Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Vintage Glass On A Fuji X Camera [K&F Concepts Adapter + Industar 61 Lens]

Industar 61 Lens & K&F Concepts Adapter
Every lens has characteristics, which could be good, bad or indifferent. Different lenses render different sharpness, bokeh, distortion, contrast, etc. Lens choice isn't just about focal-length, or even aperture. Sometimes a lens can give your images a unique look because of its particular attributes.

There are a lot of lenses available now that are well engineered, darn good overall with minimal faults. They are perfectly boring, lacking character. The images made by these lenses look the same, and in today's digital photography world, sameness is uninteresting. These lenses are a-dime-a-dozen metaphorically, but will run you hundreds of dollars. People will even spend big bucks on a lens because it is slightly more perfect than another nearly perfect lens.

There are tons of vintage lenses out there that have unique characteristics. They have personality. The look that these lenses create is anything but boring and uninteresting. They are different. They may not be perfect, but (to an extent) that's the point. These lenses can often be found for less than $100, and sometimes less than $20.

One lens that I really like is the Industar 61 55mm f/2.8 that came attached to a FED 5c 35mm Russian rangefinder (I paid $40 for both the body and lens). The lens is tack sharp but a little soft in the corners, has beautiful "soap bubble" bokeh, some noticeable barrel distortion, and a radioactive coating. It has four elements in three groups and six blades (Zeiss Tessar type). It's generally regarded as the best lens to come out of the Soviet Union, although it's far from perfect. I think it's the combination of "perfections" and "imperfections" that give this lens its character.

Ever since I picked up a gently used Fuji X-E1 a few months ago I've wanted to attach the Industar 61 lens to it. I purchased a K&F Concepts M39-FX adapter for $10. I made one exposure to make sure that it worked, but then stuck with the Fujinon lens because it's more convenient. 
Yashica Minister-D & Fujifilm X-E1 With Industar 61 Lens
There are a few settings on the Fuji camera that must be selected in order to use the lens. "Shoot Without Lens" must be on. "Mount Adaptor Setting" should be set to the closest appropriate focal length (50mm for the Industar 61). Although I think this may be optional, I also set the camera to manual focus since it is a manual focus lens.

This last Saturday I decided to dust off the lens and adapter and actually use them on the X-E1. I went to a "vintage market" in Logan, Utah, and then drove up to Preston, Idaho (where Napoleon Dynamite was filmed). Guess what? Using the Industar 61 lens on the Fuji camera was great! I was immediately reminded of how photography used to be (before I shot digital). I wished that I had done this sooner. The photographic process was pure joy!

But what about the images? Did they look any different? Did I find the character that I was after? A little perhaps. I can spot it, but just barely--it's very subtle. I think for the price of the lens (typically it can be found for under $30, sometimes less than $10) and the price of the adapter ($10), you get solid optics. If you don't mind manually focusing (which I don't), this is a fantastic budget-friendly option for those wanting to expand their glass. X-Trans owners should certainly consider giving this a try.

I didn't quite find that "look" I was hoping for. There are other lenses (Helios 44-2, for example) that have a more pronounced character, which at some point I hope to experiment with. Even so, I found using vintage glass on my X-E1 to be an enjoyable experience. I will definitely be doing it more often.

Below are the photographs from that trip. All of the images were captured using a Fujifilm X-E1 with the Industar 61 lens. Enjoy!
Rays Over The Wasatch - South Weber, Utah
This was captured on the way to the vintage market.
Power Line - Logan, Utah
Every Day I Love You - Logan, Utah
Electric Clock - Logan, Utah
Autumn In Logan - Logan, Utah
Autumn At The Cache County Fairgrounds - Logan, Utah
Kettle Corn - Logan, Utah
Making Mini Donuts - Logan, Utah
Donut - Logan, Utah
The Donut Trailer - Logan, Utah
Waiting Face - Logan, Utah
One's Junk Is Another's Treasure - Logan, Utah
Old License Plates - Logan, Utah
Cold Pop - Franklin, Idaho
Vote For Pedro - Preston, Idaho
Defaced Napoleon - Preston, Idaho
Rainbow Lockers - Preston, Idaho

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