I’m a big fan of cheap lenses. I don’t care even care if they mostly suck. Sometimes, a really cheap terrible lens can offer you exactly the look you’re going for – and it can get you there much more quickly than trying to degrade your image manually in post. But in this case…
Tommy, Stephen and Mitchell at TMS Productions decided to order some cheap filmmaking gear from Wish to see how well it actually worked. They got a cheap “4K” action camera and a 420-800mm f/8.3-16 telephoto zoom lens. So, why does the thumbnail say 3200mm? well, they bought a couple of cheap 2x teleconverters, too.
Ok, to clarify, they only bought a single 2x teleconverter, but somehow they received two (Wish – what can you do?). They also bought a small motorised dolly that didn’t actually show up.
The action camera is about what you’d expect from a $38 generic “4K” (which are usually upsampled 2.5K) action camera, but the lens… Well, it’s certainly not going to offer the kind of performance you’d get from lenses that require… a slightly higher budget, but it’s pretty impressive for what it costs. Be warned, though, you’ll need a lot of light to be able to use this thing like this.
At full extension, the lens is 800mm with an aperture of f/16. When you add a 2x teleconverter, you lose two stops of light. So, that first teleconverter takes you to 1600mm at f/32. When you add the second teleconverter, that brings your all the way to 3200mm with an effective aperture of f/64. At 1/50th of a second, the Sunny 16 Rule would suggest ISO 800 on a bright sunny day.
You can see how the resulting shots look for yourself in the video, although it’s certainly not sharp. That being said, the amount of detail they do manage to pick out given the distance they were at from the subject they were filming was pretty impressive – especially for such a cheap lens. I suspect they’d look even more impressive if they’d actually used the lens’s tripod collar to attach the camera to the tripod instead of mounting the camera directly, but still.
I can’t find a link to the actual lens purchased on Wish, but if you want to try one out for yourself, they’re sold on Amazon for $109 under the Opteka brand and come with the 2x teleconverter. If you want to stretch the budget a little more, Opteka also has a 650-1300mm lens for $199 which also comes with a 2x TC.