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Sindre Harbak

Best lens for Bolex

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Have some questions about the lens of the bolex that I hope someone can answer me.

Which c mount lens is the best?

And how much better, for example, would a super 16 Zeiss lens be?(like an old superspeed, standard speed) Is it worth the price difference and the weight difference?

Trying to keep my set up as light as possible.

Hope someone can give me some benefits or disadvantages of using the c mount lens instead of a pl mount lens.

Edited by Sindre Harbak

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“The Bolex” does not exist. There were two Bolex Auto cameras made in the twenties and a number of Paillard-Bolex H models made from 1935 to 1969. From January 1970 on you have cameras from Bolex International, Inc. named H-16 SB, SBM, EBM, and EL.

There’s no best lens. Among the good ones differences are small and actually lost in the emulsion for the best part. You get to see softness with lesser designs but that disappears when you close the iris beyond f/5,6.

Some triplets are better than four-elements lenses, for instance the longer focal-length Kern-Paillard Yvar. Some four-glass designs outperform more complicated systems, for example the Super-Comat by TTH. With six and seven elements you’re at the top and pay the according price. Kinoptik apochromats, Steinheil Quinon, Schneider Xenon, Berthiot Cinor, Angénieux S 41, Kern Switar, TTH Ivotal. There are Kodak lens enthusiasts, others swear by Meyer or Leitz. The lightest lenses are triplets, compact, small, cheap. If you shoot black and white, you can cut out blue light with a yellow filter. That relieves the triplets that in general are corrected for the spectrum from green through red, explicit younger ones. On a post-war Paillard-Bolex H-16 you have traditionally the Yvar 15-2.8, the Yvar 25-2.5, and the Yvar 75-2.5 or the 2.8. The Pizar 50-1.8 is nice. The Switar 50-1.4 is strong under an overcast sky.

Perhaps you like American lenses. Bausch & Lomb Animar are compact and light. Elgeet wide-angle Navitar, quite fast. Wollensak Cine Raptar, stopped down to f/4, useable. PL mount kills the turret concept.

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Which model do you own?

Does it have the reflex prism?

The reflex models tend to use the RX versions of lenses, like the Switars, because those have a design that works with the reflex prism to overcome slight aberrations the prism causes.  


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You can use every lens of a focal length above 50 mm. Shorter focal length lenses need to be stopped down to at least f/3.3 in order to produce sharp images. The reflex prism block introduces aberrations that special RX marked lenses are corrected for. These can be used up to fully open. RX lenses were made by Kern-Paillard, Angénieux, SOM Berthiot, Schneider, and Steinheil.

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Thanks again boys!

Have looked a bit at Kern Switar lenses and have seen that there is a big difference in the prices of it. If you go on ebay you can get a KERN MACRO SWITAR 10mm to about 600dollar. But if you go on for example the Bolex website, the same lens (Apparently) costs 2400 euros. What is the reason for this? Or is it not the same lenses?

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Bolex sells them new, but even $600 on ebay is too much. They used to sell for much less but the mirrorless stills crowd discovered C mounts a few years back and prices went through the roof. Wait for an auction where you can buy them for more reasonable prices. Often a complete camera with 3 lenses is the most affordable option, but greedy sellers usually seperate kits and sell the lenses seperately.

The earlier non-Macro Switars are almost as good and cheaper. 

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