Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Birns & Saywer Omnitar 150mm f3 Movie Lens

I have searched everything I could, to find out more information about this lens, but very little is known about it.  Birns & Saywer is a company that sells movie gear and I don't believe they make any lenses so this is most likely a house label.  On the lens it says "Lens made in Germany", Omnitar 150mm f3.  It came with a Arri mount but I converted it to a Nikon F mount, so that I can use it on the Canon/NEX/M43 cameras.

Although the imaging circle actually covers 35mm, I believe the lens was designed for 16mm movie cameras.  The reason I am saying that is because, like many of the c-mount cine lenses, this one is only sharp in the middle of the frame, but it does produce some interesting images, especially on full frame.  I shot some pictures with my old 1Ds couple years ago with it, and I like some of its quirky qualities.

Even though my copy of this lens is in horrible condition, with coating on its rear elements disintegrated into a mess that I can't remove.  If you look at it from a side, it looks like it has a layer of haze.  Consequently, flare is a killer, and it does not have very high contrast when there is side light.  But, it's very sharp in the middle.  I think this lens will be pretty good at the edges on the micro 4/3 format, but I haven't tried it yet. 

Newspaper boxes -- Canon 1Ds & Birns & Saywer 150mm f3. Click for larger.

You can see from the above full frame picture that the edges isn't great, but with an APS-C size sensor, and stopped down to around f8, it's quite all right, as below.

Decaying logs -- NEX-5 & Birns & Saywer 150mm f3. Click for larger.
Tree in snow -- NEX-5 &  Birns & Saywer 150mm f3. Click for larger.

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