November 30, 2015

Shooting Cinematic Video with a 65 Year Old Plastic Lens that Costs 50 Cents

Weird Lens Challenge Plastic Lens
The Weird Lens Challenge just keeps on getting weirder.

In case you've missed the first two episodes of the series, which is the brainchild of Paris-based photographer Mathieu Stern, you can go back and watch as Stern captures cinematic video with a 105-year-old lens and conjures breathtaking bokeh with a vintage Soviet lens and a tilt-shift adapter.

Today's episode, however, is even crazier than the previous two. The weird lens in question comes from a 1950's toy camera made entirely of plastic that Stern picked up for less than a dollar. Plus, the lens is actually not detachable, so Stern took the camera apart, then mounted the front half of the toy camera to his Sony A7II with a pair of rubber bands.

As always, the results are pretty damn cool. The footage isn't quite as sharp or contrasty as the previous two tests, but the lens causes some really interesting blooming effects with the specular highlights in a few shots. Check it out:

Here's what Stern had to say about how he put this together and his impressions of the lens:

For this episode we will test a 1950 french plastic camera: the Photax Heanar Type V. After I managed to open and separate the front and the back of the camera, I blocked the shutter and then just had to plug the camera directly on the A7II sensor, it was fitting perfectly.

This was shot on a rainy dark day, so before everyone gets crazy, the ISO was very high, as the light was low and the camera is also very dark. The lens is not sharp or great, or even easy to use, but it’s pretty cool looking and gives a certain vintage look to your shots.

If you're interested in being the first to see Mathieu's new Weird Lens Challenge videos, be sure to subscribe to his YouTube channel.      

Your Comment

15 Comments

it looks... shitty. cool experiment though!

November 30, 2015 at 2:55PM

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Alex Mallis
Director / DP / Editor
349

It looks a lot better than I would have expected for a 50 cent lens, but I would probably want to muck-it-up further to get something more like a drugged-up dream image out of it.

November 30, 2015 at 3:06PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32649

No thanks. Not looking too good. Either that or the filmmaker has no idea how to prepare their video for uploading so it doesn't go to compression hell.

November 30, 2015 at 3:02PM

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Jordan Ray Allen
Writer-Director-Producer
91

It's just noisy because the ISO had to be set high, Mr. writer-producer-director. Noisy videos are more prone to digital artifacting when compressed. If they had denoised, it would still look just as messy (if not more), just less noisy.

November 30, 2015 at 4:02PM

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Please tell me this is sarcasm.

December 2, 2015 at 1:43PM

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whats next? shooting cinematic video with real shit covered on sensor?

November 30, 2015 at 3:07PM

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We're all too focused on gear. This is fun.

November 30, 2015 at 4:03PM

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If that gets you the look you're after, then why not ? ( yes you might go through a few cameras in the process which could become a budget issue )

November 30, 2015 at 5:23PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
32649

I can see this being used in small doses for an effect. The coolest part about it is that it even works. lol.

November 30, 2015 at 3:45PM

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JP Summers
Director of Photography
140

I'm a bit tired of people using this kind of Cyan/Orange lut on every A7 videos.
Also, this video is quite noisy for some reasons, not sure if this is part of the "experiment"

November 30, 2015 at 3:54PM

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Danny T
Photographer
493

This is a guy just having fun with filmmaking, and no matter the results, I respect that playfulness.

November 30, 2015 at 8:26PM

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Katie Mlinek
Writer/Filmmaker
100

Not bad at all for a toy lens. I thought it gave a nice film look for those wanting that type of feel.

December 4, 2015 at 10:08PM, Edited December 4, 10:09PM

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Ryan Gudmunson
Recreational Filmmaker
334

Sorry for bother you guys, but this is my experiment with a Rolleiflex:
https://youtu.be/uCqwUJoyG5w

Comments are welcome. Thanks.

November 30, 2015 at 11:06PM

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theuerweirich@me.com
Director of Fotography
336

We can all focus on the less than perfect aesthetic outcome of this experiment, but let's turn the focus around: too many people postpone their filmmaking dream, because they are waiting to get the perfect camera in their hands.
This should be an inspiration that you can start out with cheap shit if you really want to and have FUN!

December 1, 2015 at 8:30AM

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WalterBrokx
Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer
9024

All you need techniques equipment comes after that..!

December 2, 2015 at 10:35AM, Edited December 2, 10:35AM

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Leave it to the comments to critique a fun experiment ;-). I'm amazed it even worked as well as this.

December 2, 2015 at 1:16PM, Edited December 2, 1:16PM

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Philip Bradley
DP | Editor
136