A Day That Will Live in Infamy

Lady Byng, taken with my Mir-24

Lady Byng, taken with my Mir-24

I have always enjoyed playing with my Russian-made Mir-24 lens. It’s manual focus, so it can be difficult to catch fast-moving things like small dogs (I find myself setting the focus then moving the camera to get the subject in focus), but there’s a low-saturation retro feel to the shots.

It all started when I wanted a reasonably fast 35mm lens cheap, and I was willing to live without all the automatic stuff to save money. The key is to look for “preset aperture” — some lenses keep the aperture wide open to help focussing, then when you take the picture a mechanical linkage in the camera closes the aperture to the desired size. “Preset” means it lacks that linkage. Many lenses come with an M42 mount, which (with a cheap adapter) work great on my camera.

My copy of the Mir-24 lens isn’t really that great, but it works, and at f/2 it’s faster than the Zeiss lens it ripped off. The construction is solid. No regrets on that purchase whatsoever.

So why has it taken so long for me to search Mir M42 on eBay? Wait, what? A 65mm TILT lens? Oh, crap! Then I searched on Jupiter M42 (Jupiter is another Russian brand, related to Mir) and… aaarrrrgh! So… many… things…

To all my Eastern European friends: Go clean out your parents’ closets! I want me some Russian-made optics!