If you haven't heard of IronGlass, you've definitely seen its lenses on the big screen if you managed to catch The Batman in theaters.
The company initially created cine-modded versions of Soviet-era lenses, with the most popular being the Helios 44-2 58mm f/2. Later on, a rehoused version of this lens, as well as other Soviet offerings, were released, with the rehoused Helios lens being used to film the car chase sequence in The Batman.
Now, IronGlass has announced a new set of lenses to get the rehousing treatment— the Carl Zeiss Jena series.
Here's everything you need to know before you pre-order your set.
Carl Zeiss Jena Cinema Lenses
The Zeiss brand has had quite a journey over the past 100 years, even though the name has been around for longer than that. After WWII, the company was split in two, with Carl Zeiss Jena residing in East Germany and eventually finding its way into the Soviet Union.
Its history deserves a whole article on its own, but here's some reading to get you up to speed.
All you need to know for now is that the Carl Zeiss Jena lenses were crafted in the Soviet Union and were based on German designs. This means they were mass-produced but still have the pedigree to create solid images. It's affordability meets craftsmanship that delivers character.
Now, IronGlass is using these German/Soviet hybrids as the basis for its new cinema rehousing project.
A set of twelve focal lengths will come in your choice of four mounts.
Creatives will find all the standards they come to expect from cinema lenses. This includes an entirely new body and mechanics, an IronGlass "Helicam" Internal Focus System, expanded focus scales, T-Stop markings, and user-changeable mounts.
The IronGlass Soviet MKII project took Soviet glass and made it ready for all sorts of film productions at $2900 per lens.
Now the Carl Zeiss Jena lenses are getting the same treatment for practically the same price.
"Rehousing optics and building new mechanics around them is tricky, and it's very difficult to maintain this compatibility, but we feel that film cameras, along with vintage lenses, play an important role in filmmaking visual language, so we had to make sure our Zeiss Jena lenses will be compatible with all of the most famous motion picture film cameras" explained IronGlass's co-founder and production director Ivan Sichkar.
Creatives will find all the standards of a cinema lens
This rehousing project is the third collaboration between IronGlass and VintagaLensesForVideo.
"There aren't many underrated lenses left in the world of vintage optics, but these lenses are precisely that," said VLFV's creator Alan Besedin. "I find that once people try them, they instantly fall in love with the images, which I'd describe as a middle ground between maximum character Soviet lenses and cleaner Zeiss T* lenses from the stills and cinema world."
You won't need all twelve, but it's nice to have options
The Current Lineup
IronGlass is planning to rehouse twelve Carl Zeiss Jena lenses. They will include 110mm fronts for use with clip-on matte boxes, a 300-degree focus throw, improved close focus, and reverse direction focus scales. Swappable and shimmable stainless steel mounts will also be available in PL, LPL, Canon EF, and Canon RF.
IronGlass Rehoused Carl Zeiss Jena Series
- 20mm T2.9 CF 7.5" / 0.19m
- 24mm T2.9 CF 9" / 0.22m
- 28mm T2.9 CF 10" / 0.25m
- 35mm T2.5 CF 8" / 0.20m
- 50mm T1.5 CF 1'2" / 0.35m
- 50mm T1.9 CF 1'2" / 0.35m
- 55mm T2.9 CF 10" / 0.25m
- 80mm T1.9 CF 2'8" / 0.8m
- 80mm T2.9 CF 3'3" / 1m
- 120mm T2.9 CF 4'3" / 1.3m
- 135mm T3.6 CF 2'11" / 0.9m
- 180mm T2.9 CF 5'7" / 1.7m
The Carl Zeiss Jena rehousing project will start with these twelve Multi-Coating focal lengths, but in 2024, IronGlass will also include the Zebra lens series. ,
The Rehoused 35mm T2.4 Carl Zeiss Flektogon MC
Should You Pre-Order?
Film cameras were never as sharp as modern digital sensors. This led to the creation of super-sharp lenses to get the best possible images onto a piece of film. But with today's sensors, such precise glass makes our compositions feel way too clean.
There's a reason why vintage glass and filters have become a staple on narrative projects. We all want to add some characters to our compositions.
This is why we're seeing so many rehoused lenses pop up. Even Whitepoint Optics has a version of the Carl Zeiss Jena's.
These lenses have a long history and now you can put them to work
What IronGlass brings to the market is affordability. At $3000 per lens, it's an attractive option for filmmakers looking to add some color to their footage.
You can Pre-Order today and save $250 off each lens that is set to ship in the second quarter of 2024 with full sets being completed within 12 months of the order date.
While a full set of twelve will run you $33,000, you don't have to get the bull batch. The beauty of having such a range on offer is that you can craft the set around what you specifically need as a creator.
And if the Helio 58 MKII was the right fit for Greig Fraser, the new Carl Zeiss Jena's should definitely be on your radar.