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The Tuner promises vintage looks with modern tech for cheaper cost

3 minute read

Module 8’s new Tuners have made some serious waves on Kickstarter by offering devices that enable standard lenses and mirrorless digital cameras to recreate the look and feel of some iconic vintage glass.

The team behind Module 8 has developed the Tuner, the first variable look cinematic lens in the world. It takes standard, modern day lenses and mirrorless cameras and emulates classic Hollywood lenses. The team put the first three Tuners on Kickstarter and they were funded in five days flat, by now more than doubling the initial $100,000 goal.

Module 8 is a spinoff of lens maker Moment, and was founded by Mike Thomas and Iain A. Neill, with several decades of award-winning experience designing a variety of lenses and optical products between them. Jim Elias joins them as the Opto-Mechanical Designer.

The Tuner really is the world's first variable look cinematic lens and cinematographers can use their regular, modern day lenses and mirrorless cameras in combination with the optical device to mimic classic cinema lenses, with the initial options including emulations of Canon K-35s and Super Baltars.



The Tuner works with EF lenses, with or without built-in electronics, and was tested with Canon, Tamron, and Sigma lenses. Check out the compatibility list. 

Along with recreating several vintage Hollywood looks with the Tuner, the team reckons you’ll be able to manually adjust the strength of the overall look and maintain your focus (you can even dial the look all the way down to neutral to let you use your attached lens normally without having to remove and replace the Tuner). What’s more, you get that vintage look with modern tech; EF to E and EF to RF are compatible, so you're not sacrificing the ability to use autofocus or stabilization.

The team also quite reasonably point out that if you were to track down and purchase a set of vintage lenses, you'll be spending the equivalent of a luxury car. The projected retail price for the Tuner is $1999 (not including lenses), with an early bird price on Kickstarter currently offering them at $1099 a pop.

Mike and Iain are going to offer three different Tuners, which they promise will offer three distinct looks.

  1. The L1 Tuner will mimic the Super Baltar lens, giving a soft and warm look along with lowering the contrast. This will help to take the edge off the digital look. This is the one that was put on Kickstarter and immediately funded.
  2. The L2 Tuner was inspired by the Canon K-35, which was a fast lens at T/1.5 and aspherical aspects and elements.
  3. The L3 Tuner is based upon anamorphic lenses to give your projects a grand, cinematic look and feel. Mike and Iain say it will offer astigmatism and depth of field effects.

They’re all small enough that they shouldn’t compromise your set up. The L1 and L3 are 250g, while the L2 is 215g, while size varies between 36-39mm. 

As an interesting PetaPixel interview details, the Tuners have been developed using a patented technology that Module 8 has termed Vari-Tune. That allows it to add in specific aberrations to mimic vintage glass, which they’re recreating using an intensive process of reverse engineering, precise measurement, studying old lens patents, and software-based design so they can iterate through it all at speed.

If you end up buying all three Tuners, it could conceivably set you back $6000 if you miss the Kickstarter early birds. That doesn't include the cost of the EF lenses, so you’re going to have to ask yourself carefully what kind of projects are you regularly shooting? Anything that would call for such a vintage Hollywood look?

Once you figure out where your budget stands and if you can justify it with the type of projects you're filming, then the Tuner is possibly a very decent option, especially considering who's behind it.

Wrapping it up…

The Tuner L1, L2, and L3 look like they could be a great option for specific projects, but keep in mind that you're buying essentially an adapter. If you own a set of EF lenses, great. If not, you'll need to add that into your overall budget. 

There is likely more to come though. Additional lens mount options for Fujifilm X and L-mount are being developed and the Vari-Tune tech certainly lends itself to recreating many more different looks if the demand is there. The team says it is also revamping some mechanics near the mount to make all three Tuners compatible with Sony Venice.

As of 16 May, there are 10 days left in the Kickstarter, where early birds can get $900 off the Tuner by pledging $1099. The team is also offering other discounts and percentages off when pre-ordering two or three. Check out the Kickstarter here and the Module 8 site here.

Tags: Production