Industar-50 lens attached to a Fuji X-Pro3
Lenses

Industar-50 LTM (on Fujifilm X-Pro3) Review – The Joy of Flawed Lenses – By Don Goodman-Wilson

November 16, 2021

I had the good fortune to be wandering the Kazimerz neighborhood of Krakow, Poland, on a Saturday morning, where I stumbled upon a small but very interesting flea market. An American child of the 80s, I’ve always been fascinated with Soviet artifacts, and their cameras in particular. So this flea market was like catnip to me. (Sadly, I missed the much larger market on Sunday…next time!)

For sale were a selection of Soviet paraphernalia, some authentic, some clearly less so. And a fair few cameras, too: FED, Kiev, and Zorki rangefinders, all looking like they’d seen better days. Although I’ve had a Jupiter-9 for years, I’ve never actually owned a Soviet rangefinder before, so not knowing much better I selected a Zorki-4 that appeared to be in the best shape of any of them. Attached was a grungy, sad-looking Industar-50 50mm f/3.5 lens, a lens (not knowing any better) that I hastily disregarded as the least interesting part of the package.

I paid my €50—probably far too much—, and took my camera home. That’s when I learned that the shutter mechanism on these old Zorkis has a quirk where if you select one of the slower shutter speeds before you cock the shutter, you can break the shutter mechanism. Needless to say, the 1/30s and slower shutter speeds are not operational, though the faster speeds work more or less just fine. One day I’ll throw more money at this camera.

So, camera clearly not in a state to work with, I started paying more attention to the lens. And I’m glad I did! It cleaned up nicely, and the focus and aperture mechanisms turned smoothly. It’s missing a screw, but it doesn’t seem to matter. The front and rear glass is finely etched with lifetime’s uncareful use, but are otherwise free of fungus and other problems. So I purchased an M39-FX adapter, and mounted the lens to my Fujifilm X-Pro3.

It’s stayed there more or less since.

A technical note for those keeping track: All the images shared here are straight out of camera (SOOC) JPEGs with the default Provia photo simulation—the most neutral. I would normally process these differently, but I wanted to emphasize the character of the Industar-50 over the processing capabilities of modern Fuji cameras.

Handling

Weight

As soon as you pick it up, you notice that this lens is like a feather.The lens itself is a mere 99g, with the adapter it becomes 142g. And the total weight of camera+adapter+lens (+handstrap) is 740g. It appears to be all-aluminum construction, and it’s weight barely registers once mounted to my camera.

Focus

The Industar-50 is a small lens—not the smallest Leica lens out there, but certainly smaller than the already diminutive Fuji FX 35/2. Even so, the focus ring falls mostly readily to hand. Sometimes I reach for the focus, and find it won’ t budge, however. This is because there are too many knurled metal rings—sometimes I mistake the focus ring for a vistigial ring whose purpose confounds me, because it doesn’t turn. I think this ring must be a relic of the fact that this lens is actually an M42-mount lens with an extension tube permanently attached. But mostly I can find the focus ring by feel. The focus throw is just over 180°, although from 5m to infinity is about 30°. I don’t actually know what that means to you, but for my purposes, I find that it’s quick to focus.

The lens, with the aperture ring, focus ring, and immobile mystery ring labeled.

The mystery ring does not turn.

Aperture ring

The aperture ring on the Industar-50 is an awkward and sad appendage on the front of the lens that is difficult to use. Its placement is such that you have to take the camera away from your face to find it and turn it. Turning it also turns the focus, so if you’ve already set focus, you have to hold the focus ring with a finger from one hand while adjusting the aperture with the other.

In use

All of which is to say I’ve found I’m better off using zone focusing techniques than trying to adjust aperture and focus on the fly. I’ve taken the time to carefully calibrate infinity focus with my M39 adapter, so most of the time I put the aperture at f/8, and preset the focus to 2m–20m, and the results usually turn out. The focus fall-off is smooth and gradual at f/8, so even if I miss focus a little bit, the Industar-50 is surprisingly forgiving (unlike some other lenses in my collection).

Filter ring

I have no idea what the filter ring size is, it’s not marked and the internet is frustratingly ambiguous. If someone knows, please share in the comments. It’s really small though, something in the vicinity of 30–35mm. It originally shipped with a slip-on cap—mine’s gone missing long before I bought it, so I’m unsure what they’re like, but I’m willing to bet they don’t stay on very well.

Image quality

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from the Industar-50. So saying it exceeded my expectations might be damning with faint praise. Even so, I like the results. Now, the X-Pro3’s APS-C sensor is getting the best parts of the lens; I’m unsure how the lens will perform on a full-frame camera. As I mentioned earlier, all the images in this post were taken on my Fuji X-Pro3, with the Provia profile applied to help show the color rendering of the lens.

Sharpness

Closeup of apartment building

Industar-50 @ f/3.5, mounted on Fuji X-Pro3 w/ Provia film simulation. Example of sharpness. Color isn’t bad, either.

Sharpness is about what you’d expect: Sharp enough in the center wide open, with the sharpness expanding to the edges (but never quite reaching them) as you stop down. There is some vignetting wide open.

Lens flares

An Amsterdam street in bright sun.

Industar-50 @ f/3.5, mounted on Fuji X-Pro3 w/ Provia film simulation. Typical lens flare.

The Industar-50 flares if you think about using it near a bright light. And not pretty flares, either, but a veritable rainbow of light sprayed across the image. Into the light, you quickly lose contrast. Of course, mine didn’t come with a lens hood, and the small filter ring makes me despair to find one. It’s also hard to say how much of this effect is due to this lenses less-than-pristine state.

Distortion and aberration

The Industar-50 shows absolutely no sign of distortion. I live in a city made entirely of brick buildings, and I have taken some shots of brick walls to check. I’m not sharing them here because they are boring—and perfectly rectilinear.

An Amsterdam street in bright sun.

Industar-50 @ f/3.5, mounted on Fuji X-Pro3 w/ Provia film simulation. Look at that glow. And the lack of chromatic aberration.

Something that was surprising to me was the absolute lack of chromatic aberration. I try, and I simply cannot get the Industar-50 to create colorful fringes.

Color and rendering

My backyard, a drab day.

Fujinon XF 16-80mm f/4 @ 50mm, f/5.6

My backyard, a drab day.

Industar-50 f/3.5 @ f/5.6

The colors are just a bit muted, but to be honest Amsterdam is not exactly a colorful city, so it can be hard to know when a lens’s color is muted, versus the scene simply being drab. There doesn’t appear to be any color cast. The more I use the lens, the more I think that its color rendering is reasonably true to life. Above are two photos of the same scene, one taken with the Industar-50, and one with a Fuji lens to give you a comparison.

A woman walks among buildings around Mercatorplein, Amsterdam.

Industar-50 @ f/8, mounted on Fuji X-Pro3 w/ Provia film simulation. Those buildings are made of brick, not rusty-colored stucco.

The contrast is a little low, and there is very little microcontrast—subtle details tend to get smoothed out a bit. There’s also a strong glow in many scenes, as you can see. But to be honest I don’t know if these effects are an intrinsic feature of the Industar-50, or the result of the fact that my lens shows a lot of, uh, “cleaning marks”. Either way, I like it.

Closeup of a bridge-raising motor, with blurred trees in the distant background.

Industar-50 @ f/3.5, mounted on Fuji X-Pro3 w/ Provia film simulation. Typical swirly bokeh.

With a maximum aperture of f/3.5, you’re not going to be taking shots with a lot of bokeh. I certainly haven’t yet. But what bokeh there is has the kind of swirly feel that makes you faintly dizzy to look at.

On flawed lenses

Sounds awful, doesn’t it? Funny thing is, I really like the Industar-50. I didn’t expect to. I thought I liked the kind of razor sharpness and microcontrast that could kill a man. But I’ve had a few experiences lately that have changed my mind. This lens is one of them.

There is a piece of advice I often see on the internet: Use the sharpest lens, and the highest resolution sensor/finest-grain film, and you can add whatever “vintage” effects you like in post. This might be true, but it also depends upon your skill level and willingness to pour lots of time into learning and using post-production software.

By the same logic, we could all be shooting color film, and converting to black and white in post. It’s true, we could.

Better if we have a vision for our final product in mind, and reach for the tools that allow us to achieve that vision with the least amount of effort.

And, honestly, I would far rather be out in the world taking pictures than hunkered over my computer trying to get all the sliders just so. I am finding more and more that vintage lenses—and even damaged lenses—are a delightful mechanism for getting the vintage look, which is something I’m chasing.

So, in that vein, the Industar-50 has character to spare. It’s usable (just), it’s small, it’s plentiful, and cheap.

More images

I’ve been engaged in a lengthy project of documenting my neighborhood in Amsterdam. It’s quite out of the way, not on the tourist highlights, but I rather like it. Built in the 1920s, it’s a key exemplar of the Amsterdam School of architectural design. Although many have seen photos of the old city, its lank and leaning warehouses-cum-flats, few have seen the bulk of the city which has its own vibe, a vibe I have come slowly over time to love.

Heineken sign, taken in the early morning

Clock tower above a busy intersection in the early morning.

Motor scooter passing through an intersection in the early morning

Peering through the window of a closed cafe.

Pigeons in flight.

A bicyclist passing close to the camera.

Thanks for reading this far! You can find me on Twitter (where I share strong opinions and photos) and Instagram (where I share photos and strong opinions); I am also currently developing my portfolio and photography business.

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31 Comments

  • Reply
    A commenter
    November 16, 2021 at 11:46 am

    The “mystery ring” must not turn; it is the depth of field scale…

    • Reply
      Don Goodman-Wilson
      November 16, 2021 at 3:10 pm

      Well, the depth of field scale is certainly attached to it! I can’t help but wonder why the designer thought to put a knurled grip that matches the focus ring on it…

      • Reply
        Lee
        November 17, 2021 at 3:26 pm

        Probably to provide a handy gripping surface to screw the lens onto the camera.

  • Reply
    Neal A Wellons
    November 16, 2021 at 12:21 pm

    I really like this review of a pretty neat lens. I got one on a Barnack Leica Copy, a Tower Type-3, and got about a dozen nice shots before the camera developed shutter problems. I’m waiting on a CLA on the body but may try the lens on a different Barnack since your review got me interested again. Mine is black, in pristine condition.

    • Reply
      Don Goodman-Wilson
      November 16, 2021 at 3:11 pm

      TIL about the Barnack, thanks for that! Good luck with your experiments!

  • Reply
    Phil Steelandt
    November 16, 2021 at 1:24 pm

    Hi Don,
    Your nice post triggered my curiosity.
    So, I mounted my 1960 Industar 50 on my XPro 3.
    I’ve always used it with my Zorki 6 and my Fed 5 and it’s very rare that i can shoot wide open (the top speed of those cameras is 1/500 sec)
    I don’t know why, but I never mounted the industar on my Fuji before. So, I did some testshots “wide open” at 3.5.
    I know how this little lens renders on my rangefinders with film.
    It is an easy lens to use: quick to focus, lightweight and, due to it’s vintage softness, it renders beautiful grey-tones on T-Max or Ilford Delta 100.
    Last summer I went on a cycling trip in France with my Zorki 6 and the Industar.
    Most of the pictures were taken between f 5.6 and f 11 and I was pleased by the results.
    But on my XPro 3 (and shot at 3.5) it “speaks” another language. With the crop factor it is a 75mm equivalent on the XPro 3. I realised that I will use this combo for portraits.
    The bokeh is creamy and I love the way it goes from sharp to unsharp.
    Thanks to your post I discovered a “new” lens for my XPro3 😉

    • Reply
      Don Goodman-Wilson
      November 16, 2021 at 3:12 pm

      I’m so happy to have inspired you to try something new! Aside from the differing field of view, I would love to learn more about the differences you see with T-Max and Delta 100, and Fuji’s Across simulation. I’m a long-time T-Max shooter myself, and although Across feels different to me, I don’t really have any way (words or data) of expressing that difference.

      • Reply
        Phil Steelandt
        November 16, 2021 at 4:40 pm

        I just compared two photos: two testshots of my double bass…one shot one year ago on TMax 100 with my sonnar 1.5 mounted on my ContaxII and a similar shot I took today with the industar and the XPro.
        I edited the today’s digital shot with Capture one and put the “Acros simulation” on it…I can’t do this with a non native Fuji RAF file.
        What I see with the two vintage lenses is the same kind of softness between sharp and unsharp and the rich greytones.
        The Acros simulation has (obviously) no grain and the blacks are warmer than the TMax.
        I tried a few months ago two Acros II negative (35mm and 120) and developped them in HC-110.
        I was a bit dissapointed compared to the Acros simulation (that i love)…the films are expensive and, honestly, It doesn’t matter so much when you scan and edit the film.
        I develop my negs and from there on, I leave the analog process and go “digital” . So, I can give it the “taste” that I want.
        So, the negative you use is less important when your workflow is mixed (analog and digital) than when you go analog all the way IMHO…
        To resume: it was interesting to compare the two shots with vintage lenses, but it is still difficult to compare a (scanned) negative to a digital RAF on the same way… so I limited my editing of the XPro shot (I couold recover much more information out of the RAF file)
        The Fujifilm simulation is really pleasing, warm and rich… but the TMax is very good too 😉

  • Reply
    Lee
    November 16, 2021 at 2:19 pm

    The older, collapsible Industar 50 LTM lenses tend to sell for $40-70 USD on Ebay right now. The version that you have tends to sell for considerably less, $15-25 USD. I got one of these cheaper versions along with a Fed2 rangefinder whose second shutter curtain had so many pinholes that it looked like it had a run-in with a shotgun. I have kept the lens, but I haven’t really made it a point to use it on any of my cameras, like my Canon 7 or adapted to my Fuji X-H1. I always seem to reach for my Jupiter 8 and Jupiter 12 Soviet lenses instead. But after reading your lovely take on the Industar 50, I’m going to give it a try.

    • Reply
      Don Goodman-Wilson
      November 16, 2021 at 3:14 pm

      I’m so glad to hear you inspired to try something new. Does the Jupiter-12 work well adapted to your Fuji? I was worried the rear element might protrude too much perhaps., but if it isn’t, that is a lens I think I would like to pursue. I have a Jupiter-9 (85mm f/2) in Contax RF mount that I hope to write up soon!

      • Reply
        Lee
        November 17, 2021 at 3:33 pm

        I haven’t yet tried the Jupiter 12 on my Fuji X-H1. There are conflicting reports out there about mounting Jupiter 12 lenses onto Canon film rangefinders too. There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that the older, silver Jupiter 12 lenses will contact some of the light baffles around the shutter on these rangefinders, while the somewhat newer, all-black Jupiter 12s will not. There are many videos on Youtube where people use this lens on a Canon 7 or Canon P, and mine has absolutely no issue either. I like it quite a bit and, for less than half the price of a Canon 35mm f/2.8 LTM lens, I think it performs well. Now I have to try this lens on my X-H1.

        • Reply
          Don Goodman-Wilson
          November 17, 2021 at 3:49 pm

          I’m looking forward to hearing how it goes, if you do try it!

  • Reply
    Gary
    November 16, 2021 at 3:08 pm

    My Zorki 4 with Jupiter 8 f2/50 takes a screw in 40.5 mm hood. Recently bought, well-finished, good quality, Made in China, From eBay.

    40.5mm Metal Vented Black Hood For Canon Leica Panasonic Pentax Olympus…
    Total: US $11.04
    Order number:
    Item ID: 163972268456
    Seller: rise*uk022(8,807)
    I found I had to buy two, to get the order to take. Total ~ $11 .

    • Reply
      Don Goodman-Wilson
      November 16, 2021 at 3:19 pm

      Thanks for the tip! A quick check with a ruler confirms the threads on the Industar-50 are definitely smaller than 40,5mm, unfortunately. Somewhere around ~35m.

      • Reply
        Dex
        November 18, 2021 at 12:28 pm

        It’s probably 33mm, if not then 35.5mm. There are only these two variants (older lenses having 33mm thread). In case of 35.5mm you may even find step up rings, then you could use 40.5 lens hood (pretty easy to find) on the lens. In case of 33mm it’s best to forget about any filters / lens hoods. There’s always an option to buy a step up ring and glue it permanently onto the lens, if one is willing to do it to the lens. The thing is, in my country these usually sell for around 10 USD attached to Zorki cameras. You’ve overpaid the camera, but you can always buy another one more cheaply (I’d say anything over 20 eur is too much). But then who knows, if you like the effect you get with scratched glass on a vintage lens like this, perhaps you wouldn’t even prefer using the hood since you’ll be combating the effect you appreciate. There’s also the least elegant solution, some improvised cardboard hood. Not very stylish, but perhaps in the Soviet spirit. If you determine whether it’s 33 or 35.5mm you could maybe 3D print something as well.

        • Reply
          Don Goodman-Wilson
          November 18, 2021 at 5:19 pm

          This is good information. Do you have photos of the two versions you could point me to? My ruler suggests what I have is probably the 35.5mm version (so, lucky me!), I’m going to order up a lens cap and we’ll find out for sure.

          • Dex
            November 18, 2021 at 6:19 pm

            I’m sorry, I though it could be the same as with Industar 50-2, but apparently (after I did some checking) every Industar 50 has a 33mm thread. It’s really hard to tell with these things. I have a 33mm version. I also made a mistake when mentioning 35,5mm, they switched to 33,5mm with 50-2 version (the earlier 50-2 were also 33mm, I also have one like that). Sorry for misleading you, with so many lenses I have sometimes things get mixed in my mind. There’s so much false information about most Industar lenses online, so measuring yourself is still the best idea. But make sure you measure the inner side of the circle where the thread is, not the outer side of the ring.

          • Don Goodman-Wilson
            November 18, 2021 at 6:48 pm

            Ah, thanks for the informative update. I’ll measure my lens more carefully, in the interest of removing, rather than adding to, the large degree of ambiguity around these lenses! I’ll update the article appropriately once I’ve confirmed positively that the diameter is 33mm. (Wild that I had a set of good calipers…)

  • Reply
    Gary
    November 16, 2021 at 4:35 pm

    Check the supplier. They may have a fit for you. Also see filterfinder.net.
    I also have a Zorki 1: slip-on filters of 36 mm that are hard to find and expensive. Since I had to buy two of the 40.5’s, I have built up the inside diam on the extra 40.5 hood with an elastic band material to fit the 36 mm. Susceptible to slipping off and loss. But might also be a solution for you.

  • Reply
    Gary
    November 16, 2021 at 4:40 pm

    Sorry, error. Should be filterfind.net, not finder

  • Reply
    David Hill
    November 16, 2021 at 6:07 pm

    Nice review, and thank you.
    The Industar 50 3.5 LTM should take a 33mm threaded filter and/or 36mm slip-on. Other references say 35.5mm thread, but I’m pretty sure that’s used on the Industar 50-2 M42 mount.

    • Reply
      Don Goodman-Wilson
      November 16, 2021 at 8:06 pm

      Thanks for the info! That sounds about right, I’ll try that out.

  • Reply
    Bob Janes
    November 16, 2021 at 9:05 pm

    I have always stuck by the mantra that there is no such thing as a bad lens, but the most challenging lens I have used is the Industar 50/3.5.

    I am impressed no end by your images!

    • Reply
      Don Goodman-Wilson
      November 17, 2021 at 5:42 am

      Thanks Bob, I sincerely appreciate your kind words. I have a couple lenses far more challenging that I intend to review here soon, though their challenge is in focusing them well. What did you find most challenging about the Industar-50?

      • Reply
        Bob Janes
        November 17, 2021 at 11:07 am

        I think the fiddlyness of it. That small and awkwardly places aperture ring and a small and overly stiff focus ring that seems to be determined to take the surface off your fingers. There are other lenses that are small and fiddly to use – like the lens on the Minox 35, but that does have the saving grace of giving amazingly sharp clear images. Far more difficult to get the payback with the Industar.
        BTW I had the SLR version that came with the Zenit 3M – still m39, but with a 45.2mm registration distance, so the lens ends directly after your ‘???’ ring – which gives a tiny bit of grip if you are screwing the lens on to an SLR…

        • Reply
          Don Goodman-Wilson
          November 17, 2021 at 3:53 pm

          Yes, the aperture ring is most certainly fiddly! I find I don’t adjust it much during a shooting session, it really slows me down to have to do that.

          The L39 version appears to have an extension tube (with an inner tube for the rangefinder focus )—the rear element is roughly at the same place as the ‘???’ ring, so I suspect the lens formula is identical between these two lenses. Indeed, I bet the lenses are exactly identical (sans extension tube), and the mystery ring is a vestige of this fact.

  • Reply
    Alan Simpson
    November 17, 2021 at 10:22 am

    I have both versions of this lens – L39 and M42. My black Industar-50 (L39, 1977 vintage) has a 35.5mm filter thread. The black Industar-50-2 (M42, 1973 vintage) has a 33mm filter thread.

    • Reply
      Don Goodman-Wilson
      November 17, 2021 at 10:39 am

      Ah, great to know thank you! Do you find the two lenses render similarly?

      • Reply
        Alan Simpson
        November 17, 2021 at 10:48 am

        I’ve found very little difference between them. However, as I tend to use the M42 version on a Sony A7II (with adapter) and the L39 version on film, any differences may be due to the medium and not necessarily the lens.

    • Reply
      David Hill
      November 17, 2021 at 11:22 pm

      Heh. So much for MY info, which was precisely the opposite. Sheesh.

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