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High-Speed Lenses Before Zeiss Super Speeds

Published : 23rd November 2013

I recently re-watched "The Three Musketeers" (1973) and "Fat City" (1972) and noticed some low-light shots done at what looked like a near f/2.0 aperture… what lenses could those have been? I know that there were Cooke Speed and Super Speed Panchros back then but those were introduced in the 1940's, early 1950's, was that the only choice before Zeiss Super Speeds came along if you wanted to shoot below an f/2.8? What year in the 1970's did Zeiss Super Speeds get introduced?

"Fat City" was a Panavision show, did their Ultra Speeds date back that far?

David Mullen, ASC
Los Angeles


David Mullen wrote:

>> I know that there were Cooke Speed and Super Speed Panchros back then but those were introduced in >>the 1940's, early 1950's, was that the only choice before Zeiss Super Speeds came along if you wanted to >>shoot below an f/2.8?

The Arri/Zeiss (made for Arri by Zeiss under contract) were around for decades. These lenses were mostly T2.1

Arri/Zeiss Standard primes (made by Zeiss under contract to Arri) were around for decades and were mostly T2.1. There were also the Super Baltar lenses which opened to T2.3. And even some of the Kinoptik lenses were pretty fast (the classic 9.8mm was an f1.8 / T2.2).

I believe the SuperSpeeds (actually called High Speed lenses) were introduced with the Arri 35BL-1 at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

I'm sure my co-worker knows much more. Jorge?

Mitch Gross
Applications Specialist
AbelCine NY


David Mullen wrote:


>> "Fat City" was a Panavision show, did their Ultra Speeds date back that far?

There were all sorts of lenses in the late 60s and early 70s, many of them short-run adaptations of still lenses from companies like Mobile Optics, Cinemobile, and others. Some of these sets were mixes of optics from other manufacturers.

If I recall correctly Panavision had a 50mm T1.1 lens.

You'd see these in a lot of films from this era -- Fat City, Busting, and I think Scarecrow among them.

Old issues of AC usually mentioned these.

BTW, sorry about SMASH -- if only the writers were a 10th as good as the DP it would have lived on forever. It seems to be a guilty pleasure among a lot of folks.

Mitch Gross wrote:

>> I believe the SuperSpeeds (actually called High Speed lenses) were introduced with the Arri 35BL-1 at the >>1972 Munich Olympics.

As I recall the 35BL was usually paired with the small, standard speed Zeiss set -- 16mm through 85. When the SuperSpeeds came out they required a larger lens blimp. I think they were not out until about 1975 or so -- Taxi Driver being an obvious early user of them. But I could be off by a year or so.

Jeff Kreines
Kinetta
kinetta.com


Tsassoon wrote:

>> Arri Standard mount - I used to have a set.

FWIW I still do have s set of those Schneider lenses in std mount.

Mark Smith
Dp
Boston area


>> Taxi Driver

Arri BL and Super Speeds provided by Camera Operator Fred Schuler, before he became Dp, ASC. If I recall the first BL and Super Speeds in the US, with the help of his school friend Bob Arnold (Arnold/Richter = ARRI)

Mako/Makofoto, Fred's ex-AC, S. Pasadena, Ca


Quote: [low-light shots done at what looked like a near f/2.0 aperture¦ what lenses could those have been? ]

Astro Berlin made a series f/1.8 lenses for 35mm movie cameras going back to the 1920's, they were 4 element like a triplet with the front element split into two elements for better correction, so they have 8 air to glass surfaces and so a T loss of about 40%, but you cannot tell the T/ stop from looking at footage, only the f/ stop since the look of the image comes from the f/ stop not the transmission. With a good matte box these uncoated lenses can give good looking images when clean because they were computer to avoid reflections being in focus, unlike taking the coating off modern lenses which may show upside-down in-focus reflections.

Cooke made a special high speed Panchro 50mm f/1.3 for 2709 mount (for newsreel shooting before WWII). Here is a photo of it mounted for Eyemo,

http://www.cookeoptics.com/cooke.nsf/history/1930s.html

Kinoptik FILGIOR 50mm f/1.3 for 35mm movie. (1960 or before)

Angenieux 28mm, 32mm, 40mm, 50mm, 75mm f/1.8 for 35mm movie. (1960 or before)

Angenieux 50mm f/0.95 was mounted on some modified Mitchell NC for night shooting (late 1950's?). Its maybe T/1.2?

Canon 50nn /0.95 was mounted on Eyemo for newsreel night shooting (newsreel) and available as a rental. (late 1950's)

Zeiss 50mm f/1.5 I think goes back to pre-1950's? Maybe
some uncoated ones.

We have a Dallmeyer 38mm f/1.5 in Mitchell NC mount from about c. 1938

We also have a B&L sample 50mm f/1.1 T/1.3 from the 1950's in Mitchell NC mount. I think I saw a newsreel on TV that was shot with this lens, it has its own unique Bokeh.

Panavision may have re-mounted the Super Farron to get their 50mm T1.1 as if I remember right they cut part of the back element off to clear the reflex mirror and painted that part black, the Farron was T1.0 to start with (f/0.87). (?)

I'm still trying to figure out what the lens was used by Leni Riefenstahl on the torch light ski sequence, I think she borrowed it from Billy Bitzer. I know Dallmeyer made their 25mm f/0.99 in 1930, they might have made a larger size for 35mm on special order perhaps as 75mm focal length. Could have been some other company though, anyone know for sure?

Quote: [low-light shots done at what looked like a near f/2.0 aperture what lenses could those have been? ]

I was looking around and found this link on the Astro Berlin lenses,

http://www.exaklaus.de/astro.htm

If you look down that page you see a 65mm f/0.75 listed for "Normalfilmkinematographie" which I think means movie cameras?

Have not seen that one, I have seen the f/1.0 Astro listed on ebay several times, and I have see the Angenieux 50mm f/0.95 was mounted for BNC (not BNCR) on ebay for sale.

There were f/1.8 Astro Berlin in ARRI "I" mount (uncoated pre-war), there is a photo of one on that page and I have seen some on sale on ebay as well.

We have a 50mm f/1.8 Astro Berlin from the 1920's in 2709 mount, it seems usable looking on a Mitchell standard view finder, I have not shot film with it yet. The general impression is that its more flat field than the Dallmeyer 38mm f/1.5, although at f/4.5 (marked) the Dallmeyer is sharp.

All the Cooke Panchro series 1 lenses between 24mm and 100mm were f/2.0.

If anyone knows what super speed lens Billy Bitzer had please let me know I cannot find more about it so far...

Dan Hudgins
http://www.DANCAD3D.com
San Francisco, CA, USA
Developer of software for Digital Cinema etc.


I shoot alot with a Canon Æ’0.95 50mm and some other high speed circa 1960 - 1970's stills camera glass. Tough to rehouse as the flange depth is show shallow. They work beautifully on the Epic with adaptors though. Anyone know of someone who could rehouse these old stills lenses for a REASONABLE cost, please let me know - I have a lovely set of 12 lenses. My assistant would be forever grateful. Me too!

Thomas Burstyn, CSC, FRSA
Cloud South Films, Ltd.
19 Blake Street, Unit F
Ponsonby, Auckland 1011
AOTEAROA / NEW ZEALAND
http://www.cloudsouth.co.nz/


Indeed a lens for "Normalfilmkinematographie" would be "for filming with 35mm format movie cameras".

Marc Roessler
Rookie DoP/Engineer, Southern Germany


>> I shoot alot with a Canon Æ’0.95 50mm and some other high speed circa 1960

Have you talked to the guys at Duclos? A simple mount swap is fairly inexpensive.

Dwight Hartnett
DIT


David Mullen wrote:

>> was that the only choice before Zeiss Super Speeds came along if you wanted to shoot below an f/2.8?
>> "Fat City" was a Panavision show, did their Ultra Speeds date back that far?

According to Panavision's website, their Ultra Speeds date back to the "mid-1970's"; when I started assisting on Panavision features in 1983 the Ultra Speeds were the prime lenses that we routinely carried, and my sense at the time was that they had been around for quite a while - they had already gone through a few different series.

Before the Ultra Speeds Panavision had their Standard primes, many of which were T2, which came out in the late-1960's.

I suspect Doug Hart would be able to give chapter and verse on this stuff!

Zack Winestine
ex-AC
NYC



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