Putting a night vision lens on your camera won’t help it see in the dark but it does look pretty cool

Jan 4, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Putting a night vision lens on your camera won’t help it see in the dark but it does look pretty cool

Jan 4, 2017

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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I’m a huge fan of old and weird lenses. They have unique qualities to them that can be difficult or impossible to achieve in post. So, when I see new a new video from Mathieu Stern, it always piques my interest. His latest video shows off a very strange lens. Designed for military and police night vision systems, this rare C Mount 75mm f/1.3 manual focus AstroScope lens produces some pretty wild results.

Lenses for night vision cameras aren’t exactly optimised for the visible colour spectrum, so they have some very crazy aberration and colour distortion. The sensors used in night vision cameras are also generally quite a bit smaller than those found in APS-C or full frame cameras. This means there’s also a fair bit of vignetting. But the results have a strange dreamlike quality to them that I think is very cool.

YouTube video

Mathieu says that this lens has no manufacturer’s brand on it, but that similar ones are available from Goldinar and Navistar. They might be a little tough to find, though.

Here a few of the examples Mathieu created with his 75mm f/1.3 lens on his Sony A7II.

I think this one’s probably my favourite as far as unusual lens effects go, though. I wouldn’t mind giving it a try myself for a couple of video projects.

Mathieu says he purchased this lens for €90 (around $95). So, it’s a little more expensive than most of the old and weird lenses he’s shown us. I’m sure if you’re patient, though, one will pop up on a great big auction site near you for less at some point.

Do you use C-Mount lenses? What’s your favourite? And what other weird or old lenses have you used? What lens would you like to see Mathieu try next? Let us know in the comments.

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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One response to “Putting a night vision lens on your camera won’t help it see in the dark but it does look pretty cool”

  1. moonphotokitteh Avatar
    moonphotokitteh

    Meopta Openar 40/1.8 small metallic wonder from Admira Movie Camera