The Russia Helios family is famous for its swirling bokeh, such as the classic Helios 44M 58mm f2 (commonly known as the Eight Feather Monster in Asia) and the Helios 85mm f1.5.
In fact, Russia has another inexpensive but relatively little-known “small wide-angle lens”.
Because of its rotating bokeh and the trend of using old lenses for movies, it is becoming more and more common to see in the trading market.
Today’s protagonist is: MIR-1B 37mm f2.8.
Table of Contents
MIR-1B 37mm f2.8 SAMPLE IMAGE
Year of production: 1950~1990
Focal length: 37mm
Filter size: 49mm
Number of aperture blades: 10
Structure: 6 pieces of 5 groups
Nearest focus distance: 0.7m
The characteristic of Russia lenses is that a single lens may be produced by several different optical manufacturers at the same time, and although the optical structure is the same, the quality varies.
At present, the M42 mount is widely circulated in the market, and there are a few L39 versions.
There are many lens makers producing the MIR-1B 37mm f2.8, at least VOMZ (in cooperation with optical equipment manufacturer Vologda, which produces the most), KMZ, ZOMZ and so on.
Each lens factory will print their own company’s unique logo on the lens body, very special.
The one Capy has is the VOMZ version with a hexagonal pattern, as shown below.
This article Capy used the camera Sigma fp (the world’s smallest and lightest full-frame 135 mirrorless camera).
MIR-1B 37mm f2.8, the initial “MIR” stands for “peace”.
In contrast, Russian optical factories not only produced lenses for cameras, but also produced military weapons, medical endoscopes and sewing machines during World War I and II (of course, not only the Russia, but also all the optical factories in the world at that time).
In 1950, Carl Zeiss Jena released his first generation of wide-angle lens with inverse telescopic (inverse Galileo) design – CZJ Flektogon 35mm f2.8, the predecessor of the famous CZJ Flektogon 35mm f2.4, one of the three treasures of East Zeiss. Almost at the same time, the film lens maker ANGENIEUX also applied for a patent for the Retrifocus series of lenses, which also belonged to the inverse telescopic structure. In 1952, two years later, West Germany Zeiss (Carl Zeiss Oberkochen) launched the Distagon wide-angle lens, which also belonged to the inverse telescopic structure.
Russia, of course, also “took reference” from the CZJ Flektogon 35mm f2.8 lens design and improved it to produce the MIR-1.
In 1958, the MIR-1 won the lens design award at the Brussels Fair in Belgium.
The current MIR-1B 37mm f2.8 is the successor of the MIR-1, with little difference in optical structure and the coating changed from pink to a light amber color.
How to adapt to Mirrorless Camera
The MIR-1B 37mm f2.8 is the more popular M42 mount in the market, but there is also an earlier version of the L39.
How to transfer the MIR-1B 37mm f2.8 M42 mount lens to your baby mirrorless camera?
The closest focusing distance of wide-angle lenses is usually very close to 0.2m or 0.3m.
The closest focus distance of the MIR-1B 37mm f2.8 is 0.7m, which is a small pity for this lens.
Therefore, I used the following adapter instead.
Because the Sigma fp in the picture is an L mount, I used the “Macro Adaptor” – Kipon Adapter Helicoid Macro M42 Lens to L Mount. In this way, the closest focusing distance of the old lens can be reduced significantly (0.7m->0.3m), transforming the lens into a tool that can take pictures of flowers and plants without any pressure.
In fact, the price of the above adapter ring ebay and Japanese auctions on the price of about 180 ~ 210 U.S. dollars, much larger than the price of this lens (about 70 U.S. dollars).
There are several ways to unlock the recent focusing potential of old lenses
Using a focus barrel
Use corrective lenses
Use a macro adapter ring
For financial reasons, the most convenient way is to use a focus barrel, but most of the barrels Capy found were M42 to M42 or M42 to Sony Nex barrels, not the direct L Mount version.
Correcting the lens will reduce the optical quality a lot, so it is not considered.
In this case, the macro adapter ring is almost the only option for older lenses.
Lens build quality
The quality of Russia’s lenses, most of the feedback found on the Internet is that the earliest lenses and the more advanced lenses will be of better quality.
Capy’s is the 1989 version, focusing and aperture action are smooth, but unfortunately the aperture is slightly oily, but for the time being does not affect normal use.
The conclusion is that the quality of workmanship is practical but not particularly impressive.
Lens hand feeling
Handle feeling on hand
The weight of the lens is 185g, plus the lens front and back cover is about 200g.
The extreme light weight, high quality output, is the comfortable place to use the old lens.
The only thing I’m not used to is the peak and valley type focus ring is relatively close to the body, fingers can easily turn the wrong turn into the aperture retracting ring.
The Russian lens collection, the mirror friends have no want to see which a mirror share, you can private message Capy oh.
From the silver one at the bottom left to the top in clockwise order are
As mentioned earlier, the MIR-1B 37mm f2.8 has a peak and valley type focus ring.
The focus travel is 270 degrees, similar to the Canon 85mm f1.9 L39, which is very, very long.
The advantage of this is that precision focusing can be achieved to a very accurate degree, but the disadvantage is that it will be a little too late when focusing for street photography.
The good thing is that the small 37mm wide angle is similar to the 35mm, and Capy mostly uses the pan-focus method during the day.
In addition, the filter ring of the front lens does not rotate when you turn the focus ring, so you can use it with confidence for those who want to use the CPL.
The 10 aperture blades allow the bokeh to remain round or oval at all aperture levels.
In addition, this lens is different from ordinary lenses in that there are three rings that can be rotated, and Capy introduces them from top to bottom.
Aperture Positioning Ring: The Preset aperture design is the predecessor of the M/A file design common in older lenses, the function is to lock the aperture at which size, for example, the picture below is positioned at f11, which means that the aperture can not be turned down to f16 after opening to f11. Aperture reduction ring: the induction aperture design, there will not be the sound of curry when the general lens rotates the aperture. In addition, the aperture of this lens is the opposite of the corresponding f value, that is, when you turn the aperture reduction ring to f2.8, the aperture opening is the smallest, turning to f16 is the real full open aperture. Focus ring: is the focus ring. In practice, Capy mostly use hyper/zone/snap focus shooting, so the use is to first turn the aperture positioning ring to f11, followed by the aperture ring to the right to open to f2.8, so the result is the real f11.
That is, first turn the aperture ring to the position you want, and then turn the aperture ring to the far right, is the aperture value you want.
Of course, you can also fix the aperture positioning ring at f16, so that is f2.8 ~ f16 is a complete non-stage type aperture, but the opposite of left and right to get used to.
lens filters, hoods
The lens filter is 49mm, a very common old lens size.
Capy put on a Takumar 28mm f3.5 square hood with the same 49mm, this is Capy’s favorite hood.
It’s so wet that it’s watery.
Of course, if you want to use CPL filters, you still need to use a round hood to facilitate the rotation.
For this kind of lens with ancient coating, if you want to increase the anti-flare ability and maximize or restore the contrast of the lens, the “Len’s Hood + CPL filter” is a good choice.
“Len’s Hood + CPL filter” is definitely a must-have photographic accessories.
The beauty and ugliness of bokeh is different for everyone, so Capy simply shares my subjective feelings.
Note the small red bokeh and the more white highlights in the upper left corner of the image below.
The red bokeh has a swirling arrangement, similar to Helios, but not as violently swirling. The highlights, on the other hand, are very easy to create a glowing feeling around them.
I personally like this performance, even if the highlights are overexposed, there is no feeling of a hard cut in space, the vignetting eases it all.
Full open aperture chromatic aberration is also very unclear.
The light amber coating of MIR-1B 37mm f2.8 does not work at all.
Basically, it is the death of light, suitable for those who like glare effect.
All the photos in this article are taken with the hood installed, can not be blocked at all.
Brushed flare and round spot ghosting are common, and can be scaled down or even changed in shape by fine-tuning the aperture.
4. Contrast and sharpness
The contrast of the MIR-1B 37mm f2.8 at full open aperture is easily degraded by strong light.
After reducing the aperture, the contrast ratio is very good.
I personally feel that the MIR-1B 37mm f2.8 is richer in dark details and color layers than the Helios 58mm f2 (commonly known as the Eight Feather Monster) series lens.
The resolution (or sharpness) of the eight feather monster is higher than the MIR-1B 37mm f2.8, making it ideal for shooting situations that require sharp detail, such as flowers and still life.
The advantage of the MIR-1B 37mm f2.8 is its excellent micro-contrast ratio, which gives a sense of immersion in the scene and a very good sense of dimensionality.
Please refer to the section on the lens performance of the CANON 85mm f1.9 L39 for an explanation of microcontrast.
Special tips – reverse front lens
There is a funny way for this lens( also working on Helios 44m series)
All you need to do is to reverse the first front lens.
Of cause you can undo it after spending enough time for playing.
And that is the result.
1. Affordable price 2. 10 aperture leaves, bokeh round 3. highlights of the halo is very special 4. very light weight 5. excellent micro-contrast, three-dimensional sense 6. no polar aperture 7. almost no chromatic aberration 8. 270 degree focus stroke
1. the quality of workmanship varies 2. Anti-glare ability is poor 3. Resolution (sharpness) is relatively ordinary 4. Nearest focusing distance 0.7m
The MIR-1B 37mm f2.8 is an unbelievably inexpensive, lightweight small wide-angle.
The lens has good micro-contrast, giving all landscape shots a vivid sense of immediacy.
The out-of-focus spot gives the swirling bokeh that Russian lenses are known for, and it’s fascinating without making you dizzy.
The performance at full open aperture is very mathy, but there is almost no visible chromatic aberration, and the green and purple edges are so slight as to be negligible.
If you want to shoot landscapes, stopping at f5.6 or f8 is a good choice, and stopping at f11 is recommended for pan-focus street photography.
The closest focus distance of 0.7m is very difficult to liberate the close-up condition is to have a macro adapter ring first.
Of course, the biggest drawback (or feature) of this lens is its flare performance.
You can get quite artistic flare work, but it takes some trying.
The MIR-1B 37mm f2.8 is cheap and light, so what can I say.
Canon 35mm f3.2 L39: Canon’s famous Serenar series of silver lenses, can also produce unparalleled (meaning amazing) dazzling photography, its micro-contrast degree is also very good, the price is about 150 ~ 200 U.S. dollars.
Takumar 35mm f3.5 m42: Takumar humanities wide angle, weight and size are similar to the MIR-1B, very suitable for street photography. Features a light red-purple coating that gives the photo a cool cinematic feel. The disadvantage is that the barrel deformation will be higher but not too affected on the actual shooting. The price is about 70 ~ 120 U.S. dollars.
Contax 35mm f2.8 mmj:Contax is proud of the T* coating + Distagon optical structure, good flare suppression and deformation control, clear and perfect but less personal characteristics, the price is about 200 ~ 400 USD.