Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1997/06/08

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Subject: Re: Russian 28mm Orion LTM- black or silver?
From: Marc James Small <>
Date: Sun, 08 Jun 1997 10:55:19 -0400

At 10:16 AM 6/8/97 +0300, Dinu Lazar wrote:
>Orion was a socialist copy of 6,3/28 Leica screw lens; is a very good
>one, like the Russar 20 mm (copy of Biogon for Contax).
>Orion was produced in Ukraine, at Kiev, between 1956 (aprox 10.000ex in
>total) - 1969; is a 4 lens symmetrical type, modest for today needs, but
>VERY good for snapshots; I use with III c and look well and I can make
>professional photos with a popular old like camera.
>Nobody can understand, when I tell a GOOD 8x10 made with Orion, how this
>is possible.

The 6/28 Orion-15 is a clone of the Carl Zeiss Jena 4/25 Topogon.  The
Topogon is a design allowing superb definition and edge flatness in a
wide-angle lens, but at the cost of great difficulty in manufacturing, some
fall-off in edge brightness, and a restricted speed.  The 5.6/20 Russar
MR-2 is also a Topogon clone.  Neither owes anything to the rather mediocre
6.3/28 Hektor, a modified five-element triplet.  

The 6/28 Orion-15 was manufactured from 1965 or so until 1974, when
production in both LTM and Contax RF BM seems to have ceased.  All but one
known lens are bright aluminium finish, and all come from the Russian
Zagorsk plant;  none are known to have been manufactured in the Ukraine.

The 5.6/20 Russar MR-2 has been manufacturered only at the KMZ plant
outside of Moscow.  It was made only in LTM.  A small run was made in the
early 1970's, then production was suspended until the later 1980's, when it
was resumed.  I do not know of any Russars in bright finish;  all seem to
have been made in black.  Of the first run, only one is known which has the
year of manufacture in the serial number;  the second batch all seem to
have this.

These lenses are highly recommended but with a caveat:  SPS production
quality varies a great deal in quality.  It is best to ensure that you have
a return privilege when buying these lenses.  If the one you buy doesn't
work well, buy another and return the first.  When they are well built,
these are magnificent lenses.


Marc James Small
Cha Robh Bas Fir, Gun Ghras Fir!
FAX:  +540/343-7315