I’ve been looking for a fast zoom lens for my Digital Bolex D16 for months. I was very happy in receiving my Switar f/1.6 10mm prime lens. It’s a thing of beauty. But I wanted a zoom lens that gives me wide to long in one package for documentary work. I came across a Schneider f/1.8 12.5-75mm and love it.
The crew has lined up for my test shoot of the Schneider lens (photos by Stephanie Petrie):
Let’s face it–it’s tough finding a good C-mount zoom lens for the Bolex.
This Schneider glass is one of them if you need a zoom, but it’s not perfect.
It’s got weight and it easily screws onto the C mount of the D16:
It’s Schneider glass, and built like a tank. It does not feel cheap, but designed to last. Made in Germany.
It’s also fast: f/1.8 throughout the zoom range, with manual and smooth focus, aperture, and zoom (important for the D16 since there’s no automatic control of any of these). I also like the zoom range of 12.5-75mm–good for doc work. For a 2.9x crop (16mm), it’s go almost everything I need.
It’s heavy, so it’s difficult to handhold as seen in the 75 and 50mm test shots in the film (below). It also has noticeable vignetting in 2K mode, so that option is out. In full HD (1920×1080), there is minor vignetting when shooting wide open and focusing open too much on the macro side. The two times it occurred, I was easily able to crop them out in post.
Here is the test film:
This is a solid zoom lens for the Digital Bolex. I would have no problem using this lens in Full HD mode on a monopod or tripod, but never in 2K. I could probably do handhold work from 12.5-35mm. Plan to crop the edges when shooting wide under certain focus conditions.
Kurt Lancaster is the author of DSLR Cinema and Cinema Raw: Shooting and Color Grading with the Ikonoskop, Digital Bolex, and Blackmagic Cinema Cameras. He is also the author of Video Journalism for the Web: A Practical Introduction to Documentary Storytelling.
He teaches digital filmmaking and documentary at Northern Arizona University, including a new Master’s emphasis in Documentary Studies (nau.edu/docstudies). Kurt received his PhD from NYU.