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Zeiss Arri S prime lenses and Eclair ACL

Heikki Repo

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So, a while ago as I was once again looking for suitable lenses for my ACL on Ebay. Somewhat accidentally I stumbled upon those older Arri Standard Mount Zeiss lenses for 16mm Arriflex cameras -- you know, 8mm Distagon f2, 16mm Planar f2 and 25mm Planar f2. They were quite inexpensive and knowing that I own Arri S adapter for my ACL I felt quite lucky --- Buy Now!

It wasn't until afterwards (while waiting for my lenses to arrive) that I decided to learn a bit more about the lenses I had bought. Surprisingly there didn't seem to be almost anything on the topic. Not only could I find only a couple of references on the 8mm Planar and none on the other two lenses in Youtube/Vimeo (which is surprising, since the original BMPCC and vintage glass craze was quite huge some years ago) but even sites such as this one and Cinematography.net/CML mailing list were really silent on the topic.

Except, of course, on the issue of most of these lenses not fitting Arris since 16BL and there being problems with CP16R as well due to the lens rear element hitting the camera mirror. So, I felt quite anxious. I was somewhat relieved to read that Cooke Kinetals and some Schneiders that won't fit newer Arris would work with ACL. But again, nobody seemed to mention these Zeiss lenses.

I guess if I has asked on this forum somebody would probably have known the answer. So, for all of those who might have searched for an answer like me for hours or even days on the Internet and not having found anything, I want to document the following tidbit of information I now know, having received the lenses today and tested them:

At least these three older Zeiss lenses do fit ACL:

  • 8mm Distagon f2, SN ~5000000 (steel mount)
  • 16mm Planar f2, SN ~2000000 (black aluminium? mount)
  • 25mm Planar f2, SN ~1000000 (black aluminium? mount)


Please note the following issues, which have been mentioned to some extent on these forums before:

  1. 8mm distagon doesn't cover S16 (But it doesn't seem too bad, if this video (not mine!) is to be used as a reference  https://vimeo.com/77872653
  2. There are some mechanical quirks or issues, depends on how you look at them:
    1. If I tighten my adapter too tight, my 16mm or 25mm focus rings won't turn.
    2. Changing the focus direction might make the image jump
    3. The focus throw is quite short
  3. They are "only" T2.2/2.4

My plan is to next shoot some tests with these lenses on Vision3 50D or 200T and perhaps also test a ArriS to PL adapter. I'll post some scans here when I'm done.

I do have some questions still, perhaps some tech on this board knows answers?

  1. I read somewhere that the stiffness of the focus can be changed by loosening the screws of the "focus ears" -- is this how it should be done or just an unintended consequence?
  2. Could I remove the focus ears and insert a focus gear ring?


Edited by Heikki Repo
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Hi Heikki,

since the ACL can take even C mount lenses I would have thought any lens with a deeper flange depth would work fine on it, as long as the adapter exists.

My understanding is that the Zeiss 8mm is a 16mm format lens, while the 16 and 25 are 35mm format lenses. All of them should fit any 16mm Arriflex camera without hitting the mirror. It was Cooke Kinetals and some Schneiders that don’t work on Arri cameras after the 16St.

The 8mm definitely doesn’t cover S16.

If you are getting image shift when you change focus direction, it’s because the threads are a bit worn, a very common issue with short focal length Zeiss lenses from this era. The threads can be built up again with a compound like Emralon, but it can be an expensive exercise.

The stiffness of the focus can be changed with different viscosity greases. If removing the “focus ears” frees up the focus, then someone must have put in screws that were too long, it’s not meant to be like that.

You can definitely remove those ears to fit a focus gear ring.


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