FED 55mm f/2.8 Industar-61 L/D Lens Review

A Radioactive Beauty From the Soviet Union

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The Soviet FED 55mm f/2.8 Industar-61 L/D came stock with my dad’s FED 5B rangefinder. But the lens is a level up from the camera body in design, build quality, and performance. It’s sharp, it’s weird, and it’s beautiful.

Industar-61 lens design and ergonomics.

Industar-61 is shaped like some of the much older lenses — with a base characteristically wider than the front of the lens. However, it has a modern-looking coating that adds a blue shine at certain angles. The black paint, the cursive ФЭД logo, the silver rings, the blocky focus ring, as well as the orange, yellow, and white numberings complete the design.

The L/D (marked Л/Д in Cyrillics) means that this lens had a radioactive material added to its coating — nothing dangerous, just a curious manufacturing technique of the era. The material Lanthane, which does not turn yellow with time like the thoriated glass of the Japanese Yashicas and other lenses of the period.

The lens is an odd combination of shapes that looks great on its own but could make your camera appear out of place — unless it shares some of that Soviet chic.

Industar-61 is easy to use with any M39 body — although some were made for Pentax’s M42 mount. Its focus throw is 180 degrees, thus it’s not very fast to go from its minimum focus distance of 1m/3” to infinity, especially if its lubricants dried up.

The aperture clicks on this lens are very pronounced though you can still adjust yours in between the stops should you need to do so.

Industar-61 with Fuji C200.

Industar-61 lens performance.

This lens is often considered to be the sharpest Soviet lens ever made. Though I haven’t tried all of the USSR-made glass out there, it’s hard to disagree with this statement. Even wide-open Industar-61 appears reasonably sharp corner-to-corner with tons of contrast and nice bokeh.

Though some reviews notice vignetting and barrel distortions, I haven’t seen any significant evidence of those in my photos to warrant any correction in post.

For what it’s worth, Industar-61 is hands-down sharper than its older Industar-10 predecessor. Although the grandpa looks a lot posher with its carbon-copy Leica Elmar shine.

Industar-61 with with Fujifilm Velvia 100.
Fuji Natura Superia 1600, pushed an extra stop to 3200, with FED-5b and Industar-61. This photo was taken wide-open, hand-held at night.
Fuji Velvia 100 with FED-5b and Industar-61. Pictured is a flowering pineapple plant shot in the late afternoon shade at somewhere around 1/15th of a second.
Industar-61 with Rollei Surveillance 400 film.

When it comes to the character, sharpness, contrast, aberration corrections, coating, and handling this lens is a really good deal for the price. It can be mounted on any of the Russian/Ukrainian rangefinder cameras. Industar-61 can work with any M39 or M42 camera, including Leicas. It can work with the M-models with an adapter.

❤ By the way: Please consider making your Industar-61 L/D purchase using this link  so that this website may get a small percentage of that sale — at no extra charge for you — thanks!