March 31, 2016

For $5, This Incredible Little Vintage Lens Really Packs a Punch

How good can a $5 Russian lens from the 1950s be? Turns out, pretty great.

Mathieu Stern, the connoisseur of weird cheap lenses, is here to tell you just how great the Lomo T43 40mm f/4 vintage manual lens can be. It comes from the Lomo Smena 8mm camera (which you can find all over eBay for around $10 to $25).

Though the lens alone can be found for as little as $5, don't let its affordability fool you. This thing is powerful and can capture some stunning images. Check out Stern's review of this lens below and see for yourself:

Here are a few of the shots Stern took with the Lomo T43. (You can check out all of his samples here.) Click on each image for higher resolution:  

Credit: Mathieu Stern
Credit: Mathieu Stern
Credit: Mathieu Stern

Credit: Mathieu Stern

The lens is clearly adept at producing images with great detail and high contrast, though you will have to do a little retooling in order to mount it inside your camera. But for a $5 lens, you might not mind doing a little MacGyvering to make it work.     

Your Comment

14 Comments

Just ordered one for myself with the m42 adapter. I must say, it may only cost 7 -15 for the camera with the lens, but the shipping is a killer. It costs almost as much to ship it to the US from Bulgaria or Russia. If anyone wants my camera sans lens, I'll be posting it for sale once the thing arrives here in America. Could be a month!

March 31, 2016 at 4:43PM

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Stephen Badolato
Filmmaker/Video Editor
74

Did he mention what camera he used to get those shots?

These articles about cheap and vintage lenses are gimmicky. If you're putting these on cameras with great sensors and the glass is clean and the lens focuses properly then why wouldn't it produce a decent image?

Also what do the raw images from this lens look like? These have been at the very least touched up a bit. So what's the point of showing any of this if the images have been edited to look nice?

I guess my biggest gripe is, who cares about this?

Consider my mind un-blown.

March 31, 2016 at 6:58PM, Edited March 31, 7:00PM

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Nick Rowland
Street Bum
618

Agree completely, still some of those experiments are definitely interesting.

Oh, and BTW, Смена was my first camera, bought for the money I earned while working in kolkhoz during the summer break :)

April 1, 2016 at 3:00PM

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zetty
Filmmaker
738

Any tips on getting it to fit on a DSLR?

March 31, 2016 at 10:08PM, Edited March 31, 10:08PM

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My only concern with these old lenses is if they have radiation, which is why I stay clear, despite the great bang for the buck.

March 31, 2016 at 10:34PM

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Well, this is a cute little tid-bit. But it does what to help me in the real world?????

April 1, 2016 at 12:51AM, Edited April 1, 12:51AM

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Gene Nemetz
live streaming
1656

Many vintage lenses (especially Russia) are made with nuclear elements. For example, they can use it between the glass for sharpening the image or making colors more intens. Check out this article:

http://www.bnphoto.org/bnphoto/LostSites_MonaghanRadioactive.htm

April 1, 2016 at 8:33AM

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Michiel Eskens
Director & Editor
218

Nice photo's though!

April 1, 2016 at 8:34AM

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Michiel Eskens
Director & Editor
218

for people who missed chemistry classes ;-)
all the glass (from bottle glass to high quality lanthanum lens glass) in all the world produces in furnaces built from fire resistant bricks that contain the whole bouquet of radioactive elements: caesium, strontium, and etc. therefore my dear friend, when you pure wine from a bottle you're already "intouch" with radioactive elements.

April 1, 2016 at 2:13PM

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Alexey Nitko
Director of Photography / VFX Artist
155

Thx for the chemistry lessons, kid. Glad you did the Chem course, I was too busy making photo's. Please do try to talk a little less sarcastic, it doesnt suit your 'charming and talented' way of writing very well. :)

April 1, 2016 at 4:39PM

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Michiel Eskens
Director & Editor
218

It's understandable why is quality so high.
By the post WWII agreement between coalition members, Russians, as winners in the war, received many industrial objects from Germany as a part of the compensation. One of those objects was Zeiss factory. The whole factory was extracted, loaded on the trains and sent to Russia.
Russians made many developments and improvments since then, but technically core was Zeiss techologies. So, when you buy some Russian lens brands, you buy Zeiss in Soviet "interpretation". Some of those lenses are pretty good.

April 1, 2016 at 1:51PM

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Alexey Nitko
Director of Photography / VFX Artist
155

The hell are you talking about?!
This lens is mediocre at best. I have the Smena 8 camera. I've had it for 30 years. It did cost like $5 when new. Cheap toy for kids-wannabe-photographers and family snaps.

April 1, 2016 at 4:20PM

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You voted '-1'.
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Ezi Seel
421

This is cool to prove that you can mount and use an old lens and goes to show that you don't have to use THE most expensive lenses to produce descent/good images. I feel as though most people nowadays are obsessed with using the most expensive gear that it's refreshing to see someone appreciate older and often considered junk gear. With that said I would have preferred the test have been done with video over stills. That would have been the real test. Stills are too easy to fix in post that I would have preferred to see the actual raw photos. What's the point of using an old lens if you don't show its imperfections? Doesn't that defeat the purpose of the experiment if every image looks like it's not from an old lens with character?

April 1, 2016 at 10:28PM

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Nice.

April 4, 2016 at 10:32AM

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Wayne M
Director of a Life
456