M42 to Nikon F-Mount Adapter

By Nathaniel Stephan
Last Updated: June 10, 2019
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M42 to Nikon F Lens Mount Adapters

If you want to adapt an M42 lens to Nikon be careful. With an F-mount camera, you can potentially cause damage with some M42 screw mount lenses.

With some lenses, the rear element can extend back into the mirror box of a camera. A handful of M42 lenses can extend far enough back and hit the mirror.

Flange Focal Distance

The flange focal distance is how far the sensor or film plane is away from the camera mount. This distance is large in SLR cameras because of the mirror.

F-mount lenses need a flange distance of 46.50mm. That is larger than the 45.46mm needed for M42 lenses.

The larger distance means that M42 lenses will not focus to infinity when adapted to the F-mount. Think of it as a small extension tube.

Adapters with Glass

M42 Lens Adapter with Glass to Correct Infinity Focus

To allow M42 lenses to focus to infinity, there are adapters with glass. Unfortunately, they have problems.

Reduced Image Quality

Sample Image Showing Poor Image Quality When Using the Adapter with Glass
100% edge crop of a Super-Takumar 35mm f/3.5 on a Nikon D750 using an adapter with glass.
Test Image From Lens Adapted to Sony A7
100% crop of a Super-Takumar 35mm f/3.5 on a Sony A7.

Cheap adapters have cheap optics. Images taken will be much softer than those taken without the corrective objective.

I would not recommend buying an adapter with glass.

Rear Elements Can Hit the Glass

Now you get to worry about hitting the glass in the adapter. This situation is much more likely to occur than your mirror being hit.

Scratches on the front element of a lens might not be noticeable in images. Messing up the rear element of a lens will degrade images.

Adapters without Glass

Focusing to infinity is not needed with macro photography or when using M42 accessories.

Macro Photography

An M42 macro lens, extension tubes, or bellows will work. The extension from a lens adapter is easy to account for.

Another benefit is that M42 extension tubes and bellows are less expensive than their Nikon alternatives.

M42 Accessories

M42 to RMS Adapter on a Bellows and WeMacro Rail

The main thing I use my Fotodiox M42 adapter for is to hold an M42 to RMS adapter. This allows me to mount microscope objectives to my Nikon PB-4 bellows.

I found that the adapter sandwich was cheaper than tracking down a Nikon to RMS adapter.

Which Adapter to Buy?

I have a few adapters for Nikon, but many more for Sony E, Fuji, Canon EOS, and Micro Four Thirds. The only adapters I have had a problem with are the ones that are unbranded.

My suggestion would be to look for a Fotodiox or Fotasy from wherever you like to buy your photo equipment. I bought mine from eBay, but Amazon, Adorama, B&H, KEH, and other places will have them.

Check current prices at Amazon or eBay.

9 comments on “M42 to Nikon F-Mount Adapter”

  1. so in a nutshell the older Soviet lenses that need an adaptor are best used on Mirroless systems for the flange focal distance ? Is there no alternative for wanting to use one on a modern day Nikon like the D850.

    1. There are no good options for DSLRs due to the long flange distance. Additionally, having the manual focus aids that mirrorless cameras have such as focus peaking, is a big advantage.

      If you want to use a Nikon, get a Z series camera. The cheapest full frame mirrorless would be the original Sony A7.

  2. Hello Nathaniel,
    Thanks so much for your answer, I was doing some research about Fotodiox and yes, looks much better, another way I just found out is to buy directly Soviet lenses which are physically adapted by the seller, what I´ve learned is the mouth model ending with letter A means has a Nikon mount, have you perhaps have some experience with this?
    Thanks again for your time and help.

    1. I do not have very much experience with Soviet lenses. The only one I've had recently was a Zenit MC Zenitar 16mm fish eye. It was a M42 mount lens with a Olympus OM adapter with a glass element in it.

      You'll be able to tell if the lens is actually converted if there is a aperture stop down lever. Also look for prongs or an AI metering ridge. If the lens doesn't have either of those, I would suspect that they are just using an adapter.

  3. Hello there,

    I just tried to adapt a cheap M42 adapter for my Helios 44M into my DLSR Nikon D850 and the camera got totally crazy weird noises and flickering on the lights on screens displays, it turned out I had to take the battery out, and after that took some time to the camera to get back to the normal function, I tried this 4 times with the same results. The same adaptor was working fine in a Nikon D610 and I am still using it there, but I am a little worried about is, if I damaged something in D850 by trying this adaptor, even though the camera looks like its working now, should I send it to the service to double-check if everything ok? Many thanks for your help!

    1. As long as the adapter didn't require lots of force to mount to the D850, I think it should be fine. My guess is that the adapter shorted out the lens CPU contacts. As long as there is no physical damage, I think your camera should be fine.

      Overall, I don't think it is worth using M42 screw mount lenses on any F-mount camera. The experience is not going to be good. Mirrorless cameras are a much better choice due to the shorter flange distances.

  4. I'd go with a Fotasy or Fotodiox adapter. Keep in mind that you won't have infinity focus on your Nikon FM because the F-mount flange distance is larger than the flange distance for the M42 mount.

    Another option is to buy a cheap M42 camera like a Pentax Spotmatic or any Praktica model that has an M42 mount.

  5. Good Day,
    It is a little worrying for me reading that there could be problems using an adapter for a Nikon to Pentax lenses. In your opinion what is the best adapter for a Nikon FM to Pentax Super-Takumar screw lenses? You seem very knowledgeable so I will go with your advice.
    Thank you
    Michael Flanagan

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