My Story of the Angenieux 8-64mm c-mount lens:
The Angenieux Zoom Type8x8B 8-64mm f/1.9 c-mount lens was the first legacy zoom lens I purchased for the m4/3 system. I was pretty green at the time and when I initially got the lens I popped this lens on my GH1 and I saw the image was a tiny fuzzy circle as big as the size of a quarter. I was pretty disappointed but did not want to give up so I gave the lens to Steve Serota from Classic Camera Workshop to see what he could do with it. He spent close to a year cleaning up the lens. He just loved that little lens and said he was surprised at how sharp it was and how he finally got it working nicely with his 16mm camera. When I got the lens back I thought this would be it. I thought I’d have a nice clear image but when I popped it back on my GH1 camera I still saw the quarter size image only this time it was sharp only on the telephoto end not on the wide end. At 8mm I still saw an image that was out of focus and still could not get the lens to infinity focus. With the results only a shade better then before the lens was repaired the Angenieux 8-64mm was useless to me. I still kept it though because it was the last zoom lens Steve Serota repaired for me before he passed away.
This past summer I was about ready to sell the lens but I heard the GH2 was announced with the extended tele conversion (ETC) feature that allowed the ability for small lenses like this to be used in the full HD resolution of the camera. I wanted to give this lens one more shot. I knew I would need to find someone to get this little lens machined so that it can achieve infinity focus on a standard c-mount to m4/3 adapter. I knew that the best legacy mount m4/3 manufacturers were in China so I sent an e-mail to “R.J.” also known as ebay seller jinfinance to try to see if he would be open to machining my lens to fit his c-mount adapter. R.J. is one of the more well known legacy mount makers in China and is best known for his reliable C-mount to m4/3 adapter and Canon FD to m4/3 adapter.
I sent pictures of the lens to R.J. and he told me that he could not guarantee it would work because there could be a possibility that the lens would fall apart. I decided to just go for it anyway and sent the lens to him in China. I thought if it falls apart then it was meant to fall apart and if it works then it would be pretty unbelievable and make for a good story to tell. After a two month waiting period I got the lens back before X-mas just in time to test with my new GH2.
R.J. had done it. He had machined a significant portion of the rear of the lens. I popped the lens on the RJ c-mount adapter and on to the camera and engaged the ETC of the GH2 and took a deep breathe. I set the lens on 8mm and saw the the quarter size image had almost filled the screen. It was not the sharpness that Steve Serota was excited about but the picture on the wide end was in focus and had that soft Angenieux quality that was very pleasing to me. Then I brought the lens to the telephoto side and that’s where the sharpness of the lens really shined. It was all worth it. It really was a huge journey to get the Angenieux 8-64mm c-mount to work on the micro 4/3 system. There are a number of flaws that I have found out as I’ve played with the lens a bit more but I feel the journey was worthwhile and the lens will serve its purpose. The big pluses for me is that this lens is a very tiny fast zoom so you can carry it around with your small GH2 and images become sharper as you go up the focal range.
Here are two sample stills at 64mm.
One thing to note is because the image circle is very small at 8mm there is vignetting and edge distortion when using the GH2’s ETC mode.
You can definitely work around these problems or make the issues work as a part of the character to your film. The Angenieux 8-64 lens despite all it’s problems represents to me why I do what I do. The idea of collecting legacy lenses is also the idea of keeping the story alive and passing on what was once old and worthless and making it new again. In a small way, this journey is hopefully honoring the previous owners who may have used this lens on their own films and also honoring the guys like Steve Serota who repaired it.
The Angenieux 8-64mm lens was first used in my test film footage for the indiSYSTEM Bulldog and indiSYSTEM BallGrip in a piece called Aloha Winter.
If you’d like to try this with your own Angenieux 8-64mm lens it will take a few hurdles, some patience and a few key pieces of knowledge:
- Send the lens to R.J. (ebay seller: jinfinance) in China. It cost me about $60 to machine the lens.
- R.J.’s c-mount adapter works well but the best mount to get you infinity focus with this lens on the wide end is with the “Hawk’s Factory Made in Taiwan” adapter from Hawk Peng or ebay seller hawks_factory. I have only tested the old version which works great. The new version I will be testing shortly.
- This is a very small c-mount zoom and works best wide open and sharp near the mid to higher focal ranges (20-50mm).
- GH2 ETC mode in creative movie mode is the best way to get the lens working but this mode cuts off some of the sharpness and on the wide end you will still see vignetting and edge distortion especially when stopped down.
- Since this is a legacy lens there is no optical lens stabilization so in the GH2 ETC mode it’s best to lock your camera down on a monopod or tripod any bit of camera shake will be magnified greatly in this mode.
- Because of the design of the lens at the farthest focal length (64mm), you will unfortunately see two metal elements from the interior of the lens on the edge of the frame of your shot especially when stopped down. Unfortunatey, I do not think it is possible to remove these metal elements from the interior of the lens.
When using the GH2 ETC mode for still pictures you will have to make sure you set the camera quality to capture only JPEG and not RAW stills and also set the picture quality to 1920×1080 16:9. Creative Movie Mode gives a larger picture than when shooting in any still mode with the ETC engaged.