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Helios lens

What does Grand Prix Brussels 1958 (GPB) mean on a lens?

On some Soviet lenses, you can often see the inscription "Grand Prix Brussels 1958". These words are found especially regularly on Mir-1 2.8 / 37.

The use of Soviet optics on digital cameras is a fairly popular phenomenon among enthusiasts, and perhaps one of my readers wondered what this inscription means. Does the lens with the inscription have any additional useful properties. And simply, what does Brussels and 1958 have to do with it?

This article is devoted to the answers to these questions, as well as a small historical background. Information on the topic is not rare, but, as always, I will try to highlight the most important ones from the photographic and collector's points of view. moments.


World Expo 58
In 1958, the World Expo 58 took place in Brussels, the capital of Belgium. This event was the first major world exhibition after the Second World War.

Prior to WW2, such exhibitions were not uncommon. Expo 58 was the eleventh only Belgian World Expo. Similar exhibitions were hosted by other powers. However, the first post-war exhibition is, of course, an extraordinary event.

The USSR participated in international exhibitions before, the pavilion at the Expo has always been considered a brand of the country, and its design is a matter of national importance. But, I repeat, it was especially important to show the successes of the Soviet Union at the first post-war exhibition.

The Soviet exposition was a huge success.

The number of visitors exceeded 30 million people. The Belgian press called our pavilion "Pavilion No. 1". The pavilion itself glittered with glass walls and looked impressive. There was an innovation in the design, hidden to the general public, but obvious to architects and builders. Its essence was that "the building had no foundation and literally hung on 16 masts-supports."

The pavilion was simply filled to the brim with the achievements of the USSR in science and technology. Spacecraft, airplanes, automobiles, devices, machine tools were exhibited in originals and mock-ups. The exposition was very wide, varied and effective.

It must be understood that the USSR was not a particularly open power. What happened in our country was simply unknown to most foreigners.

But the fact that the Soviet state suffered greatly during the Second World War was obvious to everyone. Therefore, the scientific and technical potential demonstrated at Expo 58 came as a surprise to many and absolutely deservedly aroused the admiration of visitors.

I will not dwell on the entire exposition in detail, because this is out of the scope of this article. The information is available, it's easy to google if you're interested.

The Soviet photo industry was also presented at Expo 58. It fell to the Krasnogorsk Mechanical Plant (KMZ) to defend the honor of the country in this industry.

Krasnogorsk brought to the exhibition both special equipment and many civilian novelties. Not only Mir-1 :o)

Firstly, cameras were demonstrated at Expo 58.

Serial already at that time - Start, panoramic FT-2, Moscow-5. And promising ones are the Comet rangefinder camera with a set of lenses, the Astra stereo camera, the Iskra medium format camera, and as a project, the Kadr rangefinder camera.

Photos of promising devices shown at Expo 58 from




All three devices listed above did not go into the series. Of the promising cameras, only Iskra had a mass production. I have a review of the Iskra-2 model. An interesting camera, I recommend asking.

Secondly, there were a LOT of Krasnogorsk optics at the exhibition in Brussels.

Here is a list from Helios-40, Helios-44, Industar-26, Industar-37 4.5/300 (frame size: 180×240 mm), Industar-50, Industar-51 4.5/210 (frame size: 130×180 mm), Mercury-1 2/50 (standard for the Comet camera), Orion-15, TK-115 (Telemar) 5.6/115, Jupiter-3, Jupiter-6, Jupiter-8 , Jupiter-9, Jupiter-11, Jupiter-12, YuK-80 (Jupiter) 2.5 / 80.

The optics listed above, apparently, did not receive awards (like cameras, I did not find such information), but the following 6 lens models were awarded the highest Grand Prix award (Grand Prix):

MR-2 Russar;
and, finally, Mir-1.
In general, Mir-1 is not the only winner of the Expo 58 Grand Prix.

And among other branches of the Soviet industry - there were also MANY different awards - Grand Prix, gold and silver medals, diplomas, certificates.

Everything about the exhibition.

In memory of the event, the lenses of the five distinguished ones began to put the inscription "Awarded the highest award Grand Prix Brussels 1958" or in short "Grand Prix Brussels 1958", "Grand Prix Brussels 1958" ..

Such inscriptions were not applied only to the MP-2 Russar. I have never seen examples and this is directly stated on the historical site of KMZ.

I think it's just because the lens is very small. Perhaps the award was mentioned in the lens passport. Alas, now the documents for the MP-2 Russar are even rarer than he himself.

It is important to know that lenses produced by KMZ participated in the exhibition, but subsequently many models were transferred to other enterprises. At the same time, commemorative inscriptions continued to be applied. And quite a long time after the exhibition.

You also need to understand that, most likely, some piece special copies were being prepared for the exhibition.

As a result, the optics that can be found now and the one that won the Grand Prix are still slightly different things.

By the way, I could not find pictures of either the photographic part of the Soviet exposition, or specifically the lenses - exactly those that were awarded the Grand Prix. In this photo, although the types of lenses from the exhibition are listed, but with t.z. lineup there are, of course, large historical inaccuracies.

Let's go through them briefly.

Tair-11 2.8/133

This lens was produced only at KMZ. On my copy with the number 028046 (I don’t know the year of issue, to be honest) there is no commemorative inscription. But it is easy to find photos of specimens with a similar design and with an inscription. For example. Photo from the web.

This body is late. Before him, there were earlier versions.

In 1958, Tair-11 was still produced as an experimental one, and a lens in a different case went to the exhibition, of course. On the site there is a photo of such an option. Perhaps at Expo 58 it was just like that.

Tair-3 4.5/300

I have a copy with an inscription, but it is a model of the Zagorsk Optical and Mechanical Plant (ZOMZ) of 1966 with the number 661351.

Tair-3, as often happened, was produced at several enterprises.

The site has a photo of a prototype Tair-3. As far as the image quality allows, I did not find any differences in the shape of the case. Therefore, with a high probability it can be assumed that a lens in the same body went to Expo 58, but manufactured by KMZ, of course.

Visually, at least, everything should look similar.

By the way, here's what's interesting. Most of the lenses for the M39 thread were, after all, in white aluminum cases.

The lens bodies became black later. There is an opinion that they began to cover the lenses with black paint so that the reflected light of the sky does not blind the built-in selenium exposure meter. But such a light meter appeared for the first time at Zenit-E in 1965.

At the time of Expo 58, the built-in light meter was on the Comet, but I don't think that this can be taken into account. With the M39 thread, the lenses had nothing to blind. But Tair-3 (and the MTO series) - large lenses - apparently, they were immediately black. I made some inquiries - none of the respondents had ever heard of the white Tair-3 and MTO.

I wonder why there was such a color scheme? The lenses are large, perhaps this is the reason. But Jupiter-6 2,8 / 180 is also a very large lens, and it was white with an M39 thread. It's not clear, in general.

Russar MR-2 5.6/20
The lens has been produced exactly since 1958. Produced only at KMZ. The lens is rare and there is little information about it. My copy has the number 02159. I do not know the year of release. The body of my version expands towards the front. The same body shape in all the photos that I saw on the web.

But still on the same there is an image of a lens in a different body with a very small number and its body narrows towards the front.

Perhaps it was in this version that the lens was in Brussels.

MTO-500 and MTO-1000
My MTO-1000 is in the photo in a completely wrong late case. Everything is clear here.

I have an MTO-500 without an inscription of 1969, produced by the Lytkarinsky Optical Glass Plant (LZOS).

As far as I can tell, MTO-500 with inscriptions and manufactured by KMZ are now found. They are generally similar, but have a different shape of the focus ring.

But the KMZ historical website has an image of a lens from a 1962 catalog. Perhaps the lens body in the photo is similar to the one that went to the exhibition and is similar to those that are now on sale.

Mir-1 2.8/37
At Mir-1, the Brussels theme was operated, perhaps, more than other lenses.

I have two Worlds with inscriptions.

In this photo from the Mir-1 Network, ZOMZ 1972 is also with an inscription. Firstly, in 1972, to continue to exploit the award of 1958 is already strange. So 14 years have passed, and progress does not stand still. Secondly, in 1972 the lens already has an M42 thread, which means that it not only changed the factory, but was also recalculated for a different working length. Strictly speaking, this is a different lens then.

It's time to start advertising in Zen
At the Vologda Mir-1, I didn’t seem to see any inscriptions about Expo 58.

My second Mir-1 is just made by KMZ and has an inscription of a different style. I don't know the release year. On the Web, I saw a Mir-1 KMZ passport of 1960 with a significantly lower number. I believe my copy of 1962-63, perhaps from batches close to the last ones at KMZ.

I will assume, nevertheless, that this instance of Mir-1 is like the version that went to the exhibition. The handicap of the body of this lens did not seem to change, the manufacturer is KMZ, there is a run-up over the years, but moderate.

Here is a curious fact: Mir-1 was produced at KMZ, if I am not mistaken, since 1956. Now you can find copies released before the exhibition! Naturally, there is no inscription on them, but, most likely, they are authentic to the exhibition ones.

So we finished the analysis of the photo of my bunch of lenses. Let's move on to the main topic of the article - is it worth it to look for and buy lenses with a commemorative inscription?

Let's consider the issue from two sides.

Side one. You are a collector.

In this case, the idea of ​​collecting a line of all lens models with inscriptions about Expo 58 is a simple and not very expensive, quite feasible and logically complete option.

There are two ways. The way is simpler - just assemble lenses with inscriptions, more difficult - lenses must be from KMZ and years closer to 1958.

If you like the idea - full speed ahead. Does not cling - and do not worry. For example, I am indifferent to the inscriptions. All the inscriptions on my lenses are random coincidences.

Side two. You are an enthusiast of using old optics.

In this case, I do not advise you to waste your energy looking for lenses with inscriptions. "Grand Prix Brussels 1958" is Soviet marketing and nothing more.

Firstly, lenses were marked in this way much later than the exhibition and other enterprises. Even if KMZ achieved some particularly strict quality for the exhibition batch, this does not apply to samples created years later at other plants.

Secondly, all Grand Prix SLR lenses are M39 threaded. This means that they have a non-standard working length of 45.2 mm. And this means that you will not get infinity by regular means. When using various kinds of alterations, are you sure that the hypothetical super-quality of alignment will still be preserved?

Thirdly, it’s funny, but in 1959 these same lenses (I won’t say for sure about Russar - I didn’t find a mention of him) were awarded the USSR VDNKh Diploma, but only of the II degree. Not a Grand Prix...

By the way, what exactly allowed the lenses to get the Grand Prix at Expo 58 is also unknown. For some reason, I doubt that optics were distributed without testing to independent experts. Rather, there is still a solid share of subjectivity, politics and marketing, which have nothing to do with the real performance characteristics of lenses. Those. and the exhibition winners did not have any magical properties.

In general, I don’t think that it will be possible to see any difference in image quality between even the same exhibition lens and its quite affordable descendant of the mid-late 60s.

Something like that. If you have an opinion or additional information, please share.

Don't worry and good luck!

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