Old Fast Glass talks about finding inspiration from vintage glass, how to identify a good quality lens and most importantly look after it.
Old Fast Glass is dedicated to sourcing vintage and rare lenses and making them usable for cinematographers that are after a specific look and feel to the images. The popularity of using vintage lenses continues to grow, with so many different brands, models and looks being sought after. This is definitely thanks to manual 35mm stills lenses that cover the full frame image circle, and widely available mount adapters.
Buying A Vintage Lens? What To Look For
Focus Shift – as you turn from minimum focus to infinity, you shouldn’t see the whole image shift or move
Haze or Fog – shine a torch or flash light through the lens and look out for a hazy sheen or fungus over the elements. This will result in a very low contrast image, but this might be what you’re after.
Lens coatings and scratches are easy to look out for, in which you should probably look for an alternative copy of that lens.
If you are looking to build a set of lenses, checking these features or characteristics is important for keeping the image consistent between lenses.
What About Maintaining Your Vintage Glass?
Servicing vintage lenses is a key factor to ensuring they are performing to the best optical quality. There are plenty of dedicated lens servicing companies out there that can do this (maybe don’t try taking your favourite lens apart at home). They can ensure that there is enough grease on the focus mechanisms to checking element alignment. Key aspects of lens maintenance so they perform to their best.
Thinking of Cine-Modding?
Once you have your favourite vintage lens or lenses, cine-modding lenses is the next step to bring a stills lens into the cinema world. Companies like Duclos Lenses and TLS (UK) can rehouse that glass into a cine lens body; with a longer, marked focus throw with gears, alternate mounts such as PL, and a de-clicked aperture.
“Capturing A Romanticied Version of the World”
Mark from Old Fast Glass summed using old lenses for cinematography up perfectly with that statement. The unique aspects of each vintage lens changes the perspective of what is captured, from contrast to sharpness, some would say the ‘filmic look’. Vintage lens users know the images captured won’t be perfect, as it’s the age, defects and uniqueness that result in the image character.
For beginners, using old ‘vintage’ glass is an accessible and cheap way of building up a collection of lenses. For creatives and cinematographers, the unique character and feel of the lens makes all the difference; look at the popularity of the Helios 44-2 with it’s swirly bokeh for example. What is wonderful, is that as long as the glass is looked after and in some case cine-modded, they will be around forever.
Do you shoot with vintage lenses? What is your favourite old lens or lenses to use and why? Let us know in the comments?