Lens Test: Sony 30mm f3.5 macro, Industar 28mm 2.8 MF Pancake, Samples and 100% Crops and an easy infinity focus fix for the Industar (video)

Lens Test: Sony 30mm f3.5 macro, Industar 28mm 2.8 MF Pancake, Samples and 100% Crops and an easy infinity focus fix for the Industar (video)

Just as I finished the modification on my Industar 28mm lens the doorbell rang and Fedex delivered the 30mm f3.5 macro! Great timing, grabbed my Nex 5n, both lenses, my bike and headed towards the east river. Just on time before the sun went down. I didn’t plan a comparison between the two lenses but since I removed the focus limiter in the Industar and both fall into the “normal field of view” category (the 28mm acts like a 42mm on ff, the 30mm like a 45mm on ff), why not?

Let’s start with the Industar 28mm 2.8:
You can find this lens on Ebay for about $40 and the M39 to Nex adapter for about $10. The copy I received is in pretty descent shape, I cannot detect any micro scratches on the front or rear element, the focusing ring has a well dampened feel (relatively speaking, don’t expect Carl Zeiss quality, we are talking a lens from 1969 here), and it would be very easy to re-grease (use synthetic lube) if necessary. Pretty sharp in the center wide open at 2.8, corners are blurry, vignetting is very noticeable and the contrast is low. Everything improves at f4 and this lens reaches its peak performance between f5.6 and f8, contrast and sharpness are vastly improved and vignetting not a problem any longer. Exhibits a strong “glow” wide open which never totally disappears and is very noticeable around white and very bright surfaces and strong light sources in the frame. I like the effect, especially in b/w, reminds me of characteristics found in some of Robert Frank’s street work. If you are looking for the perfect lens, this certainly isn’t it, but, it is tiny, only a few millimeters taller then the Panasonic 20mm 1.7, will only set you back $50 (incl adapter)
and the results will have a nice nostalgic feel to it!
Everything was shot raw, the files converted to .dng and processed at the default settings.

shot above:Industar 28mm @2.8

shot above:Industar 28mm @2.8

shot above:Industar 28mm @2.8 focus on fence, note the odd looking bokeh on the lights








If you are interested in this lens, check the video for how to fix the infinity focus problem:
You will also see the Alpha 50mm 1.4 using the LA EA1 Adapter (no af with this lens) on the 5n.

Now the Sony 30mm Macro f3.5 comes much closer to the perfect lens! I am very impressed, not only will I use it on the 5n and (Nex-7 eventually) it will find a permanent spot in my professional gear bag next to the FS100. Traditionally macro lenses are optimized for close up work, deliver excellent resolution already wide open, exhibit very little distortion and are expensive. The drawbacks, they don’t perform too well between 1 meter (3 feet) and infinity. Common complaints are: too much contrast for everyday scenes and the bokeh (out of focus areas) look harsh. (There are a few notable exceptions when it comes to modern macro lenses, the Zeiss 50mm for example). After looking at the images it appears this lens is as good as it gets, for close ups and for everyday shooting! I haven’t noticed anything that I couldn’t live with.
Super sharp wide open, very pleasing bokeh, vignetting is not an issue, still super sharp at f11, no bothersome distortions. In addition, af is fast and absolutely silent! A huge plus for video. All that for $249! The perfect all round lens. If you are a night shooter, look elsewhere, this is not the right tool for the job, but for everything else this lens performs way beyond its intended purpose. Leaps and bounds better then the Industar 28mm and it will put a few other, very expensive lenses to shame. Now if it would only come in BLACK!
Everything was shot raw, the files converted to .dng and processed at the default settings.

From left to right: Sony macro 30mm f3.5, Sony 16mm 2.8, Industar 28mm 2.8 (adapter attached), Panasonic 20mm 1.7.

shot above: Sony macro 30mm at f3.5

shot above: Sony macro 30mm at f3.5

shot above: Sony macro 30mm at f3.5








If you have this lens, or another exotic or unusual gem you are using on a nex camera, let me know, share your thoughts, leave a comment, ask a question.

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14 thoughts on “Lens Test: Sony 30mm f3.5 macro, Industar 28mm 2.8 MF Pancake, Samples and 100% Crops and an easy infinity focus fix for the Industar (video)

  1. Fred

    Great review o the 28mm lens. After reading it I just had to ordered one from eBay. I am not expecting much, but it was very cheap. I am hoping to have fun with the lens particularly using black and white

  2. mike.kobal Post author

    I am not familiar with the Jupiter 8, it looks like a higher quality lens, not sure how to fix it, might not be as easy as on the Industar. Wrong flange distance is usually the reason it doesn’t focus to infinity, try to get the lens a little closer to the sensor.

  3. Arthur

    The video is very interesting! I have a similar problem with a Jupiter-8 lens, it wont reach infinity. Is this a common problem with this sort of lens, or something to do with the adapter (mine looks identical to the one you are using!). Thanks for the help!

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  5. Michael Hintlian

    Agreed…the A77 looks amazing my needs don’t include a bigger camera – the NEX5n or GH2 are the max size-wise. Looking at the Gh2 files versus 5n its amazing how much sharper they are and how much better the black appear – 5n blacks look milky (which might be great for fashion, weddings, and anything served by that Fujifilm “portrait film look”). I keep coming back to the need for responsive AF running this decision.

    In any case, your help has been great…thanks Mike.

  6. mike.kobal Post author

    agree, the 5D2 isn’t meant for run&gun, the GH2 and 5N af very well and this is my experience so far: anything beauty/fashion/wedding related (soft skin look) I prefer the the files from the 5N, anything else, esp journalistic, documentary style work, the GH2. The GH2 produces sharper files right out of the camera but grading for a soft look (on GH2 files) can be a real challenge compared to the 5N. Here is the real tip, for serious run&gun, the A77 or A65 with the good kit lens, the af is noticeably better and very close to the FS100.

  7. Michael Hintlian

    Thanks Mike…I know its tough to answer…thats why I put the question to you (laughing here…I thought you know everything!!!) Seriously though, it appears both cameras will focus well while shooting video and that’s really the big thing…I got rid of my 5DMk2 after fighting with it for a year…great camera but rough to run and gun video.

    Do you find its easier to work with the 5n files over the GH2? I mean are they easier to grade, etc.?

    And thanks man!


  8. mike.kobal Post author

    hey Michael, that’s a tough one to answer, using the14-140mm on the GH2, you will def have the edge shooting well lit scenarios. Low light, and kit lenses just won’t cut it. get a high speed lens with f2 or 1.4. The 5N has the better low light sensor but overall, the GH2 is the better video camera.

  9. Michael Hintlian

    Thanks for all this work Mike, its great. The question I have for you concerns the use of the NEX-5n versus the GH2 for only video. I’m working on a project where I would be using the autofocus feature of one of these two cameras with their kit lenses (or other lenses that will allow AF). Which camera allows the best AF while shooting video…both in low light and adequate indoor light?

    Again, many thanks for this cool blog and all the work you’ve done!



  10. mike.kobal Post author

    David, I have to do a few more tests on that, the shots I have aren’t the best to judge CA and corners, you can check the few full size images I have on flickr for now, will update in a week re extreme corners and CA

  11. david stock

    Thanks for publishing these tests. I have ordered an NEX-7 and have wondered if the 30mm macro could work as a general purpose lens. Your results are encouraging. How is the lens in the extreme corners? Does it start to smear fine detail? Is there much CA? Your thoughts would be appreciated.

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