Mikhail Mikhailovich Rusinov
To understand the development of the New Russar+, we first need to take a look at the mastermind behind the Russar’s groundbreaking optical scheme, Mikhail Mikhailovich Rusinov (also sometimes spelt Roosinov or in Russian Русинов). Rusinov was a greatly talented optical technician and developed a brand new optical scheme for super-wide-angle lenses way back in 1935 (1).
As a composer and keen piano player, Rusinov compared musical composition with the fabrication of optical systems - stating that optical systems are created from elements in the same way as musical compositions are created from notes. And he certainly struck a chord when designing the Russar! Rusinov’s scheme was a truly revolutionary new design and one which would change the face of wide-angle photography forever.
Portrait of M. M Rusinov
Photo: Wide angle orthoscopic anastigmatic photographic objective. Source
The problem with previous wide angle lenses had been that the illumination on the edges of photos had been very poor; Rusinov’s new optical scheme allowed for double the illumination of previous wide-angle lenses. Most likely due to World War II, Rusinov was unfortunately unable to patent his fantastic new optical design until 1946.
With the launch of the Zenit Russar MR-2, the Rusinov optical scheme was utilized in its full glory. Rusinov had worked at Zenit as Deputy Chief Engineer of the Zenit Plant and made a great impact on the company in a short time. Launched in 1958 (though a prototype was prepared earlier in 1956), (2) the Russar MR-2 perfectly followed Rusinov’s optical scheme and was a loving ode to the skilled optical technician; it is often claimed that the ‘MR’ in the Russar’s name stands for Mikhail Rusinov.
The original Russar lens was showcased as part of a collection of Zenit lenses at the Brussels World Expo in 1958 and won the Grand Prix, the highest prize amongst all the competitors. For many years, the Russar MR-2 remained the only 20mm lens in screw mount to be produced.
Rusinov’s optical scheme was a huge breakthrough in the development of wide-angle optics and the vast majority of modern super-wide angle lenses since followed his pioneering design. Just a few examples are the Zeiss Biogon-2, Schneider Super Angulon and Rodenstock Grandagon. (3)
Photo: The optical scheme of the original Russar Lens
It’s our pleasure that the beautiful optics of the Russar MR-2 are now available for a whole new generation of photographers with the New Lomography Russar+ Art Lens.
Photo: Brussels World Expo 1958. Source