Kish Lenses At NAB!

We have finally received our nearly final prototypes of the Kish lenses, and they are beautiful!


When we first started down the path of making our own lenses we knew we needed to offer outstanding value for a reasonable price. Without bending the laws of physics this seemed challenging when it came to lenses. After all, most cinema lenses don’t have any electrical engineering, just metal and glass. So we took a look at what made cinema lenses so expensive.

What we found was that designing a basic lens with a really nice image was relatively straight forward, but when the F-stop changes it gets a lot more complicated. Essentially the amount of on-axis and off-axis light changes dramatically between F-stops, which changes just about every aspect of lens performance, from color balance to resolving power. Top quality lens manufacturers spend a lot of time and money trying to get a lens’s performance curve to be consistent across a large F-stop range. This causes lenses to be much larger, have more elements, and of course cost much more.

We decided to let the price and the final image be the most important elements of these lenses. This demanded we simplify them in order to create a product that could produce absolutely stunning images, for a price that cannot be approached by other companies. The result is this line of Kish lenses!

We have a 10mm:


An 18mm:


And a 38mm:


These lenses all have 180 degree focus rings, with built in follow focus rings! (Currently the ring has what is called Standard Knurl on them, but the final production lenses will have follow focus gearing.)

For the above mentioned reasons these lenses have a fixed aperture of F4. Most affordable lenses don’t perform well all the way open, or even stopped down one stop. Most lenses start to perform optimally when stopped down at least 2 stops. So you can think of our F4 lenses as F2 lenses set to their optimum stop. If you do think of them that way, they are pretty fast! And the performance you get from them will show that.

These lenses give you exactly what you want, and none of the stuff you don’t. We hear all the time from professional cinematographers and rental houses that modern digital cameras are too harsh. The way the image is captured isn’t flattering to the actors / subjects.

Our lenses create beautiful sharp images that are still flattering to the subjects. And the color reproduction is absolutely beautiful.

Here is a little demo video:

More Kish Lens Tests from Digital Bolex on Vimeo.

You may know that we here at Digital Bolex think that color is one of the most important parts of image making. In fact we think it’s so important that we based our sensor choice for our camera on the quality of the CFA (Color Filter Array). So naturally we wanted to make sure our lenses would compliment the great CFA and the great color the D16 can produce.

This meant instead of building lenses with many thin elements, we designed lenses with fewer thicker elements. This is cheaper and easier to design, but much more difficult to manufacture. It took a long time, but we are now very happy with the lenses we have.

The 18mm and the 38mm cover MFT completely too! The 10mm has a slight vignette due to the new housing. It is very slight though.

If you are at NAB and want to check them out, come find us! We are walking the floor with them. When we get back from NAB we will be doing comparison tests with many different kinds of lenses, and will of course share with you what we find.

These lenses will be ready for pre-sale very soon!

We are very proud of these and think they are an amazing value for the price and trade offs. What do you think?

Thanks,   Elle, Joe, and the Digital Bolex team.


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About joerubinstein

Joe Rubinstein is one of the founders and CEO of Digital Bolex. At Polite in Public, a photo marketing company he also co-founded, Joe was the Chief Technology Officer who worked with electronics developers and software developers to create the Polite in Public Photobooth which helped define modern photo marketing services.

41 thoughts on “Kish Lenses At NAB!

  1. Pingback: Kish lenses | Halba OJeeJ

  2. 3 lenses. Perfect for the lens turret. Just rotate to change. That was the 2nd best thing about the AB16(Analog Bolex).The best thing was that crank.
    That music is The Sexbots!

  3. if the lenses could cover MFT, would that mean it’s compatible with the blackmagic pocket camera, the bmcc 2.7k and cameras like the gh3?

  4. Saw these in person at NAB. The focus gear turns smooth, the feel of the lens in your hand is heavy, they are solid!

    I was optimistic about these, but after seeing them in person, and watching all the footage on Joe’s laptop [as well as playing with color temp and exposure] I am ecstatic!

    These are really nice everyone! So impressed!

  5. The present “gearing” seems to have a pitch of 0.4, right? Why not use that and make a follow focus gear with the same pitch? E.g. I have a Variogon that actually came with a drive box (Motors) for moving Iris, Focus, and focal length, and it looks the same. So, it should work, provided you get the right gear.

  6. Loving the look of these and the new D16M. Will there be some sort of package deal to get the camera with one or more of these lenses in the near future? Also, I have missed the update, but are you guys still developing a lens turret?

  7. Hi Joe, considering these lenses have a fixed aperture, what would be your suggestion how to properly expose. Would the variable ND be the best solution?

    I’m hesitant to change ISO between shots.

    Especially when you take a more documentary approach to filmmaking changing the aperture is crucial.

    • Hi Philip,
      Yeah these aren’t necessarily designed for the way a lot of docs shoot, unless you are out doors a lot. In which case, yes variable NDs are great. I like the Tiffen ones.
      These are really designed for situations you can light for.
      I was at the CML party tonight and had several long conversations about how when you light to an F4 at 200 ISO people’s skin looks better, and generally you make more creative choices with your lighting.

  8. Possibly my largest concern about investing in Digital Bolex was the availability of lenses…so I am very excited to see these lenses. I’ve been saving up, and now I have a reason to save faster 🙂

  9. I love the tack sharp rendered details on these things! Fantastic.

    I watched your interview with Dan Chung, and you mentioned a D16 Pro.
    I’m dying to know more about it, and am wondering specifically if you would/will be incorporating a reflex lens and mechanical shutter?

    From what I understand a mechanical shutter removes CCD vertical smear, and that is the only thing that turns me off from the cameras images.


  10. Will there be other models of these lenses with different fixed apertures? I mean, if I can’t change the aperture, how am I supposed to change the depth of field? That’s what makes me most hesitant, but I do like what I’m seeing from the sample footage. The shots with the first girl by the plants have a great airy texture to them. I’ll assume the bearded man was horribly sunburnt, as no one else’s skin had such a harsh red tone.

    • He was a very sun burnt man who lives in the park I believe.
      Yes we are considering F2 lenses, and maybe F8 for outdoor use.
      The idea is to regulate your DOP a bit, many professional DPs choose one F-stop to shoot an entire film.
      It creates a consistent look that your audience doesn’t necessarily realize, but they feel.

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