Non-photographic lenses such as projector or spy lenses can be used for taking some stunning photos. But have you considered using a medical lens? Mathieu Stern got to test an Elicar 90mm f2.5 Macro Medical V-HQ, a relatively rare lens that was used by medical professionals in the ‘80s. And it turns out that it’s super sharp and great for close-up shots.
It’s not much of a secret that I’m a big fan of M42 lenses, especially for things like video or timelapse. I’ve got a few dozen of them that I use when I’m after a particular look and feel that would take a lot of work to achieve with more modern glass.
But occasionally I see a video or photos using an M42 lens that I haven’t come across before. In this case, it’s a Soligor 400mm f/6.3 lens. A lens that filmmaker Victor Bart managed to pick up for the princely sum of €2. In this video, he shows it off on the 2x crop Panasonic GH5, for an equivalent field of view to full frame 800mm.
Photographer and filmmaker Mathieu Stern enjoys buying, modifying and even making his own weird lenses. He dreamt of his latest project for two years and now he’s finally made it – a lens made of ice. He traveled all the way to Iceland to be able to turn his idea into reality.
Making the ice lens came with a lot of challenges, but Mathieu managed to overcome them. He kindly shares with DIYP some photos and videos he took with this ice lens, as well as the story of how he made it. And it’s all really cool (no pun intended)!
I’ve been mounting “non-standard” lenses on my cameras for years. Ever since I discovered that I could put M42 lenses on Nikon and Canon bodies I was hooked. Many older lenses offer a look and feeling that you simply can’t get with more modern “perfect” glass.
But deciphering photographs on the computer by searching through EXIF isn’t easy, because such lenses don’t communicate with the camera, so don’t store that lens information. This new cross-platform app, NameThatLens by Georg Fiedler wants to help solve that problem by allowing you to inject custom lens metadata into your images through a nice cross-platform graphical interface.
Weird and crazy lenses is what Mathieu Stern has become known for. He seems to find some of the most unusual lenses that ever existed, and then makes them fit onto his Sony mirrorless camera. Fortunately for us, he posts images and video captured by those lenses he finds to YouTube.
And this particular lens is a beauty. A Carl Zeiss Kipronar 120mm f/1.9 projector lens which cost him only $70. It’s fixed wide open at f/1.9 and was never meant to be used for shooting photos. But Mathieu was able to adapt it. He says the closest he could find to a modern equivalent of this lens is the $7,000 Leica APO-Macro_Summarit-S F2.5/120mm.
Back in June, I was given the opportunity to test the new crazy lens by Laowa – the Laowa 24mm f/14 2:1 Relay Lens. It measures about 40cm in length and looks more like an endoscope rather than a traditional lens. While such relay lens designs are not entirely new with a few other examples in underwater macro photography, there are rarely any readily available options for terrestrial macro photography.
I only managed to spend a few hours with it during an inter-tidal shoot, and compiled some clips in the intro video here:
We’ve shown a few DIY lenses in the past, including a 3D printed lens. This one, though, really takes it to the extreme. Based on a Petzval design, Swedish camera maker Mats Wernersson built the lens completely from scratch. But looking at the final product, you’d never know it. It looks like it came straight from a factory production line.
No stranger to building cameras of all types and sizes, even digital, a lens appears to be a new first for Mats. The amount of work and attention to detail that’s gone into its construction shows a level of patience I definitely don’t possess.
One of the shortcomings of smaller image sensors is obtaining adequate exposure in dim lighting situations. Anyone used to sub full-frame cameras or just dull kit lenses has felt this pain. To gain appropriate exposure you’ll either have to bump up the ISO, shoot with the lens wide open, add physical light sources to the scene, or just get use a camera with a bigger sensor/better ISO performance.
I decided to just find a brighter lens. Traditionally, bright lenses (f1.4 or less) have a commanding price structure, and fall out of reach of a good portion of the entry level camera audience. A good qualify manual-only f1.4 lens can cost around $120, and for autofocus, north of $400 USD. If you want to dig a bit further and go into the sub f1.2 territory, prices can pick up quickly and approach $600-1000. However, there exists a small subset of lenses that are ~f1.0 or less that are semi affordable.
They say that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and that’s certainly true for weird lens addict, Mathieu Stern. He regularly finds treasure that others only see as garbage. This time, though, he’s taking things literally, building the Crapinon 135mm DIY lens.
Mathieu often trawls the local flea markets looking for bargains, oddities and rare lenses. On this particular trip, he discovered a box of rubbish, discarded after the market had shut down. Inside it, was an old unidentified lens. He decided to take it home, and see if he could get an image out of it.