Lomography LC-A Minitar-1 32mm f/2.8 Art Lens Review

Lomography LC-A Minitar-1 32mm f/2.8 Art Lens Review - John Riley reviews the Leica M mount Lomography LC-A Minitar-1 32mm f/2.8 Art Lens.


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Lomography LC-A Minitar-1 32mm f/2.8 Art Lens Review John Riley reviews the Leica M mount Lomography LC-A Minitar-1 32mm f/2.8 Art Lens. 4.0 5

Handling and Features
Performance
Verdict
Specification
 

LC-A MINITAR-1 Art Lens 2.8/32 M

Promising exceptional handmade craftsmanship and premium Russian optics, according to the Lomography website, this new Art lens is one of a series of unusual lens designs that are intended to extend the possibilities of our photography. Let's have a closer look to see what those possibilities might be and how that relates to our imaging style.

Lomography LC-A Minitar-1 32mm f/2.8 Art Handling and Features

Lomography Minitar 1 32mm Lens (3)

The Lomo lens is a very compact, light, pancake design for Leica M rangefinder cameras. It has rangefinder coupling and will activate the 35mm and 135mm viewfinder frames. It is a full frame lens, but can be used on a wide variety of full frame and crop sensor cameras via an excellent selection of adapters. The lens was provided for review with a Sony Alpha 7 full-frame camera body.

The adapter provided for Sony has the added benefit of an additional helical mount, so closer focusing can be achieved compared with using the lens alone. The lens itself focuses down to 0.8m and there are provided click stops at 0.8m. 1.5m, 3m and infinity for simple zone focusing. Full rangefinder focusing is available on suitable Leica cameras.

The zone focusing fits in well with the Lomography concept of freedom of expression, encouraging random shooting and a carefree approach to image making. This may be especially true at wider apertures, where the lens vignettes heavily by design, can hardly be called sharp, but sharpens up as it is stopped down.


Lomography Minitar 1 32mm Lens (1)

The lens is well made in metal and consists of 5 elements in 4 groups. There is a 22.5mm filter thread and a tiny aluminium screw in lens cap is provided. The finish throughout is of a very high standard.

There is no AF as the Minitar is fully manual both in terms of focusing and its aperture control. The aperture set remains set until it is changed, but with the various focusing aids available on the Sony body it is not difficult to gauge the focus point accurately. This is fine when required, but as the logic of the lens is to encourage freedom of shooting and expression, does not necessarily have to be utilised.

Handling is very efficient and all the controls work smoothly. Random shooting Lomography-style is also a welcome pleasure and a release from the normal strictures. There are several pinhole and other un-sharp lenses on the market and clearly these fill a niche where some very impressive creative photography is being produced. It does prove an interesting exercise to be released from the normal quest for technical excellence and concentrate instead on shooting freely, even randomly.

Lomography Minitar 1 32mm Lens (2)

Lomography LC-A Minitar-1 32mm f/2.8 Art Performance

It could be argued that that the low standard of technical performance found is, in fact, the lens living up to its design. The results of the lens test would normally not be encouraging, with very poor edge performance at open aperture, improving on stopping down but never really approaching even fair levels. Only at f/22 does the Minitar approach a good level of edge sharpness.

The centre of the field does look somewhat sharper, with fair central performance wide open, rising to good levels at around f/5.6 and again peaking at f/22 where we find very good sharpness. This is counter-intuitive and I would normally feel that this showed a heavily de-centred lens, but here we have a deliberate design.


 

 
MTF
MTF
 

How to read our charts

The blue column represents readings from the centre of the picture frame at the various apertures and the green is from the edges. 

The scale on the left side is an indication of actual image resolution as LW/PH. The taller the column, the better the lens performance. Simple.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Sony Alpha A7 using Imatest.

 

This is further evidenced by the level of CA being quite well-controlled throughout, with the exception of the edges at open aperture. CA is not really a problem. Distortion is quite high at +3.48% pincushion.  


 

 
CA
CA
 

How to read our charts

Chromatic aberration is the lens' inability to focus on the sensor or film all colours of visible light at the same point. Severe chromatic aberration gives a noticeable fringing or a halo effect around sharp edges within the picture. It can be cured in software.

Apochromatic lenses have special lens elements (aspheric, extra-low dispersion etc) to minimize the problem, hence they usually cost more.

For this review, the lens was tested on a Sony Alpha A7 using Imatest.

 

The Minitar is prone to flare when shooting against the light, but otherwise provides characteristically unsharp but highly saturated images. This is the style of Lomography, and with the lens are provided two booklets with many highly effective examples of the art form. One of my thoughts regarding lenses in general is that so often manufacturers are not specific enough about the design choices put into their lenses. In the case of the Lomo Minitar Art Lens this is most definitely covered superbly and a search of the internet will yield many examples of Lomgraphy and a wealth of groups to join.

In this sense, the lens is less about its technical performance and much more about its particular optical characteristics that encourage freedom of expression and a release from the technical perfection we so often seek. There are similar approaches available in the form of pinhole cameras and pinhole lenses for CSC systems, as well as the wide range of Lens Baby lenses and the other lenses in the very interesting Lomo portfolio.

 

Lomography LC-A MINITAR-1 Art Lens 2.8/32 M Sample Photos

Value For Money

The method of manufacture of the Lomo Art lenses is of a high and more traditional level, so this does not come cheap. At £249 I feel this is reasonable value for money, and certainly if you want the sort of visual style that the lens offers then we have something unique at an affordable level.

Alternatives might include the LensBaby range, the Composer Pro + Sweet 35 being the closest to the Lomo at £244. Other alternatives include the body cap lenses. Olympus offer the M. Zuiko 15mm f/8 Body Cap lens at £59. They also have the 9mm f/8 Fisheye Body Cap lens at £75. Users of the Pentax Q system have the 07 Mount Shield 11.5mm f/9 lens at £49. All of these have their own particular and unique characteristics.

Lomography LC-A Minitar-1 32mm f/2.8 Art Verdict

If we want sharp, crisp images then this is absolutely not the lens to buy.

However, this is a lens of unique style that does not pander to a concept of sharpness, so it all hinges on whether or not we find our photography gels with the Lomography view of the visual world. If it does, then the Minitar Art Lens offers that freedom from technical considerations and the opportunity to just go out there and freely shoot what we see and feel about the world. If this is the case, then it is good value for money.

Lomography LC-A Minitar-1 32mm f/2.8 Art Pros

Well made
Compact
Encourages artistic freedom
Distinctive image style
High colour saturation

Lomography LC-A Minitar-1 32mm f/2.8 Art Cons

Poor sharpness
High distortion
High flare levels against the light

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

The Lomography LC-A Minitar-1 32mm f/2.8 gives a unique image style in a well made and easy to handle optic.

 

Lomography LC-A MINITAR-1 Art Lens 2.8/32 M Specifications

ManufacturerLomography
General
Lens Mounts
  • Leica M
Lens
Focal Length32mm
Angle of View68
Max Aperturef/2.8
Min Aperturef/22
Filter Size22.5mm
StabilisedNo
35mm equivalentNo Data
Internal focusingNo Data
Maximum magnificationNo Data
Focusing
Min Focus80cm
Construction
BladesNo Data
Elements5
Groups4
Box Contents
Box ContentsNo Data
Dimensions
WeightNo Data
HeightNo Data

View Full Product Details


Buy Now

Lomography LC-A MINITAR-1 Art Lens 2.8/32 M (BLACK) Z440LCA Lomography LC-A MINITAR-1 Art Lens 2.8/32 M (BLACK) Z440LCA BUY NOW $523.50

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Comments


I do not think the image quality of this lens is worth it's price tag, it's IQ is just dire.

Any half decent second hand lens will produce far better results for a third of the price!

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altitude50 14 14.1k United Kingdom
28 Oct 2015 3:39PM
The Lomo idea seems to be to produce strikingly quirky images. Why anyone would pay 249 for this lens I have no idea.
Better surely to invest in a good new 35 or 50mm f 1.8 lens to fit your camera and a few effects filters and a jar of something to smear on various areas of a cheap clear glass or resin filter to produce odd effects. (For less than 150). Much more versatile.
Although I do quite like the oof effects of the Petzval lens that they sell. (If you can afford it!)

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