The last lens in this three part review series of Russian lenses is the the MIR-1B 37mm F2.8. As I said in part two, if you look at the specs of this lens it looks like a very ordinary lens. An allround focal length of 37mm (not long but also not very wide) and a maximum aperture of F 2.8 (not too slow, but also not very bright). It looks very nice, has a solid build, all metal and compact. The glass has a yellow sheen, because of the use of Lanthanum Oxide. A rare earth metal which was used for special optics, making the glas more resistant to alkali and optimizes the quality of the glass (it was also used in lenses made for telescopes).
The lens is pretty sharp. You won't be blown away by its results, but the picture quality is good enough for most circumstances. Like most of its other features, the sharpness is not outstanding but not bad either. Just very solid overall.
Now we come to the part that makes this lens really stand out from the crowd. The lens flare of this lens is very pronounced. It's big, bold but not always beautiful. Sometimes it works, like in the shot below. But just as often it's too much on the foreground, almost competing with the subject. It often has a blueish appearance. I really do like lens flare in my pictures. But not the big round circles this lens sometimes produces. It often felt like a lens more suited for videography than for photography. Movie director J.J. Abrams probably owns this one ;-) .
Filming with flare
This lens probably appeals to some film makers as it certainly has character. It's cheap, has a clickless aperture ring, produces very nice bokeh and (as I said) lots of flare. I shot a short test video which you can see below. My lens seems to have a bit of dust inside it which is particularly visible in lens flare. The video also shows that the image looses a bit of contrast when flaring occurs and it produces a bit of glowy softness around the edges when sun light hits the lens, which can be (I think) quite a nice effect.
My shooting style
The lens doesn't let you come very close to the subject. The closest distance is about 0,7m. I found that a bit limiting for my shooting style when I want to take intimate nature shots. But the beautiful round bokeh the lens produces, its sharpness, its characteristic flare combined with its excellent handeling partly compensate this shortcoming (and of course I can always taken an extension ring with me). Therefore I'll probably take this lens with me now and then, but when I can only take one lens with me (one on my camera) this certainly won't be it. From the three Russian lenses that I bought, this was the one I shot least with.
From the three lenses I bought, there is one that I take with me all the time and that is the KMZ Industar-61 50mm F2.8 L/3. I love that lens and I shot some of my favorite pictures with that lens. The 200mm Jupiter 21 lens I'm proud to own, but it is simply too heavy for regular use. I rather take my Panasonic 45 - 150 lens with me, which is as light as a feather, compared to the Jupiter and just as sharp. As I said, the MIR-1B 37mm F2.8 will probably be with me on my walks when I go out with sunset and want to take more than one lens with me. Overall I think the three lenses were a good buy. As many photographers, I love the experience of exploring the capabilities of new lenses. It inspires and stimulates creativity. Doing this with non-native lenses is a relative affordable way to do that.