Modify Industar 69 for use on Epson R-D1

Edit: I have since tinkered with and modified the lens more, more here: more here http://www.realphotographersforum.com/lenses/8650-further-modifications-industar-69-a.html

We all like lomo cameras and we all like using film but wouldn't it be good if we could have a lomo digital camera?
I have spent a lot of time trawling the internet for how to adapt a lomo lens for a digital camera,
I have seen holga lenses adapted for digital slrs with success, but the aps-c/dx format of most digital slrs only uses the centre of the holgas 60mm lens which means you are left with a long focal length and no vignetting, the darkening of the corners, that is so indicative of lomo photography. Also, the process of conversion seems to me a little long-winded and difficult just to have to re-add the vignetting as a post process, I can do that with any lens!
I have also seen a very clever adaption of a front door peep hole into a fisheye lens for compact camera. This is something i intend to have a go at one day in the future.
The other adaption I came across on one forum was of a 28mm 2.8 lens from a half frame Russian camera called the chaika ('seagull' in english)

There are a few key factors thats got me interested in this little project;
1: The camera and its lens are Russian made in the "belomo" factory.
2: The lens has a relatively large aperture of 2.8, ie good for low light!
3: The focal length of the lens is 28mm or approximately 44mm on aps-c/dx cameras. 43.3mm is a perfectly normal lens on 35mm cameras so this 44mm focal length seems ideal.
4: Although this lens is desingned for half frame the image circle will be adequate for aps-c/dx
5: The shutter is in the camera, not the lens, making adaption less fuss.
6: Most importantly, this lens has a 39mm threaded mount. This means that it will attach directly to my Epson R-D1.

The problem:
The flange distance is shorter on the chiaka than on the epson. This means it will not focus to infinity and all the distances are all off on the scale. This means to get a sharp photo you need to stop down to at least f8 and focus the lens to infinity. This is by no means ideal.
The solution:
Adapt the lens in some way that allows the elements of the lens to be closer to the sensor to the extent that infinity can be achieved.

And this is how to do it:

Firstly, you will need a small flat-head screw driver, a small flat file and some type of grease to replace what will inevitably be removed during adaption. I got all these things from a toy shop that sells radio control cars that for me is conveniently located above the camera shop I help out in.
I don't know if "diff lube" is the ideal but i guess time will tell.

Remove lens from chaika

Unscrew three grub screws from around the cicumference of the lens .
Unscrew the bit of the lens with the elements in from the part that mounts to the camera.
Turn lens face down .

File where you can see that i have. This is what allows the part with the elements to screw further into the mount and thus closer to the sensor. this part is trial and error: file a bit, screw all the way back in to mount, attach to camera, take a photo of something 50m + away at 2.8 and check it's in focus. When it is, you have filed enough!
Make sure to clean filings off parts of lens before putting it anywhere near your camera!
File off the end of these little screw things. These are what stop you being able to focus less than 0.8m and more than infinity and so are very important but are a bit too long when you have filed enough. It's obvious why when you get there but too difficult to describe. Excuse the shoddy photo my lx3 wasn't loving focusing on that tiny screw

Now clean all filings off parts of lens, re-lube thread, re build the lens making sure to align the infinity mark with the red arrow whilst the part with the elemnts is screwed in to the mount as far as possible without being tight.
Attach to your epson r-d1.

Take some photos.

I have never done anything like this before and managed this with ease. That said, I do not accept any resposibility for the damage you might do to any of your equipment if you try this!
Thank you to the people in rangefinder forum who helped me with this project. Specifically Christian Fritze (cfritze) who clarified some information for me, enabling me to do this modification without to much hesitation!
Please let me know if i have made any mistakes in my description or if there any technical details i could add to make this description more usefull for those who wish to try this project
oh and by the way if you are going to do this please don't just buy a chaika camera and take the lens off it before using it, they are a great camera in their own right and definately deserve using and not just having the lens taken off and comited to the scrap heap! i have two of them, a 2m and a 3 and as such i can use my non modified lens on either!


BikeFixe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Justin Keery said...

I bought one of these to use with my Micro Four Thirds cameras - Panasonic G1 and Olympus E-P1.

Initially I thought I had bought a "bad" lens but I then read that it's intended (as Hamish explains) for a half frame camera that has a different flange distance to the standard Leica screw, hence my problems focusing.

But before any of you Micro Four Thirds users try this... Remember that for MFT camera users it is probably less hassle just to file down the mount adapter itself, which is what I have done. I need to file more off though... So far I can only focus to about 15 feet!

Stian said...


You are right, it is intended for the Chaika camera. I have heard that the reason why its interchangable is if one should use it as an enlarger in his/hers darkroom.

Anyhow, the modifying will be exactly the same for a MFT camera as long as you are using a M39 to MFT adapter or eventually a M39 to Leica M and a Leica M to MFT adapter.

How many screw threads on the adapter did you have to file down to get yours focusing right Justin? :)

ioannis said...

What is the thickness of the filed part. With this information everyone will know how much he needs to file away!

Cristiano said...

Hi just for let you know, if you remove the 3 internal screws you dont need to file away metal. work great on my Nex 3.

Owl said...

@ Cristiano. Could you explain which screws are to be removed? Maybe a pic would help greatly ... :-)

karaatanasov said...

You only need to remove one of the screws that limit the barrel turn at infinity focus.

This is all remove the one screw that stops at infinity. Effect is that the top part will go beyond infinity ...why would you care about the scale on nex ...just use your display, peaking and/or magnification to get superb focus.

In the above article the author suggest to file these screw. They are locate don the top panel


The sequence is

1. remove the 3 screw that hold the top part - focusing ring. Remove it gently, remembering its position somehow

2. remove the screw that stops infinity form the focusing part that was taken off in step one

3. reassemble.


10 minutes for lamer like me. completely reversible modificaiton

lupideeloop said...

Well. An Industar-69 is in the way to me to work in a Fed-2. Sorry, but I still enjoy to shot film.

What I see is that I can screw off two small screws and, after that, I have to proof it using a focus mask to the back of the camera in order to relocate the focus scale in the barrel of the lens. It means five more minutes than @karaatanasov and, as well a completely reversible modification.

Thank you for the nice idea.
Thanks as well to Hamish Gill for the superbe lens bricolage exposed here.

myboo said...

Hi I can't seem to figure out how and where to file the lens element. I just got my hands on one but now I'm stuck because I can't seem to see from the pictures where to file :(

Abzolute Trooth; we shit-U-not said...

This video might be helpful...even if you don't use his simple method, the video gives a clear look at the construction of the lens and removal of screws...

Fu-Leng's Garage said...

On Micro 4/3 I did not file anything. Just unscrew the 3 side scres (no need to take them out, just unscrew 1mm or 2mm out). Take the lid out. Now, I mounted the lens on the camera, and tried to focus infinity, and leave it there. then take out one internal screw of the lid (the one that stops the close focus) and pont back the lid putting it stopped on infinity. Screw in the side screws and test it again on camera. You'll be able to focus starting on around 1m until inifinity.
I had to unscrew the lid screws twice because I left the 2 stop screws initially.