5 frames with...

5 Frames with a Fed 50mm f/3.5 LTM lens (Industar-10) – By Christian Irving Cayetano

October 27, 2018

In 2015, I bought a Leica M6 after months of saving thinking that it would be the last film camera I would buy. It was an excellent and enjoyable camera to shoot with, but being expensive, I was a bit hesitant to bring it with me on the streets and on medical missions. Then, I read the article 7 Reasons Why You Should Have a Thread Mount Leica (or was it the 9 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Own a Thread Mount Leica?). It got me curious, so I spent days reading and thinking that maybe I should try one to find out if I would like it.

I found a seller on eBay from the United States claiming that he used to work for a Leica factory in Germany and he was selling thread mount Leicas and accessories. In December 2017, as a Christmas gift for myself, I bought the body and paired it with a Canon 50mm f/1.4 LTM lens. The lens was humongous! It didn’t seem to make sense buying a small camera to be paired with a big lens. I needed something that would make it small – something I can carry everyday. I know it should be paired with an Elmar lens, but the lenses on eBay are expensive and come without any assurance that the glass would be pristine.

Then I came across Soviet lenses. I’ve read that the Fed 50mm f/3.5 could be a replica of the Elmar. I don’t know much about the history of these lenses but that is what I remember from what I’ve read. I searched eBay and found this lens. The price was about 1/10th of the Elmar, and after wondering what could I lose in buying this lens, I bought one a couple of weeks later; delivered from Ukraine to Manila.

It seemed a pretty decent lens that was solidly made. The glass was clear and the aperture oil-free. The aperture is located on the front similar to how it is with the Elmar. Doing some research, it appears that this lens was probably one of the early copies. They were usually paired with a Fed Rangefinder and was rumored to focus properly only on these bodies.

I guessed that maybe with it being a slow lens with a maximum aperture of f/3.5, it would mean the lens would focus well on the Leica IIIc. I was so excited that I loaded it with the first film I was able to grab inside my fridge – a Fuji C200. I then realized that I loaded my camera with a slow lens with a slow film! But I shot with it anyway.

When I developed the film, the results weren’t bad! I made sure that the next film I would use would be at least 400 ASA. I wondered how the early photographers doing reportage photography were able to survive with this slow lens. But after shooting this lens during my daughter’s first Taekwondo competition in an indoor gym with ambient light coming from the just windows, it made me realize that it can be done! I can shoot with this lens at f/3.5 at 1/15 of a second and still get good results!

The one in color was shot on Fujifilm Industrial 400. The Black and Whites where Ilford XP2 Super 400 and Kodak Eastman Double X.

Ilford XP2 Super 400

Ilford XP2 Super 400

Taken indoors at 1/40 sec, f/3.5 / Eastman Kodak Double-X.

Eastman Kodak Double-X

Fujifilm Industrial 400

Leica purists would cringe at the sight of a Soviet lens being paired with a Leica but I think these 5 frames would prove that maybe, this could actually be an Elmar disguised as a Fed/Industar…

Thank you for reading.

Christian Irving C. Cayetano
My instagram: xtian.irving


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  • Reply
    Daniel Castelli
    October 27, 2018 at 3:21 pm

    I’d say your results are really awesome. Nothing shabby about that tiny lens. Continued good luck with it. Nice Instagram posts.
    As for those Leica “purists,” I bet they’re having a bit of a rough time with the Leica/Zenit collaboration. I now work with Zeiss lenses on my (film) Leica M bodies and I’ve chastised by the KEEP OUR LEICA pure committee for my wayward ways. BTW, it was Hamish’s continued praise of the Zeiss optics that helped sway me to try the lenses.
    I’ve got almost the same shot of my daughter breaking a board during her Taekwondo training many years ago.

    • Reply
      October 27, 2018 at 11:14 pm

      Thank you for your encouraging words.

  • Reply
    October 27, 2018 at 11:53 pm

    Those shots look good enough to me. Leica is probably one of the few cameras not in my collection. The B&W with the ferris wheel in the back is taken where. I have been to the Philippines 52 times dating back to 1988 so I am curious but havn’t been back since 2008. My wife is from Rizal and hope to get back next year for a vacation. Given luggage issues and lugging film cameras around I can see the benefit of s smaller camera over a standard sized SLR but then I am an SLR type of guy. Medical missions also caught my eye since I am in the medical field.

    • Reply
      October 27, 2018 at 11:57 pm

      The B&W with the ferris wheel was taken in Taipei. You have to go back to the Philippines! A lot has changed and you will love it!

    • Reply
      Daniel Castelli
      October 28, 2018 at 2:38 am

      I’d like to respond to a comment: “Given luggage issues and lugging film cameras around I can see the benefit of a smaller camera over a standard sized SLR but then I am an SLR type of guy.”
      My wife & I recently returned from a seven day vacation in Ireland. I’m a film shooter, and I’m very much aware of the obstacles we face as we travel through security check points. Usually on the return flight, I begin a self-debriefing. What worked? What didn’t work? Should I carry a different bag? Did I pack too much? I jot down these bits and pieces, because I’ll forget them as we unpack, process film and resume normal lives. I use them to guide myself on the next adventure. The bag I packed for Ireland was radically changed from the bag I took to Florence Italy a few years ago. I’ve stripped down to a basic kit, and I’m looking to lighten the bag. I use a Leica M2 or M4-P. If I was to return to SLR’s, I’d grab an Olympus OM4 and their tiny lenses.

  • Reply
    October 28, 2018 at 1:02 am

    By the way, all photos where developed and scanned by Fotofabrik Studio.

  • Reply
    Mathew C
    October 28, 2018 at 5:28 pm

    Hi Xtian, although the Fed lens copies the appearance of the Elmar it uses a Zeiss tessar formula for the optics. The good news being that Zeiss lenses contemporary to the Elmar had a better reputation for contrast and sharpness. The Elmar is a stellar lens but your Zeiss derived optics should deliver more punchy results.

  • Reply
    Ian R
    October 29, 2018 at 12:34 pm

    “I’ve read that the Fed 50mm f/3.5 could be a replica of the Elmar.”

    Post war certainly, it is Elmar externally, and Zeiss internally. A german lens built in Russia is probably a fair description.

  • Reply
    November 11, 2018 at 1:11 am

    Did you sell the M6? If not, and you’re still looking for an inexpensive but good 50mm, try the Canon ltm 50mm f1.8. (The black and silver one.)
    It’s a fine lens, considerably smaller than the f1.4, and dirt cheap. Just be aware that they’re fairly old and some have been heavily used.

    • Reply
      November 11, 2018 at 1:37 am

      I still have the M6 and thank you for the suggestion. I agree, the 1.8 is smaller than the 1.4.

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