Ever since I bought the Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera I’ve been very keen to try out some vintage lenses from old s16/16mm video cameras. My opportunity came when I bought a 16mm camera which came with the Angenieux 17-68mm lens. Many of you will know that Angenieux is a legendary brand. They’ve been making cine lenses for nearly 80 years and still make some of the best lenses in the world. No wonder I’ve been so keep to try out some Ange glass.
While it’s not an expensive lens for an Angenieux, it quite a bit more expensive that other C-mount lenses with similar specs, so the main question for me was: Is it really worth it?
There are things I really like about this lens and things I don’t, so let’s take a closer look.
Starting with the good points:
- 17-68mm is a very solid lens; all rings are really smooth and the black version of this lens even has a click-less aperture adjustment, which is a massive bonus for video.
- The focal range of 17 to 68mm and constant aperture of f/2.2 is very impressive when compared to a similarly priced vintage 35mm SLR zoom lenses.
- The images this lens produces bring you a step closer to the old school film days. I particularly like how it performs at 68mm. Subjects pop out very nicely and bokeh is very unique, although some might think it’s strange.
- This lens also produces pretty nice lens flares which add an extra touch of character to it.
Now the bad points:
- It’s not very sharp wide open, although closing it a little helps a lot.
- Minimum focusing distance is not impressive at all at 1m, which limits the close up shots considerably.
- Chromatic aberration is clearly visible in certain lighting conditions.
- 17-68mm f/2.2 would be an amazing focal range/fstop combo on a Super35 camera (equivalent to 25-102mm on full frame camera) but this lens will not cover S35 sensor and on S16 sensor it’s equivalent to 49-197mm, which makes it a bit of a telephoto lens rather than an all rounder.
- It does vignette a little on BMPCC with vignetting being the most obvious at the 17mm with the lens focused to the minimum focusing distance. The corners also show some softness, all of which indicate that this is not a true S16 zoom as often advertised on eBay, but rather a 16mm zoom.
Overall on paper there are more negatives that positives, so would I recommend one? All depends on the price and the look your are after. Personally I do like the old school look, but it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. If you can get one fairly cheap, at around £200/$400 price tag, then get it as they are not getting any cheaper, but some sellers on eBay are asking up to $2000 for one of these which is quite frankly a rip off.
When it comes to vintage lenses I hate being negative as all of them will have quirks & imperfections, which might not always be a bad thing. I always concentrate on what results can be achieved with any lens I pick up. The only difference is that it’s much easier to justify imperfections on a $10 lens than it is on a $1000 lens, but at the end of the day, opinions are subjective, so take a good look at the video above and other similar videos online to see if this lens is for you.
P.S. There is some confusion around the difference between the black and silver versions of this lens. Well I tried both and optically they appear to be pretty much identical with identical close focusing distance and identical amount of sensor coverage. Mechanically they are slightly different, but the only distinctive difference is the aperture ring; black version is click-less one and silver has clicks as commonly found on photo lenses, so personally I prefer the black version.
Some of the lenses on eBay are also sold with the Retro Focus Wide Angle attachment which sound like a great idea, but unfortunately vignettes heavily at the wide end. The only camera that could utilize this attachment is Digital Bolex and that’s only on HD mode which uses a smaller sensor area. If planning to use this lens with a pocket cam, don’t waist extra money on this pretty but otherwise useless attachment.
Hope you found this review useful. Feel free to share you opinion regarding this lens below.
I try my best to make this website a great resource for people interested in vintage lenses for video use, so I hope you’ve enjoyed this & other posts. I sure hope they will help you save some money on your future lens investments too. I’ve joined the ebay affiliate program to help me run this website, fund my tests & lens giveaways, so if you find this content useful and would like to help me produce more similar content, please use the links in this post if you’re planning to buy one of these lenses or bookmark and/or use this link if you want to buy anything else on eBay.com or this link if you shop on eBay.co.uk. You will not be spending a penny more using these links, while still helping as eBay will pay out a small percentage from any purchase or successful bid, which in turn will support new content on www.vintagelensesforvideo.com. Thank you.
First time i comment here, but i really enjoy your website, gave me some great ideas to buy vintage lenses (and i’m a fan of the “old film looks”)
I’ve one 17-68mm too, and i want to try it with my VND filter, but… can’t find a step up ring in my kit that fit the lens. I think it’s may be 44 or 45mm, do you have this info?
Unfortunately I’m not sure about the ring myself. It seems to be the common question. I no longer have this lens, so can’t experiment.
See my comment about close focussing with this lens. Angenieux provided a 45mm to Series 7 filter ring with the original lens kits. Sadly those get lost over the years. Be sure & up adapt or the filter will cause vignetting at the wide angle setting.
Hello, what do you reccomend to use for wide shooting with BMPCC?
I personally use Carl Zeiss Superspeed 9.5mm F1.2 for wide shots. I also have Kinoptik 5.7mm, but that is a bit crazy 🙂
Cheaper options are c-mount lenses, especially CCTV stuff, but I don’t know much about them as I’m not a massive fan of look they produce.
Sorry to be leaving too many comments but I can personally recommend the Schneider 10mm f 1.8 Cinegon C-Mount. I use one on the BMPCC & find it excellent. It has gone sky high in price on Ebay. Also found in Arri & other high end mounts but the C-Mount is easier to deal with. It is current as a 1inch machine vision lens & easily covers the BMPCC sensor.
Thank you very much for your comments and additional info!
I have 3 of these lenses (2 silver doglegs mounted to B&H GSAP 50ft Magazine Cameras & 1 black non-reflex for the BMPCC) Close focus was always a problem for the Angenieux zooms back in the day. Since I fitted out these lenses long ago I know just what to do. You need either the standard 45mm to Series 7 adapter ring which comes with the original lens kit or a Tiffen 45F-7 45mm to series 7 adapter ring. The threads are not quite right on the Tiffen ring; Who knows what the French have against standard threads. The threads are close but can bind so be careful. (perhaps a drop of silicon spray lube). Then all you need is a standard 1,2,4 closeup kit Series 7 & you are good to go. The up adapting prevents vignetting so don’t get creative & use some 45mm filters; Although they are a rare size you might find some. As long as you up adapt from 45mm a couple of sizes you could vary. 45mm to 52mm would probably work well too; It is roughly equivalent. You actually get ultra macro shots with the #4 at 68mm.
I like the look from this lens. Rather Leica-like. Why did you sell it? How much did you get it for? If I may recommend, you might want to consider a buying service where you buy lenses upon request (rather than just giving it away hehe). Look at Japan Camera Hunter to see what I mean.
Hi. Nice job. What do you think about using this lense on Panasonic Lumix GH4 ? Would this be a performing association ? Many thanks from Paris
[…] which he was lucky enough to snap up for just €200. I myself own a similar looking 17-68mm F2.4, (review), so it’s very interesting to see how this lens stacks up against […]
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hello!i have the f8 to 64mm zoom version of this lens. looks identical. when i mount to the bmpcc it is heavily vignetted. Do you have this issue with yours? thanks
I think your zoom is the Super8/8mm zoom which is designed for the sensors half size or bmpcc
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Would unscrewing the lens a little bit allow it to focus closer than 1m? (I just saw a youtube video that said that unscrewing C-mount lenses could make them macro)