Like a wise man once said: life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get. Or when you'll find a nut. This page is dedicated to finding the nuts in my collection by exploring some unusual and unintended combinations of equipment. I'll throw together everything that lets itself be thrown together, the more unlikely the better. Sometimes the results are halfway useful, but most of the time it's a medley of botched standards and unseemly Frankenstein monsters.
I really wondered what would result if I mounted the EL Nikkor 50mm f/4 (an enlargement lens with M39 thread, without focusing helical) onto an M39 Zenit. My hypothesis was that I would get something practically useless: either with the focus point far through infinity or really really macro. So I boil up this combination, but to my surprise the result is rather okay: focal length about three meters, which is usable. The only drawback would be the lack of a focusing helical, which means you have to move to and fro to focus. On the other hand you can finally use a real Nikkor on your Zenit. The EL Nikkor would probably also make a great bellows head if you happen to have an M39 bellows.
The Zenit M39 cameras like this Zenit-3M are essentially Zorkis with a padded front for the mirror. When you mount a L39 lens for the Zorki, the padding acts as an extension ring, meaning that every L39 lens becomes a macro. One of the best lenses to experiment with is this Jupiter-8 50mm f/2, since it's usually of good quality, has a large opening, and a reasonable working distance of around 15cm. Its enlargement factor is around 1:2,5 (less than lifesize).
This lens is the Jupiter-9 85mm f/2 in L39. When mounted on this Zenit-3M, it becomes a close-up lens with an enlargement of around 1:4 (less than lifesize) and a very pleasant working distance of around 50cm.
L39 stuff seemed to be going very cheaply before Voigtländer introduced its Bessas, and lucky for me this Novlflex Leinik adapter (Nikon-to-L39) was no exception. In this case, it serves as a bridge between the AF Nikkor 24mm f/2.8 D and the Zenit-3M. Unfortunately this set isn't very practically useful because the 24mm's focal point is moved to some two centimeters in front of the first element because of M39's extension ring effect, and that leaves no room to get some light in.
Here's the Zenit-3M with Novoflex Leinik adapter hung to a Novoflex Nikon bellows with AF Nikkor 35-80mm f/4-5.6 D lens, the standard zoom for the Nikon F50. This combination works, but makes more sense with a TTL metering manual Nikon in place of the 3M.
This is the most outrageous combination on this page. Who would have believed that the Super Wide-Heliar 15mm f/4.5 for the Bessa-L would fit the M39 Zenit-3M without ramming the mirror? As you can see, it is indeed possible to mount the Super Wide-Heliar and for the first time get a real-time through-the-lens view of the powers of this lens! However, the downside is that you can't take any pictures, because the mirror gets in the way. This is probably cosmic censorship preventing any M39 Zenit from ever taking any lens wider than 20mm. The big question is, does this work? What do you see through the viewfinder? Remarkably, the focal point hasn't shifted past the front element as I would have expected with a lens this wide, but is somewhere around 1,5 cm in front of the first element. This means you could theoretically take super wide macro pictures, if you could keep the lens still and replace the Zenit-3M with a L39 body, suitable extension ring, plate adapter back and focusing screen! The Zenit-3M already allows a peek of what the final image would look like, and all I can say is, it's very wide.
This is the Voigtländer Bessa-L with Jupiter-8 50mm f/2 and Accura finder. The finder has a cadre for "wide" and one for "tele" as it's originally an accessory for two convertors, but I just average the frames for 50mm and use "tele" when it's critical. I've used this set a couple of times, and apart from the finder not fitting into the Bessa's eveready case and there not being a rangefinder, it's a joy to use, with good results.
Tell me this isn't cute! The Bessa-L with the AF Nikkor 24mm f/2.8 D through an adapter. This set is fully functional and focuses normally to infinity. The only things missing are a rangefinder and a 24mm viewfinder. Um, but why not use a Nikon SLR body to begin with?