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MIR-1V 37mm f2.8 Lens

The MIR-1V 37mm f/2.8 lens, manufactured by KMZ starting in 1957 and up until the 80s, offers exceptional optical performance in a nearly indestructible package. With a compact and lightweight build, this manual focus lens is ideal for capturing landscapes, street scenes, and portraits with stunning clarity and detail.

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The MIR-1V 37mm F/2.8 lens holds a special place in the pantheon of classic photographic equipment. Originating from the Soviet Union, this lens is a part of the rich heritage of MIR lenses, celebrated for their unique optical characteristics and robust construction. The MIR-1V, in particular, is a wide-angle prime lens that has garnered a following among photographers for its distinctive rendering, build quality, and versatility. This article delves into the various facets of the MIR-1V, exploring its history, design, optical performance, and its enduring appeal in the digital age.

MIR-1V 37mm f2.8 Lens Highlights:

  • The MIR-1V 37mm f2.8 Lens is a beautifully quirky soviet era lens with dreamy lens flare and quasi-magical bokeh that is not unlike the bokeh found on other legendary Russian lenses like the Helios, although, unlike the Helios, it’s 10 blades render a perfectly-rounded bokeh effect.
  • While it takes mastery to user properly, the MIR-1V is capable of providing superb results with the right technique.
  • It’s pleasantly soft wide open, but starts to get sharp at f/4 and is tack sharp by f/8.
    The 270° rotation on the focus ring makes this lens delightfully precise and allows you to nail the focus on subjects.

Historical Background

The MIR-1V is an evolution of the original MIR-1 lens, which was developed based on pre-existing German optical designs. The "V" in its name stands for "Vylet," translating to "improved" in English, indicating its enhanced optical formula and mechanical design over its predecessor. It was produced by the Krasnogorsk Mechanical Factory (KMZ) and other Soviet manufacturers, illustrating the prowess of Soviet optical engineering during the mid-20th century. The MIR-1V, and its variants, received recognition and accolades in their time, including a prestigious award at the 1958 Brussels World's Fair.

Design and Build Quality

True to the era's standard, the MIR-1V 37mm F/2.8 is constructed with a metal body, giving it a substantial and durable feel. It features a manual focus ring that rotates smoothly, allowing for precise control over focusing. The lens also includes a manual aperture ring, with click stops at each f-stop value, providing tactile feedback that modern lenses often lack. Its physical design and build reflect a period when longevity and repairability were paramount in lens manufacturing.

Optical Performance

Optically, the MIR-1V is characterized by its unique rendering of images. The lens has a maximum aperture of f/2.8, which allows for decent low-light performance and control over depth of field. Its 37mm focal length, slightly wider than the standard 50mm, offers a versatile field of view that is suitable for a variety of photographic genres, including landscape, street, and environmental portrait photography.

The MIR-1V is renowned for its ability to produce images with a distinct character. It often exhibits a softness at wide apertures, which gradually sharpens as the aperture is stopped down. This lens is also known for its pleasant bokeh, the aesthetic quality of the out-of-focus areas in an image, which can add a dreamy or ethereal quality to photographs.

One of the most talked-about characteristics of the MIR-1V is its tendency to produce a swirly bokeh under certain conditions, a trait that has become highly sought after by photographers looking for a unique aesthetic. However, it's worth noting that this effect is subject to various factors, including the background, distance to the subject, and aperture setting.

Compatibility and Adaptability

In the digital era, the MIR-1V has found a new lease of life among photographers who value its distinctive optical signature. With the advent of mirrorless cameras and the availability of adapter rings, the MIR-1V can be easily mounted on modern digital bodies, transcending its original design constraints. This adaptability has contributed to its popularity among enthusiasts of vintage lenses and those exploring alternative imaging aesthetics beyond what contemporary lenses offer.

Conclusion

The MIR-1V 37mm F/2.8 lens embodies the spirit of a bygone era of photography, where manual controls and mechanical precision were the norms. Its enduring appeal lies not only in its solid construction and historical significance but also in its unique optical qualities that allow photographers to explore creative avenues that modern lenses often cannot replicate. Whether used by vintage lens aficionados or digital photographers looking for something different, the MIR-1V continues to inspire and captivate with its timeless charm and distinctive imagery.

Technical specifications

Focal Length (35mm format): 37mm
Maximum Aperture: f/2.8
Minimum Aperture: f/16
Format: 35mm Film
Mount format: M-42
Angle of View (35mm format): 60°
Focusing Distance: 0.70m to Inifinity
Elements/Groups: 6/5
Number of Blades: 6-10
Optical resolution: 45 lines/mm center, 23 lines/mm corners
Light coefficient: 0.78
Autofocus: No - Full Manual
Filter size: 49mm
Manufacturer: KMZ / Vologda Optical and Mechanical Plant
Weight: 230g
Manufacture begin year: 1957
Manufacture end year: 1980s

Our Take on the MIR-1V 37MM F2.8

Image quality: superb
Bokeh: very good
Build quality: flawless
Micro contrast: very good
Ergonomics: good
Center sharpness (wide open): very good
Edge sharpness (wide open): fair
Pros Cons
+ Beautiful vintage color rendering - Soft at the edges wide open
+ Built like a tank - May be hard for some beginners to master
+ Sharp at center wide open
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