What do you get when you put a 102 year old lens on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II?

by planetmitch14 Comments

DP and photographer Timur Civan put a circa 1908 Wollensak 35mm F5.0 Cine-Velostigmat lens on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II and the results show some absolutely amazing photographs (and he's planning on doing some video as well – we can't wait to see that) [source: cinema5d forums].

We contacted Timur and got permission to show some of his images and he also said “In fact those were just test shots. I'm going to be doing a real photo project with them.”

The lens mounted on the Canon EOS 5D Mark II

New York – by Timur Civan (copyrighted – used with permission)

From what Timur said on cinema5d:

I am a DP and photographer, 90% of the time i use my 5D for stills, professional and not. I have an upcoming photography project that needs a vintage look. Initially i was going to shoot it on 4×5 large format film, but found the equipment and processing cost prohibitive. My friend, a Russian lens technician, who loves nothing more than to frankenstein equipment, was assisting me in building the 4×5 camera. After we abandoned the 4×5 solution, i put the project on back burner. This morning he called me into his store on NYC. He has something for me…. He found in a box of random parts, hidden inside anther lens this gem. A circa 1908 ( possibly earlier) 35mm lens. Still functioning, mostly brass, and not nearly as much dust or fungus as one would think after sitting in a box for over a hundred years. This lens is a piece of motion picture history, and at this point rare beyond words. So i say to him, “Wow… what do you have in mind?” he smiles, and says, ( in the thickest russian accent you can imagine) ” i can make this fit EF you know…” my eye twinkled, and then 6 nail biting hours later,he had it finished. My Russian Lens technician is a mad scientist and he took what sounded like an angle grinder to the lens to make its clear the flange distance and the mirror……. This lens' value is unclear. its sort of on loan. It's the only lens of its kind on a 5D… or any digital for that matter.

New York – by Timur Civan (copyrighted – used with permission)

Portrait of Little Marvin. Littlemarvin.com by Timur Civan (copyrighted – used with permission)

There are many more images over on cinema5d

(Photo credit: snap from one of Timur's photos)

Zeiss Cinema Lenses


  1. You must be really short of things to report on. What a waste of time. Who cares what happens when you hang junk onto a camera? Next you will be telling us what its like to use a 5D while brushing your teeth and your left foot is cracking walnuts.

    1. Author

      Thanks for your comment Colin – I do appreciate all input!

      I’m afraid however that you’re in the minority on this one – the traffic for this post has been monstrous all around the web!

      Our job here is to report on things that we find interesting or that might be interesting to others… and with the overwhelming response to this one, we think it was the right thing to do.

    2. @Colin – Actually, I’d like to see a 5D help with my oral hygiene. And, cracking a walnut with my left foot would be amazing. @PlanetMitch – please make this happen!

      But, I think the results of the old lens on the new camera are indeed blog worthy. Very cool stuff.

  2. @ Collin.

    You dont understand the fact…

    Its Awesome that you CAN put such an old one on the new canon 5D mark ll and u can still make fotos!

    Today you buy something, after a year a piece of it just broke and u want to rebuy it. BUT! NO! you can’t cause there is a “better” one..

    1. Last time I checked, the laws of optics hadn’t changed only because the image capture medium is now a digital sensor instead of film. So it shouldn’t come to a real surprise that one “can still make [photos]” with this lens. Also no surprise should be the general softness of the image (due to old lens optics as well as manual focus), and the heavy vignetting (small lenses tend to have small image circle). It is probably this “vintage look” in those images that makes it so appealing to many people, although I personally do not see what’s so “absolutely amazing” in these photographs.

      Hats off to Timur for hacking a 100-year-old lens to fit onto a Canon EOS camera, however much of a waste of time it may be for some folks. If he enjoys what he’s done (and I’m sure he does) more power to him.

  3. @yellow alien – guess the heavy vignetting is added in post processing (it differs to much from picture to picture). sure the soft look is because it’s an old glass and it’s got a growing blur towards the edges. but you could do that kind of pictures just by reworking them digitally.

    But the fact is he (maybe?) didn’t and it’s cool to combine history and contemporary techniques to create something new. Hmmm i guess somthing like the “Here and now” looks into the “Past” and to create something “New”

    I love it

  4. Pingback: VIDEO: The 100-year-old HD film…..sort of | Digtal Camera Reviews - The Imagery Resource!

  5. Pingback: VIDEO: The 100-year-old HD film…..sort of

  6. Fascinating! I’m new to digital, and I’m only a novice, nevertheless, I liked the …lack of sharpness, …smoothness of endges. The shots had an alomst dream-like quality. Now, I don’t know if that was the effect of the editing or what came natually from the lens, but I liked the feel of the image. I also liked the portrait of the photographer. While modern in its sensibilities, it had something of a “long ago” feel. Again, probably the effect of the slightly sepia/B#W tonality.

    All together it seems to work well, at least for me.

    Best regards,
    John C

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