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A Guide To Russian LTM Lenses

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If you are a rangefinder user, I am sure you have considered buying one of those dirt cheap Russian LTM lenses that have  flooded eBay. LTM lenses rose to the prominence in 30s and 40s with the ascention of Leica Screw Mount cameras. Numerous 'Leica Copies' have accelerated the adoption of the standard and a large number of manufacturers, including the fledging Japanese camera makers like Canon and Nikon began to manufacture LTM lenses. The birth of Russian LTM lenses can be traced to the 30s and the first FED camera, which utilized the M39 mount, as the Leica Screw Thread became to be known. After the defeat of Nazi Germany in WWII, Russians 'appropriated' the original optical equipment and designs from Carl Zeiss factory in Jena. Carl Zeiss know-how was one of the most prized posessions of the post-war era and helped accelerate innovation in the USSR's optical/photography industry, which was pretty much leveled with the ground over the five years of war. Most of the early Russian lens designs trace their roots to Carl Zeiss designs. The Jena factory continued its production under the Communist regime, but Russians also jump-started their own factories, most notably in Krasnogorsk (the KMZ factory) and later also expanded production to Arsenal Kiev, Litkarino, Lvov, Kharkov and Kazan factories. But KMZ remained the epicenter of the innovation and most original Russian designs were originated there.

However, while there are a lot of Russian lenses available on eBay, figuring out what is what is fairly hard - the Russian lens nomenklature is pretty confusing at times and often archaic. This guide tries to bring a little bit more clarity into this subject. We will focus only on Russian LTM lenses in this article - there is also a very wide range of Russian lenses available in Pentax M42/K mount as well as Contax mount, but these will be covered in a separate article at a later time. The main audience for this article should be a user, an active photographer if you will, rather than a collector. While some Russian lenses may bear collectible value, I am no expert in anything collectible and so am going to leave this topic to someone else. Hence the article will focus on lenses that are relatively easy to obtain on used markets and will be omitting all prototype and limited production lens. The article consists of three parts - the first part you are reading now will try to document all known Russian LTM lenses with same key statistics like rated resolution, pricing and availability. The second and third parts are oriented towards the practicioner who wants to see beyond the basic information and get a better feel about more subjective qualities of individual lenses. This is not a detailed review that you might be accustomed to if you're a regular here - if anyone decides to learn a bit more about a particular lens, he/she is advised to visit the full features lens reviews section.

On a personal note, I have been using Russian LTM lenses on and off since 80s. The biggest challenge I've discovered with anything manufactured in the Soviet era, was the variance in quality control. The tolerances are significantly looser than with any other opticals  manufacturer, SLR or rangefinder alike. On top of that, keep in mind that we're dealing with 30, 40 and 50 year old lenses here, which likely have not seen any calibration or cleaning since their manufacturing date. When purchasing such lenses, make sure you have a return period - the virtual majority of lenses on eBay have some problems and would probably need to be returned. The typical 'Excellent' rating that the sellers give to these lenses is very often misleading - with a few exceptions, all of old Soviet lenses should be rated BGN/UG in KEH's terms. The process of finding a Russian lens that lives to its performance capabilities can be quite costly if you are required to pay round shipping for ones that turned out to be dogs. You might opt to look for lenses on photography forums, where quality of stock is typically much higher than on eBay, but also is harder to come by. A few online camera shops might also carry older Russian LTM lenses, so check out all the usual places like Adorama, Tamarkin and KEH.

Finally, do us a huge favor - if you like this or any other article, please like it on Facebook, Tweet it to your friends or whatever. Help us spread the word to other photographers who might be looking for additional infomation for better decision making. Ok, let's begin the journey...

 

 

Industar 22 50/3.5


One of the most well known to the Western buyers lens, Industar 22 50/3.5 was a copy of pre-war Leitz Elmar 50/3.5. The lens was supplied as a kit lens to post-war Zorki rangefinder and was quite popular in 50s and 60s. A couple of different variations of this lens were available - the most common version you will encounter these days will be  collapsible variant. There were also a couple versions made with rigid body, but those are not very common these days and typically command a slight premium (optically, all Industar 22s are same). You will also find a few models with Russian 'У' (U) at the end of the inscription, or without a metering scale - these are enlarger lenses and you would probably want to stay away from them. The collapsible Indusr 22 also had minor variations and you will find copies with focusing limter and without it. You wil also encounter a variant of Industar 22, labeled FED 50/3.5 (or FED 5cm 3.5) - it is the same lens but manufactured at Kharkiv factory rather than at KMZ and bundled with FED cameras. Don't confuse this with FED 50/3.5 macro lens. Finally, a limted test batch of this lens was released in M42x1 mount, although those have become quite rare. Industar 22 was manufactured continuously from mid 40s through late 50s, when it was replaced by Industar 50. The lens was available exclusively in M39 mount. The very first copies of the lens were uncoated, while versions from mid-50s were single coated. The lens is widespread on eBay, with regular collapsible copies going for ~$50.


Industar-22 (alex-photo)

Industar 22 Enlarger (biggerby2002)

Fed 5/3.5 (artemstore)
Quick Facts
Optics 4 elements, 3 groups
Filter size 36mm, push-on
MFD 1.25m
f-scale f/3.5-f/16
Weight 80g
Resolution (c:b) 32:22
Availability Very Common
Market price ~$50 (2012)

 

 

Industar 26m 52/2.8


Another Leitz Elmar derivative, Industar 26m was introduced in mid 50s and was a kit lens for Zokri-2, Mir rangefinder cameras. The lens was manufactured in both M39x1 and M42x1 mounts,although M42x1 versions are extremely rare - there was a very small batch manufactured in the early years and these versions are close to impossible to find these days. An enlarger version of Industar 26m was also manufactured - these can be identified either by the Russian 'У' (U) at the end of inscription or by the lack of focusing scale. The lens was manufactured only in chrome finish and non-collapsible barrel, although a couple of different barrel variations existed. The lens was mass produced through 70s and is readily available these days, with copies going for ~$20.


Industar 26n (artemstore)

Industar 26 Enlarger (moscowphoto)

Quick Facts
Optics 4 elements, 3 groups
Filter size 40.5mm, screw-on
MFD 1m
f-scale f/2.8-f/22
Weight 100g
Resolution (c:b) 30:12
Availability Very Common
Market price ~$20 (2012)

 

 

Industar 50 52/3.5


A replacement of Industar 22, with essentially the same optical formula.The lens was manufactured in two mounts - m39x1 and M42x1. Labeling of this lens is bit confusing as the earliest versions, which were labeled 'Industar 50' were available in both mounts (early M42x1 versions are hard to find these days), while later versions labeled as 'Industar 50-2' were available only in M42x1. The original '50' was available in both collapsible as well as rigid body and chrome finish, while the 50-2 versions were manufactured only as rigids with black finish. First mass-produced Russian lens exported to the West, typically as a kit lens for Zorki-3 rangefinder. A fairly common lens, particularly 50-2 in M42x1 mount, with copies going for ~$30.


Industar-50 (johnzp90)

Industar-50-2 (artemstore)

Quick Facts
Optics 4 elements, 3 groups
Filter size 36mm, push-on
MFD 1m
f-scale f/3.5-f/16
Weight 112g
Resolution (c:b) 32:22
Availability Very Common
Market price ~$30 (2012)

 

 

Industar 61Л 50/2.8 and Industar 61Л/Д 53/2.8 (55/2.8)


The lens with most confusing labeling, Industar 61 was manufactured in a couple of different mounts, as well as a fixed lens for FED-10/11 cameras. This was another mass-produced Soviet lens that was experted to the West, which probably contributed to the confusing labeling. This is a variation of Leitz ELmar 50/2.8. Manufactured since early 70s. Rigid body. Early versions available in chrome, later ones in black or black with chrome. Industar-61 manufactured by FED in M39x1 mount and carried different labels for focal length - the three known versions are 50/2.8, 53/2.8 and 55/2.8. Some copies labeled И-61,and some labaled in English. Two other M39 copies were manufactured - Industar 61Л and Industar 51Л/Д. The first one labeled as 50/2.8, while the second one sometimes as 53/2.8 and sometimes as 55/2.8. M42x1 versions labeled as Industar-61M, Industar-61A, Industar-61-3 and Industar 61Л/3. The first Russian lens to use rare-earth minerals in treating glass surfaces - the rangefinder versions of this lens used lanthanum glass. Early versions are single coated, while later ones have multi coating. Some copies manufactured for export have a typo in label - instead of MC to indicate multi-coating, they are labelled MS. A mass-produced lens but some variations are more common than others. Industar 61Л/Д (61L/D) are the most common, with copies going for ~$15.


Industar-61 (artemstor)

Industar-61L/D (artemstor)

Quick Facts
Optics 4 elements, 3 groups
Filter size 40.5mm, screw-on
MFD 1m
f-scale f/2.8-f/16
Weight 130g
Resolution (c:b) 44:30
Availability Very Common
Market price ~$15 (2012)

 

 

Orion 15 28/6


A clone of pre-war Carl Zeiss Topogon. The lens was manufactured in M39x1 and Contax bayonet mounts. The lens was first released in 1950 and entered mass-production in mid-50s. Rigid, low profile body. Manufactured in chrome, although a limited batch was manufactured in black - these were manufactured for export and had a 'Made in USSR' engravings on the barrel. Some later chrome versions also carry similar engravings and apparently were also exported. This is not a very common lens, particularly the black exported versions, and is also one of the more expensive Russian lenses. A few copies that sell on eBay every year, fetch anywhere between $200 and $400.


Orion-15 (uv1962)

Quick Facts
Optics 4 elements, 4 groups
Filter size 49mm
MFD 1m
f-scale f/6-f/22
Weight 80g
Resolution (c:b) 45:18
Availability Once in a while
Market price ~$300 (2012)

 

 

Russar MP-2 20/5.6


One of the earliest Russian designs, dating back to mid 30s. Early versions manufactured in chrome and in later years in black. Rigid, low profile, with deeply protruding rear element. The lens entered mass-production in mid 50s, but was not a very popular lens due to its UWA FOV.  M39x1 mount only, although there are claims that a small expiremental batch was made in last years of production for Contax mount. These are not confirmed and occasional Contax copy that sometimes appear on eBay are most likely home conversions. Russar is a pretty rare lens these days, particularly black finish samples. Few copies that get listed on eBay typically fetch ~$600.


Russar MP-2 (shphoto-gmbh)

Quick Facts
Optics 6 elements, 4 groups
Filter size 55mm
MFD 0.5m
f-scale f/5.6-f/22
Weight 95g
Resolution (c:b) 35:20
Availability Uncommon
Market price ~$600 (2012)

 

 

Jupiter 3 52/1.5


A fairly popular clone of pre-war Carl Zeiss Sonnar 50/1.5. Mass manufactured from late 40s through late 80s. Early versions single coated, later ones multi-coated. Was available in M39x1 and Contax bayonet mounts. Rigid body, but slight variations in barrel shape and labeling. Later copies (from mid 70s through the end of production run) were manufactured in black. Very early batch carried label 3K (Sonnar from Krasnogorsk, I was told). These copies were manufactured from the actual Carl Zeiss glass that Soviets appropriated from Jena after WWI. These copies are virtually impossible to find though. Regular samples are more or less common. Used to be dirt cheap, but the prices have been climbing after a couple of positive online reviews. Prices now hover ~$200.


Jupiter 3 (madeinussr73)

Quick Facts
Optics 7 elements, 3 groups
Filter size 40.5mm, screw-on
MFD 0.9m
f-scale f/1.5-f/22
Weight 160g
Resolution (c:b) 30:14
Availability Common
Market price ~$200 (2012)

 

 

Jupiter 8 50/2


A clone of pre-war Carl Zeiss Sonnar 50/2.The earliest copies were labeled '3K' and were made using the actual Carl Zeiss stock glass (as did Jupiter 3 versions labeled 3K). The very first '3K' batch was made with collapsible body - these are the hardest to find lenses these days. Later on, the lens acquired rigid body and got its 'Jupiter' label. Mass produced since early 50s. Was manufactured in M39x1 and Contax bayonet mounts. Early versions in chrome and since mid 70s in black finish. Barrel shape varied, but the optics remained same throughout the years. Some samples have 'Made in USSR' engraved on barrel and English 'Jupiter' - these were made for export and are exclusively in black finish. Very popular and widely available lens, with copies going for ~$50.


Jupiter 8 (artemstore)

Jupiter 8 (artemstore)

Quick Facts
Optics 6 elements, 3 groups
Filter size 40.5mm, screw-on
MFD 1m
f-scale f/2-f/22
Weight 130g
Resolution (c:b) 30:14
Availability Very Common
Market price ~$50 (2012)

 

 

Jupiter 9 85/2


Another Sonnar copy, this time Carl Zeiss Sonnar 85/2. Like Jupiter 3 and 8, early copies labeled '3K'. Mass manufactured through 90s. Rigid body, with chrome finish for early versions and black finish for the last years of production. Probably one of the most popular lenses of its time, and one of very few Russian lenses manufactured in 5 different mounts - M39x1, Contax bayonet, M24, M42 and Kiev-10 bayonet. Limited quantities were exported to the West - these have 'Made in USSR' label on the barrel. Widely available, with prices hovering ~$150.


Jupiter 9 (madeinussr73)

Quick Facts
Optics 7 elements, 3 groups
Filter size 49mm
MFD 1.15m
f-scale f/2-f/22
Weight 335g
Resolution (c:b) 32:23
Availability Common
Market price ~$150 (2012)

 

 

Jupiter 11 133/4


A copy of pre-war Carl Zeiss Sonnar 135/4. In continuous production from late 40s through late 80s. Available in M39x1, Contax bayonet, M42 and Kiev-10 bayonet mounts. Early versions in chrome and later copies in black finish. Very common lens, with prices hovering around $30.


Jupiter-11 (madeinussr73)

Quick Facts
Optics 4 elements, 3 groups
Filter size 40.5mm, screw-on
MFD 2.5m
f-scale f/4-f/22
Weight 360g
Resolution (c:b) 34:19
Availability Very Common
Market price ~$30 (2012)

 

Jupiter 12 35/2.8


A copy of Carl Zeiss Bioon 35/2.8. Like other Carl Zeiss copies, ws manufactured using Carl Zeiss stock glass in its very early years of production. Thos copies were labeled 'BK' (Biogon from Krasnogorsk) and are very hard to find these days. Later renamed 'Jupiter' Mass produced through 90s in M39x1 and Contax bayonet mounts. Barrel shape varied throughout the years of production - early versions in chrome, while later ones in black finish. Rigid design. Some later copies have 'Made in USSR' labeling. Common lens to find on eBay these days, with copies selling for ~$90.


Jupiter-12 (moscowphoto)

Quick Facts
Optics 6 elements, 4 groups
Filter size 40.5mm, screw-on
MFD 1m
f-scale f/2.8-f/22
Weight 130g
Resolution (c:b) 34:12
Availability Common
Market price ~$90 (2012)

 

Go to Part 2

 

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