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  • Writer's pictureDenis Ankrah

Vintage Lens for Video Production?

When I think of vintage I think of old, unique, nostalgic. Some may think of cheap which most of cases are true. But when it comes to vintage lenses there is something special about this medium. A couple of months ago I was looking into upgrading some shiny new glass for my production company. I had my eyes on the DZO VESPID cine lens set. These lenses are extremely sharp and display a nice contrast which I think is perfect for video production. These lenses weigh between 1.6 and 2.1 lbs which makes them perfect for small and lightweight cinema cameras, run-and-gun setups, as well as for use on drone and gimbal rigs. They provide a beautiful cinema-quality image, each featuring a 46.5mm image circle that covers full-frame cine sensors. The DZO VESPID cine lens is relatively affordable coming out to around $1200 USD. Then we had a look at the new Rokinon lineup. I've heard good things about these lenses. These lenses feature sharp optics and similar physical characteristics as their predecessors The lenses share a T-stop range of 1.5 to 22. These would be a great option for independent filmmakers that want to stay within budget. But then one day I came across a video review featuring Contax Zeiss lenses, this immediately caught my interest. I started doing some research and I was amazed at what I discovered. These lenses are rare and coveted among cinematographers and filmmakers worldwide. Back in the '70s, a famous Hollywood director by the name of Stanley Kubrick shot an iconic horror film entitled "The Shining". This film was shot with Zeiss "Super Speeds". Around the same time, Zeiss created the Contax photography lineup which turns out to be the exact same glass used to build the "Super Speeds". So what modern filmmakers are doing is modifying these lenses to be used as cine lenses. The process consists of de-clicking the aperture, adding focus gears, and changing the front element. You can send these lenses to a company called which specializes in lens modification. Another option is ordering the parts and modifying the lens yourself which is what I did since I enjoy tinkering with gadgets. I can say that I am extremely happy that I went down the lens modification route. As a filmmaker and cinematographer, I can really appreciate the quality that these lenses have as well as the unique characteristic that is rendered out through the glass. Check out this mini-documentary shot on Contax Zeiss 28mm 2.8

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