Digital Bolex Kish lenses smash through the price/performance barrier

Written by Peter Haas

Digital Bolex/RedSharkKish lenses for Digital Bolex

Digital Bolex, creators of the D16 digital cinema camera, put their $400 Bolex/Kish lenses up against some heavy-weight contenders that cost thousands more.

With Digital Bolex opening the sales of their Kish/Bolex prime lenses a few weeks ago, the company has teamed up with Hot Rod Cameras to compare the lenses side-by-side with some of the more popular lenses on the market, including three high-end cinema primes and two DSLR zoom lenses.

Stunning Results

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"We tested this lens to show how other widely accepted lenses near our price range fail to perform in contrast, color, and resolution; our lenses might only cost under $400, but they don't look like $400 lenses." The Bolex team posted on their blog. After watching the comparison test, you can't help but to agree with them.

Since the Kish lenses operate at a constant aperture, all the lenses in the comparison were set to ƒ.4 (the fixed aperture of the Kish lenses) and photographed the same subject under the same lighting conditions. The featured mode, a light-skinned redhead, sits in front of some c-stands and casts a heavy shadow on a dark blue wall.

It's very clear after reviewing the test video that the Kish Lenses blow the DSLR lenses out of the water. They appear leagues ahead in sharpness and color rendition. While the image is not as concise as, say, the top-shelf Cinema Lenses (and who could really expect them to be?), the Kish lenses, in combination with the Digital Bolex, created some of the most amazing, filmic images in the spirit of Super16mm that I've seen yet.

The fact that a kit of three prime lenses that costs under $1,000 can produce an image similar to that of a lens that cost four times this for a single lens is a fantastic step forward for smaller companies and independents that are looking to produce professional quality images on a budget.


Kish lenses on a Panasonic GH4

The lenses were also demoed on a Panasonic GH4 (a camera with a Micro-Four-Thirds sensor), and the results were equally fantastic; a smooth image that sat right in a pleasant valley of sharpness with silky, legible shadows.

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Above: Image produced from a Kish 10mm lens on a Panasonic GH4

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Above: Image produced from a Kish 18mm lens on a Panasonic GH4

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Above: Image produced from a Kish 38mm lens on a Panasonic GH4

The team also addressed some concerns that some independent filmmakers had expressed in their forum, regarding the nature of the fixed aperture:

"Many professional sets choose and light for a static F-stop throughout a project to keep their images consistent, especially if they have to move on a tight schedule that doesn't allow for much experimentation, and we've heard very positive things about these lenses from people who work in TV. We understand that some independent shooters might be hesitant to try something static, but in designing to the sweet spot of each lens, we've made sure to create lenses that look good every time, if you can light consistently."

The Bolex/Kish lenses are an exciting and ambitious addition to the Digital Bolex store. We will continue to follow the story of the Digital Bolex/Kish lenses as they start hitting the streets in a couple weeks. Check back with RedShark News for a full, hands-on review, coming soon!

Check out the full video demo of the Digital Bolex Kish lenses below!

Tags: Production

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