Friday, May 13, 2011

Astro-Kino Color IV 65mm f1.5 Projection Lens

This is one of the (quite) a few projection lenses I have.  Due to their simpler design, these lenses are normally much faster than a "real" lens with the same focal length, because only one aperture setting needs to be considered and corrected.  For this reason, most projection lenses are very sharp wide open, as they are designed to be best at this one and only aperture setting.

Yellow tulips - NEX-5 & Astro-Kino 65mm f1.5. Click to see larger

I don't even know who makes this lens.  There is no place of original engraved on the lens, but the numerical system used (1:1,5 vs 1:1.5) indicates that it probably orginated from Europe, or at least designed for the European market.  The coating is similar to that of the Kern Paillard Bolex 50mm f1.3, but is not as well made as the Bolex.  Also, both were designed as a 16mm projection lens.

The Astro-Kino 65mm f1.5 is not as sharp as the Paillard-Bolex 50mm f1.3, but it has one less common characteristic: swirling backgrounds.  Some really like this kind of affect, I am not so much into it.  If anything, it makes my head spin.

Like most projection lenses, flare control is not great, and bokeh is strange and a little too weird for my taste, but not as bad as the Ilex 80mm f1.3.  That one is the worse lens for bokeh, bar none, at least within my lens collection.

Astro-Kino with the home brewed focusing helicoid. click to see larger.

In terms of purple fringing, the Astro-Kino is one of the better ones.  Unlike the Paillard-Bolex 50mm f1.3, which can be as bad as causing a layer of light purple on the picture where there are bright white colours.  I guess the biggest drawback of using a projection lens, other than the focusing issue, is that there is no aperture control. But, shoot with what you have, and be surprised!


  1. Lovely!

    Like NEX with this lens looks like the top picture, a really work of art.

    Have a great weekend.


  2. @The Sound Gallery: You make me blush! But thanks.

  3. Yu-Lin, I'd be interested to see what the resulting 720p or 1080p videos look like with some of these lenses. Wondering just what the funky bokeh would look like. Like would it be so busy swirling around that it would induce vomiting. :)

  4. @Chester: I haven't really been taking too many videos with the NEX-5. When I did, it was with the autofocus lens. Perhaps I will give it a try later with projection lenses.

  5. Love Love these pics and the lens...
    I am searching hard to get this after seeing your pics... please let me know if you have extra one or plan to sell it or

  6. @macman: part of the fun of acquiring gear is the "thrill of a find". These old stuff appear in the market with no regularity, but persistence will pay off. I will most likely not sell mine, since it's not worth much to begin with. To me, what I can get out of this lens is worth much more than what I will get in terms of money. But who knows? If I ever want to let it go, you will be the first in line, if you still need one.

  7. Dear Yu-Lin Chan,

    I don't even know who makes this lens...

    These Astro lenses were actually made by Astro-Berlin from Berlin, Germany founded in 1922. Astro developed high-speed lenses for Cinematography (amongst others the Tachar and Tachonar - all highly collectible) and invented the transfokator, an early protoype of the zoomlens.


    They build projectionlenses for Siemens. Tank like quality. With 1:1,5 yours should be a 16mm film projector lens.

    Great pictures - outstanding site - I learned a lot!

    Thank you for your work!

    1. Thanks jan, for the valuable information. This Astro projection lens indeed produces interesting pictures!

  8. Thanks for your test! I've found that lens online and I've learned from google was what Jan Sebening wrote. But with your samples I'm sure it covers my M4/3 sensor :)

  9. Hi, can you share how to fix it to nex? Which lens did you used as helicoid? Thank you!