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Header image for article Pick of the Month: Vintage Lenses at AbelCine Rental

Pick of the Month: Vintage Lenses at AbelCine Rental

Our Rental Prep Technician Allison Anderson loves the selection of vintage lenses that are offered by AbelCine's Rental department.

AbelCine’s Pick of the Month is back again! This series highlights some our most experienced staff members and gives them a chance to share their first-hand knowledge with you. Read about the lenses in Allison's own words, and check out some stills from her shoots.

Photo by Kirsten VanSkiver
Photo by Kirsten VanSkiver

Cinematographers are experiencing a newfound appreciation for the optical characteristics of aging glass. And rightly so – vintage lenses are a great way to add a little something special; the effects of time add a unique touch of style that can breathe life to an image and, ultimately, to a story. I have had the opportunity to shoot with many of the vintage lens options we offer at AbelCine rental for various projects. Here’s a quick summary of what I’ve found.

Canon K35

Focal Lengths: 18mm, 25mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm


The Canon K35 lenses render images with an oil painting-esque quality, it's almost magical. They are organically warm and make skin look nearly flawless, which makes these great lenses for anything beauty or fashion related. They also uphold contrast, making them a perfect option for a more artistic approach to narrative work. I'm also a fan of their really unique red and orange flares.

Cooke Speed Panchro

Focal Lengths: 18mm, 25mm, 28mm, 32mm, 35mm, 40mm, 50mm, 75mm, 100mm


The original “Cooke look” – the Cooke Speed Panchro lenses are classic. They have the right combination of softness, lower contrast, and beautiful flares, with a range of focal lengths. These are the most versatile vintage lenses in my opinion. The re-housings by TLS are so well-designed and functional as well. It's a huge plus not having to deal with the quirks that older housings can sometimes bring while still getting that desired unique look.

Kowa Anamorphic

Focal Lengths: 40mm, 50mm, 75mm, 100mm


The Kowa Anamorphics are a small and compact choice for anamorphic lenses. They have blooming flares, slight bowing distortion on the wider side, and a considerable amount of breathing during focus pulls as well. All of these factors makes them a highly stylized choice, but I’ve found they are a great fit for anything that is more visually experimental or expressive in nature – such as dance or music videos.

Zeiss Super Speeds

Focal Lengths: 18mm, 25mm, 35mm, 50mm, 65mm, 85mm, 100mm


If there was a "Cooke look" equivalent for Zeiss, the Super Speeds would be it. As the name suggests, they are very fast at a T1.3, not to mention extremely compact, with rugged housings. They are sharper than most vintage lenses when stopped down a bit, but soften up when wide open. Their versatility make them a go-to for me for any project on a tight budget that wants a touch of character to the look. They're also great for shooting in low light situations.

Thanks Allison!

If you have any questions about the lenses we offer in Rental feel free to reach out to either one of our Rental Agents Tom Digges in NY or Ryan Ito in LA. You can also browse our rental lenses selection on our website–if you don't see something you're looking for, just ask! We have more in both LA and NY.

Be sure to check back again next month for another installment of Pick of the Month.

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