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: http://www.mu-43.com/threads/20259/
). 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:
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:
A 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
Here’s a quick look at the Nikon DX 35mm f/1.8G for all you Nikon SLR shooters. Before I kick off I’d like to say that I truly believe mirrorless camera’s are the future. And I do predict DSLR’s will start to lose ground to the mirrorless offerings soon. But right now DSLR’s are still going strong, especially the Nikon and Canon SLR’s. As you know I’m a bit of a Fuji fanboy, but I found the X-E1 too unreliable for professional work. Hence my ownership of a Nikon D7000, for which I had recently purchased a nifty little 35mm (50mm equivalent). This review will be about my experience with this lens, and also the feel of it. I’m not some optical sciences expert so I won’t be talking about any of that scientific mumbo jumbo.
This lens has a great feel to it. It’s very light and keeps the entire body in good balance. It’s constructed with plastics but it doesn’t feel cheap. The focusing ring on the other hand does feel like a bit of a trade off. It’s very thin and not very smooth at all. And a note for videographers; If you’re not using an external microphone, you will hear the grinding noise of the focusing ring when using MF. Keep in mind that coming from Fujifilm lenses, this lens will not feel like what you’re used to. But let’s be honest, the cheapest Fuji XF lenses will set you back at least 500 bucks, and this lens comes in just below 200, and in the end it’s all about the images it renders. This lens is also nice and compact. It has a relatively large maximum aperture for its size and weight.
I’m not a pixel peeper, I haven’t used nearly enough lenses to objectively make a proper comparison anyway. But I can tell you some of the things that popped in mind while using this lens. First of all; the image quality.
Most of the images shot below are taken wide open. In my opinion wide open is the most important aperture setting for a lens to properly be able to execute, because why buy a f/1.8 lens if you can’t use the wide open aperture. I’d have to be honest, this lens is not the sharpest in the world when wide open, but the images retain enough detail and sharpness to be very useful, especially when shooting RAW. So it certainly passes my wide-open image quality test. Focusing when wide open is pretty much okay, it can miss the focus on some occasions, but it’s nothing I haven’t seen before on much more expensive lenses, so don’t let that deter you. The focusing in general is quick and silent, except when using manual focus, then it sounds like you’re using a belt grinder.
This lens is one of those little lenses that you should just go out and buy. It is very cheap, the images it produces are lovely. And when used properly, this can easily be the only lens in your bag. It will not weigh you down, nor will it let you down when it comes to IQ. Below you’ll find some test shots, most of them shot indoors with poor lighting conditions, see how it handles that.