Industar 50-2 is the lens that I meant to buy a long time ago. A lot of photographers and cinematographers around already have one of these and that got me wondering what all the fuss is about.
The first thing that you notice about this lens is its tiny size and yet it will work even on a full frame cameras. It’s definitely the smallest lens I own that is capable of such coverage. Even though it’s tiny, I actually find it to be a great lens for run & gun video shooting. Focus ring is very thin, but really grippy and aperture ring has no clicks, so as long as you can keep your fingers out of optics, it can be a great aid for exposure control. Although aperture ring is right on the front of the lens, it turns very easily and you can adjust the aperture with jut one finger pressed against the outer edge of the ring.
All that is great, but what about the optics? On paper, this lens sounds quite uninspiring, but as I often find, specs don’t necessarily mean anything. This lens is based on the Zeiss’s Tessar 4 element optical formula, which is not a bad thing for sure. Sharpness wide open although not great, is acceptable. Stop it down just a little to F4 and it becomes even more usable. My video above was shot mostly between F3.5 and F4 so as you can see, at least for video use it’s certainly sharp enough.
Colours & contrast are similar to what you’d expect for an average vintage lens and vignetting on APS-C/Super35 is almost unnoticeable. There is no proper vignetting on full frame either, but you notice the light fall-off around the corners much more.
I generally like lenses with character and Industar 50-2 certainly has a character, which is the most evident in the bokeh this lens produces. It’s a bit swirly and a bit fussy, but it’s nice and adds that vintage look to your images.
Overall I like this lens, but don’t get me wrong, it’s not a lens that I would usually take on a job (unless I needed something very small and lightweight or I’m shooting gorilla style). I see Industar 50-2 more as a “fun” lens that you take with you on a day out or maybe even holidays, like I did. It’s capable of achieving professional looking results, but its size will not impress a paying client and as we know for most clients “size matters” 🙂
Specs (for anyone interested):
- Mount: M42
- Aperture Range: F3.5 to F16
- Aperture Blades: 7
- Focus Ring Rotation: 315°
- Closest Focusing Distance: 0.65m
- Weight: 75gr
- Filter Thread Size: 35.5mm
And to get a better perspective of how good or bad this lens is, let’s take a look at PROS and CONS.
- Very affordable
- Easily adaptable & works on most cameras
- Very compact & lightweight
- Click-less aperture adjustment
- Good optical performance
- Interesting character
- Can be too small for large hands/fingers
- Very slow for a 50mm prime lens
- Aperture adjustment is right in front of the optics
- Focus ring travel of 315° can be impractical when pulling focus by hand
- Character might not be to everyone’s taste
There are plenty of good points and downsides to this lens, but at the end of the day it’s one of the most affordable lenses out there, which is great excuse to buy and try one yourself.
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