Monday, 25 March 2013

Retro lenses - part 2

This close up was taken with the latest addition to our retro lens collection – the Helios 44m 58mm.

As you may know, we’re big fans of using old prime lenses on our DSLR’s. Anyone who is interested in using older lenses will no doubt come across the Russian built Helios 44m 58mm. Well we certainly had heard a lot about the Helios when we started to research the use of old lenses, indeed, it seems to have garnered a legendary status amongst fellow enthusiasts and aficionados of retro lenses.

We’d been meaning to get one for a while and after a recent chat with a colleague and friend about the use of older lenses, we were reminded about this Russian beauty which dates back to the late 1960's, although most that are available seem to be from the 1980's. 

After a trawl through Ebay we found one (probably dating from the late 70's or early 80's) for about £22 and an adapter for £8.

Below is a short video showing test footage we took with the Helios while on a shoot. As we film with a very flat and de-saturated picture style (for optimum grading possibilities in post), the footage has been lightly graded, but only enough to reveal the true richness of the image.

On seeing the images taken with this lens it's now our favorite lenses for close ups. We were really taken aback with the sharpness of the lens, but also the "old school" filmic look it produces, the beautiful "bokeh" (the aesthetic quality of the out of focus areas of an image) and the way it catches lens flare.

Along with the Helios 44m we also purchased a Takumar 135mm – again based on the fact that this lens gets a lot of attention from other users of old lenses. We’ve not had much chance to experiment with this one, but we have used it a couple times on set and the quality has certainly lived up to the expectations we had.

This still, taken from our feature project "All That Remains", was shot using the Takumar 135mm.

Takumar 135mm attached to our Canon 550D via an M42 adapter

Talking of old lenses on DSLR camera bodies, "Experimentalist" Jason Bognacki managed to attach a Piccolette Contessa-Nettel folding camera from1919 to his Canon 5D Mark II!

We often wondered if it was possible to attach really old lenses to a DSLR. Apparently he's not the only one who's attached such a lens to his DSLR....  check out this video shot with a lens from 1908!