Picking Modern Cinema Lenses with Vintage Aesthetic

Getting a video to look like a film is a lot more difficult than it seems.The “film look” is a combination of multiple factors, such as dynamic range, color rendering, motion blur, and even the softness of the image. One reliable way to get this look is with vintage glass. Lenses are a huge part of the look and throwing a classic lens on your camera is a good way to get a distinct look.

Today, picking up older lenses is relatively easy – if you are willing to put up with all their quirks. There is another way. You can get a modern lens designed to create a vintage aesthetic. ProAV TV takes a look at a few options.

Lenses are among the earliest decisions in the filmmaking process. Generally, you have to choose between modern, clean lenses or going with classic, quirky glass. There are plenty of options at all the price points in both areas. Now, there are modern lenses that attempt to create their own character, splitting the difference between the two worlds.

There are many reasons to want modern glass designs. Things like consistent performance and getting matched sets are huge advantages. Add on a vintage aesthetic and you might have a winner.

Three good examples of modern lenses with a distinct look are:

Each manufacturer takes a different approach with their optics. Canon actually went with new optical designs for the Sumire line while Atlas and Sigma are taking existing lenses and modifying the coatings. Both options impart very different looks.

Getting into the distinct differences, the Atlas Orion Silver Edition lenses are the specialized anamorphic option. That along is a distinct look, though the Silver Editions changed the coatings. This results in more flare, but a neutral flare.

You aren’t getting a super blue streak as you might expect from anamorphics. It is simply the same color as the light itself, blending into the scene and changing with it.

Image Credit: Atlas Lens Co

Another difference is a tuning of the space between optics for a slightly different focus fall off. This is less noticeable but is a nice added touch. If you want these options in anamorphic options the Atlas Orion Silver Edition are a good take. Still, they are still the softest option here, though that is itself a part of the look.

Sigma took their existing lenses as well, changing the coatings on their Art primes for the Classic line. These actually aim to retain the resolution while making it slightly lower contrast and adding a fair amount of flare. There is a ton of flare, almost an overwhelming amount. For a distinct, artistic look you definitely have one with the Sigma Classics.

Sigma classic art cine prime full frame lens set 10 price

Image Credit: Sigma

The Art lenses actually have the same controls and designs as the originals. They are a stop darker since they transmit less light with these coatings.

Canon’s Sumire are different from the other Canon lines. Using a completely different optical design in the same body design as their other lenses, the Sumire are much more subtle in their approach. These are aiming for a distint look that is not as specific as “more flare” or “less contrast”. The result is that they look very similar to modern lenses and are very sharp and nice with somewhat controlled flare.

Where you will see a difference is in the out of focus areas. It appears to impart are swirly look towards the edges and a changing of the appearance as the image falls out of focus. It is reminiscent of vintage glass that is more subtle for those who care about it. It will help draw your eye in to the main subject with this methodology.

Were any of these lenses appealing to you? Any thoughts on what you might want to see in newer lenses with a vintage look?

[source: ProAV TV]

Order Links:

  • Canon CN-E Sumire Prime 3-Lens Set (B&H)
  • Canon CN-E Sumire Prime 7-Lens Set (B&H)
  • Canon 14mm T3.1 Sumire Prime Lens (B&H)
  • Canon 20mm T1.5 Sumire Prime Lens (B&H)
  • Canon 24mm T1.5 Sumire Prime Lens (B&H)
  • Canon 35mm T1.5 Sumire Prime Lens (B&H)
  • Canon 50mm T1.3 Sumire Prime Lens (B&H)
  • Canon 85mm T1.3 Sumire Prime Lens (B&H)
  • Canon 135mm T2.2 Sumire Prime Lens (B&H)
  • Sigma Cine FF Classic Art Prime 10-Lens Set (B&H)
  • Atlas Orion Series Anamorphic Lenses (Atlas Lens Co.)

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