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Industar 55mm f/2.8
N-61 L/D (Leica M39 Thread Mount, 1990s)
© 2010 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations

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Industar 55mm f/2.8 N-61 L/D

Industar 55mm f/2.8 (40.5mm filters, 4.575 oz. /129.7g, about $15-20). CCCP-sized. You can get them at this link to them at eBay. It helps me keep reviewing these when you get yours through these links, thanks! Ken.

 

 

April 2010          Leica Camera Reviews    Leica Lens Reviews

 

Introduction       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations

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This Industar 55mm f/2.8 comes from the Arsenal factory in Ukraine. It's still made today, and has been made since at least the early 1970s. This sample is from about 1983, as the first two digits of the serial number record.

Used correctly, it can create vivid, jaw-dropping, award-winning images worthy of space in the world's finest art galleries.

On the test bench, it's inferior to LEICA and LEITZ lenses, but since no one has ever created a remarkable photo of test benches, who cares?

An advantage of this Industar lens over LEICA is its very light weight: just 129.7g (4.575 oz.). It's made entirely of the space-age wonder metal, aluminum.

LEICA's recent 50/2.8 ELMAR-M (1994-2007) and traditional 50mm f/2.8 ELMAR (1957-1974) weigh much more due to their use of primitive brass.

LEICA's original LEITZ 50mm f/3.5 ELMAR (1925-1961) weighs even less, at 111.2g (3.920 oz.) and has similar performance to this Industar. The LEITZ f/3.5 lens has less distortion, but it's 2/3 stop slower, and has poorer ergonomics and a higher price.

 

Compatibility       top

The Industar 55mm f/2.8 works on all LEICA screw-mount cameras, like the LEICA IIIf of the 1950s.

With a simple M-adapter (which will cost triple the price of the lens), it works perfectly on every LEICA M camera, from the M3 of 1954, Minolta's CLE, and of course today's LEICA M7, LEICA MP and LEICA M9.

More likely, you'll be using it on an Eastern-block camera, or one of those Voigtländers.

 

Specifications       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations

 

Optics        top

4 elements in 3 groups: Tessar variant.

Single-coated, mostly in blue and amber.

"L/D" in the model number designates the use of the rare-earth element Lanthanum, which just happens to be mildly radioactive, as an additive in the glass. This slight radioactivity is unrelated to its optical properties.

 

Diaphragm

Industar 55mm f/2.8 L/D 61

Industar 55mm f/2.8 at f/5.6. Bigger.

6 conventional blades.

Stops down to f/16.

Uneven spacing.

Full-stop clicks.

 

Close Focus

1 meter (3' 4" or 40").

 

Size        top

54.3mm (2.14") diameter, maximum (focus ring).

38.06mm (1.498") extension from flange, 45.58mm (1.794") overall.

With an M-adapter, add 1.00mm extension from flange. Overall length is unchanged.

 

Filters

40.5 x 0.5mm screw-in filters (E40,5).

 

Weight        top

4.575 oz. (129.7g), measured without M-adapter.

5.010 oz.(142.0g), measured with M-adapter.

 

Industar 55mm f/2.8

Industar 55mm f/2.8. bigger.

Performance       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations

 

Bokeh        top

Bokeh, the quality of out-of-focus areas as opposed to the degree of defocus, is funny. It becomes shaped like ovals or beans at the periphery.

 

Diaphragm Calibration        top

The calibration is close enough.

The meter in my M9 tracks each full-stop click, and it seems to match the LEITZ 50mm f/2.8 to which I compared it.

 

Distortion           top

The Industar 55mm f/2.8 has relatively strong barrel distortion.

Use a value of +2.5 in Photoshop's lens distortion filter at infinity to correct it.

This is far worse than any LEICA 50mm lens of any vintage, and even a little worse than Nikon's newest worst-in-class 50mm f/1.4 AF-S.

This scary stuff all said, you'll rarely notice it unless you're looking for it.

 

Ergonomics        top

Industar 55mm f/2.8 L/D 61

Industar 55mm f/2.8. bigger.

The Industar 55mm f/2.8 handles great.

It's easy to focus and to adjust the aperture.

Focus is geared just right: it turns from infinity to 1 meter in about 100.º

Focus is undamped and a bit loose. The big ring near the camera turns easily.

Because the focus ring is close to the camera, you may feel the unlocking button or the delayed-release or preselector lever of your camera as you focus, but it's no problem.

 

Finder Blockage        top

There is no finder blockage, far better than the LEICA NOCTILUX.

 

Focus        top

Focus accuracy is a personal issue between your sample of body and your sample of lens.

This said, this particular sample was way off on my M9, even at the inifinity stop.

Once tested, I had to focus, then look at the depth-of-field scale and move the ring to a closer distance using the the f/2.8 mark as reference.

 

Falloff    (darker corners)         top

The Industar 55mm f/2.8 has a some falloff at f/2.8, and it's gone by f/4.

I've greatly emphasized it below by shooting a gray field and presenting it against another gray field

 

Industar 55mm f/2.8 falloff on full-frame M9 at infinity,
50/2.8 lens profile:

f/2.8
f/4

f/5.6

f/8

© 2010 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

 

 

Lateral Color Fringes        top

There no color fringes anywhere on a LEICA M9.

 

Materials and Construction        top

This Industar is made of solid metal. Of course that metal is all aluminum, so it feels much lighter than LEICA, Voigtländer or Zeiss lenses, which use a good deal of brass as well.

There is no plastic. Screw-mount lenses don't have index balls.

All the marking are engraved.

 

Sharpness         top

The more you know about photography, the more you know that lens sharpness doesn't matter.

If you use this lens correctly, lens sharpness just doesn't matter.

If you're silly enough to think that lens sharpness affects picture sharpness, use the newest LEICA 50mm f/2 SUMMICRON-M or LEICA 50mm f/1.4 SUMMILUX-M ASPH instead. For screw-mount, get the classic LEITZ 50mm f/2.8 ELMAR (1957-1974), or pray for one of the 1999 era M39 versions of the LEICA 50mm f/2 SUMMICRON-M.

This classic lens isn't as sharp if you're looking too close; duh, what do you want for $20?

If you worry about it, stop down to f/11 or f/16 for the best results. That's the problem: by the time you stop down to f/16 or f/11, your exposure times will be long enough to lead to camera shake, or demand a tripod.

 

As shot on the LEICA M9

f/2.8

Softer all over.

The center is contrasty, with lower resolution.

The sides and corners are relatively awful, like the LEITZ 50mm f/3.5 ELMAR (1925-1961).

 

f/4

The center is less soft, and always contrasty.

The sides and corners are still as bad as at f/2.8, but now the lack of falloff lets you see them even better.

 

f/5.6

Everything is a little better than at f/4, but not by much.

 

f/8

The center is a little better than at f/5.6

The sides are better than at f/5.6.

For most uses, it's good enough at f/8 for just about anything. It's never as good as the classic LEITZ 50mm f/2.8 ELMAR (1957-1974), but if you're not splitting pixels, it's fine.

 

f/11

The center is a little better than at f/8. It's as good as it's going to get.

The sides are better than at f/8.

 

f/16

The center is about the same as at f/11. It never gets as good as the classic LEITZ 50mm f/2.8 ELMAR (1957-1974).

The sides are best at f/16.

 

Rear, Industar 55mm f/2.8

Rear, Industar 55mm f/2.8. bigger.

Do you see the green ink on the far side of the mount? That's supposed to be there for some reason.

 

Compared       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations

 
Industar 55mm
Dates  
1925-1957
1957-1974
1994-2007
1969-1979
1979-today
Optical Quality
Good enough
Good enough
Good
Very Good
Very Good
Exquisite
Made in
Ukraine
Germany
Germany
Germany
Germany, later Canada
Canada, later Germany
Color
Black with chrome
Chrome
Chrome
Black or Chrome
Black
Black or Chrome
Infinity lock
No
Yes
Yes
no
no
no
Focus
Ring
Button
Button
Ring
Ring
Tab or ring
Optics
4/3
5/3
4/3
4/3
6/4
6/4
Diaphragm
6 blades
15 blades
15 blades
6 blades
10 blades
8 blades
Close focus
1m
1m
1m
0.7m
0.7m
0.7m
Collapsible
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
No (but some 1950s versions did)
No
Filter
40.5mm
A36, later 39mm
39mm
39mm
39mm
39mm
Hood
screw-on
FISON Press-on
Latch-on
Latch-on
Latch-on
Latch-on or built-in
Weight
130g
111g
207g
167g
200g
195-355g

 

Recommendations       top

Intro   Specs   Performance   Compared   Recommendations

If you've only got $20 for a lens for your LEICA screw-mount camera, this is a great way to invest it.

I'm very grateful that I can afford a few hundred dollars for a 1950s LEITZ 50mm f/2.8 ELMAR, which is much better at twenty times the price, but not twenty times better.

If you're shooting LEICA you'll not trouble with this lens, but if you're using less-expensive screw-mount and M-bayonet mount cameras as used by real photographers, this Industar lens can create results that knock them out of the park.

Lenses are easy to test on a bench (or my controlled test range), but what makes a great picture has little to nothing to do with a lens' technical quality.

Remember, the Russians fought on our side in World War II and lost about 15,000,000 people of their own destroying Hitler's Third Reich on the Eastern Front, so I'll cut the Russians some slack.

 

Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Boris Kjullenen of Trebic, Czech Republic, who sent me this lens to review.

 

Help me help you         top

I support my growing family through this website, as crazy as it might seem.

If you find this as helpful as a book you might have had to buy or a workshop you may have had to take, feel free to help me continue helping everyone.

If you've gotten your gear through one of my links or helped otherwise, you're family. It's great people like you who allow me to keep adding to this site full-time. Thanks!

If you haven't helped yet, please do, and consider helping me with a gift of $5.00.

The biggest help is to use these links to Adorama, Amazon, Calumet, Ritz, J&R and when you get your goodies. It costs you nothing and is a huge help to me. eBay is always a gamble, but all the other places have the best prices and service, which is why I've used them since before this website existed. I recommend them all personally.

Thanks for reading!

Ken

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