Thursday, October 8, 2009

Kinotel 3 Inch f2.5 Anastigmat C-Mount Lens

At first I thought the Kinotel was related to Kinoptik of France, but unfortunately no. Many older Japanese companies chose names that resembled established brands, such as Zeiss Ikon (Nikon -- Take the Z and turn it 90 degrees, add it to Ikon, and you have got Nikon. The original name for Nikon was Nippon Kagogu Tokyo KK). So, it's no surprise that Kinotel imitates Kinoptik. Names aside, lets talk about the lens itself.

There are two versions of this lens. One is the 3 inch (75mm) f1.9 and the other is the 75mm f2.5, which I have. The copy I have is in excellent working condition. Focusing ring and aperture ring both are well damped and smooth. When I got my lens, it could not focus to infinity, but as it turned out, there is an infinity focus adjustment. It took only a few minutes to get it adjusted.

Three things I don't like about this lens:

1. Minimum focus distance is 5.5 feet, about 1.5 meters. Similar to the Switar 75mm f1.9 also at f1.5 meters, and worse than the Angenieux 75mm f2.5 at 1 meter. For this reason, the magnification is pretty small, which makes close ups of flowers pretty hard to do.

2. The rear element is very recessed. This makes cleaning the lens extremely difficult.

3. Flare. This lens flares easily. Stray (side) light that enters the lens would make the lens lose contrast real fast. The lens hood that came with the lens is too short to be useful.

With the bad stuff out of the way, let's turn to the image making aspect of the lens. Like most 16mm movie lenses, this one is actually very good. Usable wide open, but helps tremendously when stopped down to f4. Very sharp from f4 on. The colour is quite n and very bokeh is pleasing. This lens, although made for 16mm movie cameras, has a relatively large imaging circle. No vignetting observed at any aperture.

To make this lens more useful, I usually bring a set of c-mount extension tubes. With a 20mm extension, you can get very close, in the order of inches. The magnification also increases markedly. Even with a 10mm extension, it's very usable as a close up lens. Of course, with the extension tube on, you can't focus to infinity.

Truth be told, I prefer the Kodak 63mm f2 lens over this one. The Kodak produces overall more pleasing pictures. But, this is by all means not a bad lens. Far from it. If you can get it for a good price, don't hesitate. Go for it.

Fall Leafs -- G1 & Kinotel 3 inch f2.5 @ f2.5. Larger Picture.

New Leaf -- G1 & Kinotel 3 inch f2.5 @ f2.5. Larger Picture.

Flare -- G1 & Kinotel 3 inch f2.5. Larger Picture.

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