Filmmaker Joel Honeywell has a fascination with uncommon and weird lenses, and after seeing a one-of-a-kind 400mm f/2 Canon lens on the market on eBay, he realized he needed to have it.
Based mostly in London, Honeywell is a cinematographer who has traditionally targeted on quite a lot of short-form tasks earlier than not too long ago breaking into extra long-form narrative work. He says he takes inspiration for his work via on a regular basis moments in life, visible experiences from touring, and taking a look at images in addition to work.
He tells PetaPixel that he began accumulating previous lenses a very long time in the past, after stumbling on previous articles by Ken Rockwell when he was trying to buy reasonably priced lenses for his Canon 7D — a digicam he purchased with some more money he had available whereas learning in faculty.
“That digicam was sort of revolutionary to how I make photos, it additionally democratized the filmmaking entry route, as extra individuals had been capable of merely choose up a client digital digicam and make stuff,” he says. “The primary lens I bought was a Cooke S2 32mm Lens, from a non-public vendor on a digicam discussion board, for about £200 — with a plan to rehouse it. I believe I bought it not too lengthy after that, as I actually solely used it free of charge lensing/lens whacking, and on the time, couldn’t afford to rehouse it or mod it to be EF mount.”
Honeywell says that as time handed, he began working with many alternative cinema lenses on set and checked out fascinating approaches in the best way to use completely different glass to realize completely different results. He says that completely different lenses carry distinctive traits, and as such has led him to hunt out uncommon optics for his work.
“What’s nice is, with all of the completely different glass on the market, paired with the completely different cameras, (which you deal with like completely different movie shares), mixed with completely different lighting approaches, you’ll be able to create stretch the instruments you might have and create quite a lot of completely different seems to be and emotions in your audiences. Storytelling has taken one other leap ahead,” he says.
Lately, Honeywell noticed a lens he had by no means seen earlier than on eBay: what the vendor presupposed to be a 400mm f/2 lens from Canon, listed as “one of a kind.”
The large lens caught Honeywell’s eye as a result of not solely had he by no means seen something prefer it earlier than but additionally as a result of there’s nothing remotely near the f/2 pace on the 400mm focal size that he was conscious of made by trendy lens producers for both stills or movement seize.
“I had a direct have to buy it,” he says, and he purchased the lens for $7,000.
The lens was described by the seller because the “solely” 400mm f/2 lens made by Canon and is a custom-made product. In its present state, the lens has been modified to simply accept EF mount, although the unique mount is unknown.
The truth is, there’s a lot unknown about this colossal lens.
Over the previous a number of weeks, Honeywell and PetaPixel have gone to nice lengths to formally determine the lens, with no success — even Canon was unable to offer any info on it, lending credence to the preliminary declare that it was a custom-made lens that, whereas produced by Canon in some unspecified time in the future, is one-of-a-kind.
What is understood is that the lens is very large. It weighs about 24 kilos (11 kilograms) and the entrance ingredient is about 7.9 inches (20 centimeters) throughout. The lens development can be uncommon, as it’s targeted from the again. It options an aperture vary for f/2 via f/22.
The vendor believes the lens was initially designed to seize photo-finishes of races, although it’s unclear how dependable that is primarily based on how a lot the vendor didn’t know in regards to the lens. Whereas doable because the pace could be mandatory for quick framerate seize, its combine with the focal size would make it difficult to seize a large sufficient airplane of focus for that utility.
In line with a colleague of Honeywell’s, the path of the aperture ring, font kind, and design of the rear block makes it look just like a K35 design from the Seventies, which traces up with the vendor stating the lens is from the Seventies. That colleague additionally states that the barrel and shell is extra paying homage to a army lens quite than a lens for sports activities photograph finishes.
“I consider the lens may have been used for army surveillance,” Honeywell says. “The present housing, weight and thickness, the ignorance on the lens, and the added undeniable fact that the serial quantity designating it’s both the primary of its type — or the one one — all implies to me that it was constructed to be put via some tough environments and testing websites.”
One other rationalization is that the lens was designed for industrial or medical functions. Regardless of the case, positively figuring out the lens and the rationale it was constructed has confirmed tough, and there’s to this point no purpose to query the vendor’s declare that it’s one-of-a-kind.
Under are some nonetheless seize examples from the video above that Honeywell has offered that present the picture high quality of the lens in use:
Honeywell says that whereas he has used it in its present type, he plans to have it rehoused to make it extra pleasant for filmmaking which incorporates rehousing it and altering the mount from EF to PL.
“I plan to ship the lens to my pal Alex Nelson, who runs Zero Optik in California. He’ll redesign and construct a brand new housing for the lens to be on-set pleasant for taking pictures, and ship it again so I can put it via its paces,” he says. “I’ll additionally make it accessible to rent to different productions for tasks, as I do consider others ought to be capable of expertise the lens.”