Russian FED-2 35mm Rangefinder with Industar 26M 52mm f2.8 lens
Photo of Ukranian model Julia trying out my new FED-2 rangefinder camera taken with Leica M9.
I was in Hungary so took a taxi across the border to Ukraine for the weekend to do some model photography in Uzhgorod. While out on a walk I passed an antique shop so went in to see if they had any vintage Soviet cameras. I enjoy film photography and use both 35mm and medium format cameras, BUT.. on this occasion I was after M39 or Leica M lenses. They had a few old Soviet cameras, many in bad shape with lens not fit for photos. I found two that looked OK. One had a 50mm f2 lens collapsible but I could not see how it could be removed from the camera. The other was a Russian FED-2 1950’s rangefinder with an Industar 26M 52mm f2.8 lens attached. For less than £10 I could not resist the purchase! 🙂
Why buy legacy glass (vintage lenses) for the Leica M9?
I already own a very sharp Zeiss ZM Planar T 50mm f2 which produces photos with a modern digital look to them. I have a Voigtlander 40mm f1.4 Nokton Classic that produces slightly softer images shot wide open and gives photos a slightly vintage look to them. I have a Soviet Jupiter 3 50mm f1.5 Zeiss Sonnar copy that is extremely soft shot at f1.5 on the Leica M9. Each lens gives photos unique characteristics and I enjoy using a selection of modern and older lenses on the M9. One lens I would love to use is the legendary Leica 50mm f0.95 Noctilux but at the moment I am neither rich nor mad enough to spend £8k on a lens!
Off Topic – Voigtlander lenses
I currently don’t have any Leica lenses and feel Voigtlander lenses give the best value for money. I own the Voigtlander 15mm f4.5 Super Wide Heliar (latest purchase and review to come!), the Voigtlander Ultron 28mm f2, as mentioned the VC Nokton 40mm f1.4 (amazing VFM)(new review with examples to come) and my most expensive lens so far, the fantastic Voigtlander 35mm f1.2 ASPH ii. The VC 35/1.2 is sharp enough at f1.2 to use for wedding photography and for paying clients. I shot an entire wedding on the Leica M9 using just the VC 35/1.2. At ISO 800 and using handheld with a shutter speed of 1/8 it lets you shoot with almost no light.
Back on Topic! – Colours from Vintage Glass
Another reason I bought the FED-2 + Industar 26M 52mm f2.8 lens is older lenses are said to give more natural colours due to the lens coating. As per my recent post (De-saturated Leica M9 colours vs. Kodak Portra film) I think good colour film still has the edge over digital for portrait photography and natural skin tones. If I can get such tones using older lenses from the Leica then the M9 can really do pretty much all my film cameras offer. I have not shot any black and white film since purchasing the M9 as the in camera black and white JPEGs are just as good in my opinion. I hope I will shoot more film in the future but at the moment it is on hold.
Older lenses and flare (halo effect)
One characteristic of some old lenses is they can be said to produce soft focus looking images when shot at their widest aperture. The apparent softness is often a combination of less contrast (due to lens coating) and flare rather than lack of sharpness. Highlights sometimes have a halo effect which is often viewed as ‘soft’. For portraits soft focus can sometimes be an advantage and I find for some models the super sharp (sharp and contrasty) Zeiss ZM Planar 50mm f2 can be less forgiving for anything other than perfect youthful skin so I switch to the VC 40/1.4.
One problem of buying vintage Russian lenses such as Jupiter glass and here an Industar is that some lens models were built in multiple locations over an extended period with numerous versions so the quality can be a little hit and miss. Some lenses can be very good and the images are hard to tell apart from the lens they are based on (such as Jupiter 3 is copy of the Zeiss Sonnar design) and some can be poor quality.
I was unable to test the lens in the shop on my Leica as I did not have my M39-Leica M adapter with me so fingers crossed I got a nice one! 🙂
Results using the vintage Industar 26M 52mm f2.8 lens on the Leica M9 coming soon!
Samples – SOOC
MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk – UK Leica Wedding Photographer / Fashion Photographer