I always marveled at how Stanley Kubrick chose his lenses considering he created some of the most visually stunning images ever exposed to film. After visiting his exhibit at the LACMA, multiple times, I saw this very odd looking lens in the display case. The lens in question was the Kinoptik 9.8 F2.3.
Kubrick filmed much of A Clockwork Orange using this lens and the maze scene in The Shining. So after doing some research, I discovered that the Kinoptik 9.8 F2.3 had a Super 16mm little brother, the beautifully odd Kinoptik 5.7mm F1.8. I went on a hunt for one and found a stunning copy in almost mint shape. Now the fun can begin.
REAL WORLD EXAMPLES
You can some real-world examples of what this baby can do in the trailer for my new film “On the Corner of Ego and Desire.” I shot a ton of this feature film on the Kinoptek, in freezing cold temputures and it performed better than I ever dream. It was shot on the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera on a Micro 4/3 mount. Check it out.
The Kinoptik 5.7mm F1.8 is a crazy little lens. You would think a 5.7mm lens would fisheye but it doesn’t. The wide angle perspective it produces can’t be ignored. Getting that wide of an angle without a fisheye is just plain nuts. In a world where lens makers are looking for the perfect image, the Kinoptik 5.7mm is a breath of fresh air. It creates one of a kind, imperfect image bursting with character.
It’s perfect for the Digital Bolex or the Blackmagic Pocket Camera (my weapon of choice with this lens) as well as a number of digital Super 16mm cameras coming out. Let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of this baby.
Shooting the Kinoptik 5.7mm wide open is not advisable unless you want a really “Dreamy” look. My lens says F1.8 but it stops at F2 and doesn’t let me go any wider. Once I stopped down to f2.8-4 the image sharpens up nicely. If you are shooting outside in sunlight you’ll get a pin sharp image at F11-16. Excellent for capturing extreme sports and dreamlike surfing footage.
This lens has character dripping from the aperture ring. There’s no other lens around that can give you such a unique image. For the correct project, it’s remarkable. Editing the Kinoptik with other lenses could be a challenge but if you want to see how that’s done just watch Kubrick use the lens in The Shining and A Clockwork Orange.
The Kinoptik 5.7mm F1.8 originally came out in the C and Arri-S mounts but there are a few PL versions flying around. I purchased an Arri-S to Micro 4/3 mount adapter and it works great. The adapter was pricey ($80) but it’s well built and works great.
The lens doesn’t have a filter thread but some models come with a “filter tray” installed in the lens. It has a little trap door to pop it open and close. My advice, keep it closed at ALL times so no dust or other dirt gets into the lens. One big piece of advice when shooting with this lens, keep the lens clean! A little dirt or dust on the front element becomes a monster on your footage.
The lens doesn’t come with a focus ring. Depending on the combo of lens and camera, finding critical focus could be a challenge. In my case, I found I could focus about 3 inches from my subject. I’ve read others find critical focus at 5 feet. You should test the lens and adapter to see where your back focus is.
- By far the widest non-fisheye lens Super 16mm lens out there
- Oozing character
- Can make any shot stand out
- Cost effective for a Kinoptik Cinema Lens
- Can’t shoot it wide open
- No focus ring
- A challenge to cut together with other lenses
- No filter thread
I love this lens. It’s not perfect but I wasn’t looking for a perfect lens. I wanted character and definitely got it with this baby. It’s not for everyone or every project but if used correctly, like Master Kubrick did, it can make your project stand out from the crowd.
Friends of the show Matthew Duclos and Ryan Avery started an amazing new website called LensFinder. Lensfinder.com is an online marketplace for photographers and cinematographers to buy, sell and learn about used, vintage and boutique lenses. We want buying and selling quality glass to be easy and affordable. Great glass helps inspire great images and we look forward to serving this incredible community of creators by offering a place to get the tools for your next great project.
To find more vintage lenses go to Lensfinder.com