Soviet Lenses

Pekka Buttler 01/2024

This article tries to put together a list of Soviet interchangeable lenses for 35 mm and medium format1. When possible, links to articles/reviews on the lenses are given (both on JAPB and elsewhere).

Before we go on, I’m going to quote from the JAPB article on the soviet lens ‘business’:

“Dear reader, if you’re from a western market economy, you probably think of companies and brands as ceaselessly competing entities. Nikon does what Nikon does because they’re reacting to what Canon did and so on…
Most westerners are so inundated by this thinking that we might instinctively view Soviet lenses the same way: as a competition between the Jupiters, the Helioses, the Mirs and so on. Allow me to exemplify why that approach is unfruitful.
The Helios-44 is very likely the most mass-manufactured interchangeable lens in photographic history to date. It is also quite famous. Not only is the Helios-44 the descendant of the Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar 58 mm f/2, but it is also well loved, especially for its tendency to produce swirly bokeh. But Helios is neither a company nor a brand. Instead ‘Helios’ is the designation of a collection of designs. The ‘original’ duo (Helios-40 and Helios-44) of Helios lenses were remakes of the Carl Zeiss Jena Biotar and subsequent Helios lenses (Japanese Helios’ exempted) were typically further developments of these and similar designs.”

In 90% of cases, the name of a Soviet lens is either:
a) a reference to a family of designs (tessars, sonnars, retrofocals…)
b) a reference to a specific type of use (repro lenses, projection lenses aerial lenses).

Below, I’m going to try to go into all of these (as much as possible). I have omitted most of those known designs that never made it into serial production, but as both my sources (and google translate) might not have the whole truth, these should be taken with a grain of salt.

Related articles:
The Soviet lens ‘business’
A Soviet Nikon?
Soviet Serial numbers.

Table of Contents

Granit (Гранит)

Family of Tele zooms manufactured by the Arsenal plant in Kiev and (post-Soviet) later offered under the ARSAT name.

DesignationFocal lengthMax. ApertureNotesLinks
Granit-11A/11M/11 AUTOMAT80-200 mmf/4.5Non-multicoated tele zoom from late 70s-90s
A (Arsenal) and M (KMZ) versions for M42 mount, AUTOMAT version for Kiev Automat mount.
MC Granit-11N80–200 mmf/4.5Multicoated tele zoom, introduced 1983 for Kiev 17/19 series of cameras. Adapter to M42 included in delivery. Nikon F mount.
Lens continued to be made & sold in post-Soviet era as “Arsat H 80-200/4.5”

Helios (Гелиос)

The origins of the early (post-WWII) Helios-40 and 44 lenses is that they are both remakes of CZJ Biotars, of the 58/2 and the 75/1.5. Thereafter the name was used for a wise array of double-Gauss type bright standard lenses.

The Etymology of the name seems extraordinarily muddled…

DesignationFocal lengthMax. ApertureNotesLinks
Helios-4085 mmf/1.5Soviet Remake of the CZJ 75&/1.5 Biotar (without fancy glasses resulting in a 85/1.5). Available for Z39 and M42 mounts.[page]
Helios-4458 mm f/2Remake of the CZJ Biotar. One of the most mass-produced lenses.
Available in Z39, M42, Pentax K and Start bayonet2 mounts.
Helios-6550 mmf/2Double-Gauss Standard lens. Available for Kiev Automat, rarely LTM or Soviet-DKL mounts.[video]
Helios-7750 mm f/1.8Late Soviet-era standard lens. Available for M42 and Pentax K mounts.[page]
Helios-8150 mm (53 mm)f/2Standard lens for Kiev 17/19 cameras.
Available mainly for Nikon F, also rarely in M42 and Kiev Automat mounts.
Helios-9450 mmf/1.8Standard lens for short-lived Kiev-5 rangefinder. Available only for Kiev-5 (modified Contax/Kiev mount)[video]
Helios-10353 mmf/1.8Early 80s standard lens for late Kiev 4 rangefinders.
Available for Contax/Kiev mount.
Helios-12350 mm f/1.4Intended as fast fifty for Kiev 17/19 cameras. One trial batch produced.
Available for Nikon F mount.
(Produced in the post-Soviet era as the Arsat H 50/1.4)
Pictured: Helios-44-2 (58 mm f/2) lens for M42 mount.
Pictured: Helios-81H (50 mm f/2) lens for Nikon F mount.
Pictured: Helios-103 (53 mm f/1.8) lens for Contax/Kiev mount. [Data sheet]

Industar (Индустар)

The name Industar combines a reference to industry and industrialisation with an -ar ending typical for lenses. Most Industar lenses for cameras were derivatives of the Tessar design

DesignationFocal lengthMax. ApertureNotesLinks
Industar-2250 mmf/3.5Remake of the retractable Leica Elmar of similar specs. Later also an early SLR lens. Available for LTM and Z39 mounts.[page]
Industar-24105 mmf/3.5Lens used in both Moskva-5 medium format folding cameras and as a preset aperture interchangeable lens for early Zenit (Z39) cameras.[page]
Industar-2650 mmf/2.8Standard lens for FED rangefinders and later early Zenit SLRs.
Available for LTM and Z39 mounts.
Industar-2980 mmf/2.8Standard Lens for Salyut. 1957-1973. Kiev-88 mount.
Industar-5050 mm f/3.5Replacement for Industar-22. Tessar-type for rangefinders (retractable or rigid) and SLRs. Available for LTM, Z39 and M42[JAPB]
Industar-6150 mm f/2.8Tessar-type for rangefinders and SLRs. Many different versions since early 70s.
Available for LTM, M42 and Zenit-73. Was also used as fixed lens.
Pictured: Industar-50 (50 mm f/3.5) lens for LTM. [data sheet]

Jupiter (Юпитер) 

The Original Jupiter lenses (3, 6, 8, 9, 11 and 12) were all remakes of existing Carl Zeiss Jena Sonnar designs for rangefinders and SLRs. In later years the Jupiter name was used both for Sonnar-type tele lenses and rangefinder standard lenses.

The origins of the naming is unclear, but the Soviet Union loved references to space (there are lenses named Jupiter, Titan, Saturn, Orion, Neptun, Mars etc.)

DesignationFocal lengthMax. Apert.NotesLinks
Jupiter-350 mmf/1.5Soviet remake of Zeiss’ 50/1.5 Sonnar. In production 1948–1980s.
Available for LTM and Contax/Kiev mounts.
Jupiter-6180 mmf/2.8Soviet remake of Zeiss’ “Olympia Sonnar” Introduced mid 50s. Available for Z39 (Jupiter 6) and M42 (Jupiter 6-2)[page]
Jupiter-850 mm f/2Soviet remake of Zeiss’ 50/2 Sonnar. In production 1948–1980s.
Available for LTM and Contax/Kiev mounts.
Jupiter-985 mmf/2Soviet Remake of Zeiss 85/2 Sonnar for Contax rangefinder. Numerous variants. In production for ≈50 years. Available in Contax/Kiev, Z39, M42, Kiev Automat.[JAPB]
Jupiter-11135 mmf/4Soviet Remake of Zeiss 135/4 Sonnar. Introduced late 40s. Numerous variants. Available in LTM, Contax/Kiev, Z39, M42, Kiev Automat.[page]
Jupiter-1235 mmf/2.8Remake of Zeiss’ 35/2.8 Biogon. For rangefinders.
Available for Contax/Kiev and LTM mounts.
Jupiter-1750 mmf/2Rare, simplified version of Jupiter 8.
Available in LTM and Narcissus (M24x1) mount
Jupiter-21200 mmf/4Sonnar-type telefoto lens for SLR cameras. Available in Z39 and M42 mount[video]
Jupiter-2585 mmf/2.8Short Tele lens for Zenit 4/5/6 cameras. Rare.
Available in Soviet-DKL.
Jupiter-36250 mmf/3.5Medium Tele lens for medium format SLR. Late 60s to 1991.
Pentacon Six and Kiev-88 mounts.
Jupiter-37135 mmf/3.5Medium Tele lens for SLR cameras. Available in M42 and Kiev Automat.[page]
Pictured: Jupiter-8 (50 mm f/2) lens for LTM mount. [data sheet]
Pictured: Jupiter-9 (85 mm f/2) lens for Contax/Kiev mount. [data sheet]
Pictured: Jupiter-12 (35 mm f/2.8) lens for LTM mount. [data sheet]

Kaleinar (Калейнар) 

Family of short telephoto lenses manufactured by the Arsenal plant in Kiev. Origins of name seem to be linked to an (unrelated) lens design bought by the Soviet Union in the 1930s.

DesignationFocal lengthMax. ApertureNotesLinks
Kaleinar-3150 mm f/2.8Short telephoto lens for Kiev medium format SLR cameras. Pentacon Six and Kiev-88 mounts.[page]
Kaleinar-5100 mm f/2.8Bright Short telephoto lens (1981-92) for Kiev 17/19 cameras. Originally sold with M42 adapter.
Available for Nikon F mount.

Mir (Мир)

MIR is the family name for wide-angle lenses manufactured on the retrofocus principle, Many early designs are remakes of Carl Zeiss Jena’s Flektogons

DesignationFocal lengthMax. ApertureNotesLinks
MIR-137 mm f/2.8Introduced 1954, Based on original CZJ Flektogon.
Available for Z39, M42 and Kiev Automat mounts.
MIR-365 mm f/3.5Introduced 1957. Originally for Salyut MF camera, since 1971 also available for Kiev MF camera.
Available for Pentacon Six and Kiev-88 mounts
MIR-1028 mm f/3.5Introduced late 60s, Available for Z39 and M42 mounts.[page]
MIR-2020 mm f/3.5Introduced early 70s. Mulitcoated (MIR-20 MC) since mid 80s
Available for M42, Nikon F and Kiev Automat mounts.
MIR-2435 mmf/2Earlier (uncoated) M42 versions since late 60s, multicoated since late 70s
Available for M42 and Nikon F mounts.
MIR-2645 mm f/3.5Wide-angle for medium format. Introduced 1970.
Available for Kiev-88 (since 1970) and Pentacon Six mounts (since 1974).
MIR-3865 mm f/3.5Replacement for MIR-3. Introduced 1978.
Available for Pentacon Six and Kiev-88 mounts.
MIR-4720 mmf/2.5Only occasional production series. Introduced 1979, Available in M42 and Pentax K mounts.[page]
Mir-6735 mmf/2.8Shift-lens for Kiev 17/19 series. Nikon F mount.
Continued as PCS Arsat H 35 mm f/2.8
MIR-7320f/2.8Introduced as a Soviet design, but reached serial production (as the Arsat H 20/2.8) only in post-soviet era. Nikon F mount.
Pictured: MC MIR-24H (35 mm f/2) for Nikon F mount. [data sheet]
Pictured: MIR-26b (45 mm f/3.5) for Pentacon Six mount.
Pictured: MIR-38b (65 mm f/3.5) for Pentacon Six mount.


MTO is an abbreviation that can either mean “Maksutov tele lens (Объектив)” or “Meniskus tele lens” – a category of catadioptric (mirror) tele lenses with focal lengths in the range of 350 mm to 1000 mm, manufactured starting 1953.

DesignationFocal lengthMax. ApertureNotesLinks
MTO350 mm (35 cm)f/5.6Introduced 1953. M42 mount.[Page]
MTO-500500 mm (50 cm)f/8Introduced 1953. M42 mount.[Page]
MTO-500A550 mmf/8.5M42 mount.[Page]
MTO-10001000 mm f/10Introduced 1955. M42 mount.[Page]
MTO-1000A1100 mmf/10.5M42 mount.[Page]
MTO-111000 mm f/10Introduced 1982, M42 mount.
weight 2,3 kg
MTO-11SA1000 mmf/10Light-version of MTO-11, M42 mount.
weight 1,95 kg

Oberon (Оберон)

The Oberon name seems a one-of-a-kind. Maybe someone was planning on this lens to be the first of many oberon?

DesignationFocal lengthMax. ApertureNotesLinks
Oberon-11200 mm f/2.8Large-aperture long tele lens introduced 1990.
Available for Pentax K mount.

Orion (Орион)

The name Orion contains a reference to space. Fittingly most Soviet lenses manufactured to carry the Orion name were intended for astro and aerial photography.

DesignationFocal lengthMax. ApertureNotesLinks
Orion-1528 mm f/6Remake of Zeiss Topogon. Symmetrical wide-angle for rangefinders. Available in LTM and Contax/Kiev mount.[page]

Rubin (Рубин)

Rubin and Rubinar are names used by the Lytkarino plant (LZOS) for their lenses.

DesignationFocal lengthMax. ApertureNotesLinks
Rubin-137–80 mmf/2.8Soviet Union’s first Zoom.
Available in Soviet-DKL.
MC Rubinar-10001000 mmf/10Mirror lens. M42 mount.[page]
MC Rubinar-500500 mmf/8Mirror lens. M42 mount.[page]
MC Rubinar-500500 mmf/5.6Mirror lens. M42 mount.[page]
MC Rubinar-300300 mm f/4.5Mirror lens. M42 mount.[page]

Russar (Руссар)

The name is a complex combination of the name of a designer (M. Rusinov) an -ar ending typical for optics, with a double s thrown in for the sake of patriotism. Many Aerial photography lenses were named Russar, but there is a rather legendary photographic interchangeable lens by that name also.

DesignationFocal lengthMax. ApertureNotesLinks
Russar MR-220 mm f/5.6Legendary symmetrical wide-angle for rangefinder cameras.
Available in LTM mount.

Sputnik (Спутник)

Sputnik is the Russian word for satellite (derived from fellow traveller). As such the name fit Soviet naming practices well even without the famous first satellite of that name.

DesignationFocal lengthMax. ApertureNotesLinks
Sputnik-420 mmf/4.5Nearly symmetrical wide-angle, likely modelled on Bertele’s 1951 Zeiss Biogon (21/4.5). Available for LTM mount.

Tair (Таир)

A family of telephoto lenses. Exact etymology unclear, with potential links to the star (Al)tair and to Lake Tair (56.273554, 47-846542) – a natural monument near the town where the lens designer D.S. Volosov was located during the 1940s evacuation (and when the lenses were designed).

DesignationFocal lengthMax. ApertureNotesLinks
Tair-3300 mm (30 cm)f/4.5High-performance long Telephoto lens, produced for ≈50 years in several variants, including a version for use with the ‘Fotosnaiper’ apparatus. Available: Z39 and M42.[page]
Tair-11135 mmf/2.8Originally introduced 1947, this wide-aperture medium tele lens was in production for 40+ years and went through several design iterations. Available: Z39 and M42.[page]
Tair-33300 mmf/4.5Telephoto lens for medium format SLR. Mid 60s–mid 70s. Kiev-88 mount.
Tair-38135 mmf/4Medium telephoto lens for Zenit 4/5/6 leaf shutter cameras. Rare.
Available in Soviet-DKL.
Tair-56150 mm f/2.8Medium telephoto lens for SLR. Available in Z39 and M42[page]

Telear (Телеар)

‘tele’ with an ‘-ar’ ending.

DesignationFocal lengthMax. ApertureNotesLinks
Telear-N200 mmf/3.5Longer brother of the Kaleinar-5. Also equipped with Nikon F–>M42 adapter. Available in Nikon F mount. (1985–≈1994)[page]
Telear-5250 mmf/5.6Medium Telephoto lens for medium format. Pentacon Six and Kiev-88 mounts.[page]

Telemar (Телемар)

Telemar is a contraction of Telephoto Marinsky. Telemar lenses were more prevalent in military applications (e.g. Aerial photography), but some camera lenses were also produced under that name.

DesignationFocal lengthMax. ApertureNotesLinks
Telemar-22200 mmf/5.6Telefoto lens for SLR cameras, Early version for Z39 mount, later ’22A’ version for either Z39 or M42. [page]

Triplet (Триплет)

Triplet was a name used for (surprise!) triplet lenses. No production interchangeable lenses carried the name ‘triplet’, but ‘triplet’ lenses were common in compact cameras.

Vega (Вега)

Likely another astro/space reference…

DesignationFocal lengthMax. ApertureNotesMountsLinks
Vega-350 mmf/2.8Standard lens for Zenit 4, 5 and 6 cameras. Soviet-DKL[page]
Vega-1290 mmf/2.8Standard lens for Salyut-S and Kiev 88 cameras. Kiev 88 [page]
Vega-13100 mmf/2.8Short Telephoto lens (1971-84). M42[page]
Vega-28120 mm f/2.8Short tele for medium format Kiev SLRs. Pentacon Six

Volna (Волна)

A family of bright standard lenses.

DesignationFocal lengthMax. apertureNotesMountsLinks
Volna-150 mm f/1.8Standard lens for Almaz cameras.Pentax K [page]
MC Volna-380 mmf/2.8Standard lens for Kiev Medium format SLR cameras. Early samples without multicoating.4Pentacon Six
Volna-450 (53) mmf/1.4Experimental series for Almaz and Kiev17/19 cameras. In small series production 1978–1984.Pentax K
Nikon F
Volna-950 mm f/2.8Macro lens with MFD 0,24 m. Introduced 1984. M42[page]

Yantar (Уран)

No idea of what the name references.

DesignationFocal lengthMax. ApertureNotesLinks
Yantar-14N Macro28-82 mmf/2.8–4Standard Zoom for Kiev 17/19 series cameras. In production 1985-90. Rare. Nikon F mount.[page]

Yashma (Яшма)

See above.

DesignationFocal lengthMax. ApertureNotesLinks
Yashma-4300 mmf/2.8Large aperture Tele lens for Kiev 17/19 series of SLR. Rare.
Nikon F mount

Zenitar (Зенитар)

Zenitar and its derivatives (telezenitar, variozenitar) are names for lenses coming from the KMZ factory and were increasingly used starting in the 1970s. The Zenitar name appeared relatively late into the nomenclature of Soviet lenses and can be seen as part of a transition away from more traditional design-based naming to more organisation-based naming.

DesignationFocal lengthMax. ApertureNotesLinks
MC Zenitar 16/2.816 mmf/2.8Fisheye. Originally for Pentax K and M42, later M42, Canon EF and Nikon F mounts.[manufacturer]
MC Zenitar-M 1,7/5050 mmf/1.7Standard lens, produced late 70s–80s. M42[page]
MC Zenitar-ME1 1,7/5050 mmf/1.7Special version developed for Zenit-18 camera with electronic aperture communication. Square aperture. M42[video]
MC Zenitar 1,9/5050 mmf/1.9Standard lens for entry level SLRs. Production 1991-1994. M42, Pentax K[page]
MC Zenitar 2/5050 mmf/2Modest-aperture standard lens.
Nicknamed the ‘bullet’ due to its shape. M42, Pentax K
MC Zenitar-1K 1.4/8585 mmf/1.4Small Scale production 1991-92.
Not same as modern version by Zenit Foto. Pentax K
MC APO Telezenitar-M 2.8/135135 mmf/2.8Large-aperture medium telefoto. Introduced 1983, Small-batch production. M42[page]
MC Telezenitar 4.5/300300 mm f/4.5Long tele lens with several versions (Telezenitar=>Fotosnaiper; Telezenitar-M=>M42; Telezenitar-K=>Pentax K). 1975–1980[page]
MC APO Telezenitar 4.5/300300 mm f/4.5Updated version of above. Introduced 1988. M42, Pentax K[page]
MC Variozenitar 2.8-3.5/25-4525–45 mmf/2.8–3.5Wide-angle zoom, developed in mid 80s. M42


Abbreviation from Mirror-Meniscus.

DesignationFocal lengthMax. ApertureNotesMountsLinks
ZM-3600 mm f/8Mirror lens for medium format. Pentacon Six[page]
ZM-4A500 mm f/6.3Mirror lens. Introduced 1975.M42[page]
MC ZM-5A500 mmf/8Mirror lens 5A version introduced 1973;
5SA (weight-reduced) version introduced 1983.
(MC) ZM-6A500 mmf/6.3Mirror lens. Non-MC version introduced 1979; MC version introduced 1985.M42[page]
MC ZM-7300 mmf/5.6Mirror lens with semi-decent close-up capability.Pentax K[page]

Zodiac (Зодиак)

Another heavenly reference. Fisheye lenses.

DesignationFocal lengthMax. ApertureNotesMountsLinks
Zodiak-2M215 mm f/3.5Fisheye.M42[page]
Zodiak-830 mm f/3.5Fisheye for Medium Format. 5Pentacon Six

Honourable mentions:

In case you had not had enough yet, there are a number of lenses that – while never getting past the prototype stage – are sufficiently interesting to mention:
ERA-18 (50 mm f/1.2 lens for Kiev 10/15/17/19 SLRs)
MIR-46 (35 mm f/1.4 lens from early 80s)
• MIR-51 (15 mm f/3.5 rectilinear wide-angle)
Rekord-4 (52mm f/0.9 rangefinder lens)
• TOZ-500 (500 mm f/3.5 mirror lens from early 60s)
• Volna-8N (50 mm f/1.4 lens for Nikon F mount)

Epilogue: Post-Soviet lenses

The 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union fundamentally changed the landscape of lensmaking. Firstly a lot of the previous lensmaking just stopped. Secondly, there was no longer a Soviet optics industry. Instead there was a Russian optics industry, a Ukranian optics industry, a Byelorussian …

While it is safe to say that the combined optical industries of former Soviet member states is a shadow of what it used to be, there still is – for example – a Byelorussian optics industry, and lenses and cameras are still being made at KMZ (Zenit), Arsenal, LZOS and many other places.

As a result, some of the Soviet-era lens designs are still being manufactured today.

Other lenses:

  1. I am omitting specialist lenses for aerial and space photography, UV and X-ray photography as well as anything smaller than 35 mm and larger than medium format. Also, the list will exclude every lens made only for cinema, projectors, reproduction, copiers, etc. ↩︎
  2. The Start was an advanced 1958 SLR that used a proprietary bayonet and a trigger mechanism that is familiar to users of post-war Exakta cameras. ↩︎
  3. The Zenit-7 was a 1967–1971 SLR camera that used a proprietary bayonet mount. ↩︎
  4. Still being sold as ARSAT 2.8/80 ↩︎
  5. Still being sold as ARSAT (Zodiak-8) 30/3.5 ↩︎

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