How good (or bad) are Russian "Elmars?"

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by Troll, May 2, 2018.

  1. In my desire to replicate the look of early Leica photographs, for my Leica Standard I foolishly bought an uncoated Elmar which, I now realize, is probably a Russian fake. The serial number is too low for a RF coupled lens, which this is, also the outer diameter of the front mount is infinitesimally smaller so that a 36mm clamp-on filter or lens cap falls off. (Wish I could have afforded a real Leica A.)
    Interestingly, I can't tell any difference between its performance and my genuine late Leitz Elmar (f:22, and red IR mark), at least from shooting B&W (I haven't tried color).
    Incidentally, I have been shooting EFKE 25 film and have deduced that a good part of the "Leica look" was actually due to the early film lack of anti-halation backing, producing a slight "glow."
  2. Not only the anti-halation layer on the film, but the lenses themselves.
    The Russian "Elmars" seem particularly prone to evaporation and redeposit of oil inside the lens. possibly from someone trying to make the apertures move smoothly.

    Sorry, but I just have to post this at every opportunity:
    Elmo lens on gold and rosewood Swedish Army Leica​
  3. AJG


    My honestly labeled Fed 50 mm f/3.5 (Elmar copy) is actually pretty sharp--but the is a sample size of one...
  4. Several years ago I ran a comparison of ten "Russian Elmars" of various flavors (these used to be very inexpensive) against four genuine Elmars (all coated).

    Used a newspaper classified section as a focus target and supported the Leica IIC camera on a tripod; I made exposures at 3.5 and 5.6.

    My conclusions were that all of the Russians were OK lenses, with little difference in sharpness among the group of ten. None of the Russian lenses was a sharp as any of the genuine Elmars, particularly wide open (no surprise).
  5. Hello everyone. AJG's and Wendell's comments seems to be true. Go over to the Classic Manual Camera area & look under the "Film Camera Week" for May 4th. bertliang has some excellent work done with a Fed-2 / Fed50 . . .that lens is better known as an Industar-22. . . the Soviet Elmar copy. The women in the hall is outstanding for sharpness & dof. Not bad for an "Elmar" from the FSU. Aloha, Bill
    Last edited: May 5, 2018
  6. Last edited: May 5, 2018

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