37mm Mir 1-B | Vintage Soviet Lens

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.

Mir 1-B 37mm f2.8 Vintage Soviet Lens | Photo by: Keith Nickoson | Director of Photography | Cinematographer

Mir 1-B 37mm f2.8 Vintage Soviet Lens | Photo by: Keith Nickoson | Director of Photography | Cinematographer

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.

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | Exterior of the Shedd Aquarium. Notice the cool edge blur here, wide open at an f2.8. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | Exterior of the Shedd Aquarium. Notice the cool edge blur here, wide open at an f2.8. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

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.

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | This intricate looking fish swam up to minimum focus. Wide open at f2.8. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | This intricate looking fish swam up to minimum focus. Wide open at f2.8. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | A group of kids run eagerly into an exhibit. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | A group of kids run eagerly into an exhibit. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | The main rotunda above the entrance to the Shedd. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | The main rotunda above the entrance to the Shedd. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | A bunch of cuties. Captured at an f4. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | A bunch of cuties. Captured at an f4. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | The tail end of a dolphin show. We literally walked in when people were standing up. So, no dolphins here. But, I really liked the contrast between the Planetarium and lake outside and the people in the foreground. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | The tail end of a dolphin show. We literally walked in when people were standing up. So, no dolphins here. But, I really liked the contrast between the Planetarium and lake outside and the people in the foreground. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | Wide open at an f2.8. The one (mostly) in focus was at the minimum of 27 inches. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | Wide open at an f2.8. The one (mostly) in focus was at the minimum of 27 inches. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | A bunch of cuties swimming around. f2.8. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | A bunch of cuties swimming around. f2.8. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | A hand on the large glass wall of an aquarium. As a DP you largely get to control the parameters of the images you shoot. But when photographing life, this is one of those lucky breaks you sometimes get. Wide open at an f2.8 - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | A hand on the large glass wall of an aquarium. As a DP you largely get to control the parameters of the images you shoot. But when photographing life, this is one of those lucky breaks you sometimes get. Wide open at an f2.8 - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | Olivia snaps a pic of a dolphin in an aquarium at the Shedd. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | Olivia snaps a pic of a dolphin in an aquarium at the Shedd. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | Olivia and Jon Chiado (co-host of Star Wars 20    starwars20.net   ) watch the water for dolphins. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | Olivia and Jon Chiado (co-host of Star Wars 20 starwars20.net) watch the water for dolphins. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | Another darkened room full of individual aquariums. f2.8 - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | Another darkened room full of individual aquariums. f2.8 - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | Jon (with a Forcechella shirt!) and Olivia peering into a tank at the Shedd. f2.8 - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | Jon (with a Forcechella shirt!) and Olivia peering into a tank at the Shedd. f2.8 - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | A giant glass aquarium. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | A giant glass aquarium. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | Jon and some guests at the giant wall in the Shedd. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | Jon and some guests at the giant wall in the Shedd. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | We need the Jaws theme here. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | We need the Jaws theme here. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | As a Director of Photography that does not specialize in underwater shooting, this is about as close as I’d like to come to a shark of any sort. Picture captured at an f2.8. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | As a Director of Photography that does not specialize in underwater shooting, this is about as close as I’d like to come to a shark of any sort. Picture captured at an f2.8. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | Two guests looking into the giant wall at the Shedd Aquarium. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | Two guests looking into the giant wall at the Shedd Aquarium. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | I like the abstract nature of this fin. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | I like the abstract nature of this fin. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | A view looking back at the city from the front stairs of the Shedd Aquarium. Focus was set to infinity. You can see the sharpness of the buildings, but notice how soft the edges and foreground are. Really cool feature of this lens when wide open at an f2.8. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Shedd Aquarium, Chicago IL | A view looking back at the city from the front stairs of the Shedd Aquarium. Focus was set to infinity. You can see the sharpness of the buildings, but notice how soft the edges and foreground are. Really cool feature of this lens when wide open at an f2.8. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

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.

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Giant ferris wheel at the Navy Pier in Chicago. I love the separation between the people standing in the foreground and the ferris wheel. Focus is set to infinity, so again, you see the center sharpness and then the falloff in the foreground. f2.8. Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Giant ferris wheel at the Navy Pier in Chicago. I love the separation between the people standing in the foreground and the ferris wheel. Focus is set to infinity, so again, you see the center sharpness and then the falloff in the foreground. f2.8. Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Chicago’s Shakespeare Theater | f2.8 - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Chicago’s Shakespeare Theater | f2.8 - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Giant ferris wheel at the Navy Pier in Chicago. f2.8 - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Giant ferris wheel at the Navy Pier in Chicago. f2.8 - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Union Station, Chicago, IL | f2.8 - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Union Station, Chicago, IL | f2.8 - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Amtrak at Union Station - Chicago, IL | Image captured at an f2.8 - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | Amtrak at Union Station - Chicago, IL | Image captured at an f2.8 - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

FLARE CHARACTERISTICS

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.

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | On axis flare from a cheapo LED flashlight. The room and Kylo helmet is lit only by subtle tungsten fill from a lamp in the adjoining room. The blue is color transference from the flashlight. Minimum focus at 27” and aperture is set wide open at f2.8. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | On axis flare from a cheapo LED flashlight. The room and Kylo helmet is lit only by subtle tungsten fill from a lamp in the adjoining room. The blue is color transference from the flashlight. Minimum focus at 27” and aperture is set wide open at f2.8. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | On axis flare from a cheapo LED flashlight. The room and Kylo helmet are lit only by subtle tungsten fill from a lamp in the adjoining room. The blue is color transference from the flashlight. Minimum focus at 27” and aperture is set wide open at f2.8. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

Mir 1-B 37mm Vintage Spherical Lens | On axis flare from a cheapo LED flashlight. The room and Kylo helmet are lit only by subtle tungsten fill from a lamp in the adjoining room. The blue is color transference from the flashlight. Minimum focus at 27” and aperture is set wide open at f2.8. - Photo by: Keith Nickoson

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