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Andrew Reid

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Helios is a pretty sharp lens even wide open so I guess its not really a match for a Super Baltar then !

I guess it's all relative - I've never put a Helios on a RED, and I've never put an SB on an SLR, so I can't tell you how they compare on the same sensor. The set I generally rent is rehoused from BNCR mount.


However, compared to the Superspeeds, Ultra Primes and Cookes I usually shoot with, the SBs are definitely softer wide open, and as I say in some cases the edges can be a total blur. It all adds to the character though. I find the longer focal lengths (100mm, 75mm) tend to perform a lot better and more consistently than the shorter focal lengths. From memory, the 100mm is a pretty sharp lens.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hey all... I'm looking for a fantastic walkabout stills/video lens in the ~35mm FF equiv. length (so either a 16-18mm or, for speedbooster a 24mm), FAST (f/1.8 native or faster, mostly for DOF, so don't count the Speedbooster in that factor), with a great manual focus feel. I have a Nikon speedbooster but the Nikon 24mm f/2.0, besides focusing in the wrong direction, is frighteningly expensive.


I own the Sigma 18-35 f/1.8 but that lens is HUGE. The weight isn't so much the problem as the sheer size - it's not subtle and it's not exactly a great "walkabout" lens. I'll be keeping it for cinema and rig use, but it's not really working for me as a day-carry lens.


So, my current shortlist is:

Voigtlander 17,5mm f/0.95

SLR Magic 17mm T/1.6

Rokinon 24mm T/1.5


Right now, despite the cost, the Voigtlander would be my pick solely for the sharpness at f/1.4+ for still photos, but the SLR Magic is tempting for video due to the low cost - although I've heard rumours of build quality being iffy.  Owners of both lenses are invited to comment, please! 


The Rok/Samyang is interesting, but kind of large physically as well, and I'm not sure I'm sold on it's look for photos either. For cine use I have the Sigma anyway, so unless the $300 cost difference compared to the Voigt is really not worth it, I'd probably prefer the Voigt.


I'd consider another speedbooster version for a good vintage lens, if the combined cost of the speedbooster and the lens are under $1k and the combo meets these specs.


So, is there anything I'm missing out there in this length and speed that's a real gem of a lens, one that makes you want to go out and never take it off the camera?



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has anyone on EOSHD got any Bausch and Lomb Super Baltars or Baltars?? as I'm keen to see what these look like in a shootout with  a KMZ Helios 58mm


The Super Baltars where used by Gordon Willis to lens The Godfather , he shot 90% of it on a 40mm Super Baltar...

George Lucas and Gilbert Taylor also used them to Lens Star Wars .


I'm keen to see if a Helios has a similar look to a B+L Baltar........Rich at DogShidt can you give me your thoughts on this as you are into Helios' in such a big way.



I was the camera op on this short. All super Baltars, Epic, and some Lo Con filters here and there.



 I love the look, but they are a super pain in the ass to pull focus on because of low contrast and skinny focus draw. My AC was excellent but we did buzz more than a few moments. You look at Godfather, none of the staging is terribly complicated for a focus puller.


I believe our Baltars came from Duclos.

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Here is a neat little trick for using lenses that have rotating filter threads with height-adjustable matte boxes:



The inside of these lens hoods is ridged and matte black to absorb light, so it seems to work pretty well. I like this solution a lot more than attempting to use conventional "nuns knickers" because there is no friction, and it's better than sticking to round filters because any slight marking or dirt on the glass can become distracting when it is rotated.


Try this. 



If you use an MB off rods, this flexible donut is by far the best and useable out there. I've tried them all, from Zacuto to Neoprene donuts, all of which can be a POA. This Chrosziel unit while not cheap, pretty much covers all your DSLR lenses. But they do make a bigger one just in case.

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My two new favorite still lenses (they're actually old) are the Nikon AIS 135mm 2.0 and Nikon AIS 180mm 2.8. All metal, decently long focus draw (app 180 deg), perfect dampening, and built the way lenses should be built. I've had these two for some time. Bought them for my Red 1 back in the day. When I started doing bigger jobs with rental house glass, I sold most my Nikon AIS collection but I kept the 105 Macro AIS 2.8 Macro, 135 2.0 and just recently bought the 180.  I should've never sold the 85 1.4. Beautiful glass.


But IMO I prefer the 135 2.0 for portrait / interview work in full frame. Since buying the A7s, my longer vintage Nikons have found considerable use alongside my Rokinon Set (24,35,50 and 85). For interviews in full frame, the 135 and 180 are my go to glass. The downside is if I've been shooting with Rokinons then switch to Nikon, I have to reverse my focus pull. Takes some getting used to and a few buzzed shots.


What I love most about the Nikons are the bokeh and fall off. Not as clinical as Zeiss but optically every bit as good. You can score the 135 2.0 on Ebay for 400-600 while the 180 goes from 300-500. The 180 is small for such a long focal length. I often use it over my Canon 70-200 II because it's considerably more discrete. Usually when I pop on the 70-200, I have it on primarily for the end of the focal length, but it attracts attention. The 180 is pocket sized comparatively.


135mm 2.0 AIS


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Fork out the money and get a decent Heliopan or Tiffen IR Variable ND if it's for paying work. For regular ND's I recommend the Tiffen White Water IR ND set (3,6,9,12,15,18, 21). Colors are clean as a whistle. 


Hi Tim,

do you have a link to that Tiffen WW ND Set?

How does it compare to the Indie Plus Set? (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/764418-REG/Tiffen_W77INDNDPKT_77mm_Indie_Plus_HV.html)


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Hi Andy...firstly thanks much for your wealth of information on lenses and your willingness to endlessly share. I read on a sub-forum that you have a  Schneider /Century x0.7 wide adapter and a x.55, both with 77mm rear thread. Two questions (1)Where did you obtain them from and/ or can you possibly advise of a source for them (2)Is there a distortion level with these added optics , or are they acceptable relative to the image the 28-70 Nikon f2.8 produces without using the wide adapters. Thanks much as always, cheers, Fritz

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ebay is the best place for centrury wide adapters -

the  x0.7 is practically optically neutral - just makes it wider  and it is very useful - I added the 77mm ring on the back of it

as it comes with a sony bayonet fitting on the rear for a broadcast lens. just remove this


the x.55 need a diopter adding behind it to pull the focus in on it as it ment for use on a B4 back focus lens .

by adding the diopter it that makes it work.


there is edge distortion on this as x.55 is a massive jump!!


with a speedbooster as well it makes your 28-70mm a very useful lens set

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Hi Andy...thanks much for the info...I'm going to get both the 28-70 & 80-200 and I think ill look for the  Sony mount Scheidner Century .7x...between these and the metabones speed booster I will have a vari prime starting at 19.5mm on up to 200mm...I looked at some screen grabs with the larger zoom...absolutely stunning...Cheers.Fritz

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I like having both the Nikon and the Tokina even though they are the same focal lengths they both have very good looks that are uniquely different .

The Nikon I like to think has a look like an Arri Zeiss Master Prime - a very modern clean strong blacks v sharp wide open modern cinema glass look like Fincher uses

(they did use this lens on Bourne) 


where as the Tokina has a certain Mojo about it that is probabally more filmic than the Nikon , it just makes everything looks great!! - I always shoot both lenses at f2.8

inside , outside day or night!!    get the Tiffen NDs on it !!



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