"Three nice Russian lenses, in good condition", it read on the seller's website, with a description of their focal length, maximum aperture, lot price (120 euro), lens-mount (M42) plus a not very clear picture of the three lenses together. Pretty sparse. Unusual for this commercial seller, who's normally a bit more detailed. Of course I could contact the seller and ask if he could provide more information about the make of the lenses. But I was in the mood to take a gamble, and be (hopefully positively) surprised. It was a somewhat educated guess, as I ordered with the seller a couple of times before and until now he never disappointed.
After a couple of days a cardboard box arrived with the three lenses in it. Receiving this mystery package gave me kind of a Xmas feeling. I new what was on my wish list, but didn't really know if Santa had done his homework. I was a bit surprised after opening the box. What I saw was three totally different lenses (not only in focal length, but also in build).
We begin with the Macro
As you may have already concluded after reading the numbers between the brackets in the title of this blog, I will focus on one of the three lenses in this blog and reveal the other two in the coming blogs. The lens I'm going to start with is the 50mm f2.8 macro lens. The most eye-catching feature of the lens, is the way the glass is deeply recessed inside the lens. Hereby part of the lens functions as a build in lens hood. The lens feels solidly build, completely made out metal and was in pretty good condition, except for some dust in the lens.
I was curious about the make of the lens and about the experiences of other photographers. After consulting Google, typing in the different characteristics of the lens I did know (aperture, focal length, Russian) I quickly found out that this was the KMZ Industar-61 50mm F2.8 L/Z
This Industar lens has 6 aperture blades and an aperture ring which can be used as a stepless aperture ring or (when pulled back) locked to a certain aperture (range). Pretty nifty!
Wide open the bokeh balls are beautifully round, but closed down a bit further and the 6 aperture blades cause little hexagons to appear. I've shot a short test footage demonstrating this.
Looking at the sharpness of the lens. Wide open de centre of lens is a little on the soft side, but bokeh is beautifully smooth. Perfect for dreamy pictures.
With the lens pointed towards the sun and with the aperture wide open, the haze in combination with the softish rendering, is also perfect for conveying the mood of a warm summer sunset.
With the aperture stopped down a tiny bit (around F3-F3.5), the sharpness already improves quite a bit, while still maintaining the beautiful smooth soft background. Perfect for romantic pictures like this one ;-)
Or like this one. By the way, this was shot using a simple trick I learned from portret and wedding photographer Jason Lanier. Just put the rings on the screen of a tablet or phone (with the screen off ofcourse) and the reflections of the surroundings will do the rest. As this was shot outside in our back garden, the reflections you see in this shot are from our hedge and the sky.
Stopped down even further to F4 - F5.6, and the macro becomes pretty sharp and contrasty. The photo above has a background that is far removed from the subject (so it still looks smooth). But a background near the subject can become quite busy at this aperture setting, because of the hexagon bokeh shapes.
And although this lens can be used as a portrait lens or used for shooting landscapes, it's a bit average in these kind of circumstances. The Industar really shines when it's used where it's build for, intimate landscape or macro shots.
I really love this lens. It's small, sharp and the bokeh rendering when the aperture is wide open is beautifully smooth and the hexagon bokeh shapes quite interesting when closed down. I consider this lens a good buy.
Next blog I will review lens number 2, which is the complete opposite of this lens.