Saturday, April 19, 2014

Russar (Russian 20mm Wide Angle) Remake v. 2014

The folks at Lomography have been doing some interesting things lately. For me, any company that keeps film photography alive is okay. But their latest antic is really pretty interesting.
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Lomography is producing an updated version of the 1958 Russian "Russar" 20mm f5.6 lens with what seems the perfect combination of classic optical design and modern materials and manufacturing methods.
The new Russar+ will be made in Leica Thread Mount (LTM), also known as "L39," which is great for us Leica users. That makes it native on the Barnack cameras, and easily adaptable to Leica M cameras. It also makes a nice base for adapting to other mounts, like Micro 4/3.
It sounds like they really are making some upgrades to the lens. For example, while the original lens body was made of aluminum, the new one is brass. Reportedly, it's being manufactured by Zenit in Russia. I don't know Zenit's full history, but I know from classic camera shopping that they've been around a while.
Now, a maximum aperture of f5.6 is a little hard to live with, especially if you're shooting film. But, that's the classic design, and one of the tradeoffs of using them. I have a Cosina Voigtlander 12mm f5.6 lens that rarely sees use because of that small maximum aperture.
But, any way I look at it, this is a cool development. One of my highest-use lenses is the awesome Carl Zeiss C-Sonnar 50mm f1.5. If the Russar+ implements a classic design with modern improvements in even a slightly similar fashion, it will be worth having.
You can pre-order yours by (Clicking Here). The price is US$649, and they're scheduled for delivery in July 2014.