Review: Lomography 32mm f2.8 Minitar Art Lens (Leica M Mount)

Most of Lomography’s art lenses have been a hit, but in the case of the Lomography 32mm f2.8 Minitar, I’m not totally sure I know what to think. There’s a fair amount going for it in terms of being super small and easily mountable to a Leica M camera body, but then there’s a lot of weirdness with the image quality. This lens is capable of being either pretty darn sharp or kind of kooky–and I’m not sure it’s kooky in a bad way or if it’s just some of Lomography’s charm trying to come off on us. But if you’re aware of how the Lomography LC-A works, this is basically the same lens.

If you’re a lover of really old analog lenses, then you may digg this one.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Super small lens
  • Makes most cameras able to fit into your pocket with ease
  • Fun to use

Cons

  • I’m very torn on the image quality
  • Sometimes hard to mount

Gear Used

The Lomography 32mm f2.8 Minitar was used with the Sony a7 and the Leica CL.

Tech Specs

Specs taken from our original news post

  • Focal Length: 32mm
  • Aperture: f/2.8 – f/22
  • Lens Mount: Leica M-mount
  • M-mount Frame Line Triggering: 35/135
  • M-mount Rangefinder Coupling: Yes
  • Closest Focusing Distance: 0.8m
  • Filter Thread Measurement: M22.5×0.5
  • Construction: Multi-coated lens, 5 elements 4 groups
  • Premium Russian Glass Optics
  • ultra-compact pancake design
  • 4-step zone focusing system
  • Aluminium & Brass Body

Ergonomics

When you look at the Lomography 32mm f2.8 Minitar lens, you start to see some of its analog and vintage appeal. It reminds me of something out of Russia in some ways. Indeed, this is also a very small lens.

On the lens you’ve got two major controls: focusing and aperture. Each of these controls has a small tab. The focusing has a little click when you get to a certain zone and more or less works well. Aperture is totally smooth though; and I wish it weren’t.

If you’re curious to know how thin this lens is, take a look at this photo.

Build Quality

Despite its small size, the build quality of the lens is very solid. I’m confident I could take it out into a rough and tumble event of some sort but not in inclement weather. My only issues with the build quality are that sometimes it’s a hard lens to mount and I really wish the aperture wasn’t so smooth.

However, for video shooters it makes more sense for a smooth aperture.

Ease of Use

You’ve got a few ways to use this lens. You can use zone focusing, though there isn’t a depth of field scale so you’ll basically just need to guess. Or you can use the rangefinder since this lens is rangefinder coupled. But in real life use, you’ll need to look down to see what aperture you’re at. And that’s kind of annoying.

Focusing

Focusing this lens is done manually. It’s fairly smooth with clicks to tell you what zone you’re in. Otherwise, if you’re using a camera with focus peaking, just use that and call it a day.

Image Quality

By all means, this is a lo-fi lens. If you wear glasses, just imagine trying to see with oil and smudges on your lens. That’s what it’s like to always work with the Lomography 32mm f2.8 Minitar. The colors are nice and muted and perhaps that’s one of it’s biggest strengths. But overall it’s a lens that personally doesn’t impress me anywhere as much as the other Art lenses.

Bokeh

I’m really torn on the bokeh here. By all means I’m going to straight up say it’s awful. But I’m debating with myself whether or not this is a lens designed for its bokeh. It’s best used stopped down and zone focusing Sunny 16 style with the photographer not caring too much about the bokeh.

Chromatic Aberration

Being a lens with flaws built into it, expect some wacky and sort of cool things like this flare. In order to get rid of this, I needed to hold my hand up to block the sun–just like old school lenses that you would find in Polaroid cameras.

Here’s that lens flare from another view.

And here’s that flare completely blocked. This lens really could benefit from a lens hood in my opinion. But if you edit your photos with a lot of Dehaze in Lightroom, then you’ll more or less fix your issues.

Color Rendition

One of my favorite things about this lens has to be its color. When your camera is balanced to Daylight or Tungsten white balances, you’ll get an even more flawed analog look to your lenses. In some ways, that can be cool. In other ways, I’m just not sure how to work with something like this.

Sharpness

Even stopped down, this lens isn’t that sharp. To be fair, I’m not sure you should buy this lens for its sharpness but instead for the fact that it basically sees the same way someone with a severe astigmatism sees the world.

Trust me, I’m one of them and that sentence even hurt me to write.

Extra Image Samples

Conclusions

Likes

  • Small size

Dislikes

  • Image quality
  • Lack of zone focusing scale
  • Not easy to work with
  • Perhaps too many flaws…

This is a very hard review to write. I’ve always been a lover of their products though rightfully harsh where I needed to be. Many ofLomography’s newer products embrace flaws to a degree that still make it workable and become a character to the image. But in a case like this, I feel like this lens isn’t so fantastic at all. I also feel like it was maybe an unfinished product. Lomography has created lots of great glass as of recent, but this is one that I really can’t get behind.

Can’t win them all I guess, right?

The Lomography 32mm f2.8 Minitar receives two out of five stars. I’m really not a fan; but the company makes a whole load of other fantastic lenses. They’re $349 if you want one.

Chris Gampat

Chris Gampat is the Editor in Chief, Founder, and Publisher of the Phoblographer. He also likes pizza.