Mir 1-B 37mm | Vintage Soviet Lens Review | Written by: Keith Nickoson
The Mir 1 was produced by Krasnogorsk Mechanical Works (KMZ) in the former USSR, though these lenses are sometimes simply referred to as Russian lenses. The lens was the creation of Soviet professor D.S. Volosov, who also designed some of the first anamorphic lenses for Eurasian motion picture use back in the 1950s. The Mir 1 was itself designed in 1954, and over the next two decades a few models with slightly different features joined the line-up.
The 1-B was actually manufactured by Vologodskiy Optiko-Mekhanicheskiy Zavod (VOMZ), which produced optics for KMZ starting in 1971 (my copy was crafted in 1986). The 37mm 1-B has an anodized black body with an M42 screw mount (mine has been adapted to EF and has a cinema geared focus ring installed). The aperture range is an f2.8-16, and it has a minimum focus of 27 inches. | For more information about this lens, click here to visit allphotolenses.com.
Something I’ve noticed with these older Soviet lenses, well, some of them, is the explosion of character that happens when you click them wide open. The 37mm turns on the charm at the maximum f2.8. The contrast is noticeably reduced and edge lighting becomes a source of interest in the opposing corners of the frame. At a f2.8 the center of the image remains sharp, but there’s a steep falloff in resolving power toward the edges of the frame - most notable in wide shots. Stop down to an f4 and the party’s over. I like this option though. There’s plenty of clean 35mm lenses to choose from, so why not have a near equivalent lens that can do some kooky stuff? | Note: The above photos of the Mir were taken with the 58mm Helios 44M.
SHEDD AQUARIUM, CHICAGO IL
After Star Wars Celebration, Olivia and I went to the Shedd Aquarium, in Chicago with our friend, Jon Chiado. I’d taken pictures at an aquarium in Bermuda a few years ago with the Lomo 50mm square-front anamorphic, but having a vintage spherical this time around seemed like a fun proposition. I feel guilty that I do not know the taxonomy of these animals, but I will say that we were very respectful and did not tap on the glass, or annoy them at any time to get these shots. I used the A7s in full frame mode, with a 16:9 aspect. So without further ado, here is the Mir 1-B 37mm lens. Note: These pictures are straight out of the camera with no post processing or color correction. For more information about the Shedd Aquarium, please click here.
NAVY PIER | AMTRAK
After the Shedd Aquarium, we took a quick look at the Navy Pier - located on Lake Michigan in Chicago. Activity on the pier was pretty subdued this time of year, but I still managed to grab a few nice pics. It was time then to say farewell to Chicago and head back to the Amtrak station to grab our train back to Cleveland.
The Mir 1-B has a very defined structure to its flares. The caustics and veiling glare are clear and complex, but the lens also has the ability to produce a dreamy wash and solid color transference when an on axis light source is introduced at close range. Note: None of the photos below have been processed, color corrected, or retouched. They are files directly from the camera.
I hope you enjoyed looking through the pictures from the Mir 37mm. Please write any comments or questions you might have in the box below. Photography by: Keith Nickoson | Director of Photography | Cinematographer