Shooting Weddings with a CCTV Lens by Tom Le Vine

Shooting Weddings with a CCTV Lens

by Tom Le Vine

Hi Brandon & Steve

I have submitted a few posts before and figured it was about time for another. As ever, I love the site and it’s still a ‘daily read’ as well as my go to site for getting a feel for a camera/lens and not just the technical. Thanks!

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A while back on the site there was an article about using a super cheap CCTV lens. The results to me looked something like a voigtlander 0.95 but for a tiny fraction of the cost. I picked one up off ebay for something like $20 a year or so ago.

It’s as cheaply made as you’d expect (although with a metal barrel) and it comes apart easily. The focusing is tricky and everything feels a bit like a ‘toy’ lens. It vignettes like crazy. There are tons of chromatic aberration. The sweet spot of focus is very small. Any enlarging of a photo shows how poor the glass is in terms of sharpness. Lots of bad points.

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And yet, it also produces some of my favourite photos. It has a character and look unlike anything else I have used. And with a bit of post processing in LR you can really take the edge off a lot of the image quality negatives. All in all I love the lens and love the results. So what’s not to love?

As for shooting a wedding with it, you’d have to be pretty reckless. But, when a friend asks as a favour for you to tag along and shoot the wedding as a second shooter (and knows how little experience you have), you don’t have a lot to lose. So pop on a $20 CCTV lens and see what the photos come out like. (I should also mention he knows I am very much an amateur, this was definitely a freebie, we only had a short time to take photos, it was very overcast grey weather and he wasn’t relying on my shots…so if you want to try this yourself…on your own head be it!)

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As for the photos…they were pp’d in LR (just a minute or so on each one…some colour adjustments, a few BW conversions, purple fringing removal and some straightening). The ones with the heavy vignetting and swirly bokeh are with the CCTV lens, the others are with my 20mm 1.7 Panny Lumix (I).

Hope you enjoy.

Tom Le Vine

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22 Comments

  1. There are also the APS-C (1 inch) sized C Mount lenses available on ebay.. They dont have the characteristic of the Fujian’s, but you can use them on the Fuji and Sonys with little to no vignetting. 🙂 I have been using CCTV glass since 2011! Great stuff!

  2. just stunning … stunning images … I have a Canon 5D mark iii would it work on it ? love love the feel of the images

    • Iva,

      Unfortunately, no. These lenses are C mount, which is the mount used by 16mm cine cameras, and means the lens’ back projection distance is far too short for any C lens to be used with a dslr. This is why they are popular with CSC cameras, which have short lens flange to sensor distances.

  3. I own the 35 and 25 CCTV and use them on my EP5. They often get a workout more then the 1600.00 dollar lenses. Why? It gives off some really weird images. It’s like crack once you start shooting with it. You’ll keep looking for the next fix.

  4. Tom,

    If you, or others, are serious about using CCTV lenses, you need to know that the vast majority of the really cheap lenses are quite poor optically. Most are in C mount (16mm cine camera mount) and thus give the game away as to their imaging circle, and being mainly for inexpensive CCTV installations their optical quality can leaves a lot to be desired.

    However, there are some lenses that are optically excellent e.g. from Pentax/Ricoh. This one gives truly excellent results and I was fortunate to get an unused one on ebay UK for the equivalent of $100.

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/979756-REG/ricoh_c60812_c_mount_8_48mm_6x_manual.html/prm/alsVwDtl

    This is a 1/2″ version and covers an area slightly larger than the 1/2.33 sensor in the Pentax Q for which I bought the lens. The crop factor for this sensor is around 5.5 and this produces an equivalent focal length of around 45mm-260mm or so when mounted on the Q. It is pretty soft wide open at f1, but improves significantly upon stopping down to f5.6 and f8

    The aperture is not clicked stopped, but the focusing ring, zoom setting and aperture can all be independently locked.

    The lens is well worth having if it can be picked up for a reasonable price.

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