Kinoptik Tegea 5.7mm F1.8 / T2 is a very unique lens. It’s the widest non-fisheye lens that covers Super16 and while not many people use Super16 film cameras nowadays, this lens is still very usable on a number of modern cameras including BMPCC & Digital Bolex as well as a growing number of cameras with Super16 crop modes. In case of some cameras like RED EPIC, which crops into the picture when you want to use the highest frame rate, using a lens like Kinoptik 5.7mm is the only way to get wide shots while shooting in slow motion mode.
Before we talk about the optical quality, let’s take a closer look at the actual lens. The 5.7mm is a little brother of the more popular Kinoptik 9.8mm, which was famously used by Kubrick on a number of films including the legendary Shining & A Clockworks Orange. Originally Kinoptik 5.7mm came in C-mount and Arri-S mount, but if you get lucky, nowadays you can find a PL converted one too. The ARRI version also has a filter holder at the back, which accepts 2×2 filters (good luck finding any). There is no filter thread on the front of this lens, so using filters is close to impossible. To be honest I don’t find it to be a problem and you’ll see why a bit later.
Another “inconvenience” in this lens is the absence of the focusing ring. This is a so-called “retro-focus” lens with a preset focusing distance. You’d think that such a wide lens would have everything in focus, from foreground to infinity, but that is actually not the case. According Bernie O’Doherty on cinematography forum, there is no way to get perfect focus at 2 to 3 feet AND perfect focus at infinity at the same time. The lens has to be Collimated/Calibrated to one or another, so in theory you’d want to have 2 of them, but I don’t think that most of us would want to buy the same lens twice, so if you can have one professionally calibrated, then setting focus to about 5-10ft is advisable for best overall sharpness. In my case the critical focus seems to be set to around 1m/5ft, which is particularly evident when this lens is wide open, because you get proper shallow depth of field even thought this ultra wide Super16 lens is the last lens you’d expect to get the shallow depth of field from. As you close the aperture, depth of field increases and by T5.6-8 pretty much everything is in focus. When I was shooting some early tests at T2.8 I wasn’t happy with some of the more general shots as everything seemed soft, but now that I know where the critical focus is, I can control the depth of field (and focusing distance) by the T stop I use. Keep in mind that this might not be the case with other Kinoptik 5.7mm lenses as every one of them will be set to the different focusing distance. Dom Jeager on cinematography forum also made a great point about back focus being extremely critical at this sort of focal length. mm out and everything could be soft if you’re at wide apertures. A PL/ARRI-S/C-mount Adapter as well the camera’s own mount can potentially affect the back focus of the lens too, so it’s best to check and adjust such lens for a specific camera/adapter combination you’ll be using.
Update: What I didn’t realize at the time of writing my review is that my lens has shims under the PL mount which can be removed. Once I removed mine, the performance became much more even across the frame and sharpness has improved dramatically. I think the shims on my lens were a bit too thick, at least for camera/adapter combination. Now I’m achieving much better results even at T2.8 and don’t really have to go past T4 to get nice sharpness across the frame. The softness around the edges is not as dramatic either. Like I said already, it’s best to adjust/calibrate this lens for your particularity setup because you might get different results with different cameras.
Now that are talking about focusing and depth of field, let’s also talk more about the sharpness. While the center sharpness improves quite a bit by T5.6, this lens is not pin sharp across the frame. Even at T8 edges still have a surrealistic, dreamy stretch/blur combination. In fact the overall character of this lens can be described as Dreamy and Surrealistic, which is both its biggest strength and disadvantage. While its crazy, but pleasant distortion, dreamy edges (especially wide open) and usual flares will be absolutely perfect for some shots, the overall look is too extreme and unsual to cut well with “normal” lenses, so using it in narrative scenario as a “wide angle” lens is not the best idea. I did use it for such shot (see below) on one of the short films I’ve used my BMPPC for and even though stopped down it was ok, it wasn’t really what I’d want to use for an “office scene”.
This lens is best of “special” sequences that don’t necessarily cut with other angles, like a “dream” scene in a film or a “funky ultra wide close up” shot in a music video. It’s also good for steadicam work as such wide focal length takes out a lot of potential shake and this lens look beautiful in movement. If fact I’d say it’s at its best when used in a moving scene, because movement hides some of that edge softness and really shows off the beautiful linear distortion. Again, this is not the look you’d want to see in every project, but for a right project this could be a perfect lens. I don’t want to label it as a “special effect” lens even though unless you step it down to at least T5.6, it feels like one, which is why I mentioned that I don’t mind not being able to use filters with it. For anything that looks close to “normal” you want to have all the light that you can get. In a strong daylight I don’t see why I wouldn’t want to use it at T16. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having everything in focus when using an ultra wide lens.
A beautiful onepalmMEDIA shoewreel below is a good example of why Kinoptik 5.7mm is more than just a “special effect” lens that can not only be a perfect, but sometimes the only choice for certain shooting situations. Some of the wide slow motion shots in this reel were shot with Kinoptik 5.7mm. As I mentioned earlier, RED EPIC crops in into the image so much when shooting at the highest frame rate, so to get such a wide shots in slow motion there is no other lens these guys could use.
So is it a great lens or a terrible lens? Let’s round up the pros and cons to get some clarity.
- Widest non-fisheye Super16 Lens
- Unique optical characteristics
- Cheap for a Kinoptik cine lens
- Soft Wide Open
- Average Colours & Contrast
- Difficult to match to other lenses
- No Focus Ring
- Expensive if only used for occasional “special” shots
CONCLUSION: Kinoptik Tegea 5.7mm is far from perfect, but it’s definitely one of a kind, special lens, that provides a field of view you wouldn’t expect from a Super16 lens and can be a perfect lens for a right project.
Will I be keeping mine? Hard to say; I want try other lenses too and sometimes I have to let go of something I don’t use often enough to fund something else, but if I could afford to keep it, I certainly would, so this is my recommendation to anyone considering this lens.
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