Demand for vintage lens rehousing has risen significantly over the last couple of years. Since the launch of W. Rehousing Services with Leica R, Canon FD and Zeiss Jena rehousing designs in 2018, we have continued to increase the catalogue extensively. Whitepoint Rehousing offers one of the widest selections of vintage lens conversions in the market today. In this text, we reveal the most popular and sought-after lens rehousing projects at the moment, and what makes these lenses unique.
But first a couple of basic things about lens rehousing.
What is lens rehousing?
Rehousing an old lens can mean two things:
- Modernizing an old cine lens so that it can be used in today’s film cameras, or
- Modifying a photo lens so that the lens can be used in film cameras.
Why is lens rehousing so popular these days?
With lens rehousing, old lenses that don’t sit on modern camera equipment are given new life. It is possible to buy vintage lenses relatively cheaply, and by buying an old set of lenses and getting it rehoused, it is possible to save a considerable amount of cash compared to buying a similar, new lens set. In addition, the material shot with rehoused lenses has a vintage character that is difficult to achieve with modern cine lenses.
1. Kinoptik: Rehoused Lens with Original Iris
As Whitepoint Optics is well known for innovation in the field of replacement iris for conversion projects, I want to first highlight the one project where we refuse to replace the iris. The original iris is a bit similar to the rosy shape of the Cooke iris. It is such an integral part of the Kinoptik classic look that we refuse to replace the iris for this project.
Kinoptik lens offers warm skin tones and beautiful bokeh that are the quintessential aspects of the 50’s and 60’s French cinema. Kinoptiks are also full frame from the 40mm upwards.
We expect the Kinoptiks to be the haute couture of rehousing trends in the coming years.
2. Canon FD Lens Mount mixed with 35mm Minolta Lens
Canon FD lens mount has been the usual suspect of cine lens rehousing for years. This has made a significant impact in both the availability of the source glass and the going rate for them, especially the SSC coated Canon FD lenses. This has led many to look for alternative lenses for rehousing. And if you are looking for a replacement, you might as well go for speed.
With a 35mm Minolta lens, you can go from the T2.1 FD down to T1.5. Minolta is a good fit with Canon FD’s. There are differences in coatings, but they are minor, and the temperature changes of the filmed material are easily corrected in post-production. Being from the same era, the lens patents are very close to each other.
We expect to make several rehoused Canon FD sets mixed with a Minolta 35mm F1.4 lens in the coming years. Whitepoint Optics was pioneering years ago by being the first company to replace the iris to the Canon FD project to get that round K35 bokeh. Today we offer wide range of customization including a more vintage shiny iris, a matte iris or a full maintenance for the original iris system.
3. Leica R: Full Frame with Warm Colors
Leica R lens is another all time favorite lens rehousing project and for a good reason. Rehoused Leica R lens covers full frame with nice micro contrast and warm colors. They offer smooth bokeh, and much like the Kinoptik conversion project, we like to offer Leica R lens with the original iris.
In our opinion, the original iris of the lens with its angular shape and sharp corners is an important part of the Leica R look. However, we’re not overly zealous about the iris system and we do offer the option to replace the iris with a more modern round iris in case the client insists.
Even though we prefer to keep the vintage character of the Leica R intact, what we do suggest to our clients is the option of customizing the lens set with a moderate customization fee. Custom design allows the client to choose a personalized logo, compendium ring text and two colors for the engraving scheme.
4. Nikon AI and AI-S Lenses for Rehousing: Affordable Lenses with Good Availability and Gorgeous Characteristics
Now we get to our favorite lens rehousing project for 2021. We offer rehousing for Nikon lenses in two frame sizes, which both have their advantages:
- The 110mm diameter frame size offers durability for the wearable parts (bigger bearings etc.)
- The new 95mm diameter frame, which is a little bit more convenient in use because of it’s smaller size and weight.
The main advantages for choosing vintage Nikon lens for rehousing are the affordable price and good availability of the source lenses and the gorgeous lens characteristics. Nikon lenses perform flawlessly shooting directly towards light. They are sharp, but with less micro contrast than the Leica R lens, for example. Highlights have a beautiful slight glow. Some of the Nikon lenses, like the iconic 58mm Noct-Nikkor f/1.2, are very fast and deliver a blooming effect when shot wide-open.
5. Zeiss Jena Lenses: Beautiful Flares and Soft Look
This is another lens rehousing project we expect to start trending in the coming years. As one can expect from Zeiss, these lenses are optically of the highest quality. Apart from this, the Jena lenses offer the most beautiful flares we’ve ever seen in any vintage lenses. They have the low contrast quite typical for vintage lenses coupled with a pleasing glow and soft look. And don’t let the soft look deceive you, as these lenses perform well with the MTF charts.
Whitepoint Optics was the first to introduce Zeiss Jena rehousing project to the market in 2019, and ever since it has been one of our most requested vintage lens rehousing projects.