Soviet-era vintage camera lenses are revered by many for their build quality and singular optics, but this particular lens is even better than most.
My introduction to Soviet lenses was as silly as it was (I imagine) commonplace. I was new to photography, I couldn't afford to buy lots of lenses to try, and I saw a photographer take a beautiful portrait with a vintage, Soviet-era lens. I was on eBay with my debit card in my hand before I had a chance to debate the purchase and one was on its way. However, since that initial dip of my toe in the vintage lens pool, I have bought several more. But why?
Well, they're a low-cost way of trying new lenses, that's first and foremost for many. Unfortunately, as the years tick by, finding a clean copy (no mould, fogging, scratches, and so on) is becoming harder and harder. Secondly, they often create unique visuals, with blades of the lens either forming an unusual shape (like the sheriff's star shape in this video) or simply having more blades than most lenses. Thirdly, the build quality is ridiculous. It cannot be cost-effective to make metal lenses that could be kicked too and from photoshoots without a lick of damage, and when you hold one of the Soviet lenses next to the modern, plastic barrels, it really shows the difference. Of course, the downside of this is they weigh far more than modern counterparts.
In this video, Mark Holtze offers his initial impressions of the Mir 10A 28mm f/3.5. The shots he creates with it are beautiful and you can undoubtedly see the appeal. As a warning though — and one Holtze makes — this particular lens is difficult to find now. In fact, there isn't a single copy on eBay in Europe and I struggled to find even one for sale elsewhere either.
Have you used this lens? What do you make of Soviet lenses? Share your thoughts in the comments below.