This is an odd one for sure. This lens came from a Smena 8M Soviet Union era point and shoot camera. The lens has been removed from the camera and using donor parts from a broken Industar m39 mount lens has been adapted for use as an 40mm f/4 m39 mount lens. This work is done by Retro Foto House and is exquisite. Aside from the front plate the polish is simply gorgeous. The lens itself is shockingly sharp for what it is and the diminutive size matches the camera well. You can buy Smena's for cheap and adapt the lens yourself using a focusing helicoid but when I saw the craftsmanship of the Retro Foto House adaptation and the inexpensive price I was sold. It's an absolutely beautiful lens that I'm thrilled to have in my collection.
Mount: M39 Screw Mount
Focal Length: 40mm
Aperture Range: f/4 - f/16
Minimum Focus: ???
Filter Thread: 35.5mm
Data Source: All Photo Lenses - Wikipedia - Camerapedia - USSRPhoto - SovietCams.com
Date Acquired: 06/08/2019
Serial Number: n/a
Purchase Price: $35
Going Price: ~$35
This lens really surprised me. The mechanical feel is brilliant but the focus throw is really long. One part that is a little disappointing are the focus distance and depth of field markers on the barrel. They're for the Industar that was used as a donor and not for the Lomo lens itself so unfortunately they cant be used for scale focusing. Adjusting the aperture is a real chore as you have to reach into the front of the lens and twist the small black ring around the front element. Other than those two issues and the lack of a lens cap I can't complain. The lens is tiny, solid, and gorgeous to look at.
Performance is generally decent, especially in the center of the frame. In fact center performance is stunning. The lens is amazingly sharp there. Granted f/4 isn't exactly fast but for a cheap lens scavenged from a point and shoot camera custom adapted this performance is fantastic. The corners sadly never really sharpen up no matter the f-stop and the lens is extremely vulnerable to flare. Bokeh is somewhat limited due to the f/4 aperture but it is smooth and stay nice and circular no matter the f-stop.
In use the lens felt a bit fiddley for lack of a better word. The really long throw, small size, and hard to adjust aperture make the actual shooting experience tedious. I found myself just picking an intermediate aperture (f/5.6 or f/8) and very rarely adjusting it in shooting. You can view this as simplifying the photographic process but I think it just ends up being limiting. It's definitely usable - more than I can say for some other Russian lenses I've used but I wouldn't consider this one a serious photographic tool.
Should I get one for photography?
I think it depends on your needs and expectations. You have to understand going in that this is not an amazing lens. In fact it's strictly mediocre. Like most things that have "Lomo" in the name you have to set expectations appropriately. Just as you would never try to shoot a wedding with a Holga I wouldn't suggest trying to do so with this lens either. If you're looking for a toy lens to play around with for fun though I think this is a great option. For not much more money than a Holga lens you can get something much more usable. If you're interested in getting one I suggest buying one on eBay from Retro Foto House this way all you need to get is your own m39 adapter.
Should I get one for a collection?
For a vintage lens collector I don't think this lens holds much value. Unless you're interested in odd custom made/hacked pieces you're probably better off just getting Smena 8M instead. The original camera's history makes it a much better fit in a collection than the lens alone and will cost you more or less the same amount of money for a good copy.
Here are some samples I shot 6/22 at the Sunnyvale Farmer's Market with some light editing. No complaints with the pictures though that sharp fall off of high resolution and low resolution can cause problems - especially when trying to recompose photos. I think the correct approach is to center your subject and then adjust in post rather than re-frame in camera that way you keep your subject in the area of sharpest resolution. It was also a little hard to land perfect focus due to the slow aperture. You'll definitely want to zoom in to check focus. There seems to be a little bit of field curvature but not so much to be problematic.
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