DEFINITION - April 2020 - Web


developing new coatings it calls T* Blue, which apparently maintains flares while avoiding the sheer loss of light that makes Sigma’s Classics noticeably slower than the conventional range. Quotes from Supreme Prime users suggest that the lenses are a little gentler, which often means softer or less contrasty, and the flares include lots of whitish circles. With large-format coverage and a lightning fast T1.5, we wouldn’t expect Supreme Primes of any variety to be cheap – the non-Radiance lenses go for about $170,000 a set. RE-COATING SERVICE Special coatings are a trick made available to more lenses via the polishing and re- coating service offered by Duclos Lenses in Los Angeles. The purpose of polishing off and then reapplying a coating was traditionally to repair damage, but the Often, some of the desire for flare arises fromthe push for a historic look

idea of polishing and not re-coating, or applying different coatings, is more recent. Prices vary; clearly, the more difficult the disassembly and reassembly process is, the more pieces of glass there are, and the more coated surfaces there are, the more difficult the work. There’s also the matter of deciding how many surfaces to de-coat and what the likely results will be, which can be somewhat experimental on unfamiliar lenses. This process – or ones similar – has been used to produce uncoated versions of Samyang’s lenses as long ago as 2012, and VMI in London advertises uncoated editions of the Cooke Mini S4, Zeiss Mk III Superspeeds, and the more economical Zeiss ZF Distagon/Planar lenses.

Often, some of the desire for flare arises from the push for a historic look, and if we’d prefer not to pay for the great lenses of yesteryear, what about the not-so- great lenses of yesteryear? It’s possible to have more or less anything rehoused, and rehousing 1960s and 1970s Soviet optical engineering is a specialism of optical house Ironglass. Perhaps the best-known of these little-known lenses is the Helios 44-2, a 58mm, f/2.0 lens that Ironglass offers for US$950. Ironglass even offers a set of 20, 28, 37, 58, 85 and 135mm lenses with ‘anamorphic bokeh’ – the elliptical rear aperture plate again, and even in different colours. That set goes for a decidedly economical US$2240, although the approach here is not, of course, to compete blow-for-blow with high-tech modern lenses. They will be soft, low contrast and awkward, but they will be characterful – and that’s the point. Some of the lenses we’ve discussed here are modern; some are old. But they’re all lenses selected for their flares as well as their softness and contrast behaviour. For some, the most primitive designs will be a step too far; others will embrace the glints and glares. Either way, they certainly will take the edge off, embrace corner softness and render a gentle image. With a bit of ingenuity, it’s not even a very expensive world to get into anymore – though trawling eBay for ancient Soviet camera gear, with radioactive glass and Cyrillic markings, can become a pricey habit in the long term, especially for something that doesn’t go out every week. Perhaps best to rent after all, eh?

IMAGES Lenses from Zeiss and Sigma, and a Supreme Radiance flare (right) shown in all its glory

44 DEF I N I T ION | APR I L 2020

Powered by