This 70 year old projector lens creates “insane swirly bokeh” that rivals a $7K Leica
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.
It’s a cheap lens, but it’s very rare, and you have to be a boss at manual focusing. About the lens, Mathieu notes…
- It’s heavy as hell
- There is no aperture, so you shoot at f/1.9 all the time
- The focus helicoid is at the base of the lens, not the tip
- At f/1.8 it’s extremely hard to nail focus on video
Mathieu describes it as being very sharp in the centre which gets swirly as you head out toward the edges. But you need to be a master at manual focusing.
It’s a very cool look, although Mathieu says don’t ask him for an Amazon link to buy it. They’re not made any more and it’s rare.
So, if you want one, get hunting.
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.