This Is What It Looks Like To Shoot Video Through a Large Format Camera Lens From 1880

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By now, we have posted a couple videos from Mathiu Stern‘s “Weird Lens Challenge,” but I’m not sick of them yet, so here’s the latest one. This time, he has mounted a 136 year-old large-format lens with an early mechanical iris mechanism.

Actually getting the lens onto the camera seems to have taken a fair bit of work. It required extension tubes and a helicoidal ring in order to enable it to focus. A large format camera from the late 1800’s is obviously a very different beast from a modern Sony A7, so it’s not a surprise, but he he even had to add a ring of cardboard to keep the tight fit.

The resulting footage is, as you’d imagine, rather dream in terms of quality, but I’m actually pretty impressed with its overall sharpness. The contrast is reduced from the high-end lenses that we’re typically used to (likely thanks to lack of modern coatings), but the lens preserves a lot of fine detail.