Anamorphic Day-to-Day

Anamorphic Chop Shop – Mir 1B Extreme Mod

December 25, 2016

This Christmas episode ties the loose ends of this year’s tutorials, going over the amber mod for the Mir 1B (37mm). This one was hard to film, as there are so many steps!


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Merry Christmas, everyone! I’m Tito Ferradans and today we’ll go over the last of the three Russian lens mods I promised way back then. It’s the Mir 1B’s turn. The Mir always goes along with the Helios 44-2 and Jupiter 9 as the wider-angle of the trio. It’s a 37mm f/2.8 lens based off on the Zeiss Flektogon 35mm design. It has fairly low distortion and great capacity for flaring (here that’s a good thing). In this mod we’ll be taking it apart, painting elements, adding an oval aperture disc and a streak flare filter inside the lens. Then we’ll add focus gears and a rotating adapter for easy alignment.

Shall we start? Here’s what you’re gonna need. If you did the previous mods, you should have it all already.

Again, there’s the optional step of polishing the glass, and for that you’ll need some cloth and metal polish (I tried Autosol and had good results).

First things first, to start modding, we need to break it in sections. The Mir is much more fidgety than the Helios or the Jupiter 9, so be patient in all steps. Things can go wrong. Hold the aperture and focus rings and get a firm grip of the front ring. Twist until it comes out. Now, using the lens wrench remove the id ring to take out the first glass element. Set that away for now.

On the inside of the Mir, reach and remove this small ring to unlock the two glass elements inside. These can be tricky to take out. Wearing gloves, gently (or not-so-gently) tap the lens on the palm of your hand and hope the two elements pop out. This will give you a clear view of the aperture blades. If they don’t come out, we’ll come back to that in a second.

Switch to the back of the lens and unscrew out the thin locking ring. While you’re at it, screw out the small glass element too. Now only one small piece of glass stand between you and the aperture. Repeat the process of tapping it on your hand and wish it comes off.

Here’s a trick: You need to take all these pieces out, but if one side is stuck, you can open the iris and push the glass out by sticking something through the blades. The only problem is you need to open at least ONE of the sides to do that. If you’re lucky, both sides will come out without getting stuck.

Since you’re already into taking it apart, we might as well use this moment to do the minimum focus tweak. This is a technique explained by Max Westendorp in this other video. On the back of the lens you have two tiny screws. Remove them, then unscrew the locking ring to release the mechanical block (focus helicoid) from the optical block. On the mechanical part, or the focus ring, you’ll see these two screws inside. One of them is for infinity focus – and you don’t wanna mess with that – and the other one is for minimum focus. It won’t hurt if you take this one out. Now your focus ring goes past the minimum 0.7m mark and you can focus a bit closer. Put it back together the same way you took it apart. Thanks, Max!

Back to our optics. If you want to polish the glass, now’s the perfect time to do it, since you have them all laid out in front of you. I’m gonna skip this step, but if you want more details, just repeat what I did for the Helios 44-2. What we’re gonna do here is add some acetone to the cotton pad and scrub out the black enamel on the front – big – element. Get it all out carefully and wear gloves for this, since acetone is mean to your skin.

Now with your orange – or whatever color – sharpie, paint the clean sides with many layers until color is strong and saturated. Let it dry.

With the sandpaper at hand, sand away the inside of the front ring. You might need pliers to reach the tight corners. For the next part, use tape to protect the aperture blades. Since I don’t want to take the Mir COMPLETELY apart, we’re gonna sand some of its insides and we don’t want dust collecting on the aperture. This works better if you do it upside down. Sand the space between the front ring and the second optic group.

Moving on with the sandpaper, thin the aperture disc (you can get your own cut using the PDF file, or buy some from me). Use your sharpie of choice for tinting the aperture. I’m going with orange. Add layers to both sides to ensure a good tone.

Get the fishing line and cut a small segment of it. With double-sided tape, stick it vertically across the oval. Paint it orange as well if you want tinted streak flares. If you want them to be the color of the light source, keep the string transparent. Cut the spare string at the edges and set the aperture aside as we still got some modding to do on the body.

Mask everything you don’t want painted in the front ring. The process is a bit trickier for the inside of the lens. I added several layers of tape everywhere and made some fillers with tape and cardboard to secure the area where the optics are sliding back in. Then I used more bits of tape to make sure no paint could drip in there. Take both parts outside and spray away. Let it dry, check if you have a good color. If not, spray some more.

Gather all parts together, it’s time to rebuild this thing. Starting with the front, put in both glass pieces and then the locking ring. You should now have a stretch of orange in there. Fit the front element to the painted front piece and lock it with the id ring. Screw them back to the body until it’s tight.

Get the aperture ring. Take out the non-sticky cover – I like to use tweezers for that – and put it against the aperture. We do it on the back because the front part rotates when you stop the lens down, and that would be annoying to deal with. With the aperture disc in place, fit back the optical elements and lock them with the small ring. Be careful during this step as it’s easy to skip the threads here.

We’re done with the insides, but there are still a couple of steps left. Grab your 3d-printed focus ring (download the STL file right here for printing), and add a layer of double sided tape inside. The Mir has a thin focus ring, so that makes it harder to work. The double sided tape is meant to strengthen the grip on it. If you want a more permanent solution, you can use super glue. I like the possibility of reversing all my mods if need be. Lock it in place.

Last step, add the rotating M42 to EF adapter so you can realign oval and flares quickly. Now, if you followed all the tutorials so far, you have your three-lens set ready to go! What I like about these ambers is that they make an endless golden hour, no matter the shooting conditions. Here’s some of what you can do:

After surviving this one you can almost get your Russian-Lens Hacking Diploma. If you’re still in need of more experience or test subjects, try out the Jupiter 9 and Helios 44-2 tutorials. Or even subvert the Pentacon 29mm with lots of sanding and painting! Anyway, I’m gonna take off to enjoy Christmas in the States and open some gifts I wrapped for myself. If you want to give me a present, just click the subscribe button and like this video! That’ll make my day. I’m Tito Ferradans, thank you for joining me this year and I’ll see you in 2017!

  • TFerradans. · Anamorphic Chop Shop – Kowa B&H Sharpness Tune Up December 26, 2016 at 4:35 am

    […] the schedule for December looks neat. We’re talking about tutorials for modding both the Mir 1B and the Jupiter 9 – plus more!. So hit that button and I’ll see you next week. […]