It's difficult to talk about Stanley Kubrick without talking about his affinity for top-notch gear. Many admirers of the iconic director traveled to his LACMA exhibit to feast their eyes on the bountiful collection of lenses, cameras, and assorted gear, which he preferred to own than rather than rent. Now, uber-Kubrick fans, steady your hearts and ready your credit cards, because the super fast Zeiss f/0.7 lenses that Kubrick used in Barry Lyndon, capturing those famous scenes lit exclusively by candlelight, are now available to rent along with a modified digital camera fit to handle them . Click below to find out how to get your hands on them.
According to an article by Studio Daily, the lenses were originally developed for NASA's project aimed at taking still photographs of the dark side of the Moon. Zeiss only made 10 of these extremely fast and sensitive lenses, and 3 of them made their way into Kubrick's probably trembling fingertips.
Ed DiGiulio of Cinema Products Corp. took on the challenge of figuring out how to mount the lenses onto Kubrick's Mitchell BNC camera. He writes in an article for American Cinematographer:
At the very early stages of his preparation for "BARRY LYNDON", Kubrick scoured the world looking for exotic, ultra-fast lenses, because he knew he would be shooting extremely low light level scenes. It was his objective, incredible as it seemed at the time, to photograph candle-lit scenes in old English castles by only the light of the candles themselves!
This was the issue other filmmakers faced with these lenses: getting them onto their cameras. Now, P+S Technik, a manufacturer of professional-grade camera equipment out of Ottobrunn, Germany, has fitted their PS-Cam X35 HD camera with a BNC-R lens mount, and made the specially mounted camera and Kubrick's famous lenses available to rent.
They offer two packages: Kubrick Collection Camera Package and Kubrick Collection Lens Package, including a BNC-R PS-Cam as well as the two modified Zeiss lenses, at focal lengths of 35mm and 50mm, as well as 6 re-housed vintage Cooke Speed Panchro lenses. The prices for either of these packages are only available upon request, and my quote won't be available until later this month.
Though difficult to operate -- requiring a full 5 rotations to allow the camera to rack over from the viewing position to the filming position, the shallow depth of field they produce, as well as a soft bokeh, is worth the extra work. You can view a few video demos and photos of the lenses here at the Kubrick Collection sample gallery.
Today's faster film stocks and technological advances has taken the art of image capture to a new level. Though we don't necessarily need these highly specialized lenses for low-light situations, the depth of field and bokeh that Kubrick's lenses produce are -- I am so, so sorry for this -- out of this world.
What do you think of the f/0.7 lenses Kubrick used? Would you consider renting them for serious work, or is this more for die-hard fans? Let us know in the comments.