Minitar 1 1: 2.8 32mm (LOMO), adapted for Sony mirrorless cameras. Review from Rodion Eshmakov

Review of the lens Minitar 1 1: 2.8 32 mm specially for Radozhiva prepared Rodion Eshmakov (instagram).

On the Sony A7s, the lens looks like a very fashionable bayonet cover.

On the Sony A7s, the lens looks like a very fashionable bayonet cover.

"Minitar" is a family of lenses of quite different designs, developed in the USSR for use in compact film cameras, or, more simply, "soap dishes". But the fate of one of these lenses turned out to be quite interesting: the image artifacts of the LOMO Compact-Avtomat (LC-A) compact camera fell in love with the Western community of amateur photographers, as a result of which a whole direction in photography was born - lomography - a peculiar art of shooting "not according to the rules" with obviously low-quality equipment ... Responsible for the unusual character of the image obtained with the LOMO LC-A camera is its tiny lens - Minitar-1 32 / 2.8. The review presents a copy of it adapted for Sony cameras.

TECH SPECS [source]:
Optical design - 5 lenses in 4 groups, a kind of double Gauss (a distant relative of the biometar), see;
Focal length - 32 mm;
Relative aperture - 1: 2.8;
Field of view - 63 °;
Frame format - 24 * 36 mm;
Features - fixed lens, irregularly shaped lens diaphragm in the camera, extremely small rear pupil.

Design and adaptation features

After being removed from the camera, the Minitar-1 is a bare lens unit of small dimensions - without a diaphragm and a focusing mechanism. The lens unit can be installed in the lens bodies of the Industar-50 type, however, this requires the use of a thin M42-NEX adapter (when adapting to Sony) due to the extremely small back focal length of the Minitar-1. In this case, the diaphragm will still be the lens.

I chose the Industar-22 body, which was a bad idea due to the unsuccessful "crumbling" design of this lens aperture. I was unable to achieve the ideal axis position of the lens unit. Also, I did not like this option because of the completely inconvenient work with the diaphragm - the control ring of the tube industries is very nail splitting. It is more optimal to use the late Industar-50 and 50-2, although, most likely, this will require a lot of deepening of the lens unit, which will require quite a lot of plumbing work.

The lens after alteration turns out to be truly miniature and barely protrudes beyond the dimensions of the Sony A7s body.

Minitar-1, after adaptation, justifies its name.

Minitar-1, after adaptation, justifies its name.

Below are more photos of the adapted lens.

LOMO Minitar-1 is not easy to modify, but it is probably the most compact Soviet lens I have ever met. The camera with him becomes really pocket - with Minitar you can take it with you anywhere. Will the optical characteristics only allow it?

Optical properties

LOMO Minitar-1 uses a five-lens optical design, akin to Biometar / Vega lenses, which have never been famous for their confident work in the field of the frame. In addition, Minitar has a very small posterior pupil and a short focal length - this combination increases the likelihood of color shift on high-resolution sensors.

Indeed - at an open aperture, Minitar-1 creates an image that has acceptable sharpness only in the center of the frame, which rapidly decreases towards the edge due to strong field distortions. The lens also suffers from severe full frame vignetting, which, however, will be barely noticeable in APS-C format. Unfortunately, the lens diaphragm is rather ineffective for double gauss circuits and at most only aggravates vignetting, but does not correct aberrations. Therefore, it is simply impossible to achieve a sharp image across the field, although it is quite possible to tighten the sharpness in the center and increase the depth of field. The effect of aperture on the picture formed by the lens is shown below.

Changing a picture with aperture from F / 2.8 to F / 5.6 and F / 11 by means of a lens aperture (Industar-22):

The lens from the Soviet "soap dish" in a full frame cannot compete even with Jupiter-12 35/2.8based on German developments of the 30s.

At an open aperture, Jupiter-12 is strikingly sharper in the center of the frame and across the field, has less vignetting and better contrast.

Comparison of crop paired frames with Minitar-1 and Jupiter-12.

Comparison of crop paired frames with Minitar-1 and Jupiter-12.

The contrast of Minitar-1 is satisfactory; in the backlight it tends to burn through rainbow arcs and hares. Color rendering is neutral.
The Minitar-1 picture does not have any extraordinary character. Bokeh is pretty typical of the biometar lens family. Only severe vignetting affects the perception of the image.
Frankly, I expected more optical quality from this lens. Alas, it is completely inoperative at the edge of the full frame, and for APS-C it is rather weak in the center. Perhaps the main drawback of the lens is the unsatisfactory operation of the lens diaphragm, which does not allow eliminating its aberrations at least at the cost of aperture.

Below are examples of shots from a Sony A7s camera (shooting in RAW, processing in Imaging Edge).


The miniature LOMO LK-A camera looks so attractive in its parameters as a lens, fanned by the aura of the word "lomography". But adapting it is not easy, and lomographers, apparently, loved it for a reason - the lens is optically extremely weak and, probably, more or less feels only within the APS-C format. The lens cannot be recommended for everyday use, even Jupiter-12 is a much better option.

You will find more reviews from readers of Radozhiva here.

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Comments: 8, on the topic: Minitar 1 1: 2.8 32mm (LOMO), adapted for Sony mirrorless cameras. Review from Rodion Eshmakov

  • Sergei

    I believe that this LOMO significantly worsened the characteristics of the original lens from the Cosina CX-2 prototype.
    The original had 5 lenses in 5 components and a focal length of 35 mm.
    LOMO increased the angle of view, reduced the focal length to 32 mm, and changed the optical scheme - there were 5 lenses in 4 components.
    And forgot about the motor drive, the included flash, etc.

  • Roman

    So, thanks to lens tests, someone will make a modeling career :)

    • Sergei

      More likely to save a parent the cost of a fashion model ...

  • Trueash

    "I recognize my brother Kolya!" (c) I once had a LK. The picture is very similar

  • Victor

    Here was the coolest minitar. It is a pity that he “did not come in”.

    • Rodion

      Yes, cute and neat. It's a pity that the optical quality is too low. Of this kind, MC Corsair is much better ...

    • Sergei

      This is a remake from lomographers, a copy of Minitar-1 from LOMO-Compact.
      Made neatly for mirrorless cameras.
      But the price is $ 349

  • Dim

    Sharpness for photos with such lenses is not at all important:
    The article contains a photo taken by photojournalist David Burnett, US Vice President Al Gore - quite atmospheric. These are lenses for the soul.

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