Industar-69 Russian Lens review

This is a short piece about the Industar-69 28mm f2.8 LTM lens from the land of Putin, or Chroesjtsjov more likely. For this review I’ve mounted it on my Fujifilm X-E1 using a 5 dollar m39 to Fujifilm X adapter from ebay. 
So this is not a lens you’ll buy for its sharpness and optical perfection. This is a lens you’ll buy because you are in desperate need of some cheaply bought street cred. And that’s what this gives you. When you’ve hung this lens onto your fashionable mirrorles camera of choice, you will look like someone who knows his stuff. Using this sophisticated looking Russian made Tessar copy makes your camera look like a rangefinder that will make Bresson turn his head. So it looks damn good, yes oh my it does. The image quality isn’t that great though… It’s horrible at modern standards really. This lens is not sharp, it’s so soft that focus peaking will hardly work and above all, this lens won’t work for you until you take it apart and make some minor modifications to its core construction.
     Let me explain the above. This lens was never made for Leica camera’s, it just happens to share the same m39 thread mount. It was made for some Russian halfframe rangefinder that has a flange distance miles away from that of the leica’s. That means that the m39 adapter (needed for putting this lens on your camera) is a couple of millimeters to thick. So you either have to grind down the adapter, or screw the lens block inside of the lens barrel a little closer to the sensor. There are some great hacks out there on the interweb that will show you how to do this easily (this one for instance: Allright so this lens is an absolute piece of poo  right?  Well no, it is not. In fact, I totally love this little lens. And I will tell you why after the picture down below:
Fujifilm & Industar
Allright So if you get a good copy (DDR quality control…you never know), like mine, you will find yourself the proud owner of a full metal, smooth operating and above all very tiny lens. Even with the small m39 adapter, this lens protrudes no more than 25mm from the front of its retro styled host. Which is the European way of saying you’ve got yourself a one inch bulge sticking out your jeans pocket. Because yes, this kit will make your fujifilm X, Sony NEX or M43 camera awkwardly pocketable. Though I do suggest large pockets. Furthermore, it gives you a 42mm equivalent focal length. Which is very close to the legendary ‘perfect’ focal length of 43mm. They say that that is the closest you can get to what the eyeball sees (this does not apply to micro fourthirds camera’s, it’s 56mm there). The f2.8 max aperture is good enough for indoor shooting and some background blur. Ah yes, I almost forgot the one reason I actually went to the Bay of E and bought it from war-torn Ukraine. It’s the price! The cheapest near 28mm f2.8 mirrorles lens you can buy is the Sigma 30mm f2.8 DN EX lens for Sony and m43 MILC’s. And this lens costs you just below 200 USD where this one, with an adapter will set you back about 40 bucks. Allright, the sigma is a better lens in every way (except size and awesomeness) but you can just buy this lens to have fun with wherethe Sigma is dangerously close to being an actual investment. Same goes for the Fuji option. The Fujinon XF27mm f2.8 costs somewhere around 350 bucks nowadays.
The industar has a unique way of rendering things. Like I said, the lens isn’t that sharp and the contrast coming out of it isn’t very contrasty. Also the colors seem somewhat flattened to me. This may not sound very good, but it actually gives your pictures a sort of vintage feel. They sort of are vintage because they were created through some very old glass. If you are to apply the VSCO film simulations in Lightroom, pictures made with this lens are absolutely film-like. And that’s kind of the charm of this type of lens. It looks cool and gives your photo’s a unique look. It doesn’t even make sense trying to pixel peep this thing. This is a lens that needs to be used creatively instead of technically.
    So if you are willing to give up on autofocus, modern coatings and image stabilisation, this lens might just be something for you. When you buy this lens you get an everyday walkabout lens that will do your street photography, your portraits and maybe a landscape here and there. The focal length makes it a good lens across the board and the f/2.8 aperture makes it usable in a wide variety of situations. The size helps it to never be in your way.
Sample images below:
 20150402-DSCF7252A little bit of VSCO film magic and the Industar at F5,6.
Wide open at F2.8. This lens does some crazy stuff wide open. The cornes are all over the place and it only remains sharp in the center, but that works just fine for this shot really.
This shot shows the crazy swirly bokeh this lens creates. Love it or hate it.
Shot at F2.8
It’s definitely sharpest at F5.6


Filed under Articles, photography

17 responses to “Industar-69 Russian Lens review

  1. Paulo Moreira

    While I too like and use old legacy lens with my Sony, this is one I wouldn’t invest, not even 1 cent. The lens is for a half frame compact ( not a rangefinder) and thus, it won’t cover the APS-C format. It’ s no great problem, given the poor performance of the lens. I have two of them and they both behave in a very lomographic way, interesting, but not for me. Ah, the lens isn’t from DDR, but from the USSR, with a far worse quality control. 😀

    • It’s definitely not for everyone. Like I said, this lens isn’t one you buy for its image quality. People who buy this lens (like myself) like the lomo effect it gives them. It does actually cover the APS-C format, though it was never made to do so, hence the poor corner sharpness. All I can say is what I already said: it’s a good looking, properly built (my copy), cheap and fun lens to use. Love it or hate it.

      • Fanjan

        Half-frame is also known as Super35…..which is also known today APS-C in broad terms. Looks like a fun lens.

  2. Rob Taylor

    Thanks for the artical, I got inspired and now have one to play with.
    I bought from the big Bay place a m42 adapter and a 39-42 thread adapter to fit the whole unit to my Fujix E2. I notice your lens on the Fujix E1 but your adapter is probably only half as thick as mine, the lens is way out front of the camera body….have I made a mistake? This adapter works fine with an old zenith m42 lens.
    And yes the focus is way off, have only been able to take very close shots so far but they seem quite acceptable in quality.
    Your views please .

    • Hi Rob, I think you’ve made yourself a macro adapter by converting your m43 into an m39. The distance between the lens and the sensor needs to be short for leica lenses, hence the short adapter. If you stick your m39 lens onto a longer m42 adapter your lens will not be able to gain focus. Simply put: if you want a leica thread mount lens to work on any mirrorless camera, you need a dedicated m39-whateveryourmountis adapter. Hope this helps! Good luck and happy shooting.

      Sefania Vitalis

      • Robert Taylor

        Hi Sefania
        I think you are right, so another adapter has been ordered, a thinner 39- FX, I will then work out if I need to alter the infinity focus.
        Checking the images produced with the lens set on its closest focus and the 42-FX adapter on screen the images are much better than expected, almost macro, quite sharp , good colour rendition and set at F8 a usable DOF…..I am pleased with that…again thanks for the artical.

  3. Flavio

    Hi, i just bought this lens and i’ve done some research on internet but its very confusing, I want to put this lens on my canon eos 760D, that has an APS-C sensor, but i dont know if it will work with the M39 adapter, in terms of focusing. I already know the problem with the inifinity focus and i’ve solved.

    • Hi! Unfortunately the APS-C size sensor isn’t your biggest problem here. It’s the flange distance that makes this lens useles for any DSLR. You can only use this lens on Mirrorless camera’s since they have (like Rangefinder camera’s) a much shorter distance between the back of the lens and the sensor/film. So unfortunately this lens is never going to do anything for you on a DSLR like your 760D because the lens sits to far away from the sensor (due to the mirrorbox inbetween and all). Just look up some articles on flange distance. Good luck!

      • Rob

        Hi, might it still work if the correct canon to 39mm adapter is used but with some severe vignetting of the corners?

      • Nope, unfortunately not. The lens will simply be too far away from the sensor. It will never be able to get anything in focus on any dslr.

      • Rob

        That’s a pity, thanks for the explanation . Regards Rob

      • Mike

        It’s actually relatively easy to modify the lens so that it reaches infinity focus on LTM adapters. The copy I brought was supposedly adapted already but ‘needed tweaking’ – It turned out one of the focus stop screws had been removed, & I had to remove a ridge on the rear part of the lens with a dremel (unlike most lenses it simply unscrews into two parts leaving the offending ridge clear of any optical bits) – finding instructions on the web & doing it took less than an hour (lunchtime yesterday) & testing today has shown it to be a rather nice lens on APSC.

  4. Juksu

    @Rob (if you are still here) — Check e-bay for m42 mount + focus confirming adapter to use with your Canon DSLR.

  5. Rob Taylor

    Hi, yes still here and playing with old lenses….but it wasn’t me who wants to stick it on a canon camera 😀
    I have a canon DSLR as well but won’t be fitting it to that ….not anytime soon anyway.

  6. I enjoyed the article. Thanks! As for all that back and fourth with the mount and flange mind melt aggravation I would like to share this link
    That cleared everything up for me and my ever growing collection of vintage lenses. Mostly Soviet. It sucks that the L39 mount will not work on anything DSLR. Another reason why I will not be giving up my much loved Olympus. Otherwise I stick with M42 all the way. easy and works on almost anything.

  7. Gary

    What can one expect on a Zorki 4 (39mm and no adapter)?

  8. Chris Eve

    I use my Industar-69 on my Samsung NX5 – fitted to an L39 adaptor and with a slight tweak of the focus stops the scale is accurate enough for “street” work and any finer focus can be achieved with the MF Adjust feature. As others have noted, the lens is prone to flare … a lens-hood is a very worth-while addition. I had a Hama in 22.5mm that I lost 😦 but no use an old adapted filter-holder 🙂

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