Russian MIR-1 37mm 1:2.8 - NEX-5N

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by Dioptrick, May 25, 2012.

  1. Dioptrick

    Dioptrick TalkEmount All-Pro

    Feb 4, 2012
    New Zealand
    My Russian MIR has arrived, all the way from Latvia! :)

    I first became aware of this lens because of fotomachi's wonderful collection of Russian lenses. I was looking for another Russian optic to study but wanted a wider focal length (I have more than enough 50mm's :rolleyes: ).

    What intrigued me about this lens was the "Grand Prix Brussels 1958" markings. I had tried to source one earlier but they seem to cost more than the MIR-1 lenses without it. After more research, I have discovered that these markings do not necessarily mean they were made in 1958. It is just an award badge inscribed on the lens which was continued on consecutive production batches well into the late 60s possibly early 70s. The MIR-1 without the markings are exactly the same lens. The silver versions are more rare apparently and most mint examples I've seen are later releases commonly in black with M42 screw mounts. Seeing that Russia is so far away from where I live, I decided that if I was going to collect a MIR it might as well be one with the GrandPrix markings, but I wasn't prepared to pay extra especially if the cheaper unmarked versions are essentially the same lens. I went cold on the MIR and put my searching on hold.

    While I was scrounging around for an Industar-69 28mm wide-angle pancake, I came across this particular MIR-1. I immediately recongnized the GrandPrix markings but I have never seen one inscribed in Russian (I'm assuming it's Russian). The condition also looks much older with an unusual M39 mount (so hopefully an earlier copy) but the main reason I got it is because of the unusual markings. Below is a photo of the lens after some patient cleaning time.


    MIR-101.

    (Fotomachi, can you read this writing? I am curious so I'm hoping someone can help me with the translation. I am also curious why there is an "r." after 1958)
     
  2. Dioptrick

    Dioptrick TalkEmount All-Pro

    Feb 4, 2012
    New Zealand
    MIR-103.

    From what I can gather, the MIR-1 was developed in 1954 and was derived from the Zeiss Flektogon. The MIR-1 isn't a straight clone but rather a tweaked version of the Flektogon platform with the objective of maintaining the same very high corrected levels of spherical and chromatic aberrations while being constructed from simpler optical glass - presumably still utilizing the Flektogon's 6-element / 5-group optical formula. Somewhere along the line, the design received a prestigious GrandPrix award but I still don't understand it's correlation to the 1958 World Trade Fair in Brussels.

    The aperture range is f2.8 to f16 and the 10 blade aperture mechanism is semi-automatic (similar to my CZJ Tessar ex-Praktica). It has a narrow aperture selector ring up front and immediately behind it has a wider ring (easily mistaken for the focusing barrel) which is used to open-up or stop-down the aperture to the pre-selected f-stop. This was a necessary feature for the old film camera bodies with dim view finders. On the NEX however, I can just leave the selector on f16 all the time and then use the wider ring as a "stepless" aperture adjuster (can come in handy when shooting HDmovies). Photo below shows the rear element, 10 aperture blades and the smaller than usual M39 screw mount.


    MIR-102.


    The minimum focus distance is 0.7m so only moderate close-ups are possible. It weighs 196 grams (without adapter and lens caps) so it's not too heavy at all for the NEX-5N. The lens coating often makes blue and yellow reflections (with green and pink too sometimes) which is something I've never seen other lens multi-coatings do before.

    Although this MIR-1 has an M39 screw mount, it's not going to work with a Leica adapter for the NEX. It requires the usual M42 adaptor but needs a 39-42mm thread conversion sleeve... however, the deeply chamfered rear end of this lens + a NEX M42 adapter makes it look like gruff plumbing works. A custom extension spacer for a Leica M39 adapter is more appealing I think, which is what I have used below.

    MIR-104.

    Unfortunately, I can't find any info as to what year this particular lens was made. The first two digits of the serial number is the year of manufacture but my MIR-1 number starts with 00. It can't possibly be 2000 or 1900. On further research I discovered that this lens is a "pre-serial, pre-production" model (according to an article about Soviet lens serial numbers).

    000xxxxxx factory test (study) models (prototypes etc)
    00xxxxxx pre-series models reserved for members of the communist party and "VIPs"
    0xxxxxx reserved for factory syndicate leaders
    "They are generally considered higher quality optics due to the fact that there is stricter quality control (which is disputed among Russian gear), they are produced in lower numbers with greater care, and they are not presented to the general public."


    But this does not help me determine the true manufacture date of my lens... was it therefore made before 1958, or after? At any rate I'll assume that the lens is one of the better ones, but I've not had a chance to take sample photos yet.


    Sample pics later...
     
  3. Luiz Curcino

    Luiz Curcino TalkEmount Veteran

    265
    Apr 27, 2012
    Uberlandia-MG Brasil
    Dioptrick, thanks for the MIR-1 37mm review.
    After cleaning was beautiful! We await the pics.
    :D
     
  4. Dioptrick

    Dioptrick TalkEmount All-Pro

    Feb 4, 2012
    New Zealand
    Yakovlev Yak-52 (Як-52)

    I was driving past our local airport when I spotted a Russian YAK and thought it might be a fitting subject to test the MIR-1 lens. The one I saw had a white/grey winter-camo paint job with red star markings, absolutely beautiful! However when I inquired about it, the plane had been taken away for maintenance. Thankfully there's another one in town and the owner of DoubleXFlight was kind enough to let me photograph it. This one has an acrobatic paint scheme and is available to anyone who is keen on booking it for a backseat 320kph 4G drop down loop! I'm still hoping to photograph the other Yak when it returns but in the meantime, here's the first deposit of sample photos taken with the MIR-1 lens on my Sony NEX-5N.


    Yak01.
    MIR-1 37mm f/5.6, 1/60 sec, Auto ISO



    The Yakovlev Yak-52 (Як-52) is a Soviet primary trainer aircraft which first flew in 1976 (although it looks like a much older vintage aeroplane). It is still being produced in Romania apparently. The Yak-52 was designed originally as a robust aerobatic trainer for Soviet military pilots. Since the early 1990s and the end of the Soviet Union, many Yak 52s have been exported and most now fly in the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia and other western countries.

    Yak02.
    MIR-1 37mm f/2.8, 1/640 sec, Auto ISO



    I could only photograph the Yak52 inside it's hangar so I had to get up close and shoot interesting aspects of the aircraft while isolating it from its surroundings. The challenge was to somehow capture an outdoors feel while being indoors. The problem with doing partial crops from one large object is the resulting ambiguity as to what the subject is. So I decided to use a very shallow DOF to focus the viewer's attention to begin from just one aspect of the aircraft. Gotta love those rivets... and star insignias! :)

    Yak03.
    MIR-1 37mm f/2.8, 1/320 sec, Auto ISO



    One of the features I really like about the 5N is the 'flip-out' LCD screen which is priceless when taking shots literally an inch off the ground. Large DOF for the last pic to get everything in focus.

    Yak04.
    MIR-1 37mm f/11, 1/100 sec, Auto ISO
     
  5. Dioptrick

    Dioptrick TalkEmount All-Pro

    Feb 4, 2012
    New Zealand
    Flare... Gorgeous Flare!

    I was aware that the MIR-1 is prone to flaring before I decided to get one. A lot of MIR-1 owners recommend the use of a lens hood and it will be fine. However, after seeing a short video on how "cinematic" the MIR-1 flares can be, I got excited about this lens potential for artistic applications.

    I have been looking for a lens like this since I started utilizing the 'lens-flare filter' in Adobe Photoshop since PS version 1 (and that was a long time ago). Although using an artificial lens-flare filter is sort of cheating, I could not replicate an authentic rendering of this 'effect' with any of my existing lenses - until now.

    Lens flares are indeed a nuisance and can ruin critical detail in precise compositions (lens manufacturers have understandably applied themselves to get rid of it). All modern lenses these days suppress flares very effectively... and I have those to use when I need to be clinical, but I've always wanted a lens that flares-up when I want to be creative.



    [HR][/HR]

    WARNING
    For those that get sick in the stomach every time flares appear in a photo, turn back now. The next photos I'll be posting in this thread have a FAB-Rating (Flares and Blooms). :)

    For those that like flares, gleams, strobes, dancing lights, comets, and UFOs... then you've hit the jackpot! The MIR-1 is possibly the mother of all flare-prone lenses... and I just love it.



    I was going to wait till evening to shoot a street lamp so that I could study its flare characteristics before I took it out on assignment. But then I heard a plane flying overhead at noon, and I just couldn't resist.


    MirFlare01.
    MIR-1 37mm f/11, 1/640 sec, Auto ISO


    MirFlare02.
    MIR-1 37mm f/11, 1/1000 sec, Auto ISO


    Still squinting? Shouldn't have to... the sun is only as white as the background colour of this webpage. :)




    [HR][/HR]



    PUSHING THE LIMITS

    As soon as I realized the unique characteristic of this lens, I changed my approach when I took additional sample photos with the MIR-1. Rather than going for the usual conventional compositions, I've decided to shoot "luminance" extremes instead.


    I started off with a "drift car" and shot it with the sun away from the front of the lens... just to show that the MIR-1 is a capable lens in its own right under appropriate lighting conditions.

    Drift01.
    MIR-1 37mm f/5.6, 1/400 sec, Auto ISO



    Then I stopped it down to f11 and lowered the camera right down to ground level. In doing so, I was able to catch the sun reflecting off the chrome wheels. Stopping down to small apertures will create starbursts on most lenses but the MIR bursts in a more haphazard manner with some haze - a more natural looking effect (notice the lone shaft of stray light directly above the rear wing). This is shooting straight with the MIR-1 with no filter accessory on the front of the lens.

    Drift02.
    MIR-1 37mm f/11, 1/100 sec, Auto ISO



    Some of my other vintage lenses do flare-up a bit, but not enough to be used artistically. The MIR-1 on the other hand flares-up beautifully. However, the compositions have to be thought-out carefully - where the subject, light source, and the camera placement have to be all lined-up just right. Whatever flare shapes that do randomly turn up needs to fall over the right areas so that they enhance the subject rather than obstruct it. The flares below obstruct the car, but I couldn't coax a better combination because of where the sun was facing in relation to this composition.

    Drift03.
    MIR-1 37mm f/11, 1/60 sec, Auto ISO



    It's by no means easy to control, and careless placement will just blast random shaped flares every which way. I wanted to study and see how far I could push this characteristic, so I went for a deliberate full-on flare attack - no holding back! Here the sun looks like a gigantic angle grinder, spewing sparks all over the car... flares out-staging everything else... fun but real crass! lol

    Drift04.
    MIR-1 37mm f/11, 1/250 sec, Auto ISO



    ---

    Further sample pics to come, more controlled attempts with flares next...
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. Luiz Curcino

    Luiz Curcino TalkEmount Veteran

    265
    Apr 27, 2012
    Uberlandia-MG Brasil
    Dioptrick, Great lens, great pics! Beautiful colors, good contrast and definition.

    Yes, old lenses they all have a tendency to flare! But for some situations in photography and video primarily for the artistic effect is very nice. I really like this effect in video and photo.
     
  7. Bolampau

    Bolampau TalkEmount Veteran

    276
    Apr 22, 2012
    Lincolnshire, England
    Paul
    Thanks Dioptrick,
    I enjoyed reading your review of the lens and interesting to see the Yak-52 too.
    Cheers,
    Paul
     
  8. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    Dave
    Very nice shots, love anything automotive and aeronautical. Seems like a good lens you found.

    Technically you should not have any flares, but in the right spot I think they can be a nice shot addition.
     
  9. Dioptrick

    Dioptrick TalkEmount All-Pro

    Feb 4, 2012
    New Zealand
    Cheers guys.

    Physically the MIR-1 isn't as intuitive to use as the Industar-61. Due to its age my MIR's focusing barrel is a bit stiff and has some slap. I also found the secondary step-less aperture ring a bit confusing at first, so I really had to concentrate to not get my apertures mixed-up.

    Yes, I think so too. One thing I've learned from the advertising industry is that sometimes it's better to sell the BBQ "sizzle" rather than the sausage, lol!

    I couldn't induce enough authentic MIR flares to originate from the sun reflecting off the left headlight. Pic below is more of what I had in mind.


    Drift03a.
    Post Processed (additional Photoshop flares were artificially applied)

    Drift03ooc.
    Original (authentic MIR-1 lens flares)
     
  10. Dioptrick

    Dioptrick TalkEmount All-Pro

    Feb 4, 2012
    New Zealand
    Playing with Light

    Some abstract compositions made from light reflections, gleams, and lens flares with the MIR-1.



    MirMarina01.
    MIR-1 37mm f/11, 1/125 sec, Auto ISO





    MirMarina02.
    MIR-1 37mm f/11, 1/60 sec, Auto ISO





    MirMarina04.
    MIR-1 37mm f/11, 1/200 sec, Auto ISO





    MirMarina03.
    MIR-1 37mm f/11, 1/60 sec, Auto ISO





    MirMarina05.
    MIR-1 37mm f/11, 1/500 sec, Auto ISO





    MirMarina06.
    MIR-1 37mm f/11, 1/125 sec, Auto ISO
     
  11. freddytto

    freddytto TalkEmount All-Pro

    Dec 2, 2011
    Puebla, Mexico
    thanks for sharing, I gotta more interest in particular of this lens, I love the way it makes light reflection and flares, gleams they seem to be created with any software. photo of the car is incredible, but some details would have to be corrected, as the most brilliant flashes, but is still a great shot.


    Drift03a. [/QUOTE]


    Mate you could make a video and share it with us? I guess the video as cinema¡¡¡¡¡ :eek: wow
    When Fotomachi share to us ,his all lenses, OMG has gotten me curious to look beyond legacy lenses, especially the German chrome so I see this forum, are a great lens, also good combination with my nex5n ..
     
  12. Dioptrick

    Dioptrick TalkEmount All-Pro

    Feb 4, 2012
    New Zealand
    Thanks amigo. :) The flares suit this subject very well because a Drift Car is so "in-your-face loud" both audible and visible. So the flares are at-home in an already dynamic situation. Of course there are subjects where flares should NOT be used.


    I have never considered doing this, but maybe I might as well have a play... let me think about it.
     
  13. freddytto

    freddytto TalkEmount All-Pro

    Dec 2, 2011
    Puebla, Mexico
    interest would see some video with this effect, as if it were a movie, where a couple walks to the edge of the beach and the blur of the sun and the flares,light reflections,around the scene.
     
  14. Dioptrick

    Dioptrick TalkEmount All-Pro

    Feb 4, 2012
    New Zealand
    Sorry this took a while Freddy. It's been overcast and raining most of this week and when the sun did come out, I was at work. I was able to catch a short video this afternoon but the sun was cloud-covered so the lens flares were subdued. I didn't have a tripod either, so excuse the wobbly video.

    I'll try again later this week, hopefully I can capture some better flare examples... but for now this short clip should give you an idea of how this lens responds to light. :)


    [video=youtube;5JiVFQTb-rg]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JiVFQTb-rg?rel=0[/video]
     
  15. Luiz Curcino

    Luiz Curcino TalkEmount Veteran

    265
    Apr 27, 2012
    Uberlandia-MG Brasil
    Hi, Dioptrick,
    very good video, against the sun I see the beautiful flare effects of light entering the lens. Beautiful place.. and yes, I also heard the birds! :)
     
  16. Dioptrick

    Dioptrick TalkEmount All-Pro

    Feb 4, 2012
    New Zealand
    Thank you Luiz... it's funny how I didn't notice the sound of the birds (and passing car) while I was taking the movie. I was very pleased to hear these sounds on playback when I got home.


    While I was waiting for the clouds to move away from the sun so that I can take a movie of the MIR-1 lens spot-flares, I took some still-photographs of the sun bursting through the cloud formation. Much to my surprise, the photo I got was NOT the same as the actual scene. In reality, the bursting sun rays were only present under the clouds. Above the clouds, there was only clear blue sky. In the photo below, you will also see some sun rays bursting above the clouds. These are not sun rays... these are in fact lens flares from the MIR-1! I think it added something very special to the composition.

    MIRSunset.
    MIR-1 37mm f/11, 1/500 sec, ISO100
     
  17. Bolampau

    Bolampau TalkEmount Veteran

    276
    Apr 22, 2012
    Lincolnshire, England
    Paul
    Hi Dioptrick,
    The lens flares from this lens are amazing and really help lift the scene!
    Cheers,
    Paul
     
  18. freddytto

    freddytto TalkEmount All-Pro

    Dec 2, 2011
    Puebla, Mexico

    thanks mate,I appreciate, it is a great lens, now i will look on ebay, maybe get lucky, :DI want this lens, after I saw this video, just as I thought, the light reflections are amazing, by the way a short video but great.
     
  19. Dioptrick

    Dioptrick TalkEmount All-Pro

    Feb 4, 2012
    New Zealand
    An afternoon at Lake Rotorua

    Still studying MIR-1 lens flares, but this time with moving subjects.
    Shutter speed auto-ranging from 1/80 to 1/500, all shots f11 at ISO100.



    Lake02.








    Lake03.








    Lake07.








    Lake01.







    Lake05.






    Lake06.
     
  20. Bolampau

    Bolampau TalkEmount Veteran

    276
    Apr 22, 2012
    Lincolnshire, England
    Paul
    Hey Dioptrick,
    Thanks for this, the more shots I see taken with this lens the more convinced I am that this lens is perfect for tackling bright sunshine. In the past, I've always been doubtful about lens flare and have often edited it out in PS - now though I'm reassessing that view.
    Cheers,
    Paul