BelOMO / KП Projector Lenses

From the late-1970s and until well into the 1990’s the BelOMO optical works of Belarus (known before 1971 as MMZ) churned out many substantial projector lenses of variable design and quality, now cheaply available on the used market – sometimes referred to as ‘those Russian KP’ lenses.

Mindful of Belarus’ technical independence from the former Soviet Union (declared in 1991), and the actual designation being ’35KП‘ (confused by P being the Cyrillic equivalent of R), and the fact that similar lenses were produced by the actually Russian LMZ and Lomo factories in Moscow and St. Petersburg-nee-Leningrad-nee St. Petersburg respectively, you can see why titling this article was tricky – before getting into disambiguation of the lenses themselves.

However, most of those coming to the wider market from Russia and Ukraine were made by BelOMO (often abbreviated to, and marked on lenses as, Lomo), distinguished by the maker’s mark, so we’re using BelOMO 35KП (35KP) as a moniker for this family of lenses. However, please note that 35KП lenses were made in at least three other Russian, or Russian-controlled plants, as indicated by makers’ marks. For clarity, we will cover these lenses in a separate article.

All share the good and bad traits of Russian lenses of this period: massively heavyweight (yet flakey and inconsistent) build, ambitious specifications and exotically colourful coatings. Samples certainly vary. Nonetheless, they represent by far the cheapest way to achieve ultra-shallow DoF effects on full-frame and larger sensors – with most covering Fujifilm GFX.

Serial Numbers

The BelOMO factory generally deployed the simplest and most transparent serial system: the first two digits identify the year of manufacture, followed by a chronological four-digit code. Some lenses are found outside this sequence with five digit serials (usually beginning 3xxxx). It has not been possible to date these from serial numbers alone, but they have been noted on lenses in production during the late 1970s and early 1980s. It has been suggested that these were made in the first year of a decade. However, samples have been sighted with 80xxxx serials (made in 1980).

16mm Projection Lenses


35mm Projection Lenses

The ‘KO’ designation always denotes a four element Aplanat design (similar to Petzval, but with a cemented rear doublet). Between 1977 and 1988, BelOMO’s projector lens range seems to have consisted exclusively of Aplanats. Presumably depending on the target projector, these were interchangeably labeled KO and KП (KP). There is no meaningful difference between, for instance, the KO-140M and 35KП 140/1.8 of this period.

As mentioned above, 35KП was used as a designation for many different projector lenses of different optical schemes at different, independently-operated manufacturing plants. At BelOMO, in the latter half of 1988, the Aplanat design was phased out in favour of a much-improved, Planar (double-Gauss 6/4). The name remained unchanged, but the barrel is conspicuously different, and lenses almost doubled in weight. They can also be identified by their larger front element (84mm v 78mm). The later lenses are technically superior in every way: with less field curvature, more resolution, better coatings and smoother bokeh. For a deeper look at these differences, please see this review >.

In 2022, despite usually being in better condition (and significantly more desirable) the younger, more complex Planar 35KPs are priced identically to the cheaper, simpler, inferior older models – likely a result of confusion over differences between similar-seeming models – which in this case is significant.

KO Series (c.1977 to c.1988)

Model DesignationElements
KO-140M (f1.8)4 / 2

KP Series Aplanat (c.1982-1988)

Model DesignationElements
35KП 140/1.84 / 2

KP Series Planar (c.1988-1995)

Model DesignationElements
35KП 65/1.8 (made by IPZ, Ukraine)6 / 4
35KП 70/1.86 / 4
35KП 75/1.86 / 4
35KП 85/1.86 / 4
35KП 100/1.86 / 4
35KП 120/1.86 / 4
35KП 140/1.86 / 4

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