What is a Lomo?
To most people the word "Lomo" refers to the LOMO branded, and one-time hipster, consumer cameras. That camera by-the-way is credited by a lot of people for saving film photography or at least giving it a needed shot-in-the-arm. But most people don't know that the same people are also famous for making medical and military optics. This objective is also made in Russia, by LOMO (Ленинградское Oптико-Mеханическое Oбъединение), or Leningradskoye Optiko-Mekhanicheskoye Obyedinenie, which means the Leningrad Optical Mechanical Association, and is located in St. Petersburg, in the Russian Federation.
Most of the Lomo microscope products we see now for sale on the used market were made a long time ago, and are now sold from a supply of left-over Lomos gathering dust in parts of the former Soviet Union, search for Lomo Microscope on Ebay and you will see parts for sale from Ukraine, Belarus, and Georgia (the country).
The lens you see below might be plain looking, but the image quality, that is something out of the ordinary. The Lomo 3,7x image quality came out on top of my 4X objective test, to see more follow this link: https://www.closeuphotography.com/4x-lens-test/part-one-4x-for-less-than-100-dollars
Update December 2018
The Lomo 3,7 is already a great performer when setup normally on extension but I’ve discovered that it is possible to get even more performance out of the objective by using it with a tube lens. You can read more about the alternative setup here on Closeuphotography.com: https://www.closeuphotography.com/lomo-3-7x-and-sr120/
Lomo 3,7x Specs
Type: finite corrected objective (no tube lens needed)
Tube length: 160mm (155mm to the rear of the lens)
Focal length: 32.8mm
Cover glass thickness: 0.17
Mount: RMS. (20.32 mm x 0.706, or 0.8" x 36tpi)
Field number or image circle: 18mm officially but in reality it’s closer to 30mm
Coverage: APS-C sensor
Working distance: 27mm
Coating: Single coated or uncoated.
Typical Ebay price: $25-50 for new old stock in a plastic case with inspection report.
100% unsharpened crops below, click on a thumbnail to open in a new, larger window.
What you Need to Know
Lomo 3,7x Pros:
Simple installation. This Lomo uses a standard RMS mount, so low-cost adapters are easy to find online. This Lomo is finite corrected so no tube lens is needed to focus.
The strength of this lens is the clean, sharp image quality.
The performance vs cost ratio of this objective is better than just about any objective on the market.
The chromatic correction of this lens is better than most objectives labeled APO.
This lens outperforms its official field number of 18, covering at least an APS-C sensor.
Works very well stacked or coupled with a telephoto lens
Lomo 3,7x Cons:
The optical coating on this Lomo is very basic so the lens is prone to flare. I made a small tube out of flocking material and taped it to the nose of the objective to work as a hood, and it seemed to work, even working with dual flash.
There are a few different looking versions of 3,7x Lomos on Ebay, and I don't think anyone outside of Lomo knows if these are different designs or are just made in different factories. I can only recommend the unit that I have, see the bottom of this page for links to pick up a similar objective to the one I tested here.
This lens is not flat field, or plan corrected, so it you will need to stack if your subject is flat.
Lomo 3,7x vs Canon MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5x Macro Photo Lens Comparison
Resized to 1500 pixels there isn't much of a difference in image quality between the two. The MPE colors seem warmer compared to the cooler tone of the Lomo. All shooting and conversion settings are identical.
The Lomo image was stacked, the MP-E image is a single image file, shot at f/2.8.
Scroll down for side-by-side 100% crops to take a closer look.
Click on any of the thumbnails below to open a new window with a larger image.
At 100% view in Photoshop there is definitely a difference. The Canon MP-E is able to resolve very fine detail better than the Lomo, look at the upper left corner crop, but that comes a chromatic aberration penalty. In some areas the Lomo crop looks sharper and more contrasty since the MP-E CAs are obscuring some of the details.
It would be interesting to hear what lens people choose over the other. I prefer the image quality of the Lomo, others will choose the extra fine details of the MP-E, even with the CAs.
From a practical standpoint the MP-E is more flexible thanks to the large 1-5x range.
From a cost standpoint its easy, the Lomo wins by about $1000 USD. The Canon MP-E retails for $1049 USD at BH and local stores, the Lomo was $49 new on Ebay.
How to set up the Lomo 3,7x objective for macro photography
There are two ways to setup the Lomo 3,7x, as designed on extension or in a stacked lens setup.
Installation is really simple since this Lomo is finite corrected no tube lens is needed, just 160mm total extension and some adapters. Below you can see the set-up I used make the test images above at 3.7x.
Starting at the camera mount these are the parts I used:
-No-name E-mount to M39 adapter, made in China, new: $3.99, Ebay
-Canon M39 Extension tube 100mm length, new old stock: $15, Ebay
-M39 to RMS adapter, flat type, new: $6.99, Ebay
-Lomo 3,7X 0.11 microscope Objective, new: $49, Ebay
Grand total: $74.98. USD.
There is no reason to pay more for higher cost components than the ones you see here. These parts are high-quality and get the job done well, for example, the 100mm M39 Canon tube is flocked from the factory, and the Chinese adapters all work perfectly for this set-up without any signs of flare. But watch out for E-mount adapters with shiny silver rings or mounts, these can cause flare and will need to be flocked before you can use them or image contrast will suffer.
There are cone-type RMS adapters available that let you use a short extension tube, and have a smaller profile that can make lighting easier.
In this case paying $100 or $200 more for an E-mount adapter made in Switzerland with tighter tolerances, won't make the test images any sharper, or more contrasty. Sometimes low-cost parts are all you need.
Stacked or Coupled Lens Setup
Stacking lenses, also called coupling lenses, is a technique where you mount a lens on a second lens, usually a telephoto lens. Together the combination has the potential to resolve more than either of the lenses setup for close-focus with extension.
Front lens: Lomo 3,7 Objective
Rear lens: Schneider Kreuznach 120mm f/5.6 Makro-Symmar Line Scan Lens set to f.5.6 and normally mounted focused at infinity
The Lomo has RMS mounting threads and the Makro-Symmar uses 40.5mm filter threads so a 40.5mm to RMS step down adapter is all that is needed. This adapter is available on Ebay using the search terms 40.5mm to RMS step-down adapter.
Buying the Lomo 3,7x
If you are thinking about buying a Lomo 3,7x, there are lots of slightly different versions available on Ebay so to make sure you get the same exact lens as I did, these are links to the Ebay seller I used and the actual item I bought. My objective came from Ukraine, new, never used, with case and papers. I paid full price. Seller is recommended and communicates in English.
Lomo Ebay seller located in Ukraine:
This is the direct link to the item I purchased:
Note: The item was sent through the mail and took about 2.5 weeks to arrive from Ukraine to California.
When I purchased a Lomo 3,7 I paid more for a new-old-stock unit with the original paper work, Lomo calls it a passport. This certifies that the lens performs up to quality and performance standards with serial number and date.
The lens is model OM-12, was released for sale on October 8, 1987, and came with a 2-1/2 year warranty.
Links for more information on Lomo Optics
Online Article: Why are Russian optics so good? by Mahlon G. Kelly:
Lomo Russian homepage in Cyrillic:
Lomo America start page with page with current objectives :
Interesting info on Lomo microscopes and objectives: