eBay Watch: Zeiss UV-Sonnar 105mm F/4.3 Is a Rare Lens Built for Ultra-Violet Photography
This $52,000 lens uses special elements to see what others can't
Lens companies spend a lot of money applying fancy coatings to their lenses for a variety of functions. Most of them do a great job of blocking UV light, which is great for traditional photography, but, as you could probably guess, bad for UV photography. Up for auction right now, however, is a real peach of a UV photography lens in the form of the Zeiss UV Sonnar 105mm F/4.3 for Hasselblad.
UV photography is a highly specialized subset of photography and often involves specific types of modified cameras that can see light from spectrums outside the typical visible wavelengths. In order to facilitate the odd wavelengths, this lens uses elements that are made from quartz and fluorite rather than typical glass. That’s a big part of why it’s so much more expensive than a typical camera lens. As the auction states, it can also be used for extraterrestrial UV photography, which sounds really cool.
Focusing is another aspect of UV photography that can sometimes be difficult, but this lens is built to correct the focus shift so you’re able to use it like a normal lens without having to add a bellows or another focusing mechanism as is required when using an enlarger lens or other popular UV options.
I’m actually a little curious to see what would happen if you shoot through this on a typical camera body. There’s UV protection built in at the sensor level, typically, so I’m guessing it wouldn’t look crazy different, but I would expect some haze and flare from the UV light getting through.
There are cheaper options out there if you’re curious about UV photography, of course. In fact, UV photography and other alternative photographic processes like this can be quite a rabbit hole. But, you don’t have to be a UV shooter to appreciate how cool this pricy piece of photography gear really is.