Saturday, May 25, 2013

Air Ministry 8 Inch f5.6

The Air Ministry 8 Inch f5.6 is a much larger lens than the 5 Inch f4. Many believe this lens was made by Dallmeyer, but there is no proof of that, unfortunately. Both of these lenses have a brass housing and therefore very heavy. The 8 inch lens is roughly equivalent to 200mm and it needs a very long tube. As with the 5 inch f4 lens, it's relatively easy to put a filter ring on the rear of the lens, and then just add extention tubes. The minimum focus distance is quite long, and I decided to use two focus helicoids, which would allow me to do focus much closer than otherwise possible. As you can see on the second picture below, it looks very ugly on the 5D Mark II, and even uglier when the lens hood was mounted, but I really don't care about the cosmetics. I was more eager to see what lens could do.

I shot about 150 pictures with this lens in pretty much the same setting, so I didn't have a variety of shots. It's very sharp wide open, but contrast seems low, which is normal with this kind of lens. I expected worse, actually, because this lens has more haze than the 5 inch f4. Even with a long hood, most pictures still exhibits some haze, but it cleans up quite easily in post, as you can see in the sample pictures below. I much prefer the rendering style of the 5 inch f4 than this one, but it's by no means very bad. Besides, I haven't used this lens too much yet, so I shouldn't really draw any conclusions until it see more use. It's definitely worth the time it took to put it together, and the very low cost. Ugliness aside, it has potential inside.

Air Ministry 8 Inch F5.6 with filter ring JB-Welded on. Click for larger.

Mounted on two helicoids and 5D Mark II. Click for larger.

Bokeh #1 - Canon 5D Mark II & Air Ministry 8 Inch f5.6. Click for larger.

Bokeh #1 - Canon 5D Mark II & Air Ministry 8 Inch f5.6.

Bokeh #3 - Canon 5D Mark II & Air Ministry 8 Inch f5.6.


  1. In my eyes, the quality is amazing. Very sharp, and lovely bokeh. I realize this has been cleaned up (as you state in the article) but I cannot help but wonder how these amazing lenses would perform after a thorough clean. Do you think you'll have them cleaned and do some more testing? I'm really curious to the results.

    Thanks for sharing these lovely snaps.

    1. Andre, I tried cleaning the lens but didn't help much. The front element has some scratches and the inside, each element is relatively clean but when put together, it's hazy, worse than the 5 inch f4. Still it produces reasonably good results with a long hood and some contrast adjustment.

  2. Hello sir,

    I'm from Paris, a long time reader of your blog. I have 3 projection lens, and one Yashinon 35mm f/1.8 which I taken from my Yashica 35CC electro. I want to send them to you to thank you for sharing you knowledge, by which I was inspired very much.

    Can you contact me by my email: so we can talk more about this.