e. they were merely aesthetically different to the #3 open aperture metering lenses). Both EBC and non-EBC models were produced. I've described this group of lenses as "familiar", since they first appeared in 1972, and were sold in EBC form with the ST801ST901 and the later AZ-1. In non-EBC form, they were twinned with the stop-down metering third version ST701 here in the UK (and probably elsewhere in the West - despite that camera lacking open-aperture metering capability) and ST705/w camera bodies. These lenses are reasonably easy to come by, but the EBC versions command much higher prices. 

fujinon 50mm f1.4 lens.jpg
fujinon 55mm f1.8 lens.jpg

Here's a summary of the identifying features of the different types of M42 Fujinon lenses,

focusrings.jpg
 

#5 The "plastic" 55mm f/2.2  & f/1.6 lenses had metal barrels but plastic focus, DOF scale, and aperture dials. There was no EBC option for either lens.

 

The f/2.2 first appeared early in 1976, had a short production run, and was sold with the ST601 body. It wasn't actually a plastic lens, but made of metal, but optically the forbearer of the later plastic version, which was sold with the ST605/n and then the ST605 II. In both versions, the optical configuration was a simplified 4 elements in 4 groups - an "Unar" type (see the ST601 page for more information on the Unar). The metal model had engraved scales, a longer barrel and metal helicoid, while the plastic version had printed scales* , and a stubbier barrel along with a part-plastic focus helicoid. The first version (metal) is very uncommon, while the second (plastic) is abundant; but, this lens has a following for its hyped "soap-bubble" bokeh, which has driven-up prices. Damage is common, and the front edge of the focus ring, and DOF band is often fractured or missing.

* Some plastic lenses appear to have engraved scales, and other variations have been observed, as illustrated below.

fujinon 55mm f2.2.jpg
fujinon f2.2 lenses.jpg
metal fujinon 55mm f2.2.jpg

The rare metal 55mm f/2.2 made for the ST601

Here's a variation on the 55mm f/2.2, seen on eBay UK: it's branded "S Fujinon" and reads "Lens Japan", while all other Fujinon lenses read "Lens-Japan" (with a hyphen).

sinuk.jpg

The f/1.6 is an oddity, and was not listed as an option in any Fujica camera instruction manual, however, it actually dates to 1978, was an option listed in this Fujica ST605n sales leaflet, and therefore (like the ST605n) presumably made for export only. Like the second f/2.2, it had plastic parts and a similar look, but with a pronounced curve to the surface of the front element. The construction is 5 elements in 4 groups - a "Xenotar" type. Examples are very uncommon, but it's another lens valued for its "soap-bubble" bokeh. There's a wealth of information on this lens at this Japanese blog - if you can get past the grim syntax.

fujinon 55mm f1.6.jpg
fujinon f1.6 55mm.jpg

Wide angle, Telephoto, Zoom & Specialist lenses

Unlike the standard lenses, which came in EBC and non-EBC forms, the vast majority of Fujinon lenses, from the #3 types onward, were EBC only. It's possible to track the changing focal length and aperture size options by looking at each camera's instruction manual list of available lenses, which has been summarised in the table to the right.

An empty tick-box indicates that the lens was listed as "to be announced" (e.g. the f/3.5 19mm for the ST901), and a grey background to a ticked-box indicates that the lens was non-EBC (e.g. the f3.5 35mm).

 

The Fujica ST901's instruction manual indicates that an f/3.5 75-210mm zoom lens was "to be announced", but appears to have either never been produced, or was very short lived.

 

I have not attempted to find images of all these lenses, but think it's a safe bet that those originating before 1974 probably existed in different styles - as did the standard lenses.

 

Shortly after drawing this table, I discovered another zoom lens, which was not listed in any instruction manuals. It was an f/3.5 29 - 47mm, which just like the f/1.6 55mm, was a 1978 option listed in this Fujica ST605n sales leaflet.

 

Fuji made a couple of specialist lenses, which both first appeared at the time of the ST901. There was an f/3.5 55mm Macro lens, and an f/1.4 85mm Soft-focus lens.

fujinon m42 lenses.jpg

Snippets of information on M42 Fujinon lenses can be found or requested on this Flickr discussion group, but sadly, activity is almost dormant in 2021.

Misunderstandings Corrected

 

Some forum users seem to confuse Fujinon and M42 Pentax lenses. Whilst they both use an M42 screw attachment, their similarity ends there.
 

  • Why don't Fujinon lenses have an Auto/Manual switch?
    Most other manufacturers of lenses with the M42 screw thread and automatic aperture activation pin (e.g. Pentax, Praktica, Ricoh, etc.) included an additional switch to allow either automatic or manual aperture diaphragm operation. In "Auto", the diaphragm would remain open until the shutter was released, whereupon a "flipper bar" depressed the lens aperture activation pin, and closed the diaphragm to the user's selected f-stop. In "Manual", the diaphragm would immediately stop-down to the user set aperture size, in readiness for exposure to be made. The A/M switch therefore provided backwards compatibility with older camera models that lacked a flipper bar, and thus required the lens diaphragm to be manually closed before making an exposure.

    All Fujica M42-type cameras have a "flipper bar", which works in conjunction with the lens aperture activation-pin fitted to all Fujinon M42-type lenses. This renders a manual lens diaphragm setting mechanism unnecessary; i.e. when Fujinon lenses are used with Fujica cameras,
     there are no backwards compatibility issues to accommodate.
     

  • Will Fujinon lenses lock themselves to non-Fujica camera bodies?
    I understand that this can be an issue with certain other M42 thread lens/camera body combinations (e.g. the Pentax SMCs have a small pin operated interlock to prevent use of the auto/manual switch, which can catch on the lens mounting flange screwheads of  older Zenits). Fujinon lenses have no  mounting-face protrusions, since they do not house the locking mechanism: the locking pin is on Fujica camera bodies, so Fujinon lenses cannot lock-on to non-Fujica cameras.

     

  • Are Fujinon lenses compatible with non-Fujica cameras?
    Fujinon lenses can be attached to other M42 threaded camera bodies provided that the diameter of the camera's lens mounting flange does not exceed 54mm (e,g, they fit perfectly on a Pentax Spotmatic or Miranda TM). If the lens mounting flange is larger than 54mm, the aperture indexing tab can prevent the lens from being fully screwed into place, resulting in loss of infinity focus (e.g. they don't properly attach to a Praktica LTL).

    As previously explained, Fujinon lenses were not designed to be used with older M42 thread camera bodies that lack a "flipper bar"; the lenses lack a 
    mechanism (A/M switch) for closing the lens diaphragm, which consequently remains fully open.

    Because the aperture indexing tab is unique to Fujica camera bodies, Fujinon lenses can only be used with other camera bodies that accommodate TTL stop-down metering (e.g. the Pentax Spotmatics).