November 16, 2015

Using a Vintage Soviet Lens with a Tilt Shift Adapter for Breathtaking Bokeh

Weird Lens Challenge Bokeh
In the latest installment of Mathieu Stern's Weird Lens Challenge, he went all in to create some of the dreamiest bokeh you've ever seen.

If you need a refresher on Stern, he's the Paris-based photographer behind the new web series, Weird Lens Challenge, where he tracks down the strangest, most unique lenses that he can find, shows you how he adapts them to a modern mirrorless camera, then shoots some video with them. The first episode featured a 105 year-old lens from a vintage Eastman Kodak folding camera. Needless to say, it was pretty damn cool, but not particularly practical.

Today's episode, however, features a lens that is far more accessible: the hallowed Jupiter-9 85mm f/2, which is widely regarded in the world of vintage lenses as having some of the smoothest bokeh around. When it's paired with an M42 tilt-shift adapter, the bokeh becomes breathtaking. Check it out:

Here's what Stern had to say about how he went about creating this dreamy bokeh:

The Jupiter 9 — famous for being a bokeh monster — has the same swirly effect as the Helios lenses but even stronger, being very close the Petzval lens. The lens was screwed to an M42 to NEX Tilt Shift Adapter ring, then to the Sony A7II. Mixing a tilt ring, which makes weird bokeh on any lens, with a bokeh monster like the Jupiter 9 will get you some amazing results.

The best part of this is that the Jupiter lenses are easy to find through auction sites, and they're generally pretty affordable, ranging anywhere from $75 to $200. Some of the other vintage Soviet lenses, like the lauded Helios 58mm, are even more affordable, and make a great addition to any filmmaker's camera bag thanks to their distinctive look, adaptability, and low price.

If you want to keep up with new episodes of the Weird Lens Challenge, make sure you subscribe to Stern's YouTube channel    

Your Comment

12 Comments

I love the look of older Russian glass; attaching it to a tilt-shift adapter ring is a great idea for further stylizing the dream-like images these lenses produce! Very cool.

November 16, 2015 at 3:45PM, Edited November 16, 3:45PM

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Philip Heinrich
Director, Producer
1022

Been thinking about pulling the trigger on a few vintage Russian lenses on eBay. This makes them even more tempting.

November 16, 2015 at 4:24PM

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Emerson Shaw
Student
704

One thing I'd add is that many of these lenses are genuinely good quality for the price and not just useful for dream effects. The bokeh texture of the Helios 44-2 58mm and Mir 1B, for instance, is distinctive, but when it comes to the things that are in focus, I have found them sharper than most of the old Nikkor lenses.

November 16, 2015 at 5:18PM

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Philip Heinrich
Director, Producer
1022

Great to know! I've actually been using an old nikkor 50mm on my t3i.

November 16, 2015 at 8:58PM

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Emerson Shaw
Student
704

I understand that some of the old lenses are made with some radioactive materials (thorium, etc). Does anyone know if there are any that Russian ones that we need to be wary of ?
Bokeh-wise, impressive to my eye. I'm not expert, but I have seen bokeh footage from some modern sensor/lenses which look more like some sort of digital interference than having any dreamy quality. Nice images here.

November 16, 2015 at 5:42PM, Edited November 16, 5:42PM

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Saied M.
1331

I don't know about the Russian lenses, but I know a lot of Takumar lenses had this issue. A lot of people seek it out though for the yellowing effect it has over time on the lenses.

November 16, 2015 at 10:34PM

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That is all kinds of sexy. I bought a Jupiter 9 a couple of years ago just for the bokeh and it quickly became one of my favorite lenses. I never thought to pair it with a tilt shift adapter though. Excellent post.

November 16, 2015 at 10:27PM

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Nice. I've moded my Helios 44 to match anamorphic lens bokeh. You can check it out here http://renderstory.com/the-anamorphic-format/

November 16, 2015 at 11:05PM, Edited November 16, 11:05PM

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Einar Gabbassoff
D&CD at Frame One Studio
1261

Also amazing to freelens with these lenes! Check out
www.lensbender.net for another way to mount these to our camera. Can we some wicked looks. The Lens shield is another way you can protect your sensor while shooting :)

November 18, 2015 at 6:34AM, Edited November 18, 6:34AM

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Really awesome stuff.

November 19, 2015 at 9:54AM

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Asher Ohayon
Film Director / Cinematographer
88

So is this the new thing to replace lens flares?

November 21, 2015 at 12:22AM, Edited November 21, 12:22AM

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Ryan Gudmunson
Recreational Filmmaker
699

So I fell in love with the look of this video and purchased a Jupiter 9. I also purchased a Kipon Tilt Shift adapter but, unfortunately, I bought an EOS-M mount instead of a standard EOS to go onto my Canon 6D. I have sent the tilt shift back but am now having a hard time finding a M42 to EOS tilt shift. Do you have any suggestions for a tilt shift adapter that will work for the 6D? Will this lens work with a full frame Canon or will there be crop? Thank you for any help, I am dying to start shooting with this set up!

February 6, 2016 at 8:03PM, Edited February 6, 8:05PM

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Austin Welch
Director of Photography
81