LENS SPEC I AL | GEAR
straight, transitional and extreme – each denoting a different level of specialness. Demonstration footage shows pronounced rings and sunspots, featuring deep blue and pale amber. These might suit anything, from action movies to car commercials. The Blackwing7 series has even seen action in a Caravaggio-inspired sequence for Dior’s 2021 collection, photographed by Benoît Delhomme AFC. It’s also been used on a short for Thom Yorke’s album, Anima , photographed by Darius Khondji AFC ASC on the Alexa 65. In the end, it becomes clear why high-end lenses are invariably rented. Various companies offer lenses with interchangeable elements, allowing variability in the look a set can achieve – but it’s hard to imagine any one set of these big-ticket items proving ideal for every job. With so many layers of opinion involved, so few fixed points of creative reference and infinite arguments, it makes sense to have a few options ready in the back pocket.
sharp. They’ve been deployed on TV series, including Stranger Things (with a big team of DPs) set in the early eighties, and Mindhunter , credited to Christopher Probst ASC and Erik Messerschmidt ASC, which is set in the late seventies. On that basis, we might be forgiven for assuming the lenses evoke a slightly period look, though modern-day action thriller Gemini Man , with cinematography by Dion Beebe ACS ASC, also involved Summilux-C – as did Avengers: Infinity War , the work of Trent Opaloch. The Summicron lenses are generally slower, but sharper. Even so, they were used in tandem with Panavision’s deliberately historical PVintage lenses on The Magicians – and again on Thirteen Reasons Why , using the 1.3:1 anamorphic Hawk V-Lite Vintage’74 lenses. If there were more consistency in the world, we might expect to see faster, softer lenses matched with anamorphics – the opposite to what we see here. Still, on any production crediting several types of glass, it can be difficult to determine what was used where and why. Any number of special circumstances may have arisen during time on set. Certain companies build lenses to order; while many service centres offering rehousing have a custom shop, where wealthy individuals might pursue new designs. Yet, it’s not commonplace. Some businesses require a down payment in the high four figures even to begin work. It’s an option at Duclos, as well as True Lens Services.
Another provider is IB/E, based in Freyung, Germany. The company is famous for filters and other lens-adjacent gear. Notably, it was involved in Angénieux’s Optimo Prime series. IB/E also has a set of macro-capable primes called Raptor, available in focal lengths from 60 to 180mm. With true, cinema-oriented macro lenses rare in the first place, it’s somewhat surprising that the Raptors also cover full-frame in their native configuration. IB/E is also known for manufacturing converters. It’s produced two devices, providing 0.7x or 2x optical conversions to either double, or reduce, the effective focal length of the four Raptors, consequently changing exposure and coverage. The resulting combinations are hugely flexible, although it’s not quite clear if macro – with its typically very shallow depth-of-field – and full-frame can be combined without risking the focus puller’s sanity. Still, anyone shooting a high-end watch, jewellery commercial, or even wine poured on a motion- control robot will find something to like here. As useful as macro is, perhaps IB/E’s magnum opus is the Blackwing7 lens series, custom-built for Tribe7. Founded by Bradford Young ASC and lens specialist Neil Fanthom, Tribe7 clearly wanted to create something with options. The lenses are, according to the company, “based on designs from the early twentieth century”, coming in three variations. These are called
ABOVE On Thirteen Reasons Why, Summicron lenses worked in tandem with Panavision’s PVintage glass
THE RAGGED EDGE Optical engineers who sweated bullets to reduce spherical aberration might be a little chagrined to find that filter manufacturers have put similar efforts into the exact opposite. Designs such as Vantage’s squeeze dioptres are, as the name suggests, a dioptre, but with the centre area ground and polished to optical flatness – that means the change in focus exists only at the edges of frame. The complete set includes nine lenses, with up to +3 dioptre and three sizes of clear centre area. For even more dramatic effects, consider the Clairmont Squishy Lens. The glass performs in exactly the way it sounds. It can be varied on-shot using a joystick to alter the degree of, well, squish. Plenty of effects are available, from almost nothing, to a completely defocused frame. It’s not subtle, as the Vantage dioptres can be, but it certainly is flexible.
MAY 202 1 | DEF I N I T ION 25
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