5 frames with...

5 frames with an Industar-61 L/D 55mm f/2.8 – By Dan Dodd

September 10, 2019

I had just bought my first rangefinder lens, an uncommon Japanese one from the fifties. The long wait until it would pass the German bureaucratic nightmare that is the Zollamt (customs office) had begun. Not 10 minutes had passed until I remembered reading about the Industar-61 L/D a few weeks previously. There was one for sale locally at a fraction of the price of what I had just spent.

It was an ‘In your bag’ article on JCH that introduced me to this lens, a single coated Tessar 55mm design of the USSR. Now, Tessars are as vanilla and unpretentious as it gets. No special rendering, no soap bubbles. And that’s what I liked about it, it just got out of the way and allowed me to focus on learning how to use a rangefinder camera. Had I waited until my more exotic lens showed up, I’d most likely be more fussed with the gear – trying to recreate the look that I’m after, rather than the taking of actual photos.

Coming from an SLR I can appreciate the scalloped metal focusing ring, the medium throw and the lack of a focusing tab. It feels like a miniaturised pre-AI Nikkor.

I have my Japanese lens now, and it’s good. But the Industar proved to be more than a placeholder. I can think of many situations where I will bring it in favour of the more expensive glass. I’m starting to learn that a lot of what gear preference comes down to is confidence. The confidence to use it in every situation, to schlep it around all day. The confidence to leave it sitting in your tent at a festival and not worry every other minute about some glitter smeared hippie stealing it.

My camera is a 50’s Barnack clone by Canon. The slow speeds aren’t so hot but I got a good deal for it. Bottom loading is… yeah. You get used to it. I carry a pair of children’s safety scissors in my bag next to my film. They have a wee ruler in centimeters which makes cutting the film leader to 11cm a bit easier on the fly.

On to the frames. These were shot with Fomapan 400 @ 320.

These were all taken at the Muggelsee in Berlin. I hope you enjoyed the images!


– Dan

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  • Reply
    Lori Brooks
    September 10, 2019 at 4:48 pm

    I have one of these that I shoot with a Zorki and it’s given me some good results – I have to say though, when I use this lens on my Sony A7 Mk1 it has to be the sharpest lens I own!

    The Zorki is also a ‘bottom-loader’ .. agree with you on it being an absolute bear to load!

  • Reply
    September 11, 2019 at 12:47 am

    I really like these! First Industar 61 pics which have really impressed me. I had one for a short amount of time but it was miles softer than my Industar 50 (collapsible ltm version). FoV doesn’t look as tight as the 55mm focal length would suggest. Wonder if it is closer to 50mm? Also wondering what the Japanese lens is you also bought and how it compares?

    • Reply
      Dan Dodd
      September 11, 2019 at 5:23 pm

      Hi Callum, thanks for the encouragement! I think the industar 61 is just a 50mm like you say. Lately I’ve been shooting a Nikkor Micro Auto 55/3.5 which is definitely tighter. (lovely lens for the money btw.)

      The lens I alluded to is the Topcor-S 50mm F2.. and it’s actually quite cheap compared to some other Topcor LTM lenses. Though I think I might stick to the Nikon F2 for the 55 and 105 and use rangefinders for 35mm and below.

  • Reply
    September 12, 2019 at 3:23 pm

    Hi Dan,

    i use this lens on modern digital cams.

    Regards Bernhard

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