A difficult lens to use: the Lomo 22mm T2.3 (F2), how to use it?

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Guylberht New Member • Posts: 9
A difficult lens to use: the Lomo 22mm T2.3 (F2), how to use it?

Hello everyone!

I'm an aspiring filmmaker and I managed to gather a set of cinema primes, Lomos Standard Speed (22mm, 35mm, 50mm and 75mm, all T2.3). I got them for their cheap price (2 cost about as much as a single Samyang prime) but mainly because they have a really interesting rendering.

For me, russian lenses in general have a rendering between "standard" spherical lenses and anamorphic lenses. I did a Master's thesis specifically on this. The anamorphic lenses are probably the most expensive lenses existing and are therefore only used on movies where the budgets allow to rent them. What's interesting is that these lenses are far from perfect optically. Due to their design they can't be as sharp (but sharpness is mostly irrelevant in cinematography) or as well corrected as a spherical prime, but their rendering strangely is the most sought after.

Their main characteristics are a tendency to flare easily (with a horizontal "streaking" unique to them) and an oval bokeh.

Russian lenses with their swirl effect seem to recreate this aspect. In the center of the frame the bokeh remains spherical, but the rest of the frame sees the bokeh become oval. For me it is in part due to their strong field curvature, which I found in all the Lomo lenses.

I wonder if it was just a design contraint or if it is an esthetic choise, as most russian lenses exhibit this effect, even movie lenses designed with less compromises.

Now the question about the 22mm. First it is a super35 lens (APS-C) and is equivalent to a 33mm FF lens. I use it on a a7rII in crop mode. This lens is no exception and seems to exhibit strong field curvature. It also has Lateral Chromatic aberration (which does not help corner sharpness), distortion and strong vignetting. Then how to use it to shoot landscapes? In filmmaking it is not an issue as most of the time you want the eye to be focussed in the center of the frame (or the thirds), an unsharp corner is therefore less distracting and leads the eye towards more sharp areas. But in a photography, particularly in landscapes, the eye will wander through the frame, and the unsharp corners might become a problem.

This lens shines at short and medium distances and to shoot people, but it is harder to use in landscape. I think I need to compose the photos with a strong central element so that the eye is drawn to it and the corners can be ignored. Anyway I'd like your inputs or your ideas about how to overcome this problem, because I think it can lead to interesting results.

I joined a few photos taken with the Lomo 22mm, to see if you also find it to be field curvature. The sharpness has not been touched. All photos were jpegs shot in portrait mode, custom white balance and -3 sharpness then processed to taste.

I apologize if my english is not very good or the text is hard to read, as it is not my mother tongue.

At short distances, the lens create a bokeh and a transition zone very reminiscent of anamorphic lenses:

Landscape taken between T5.6 and T11

Taken at T8. The center of the frame is sharp, but not the corners. However the branch on the left in the foreground seems sharp. Field curvature seems to be the culprit.

At T2.3 central sharpness is good

Landscape taken between T5.6 and T11

P.S: looking through the photos it seems that there is little to no field curvature at minimum focus distance, but increasingly more towards infinity. I need to experiment but there might be a way to get better results by focusing at ~2-5meters and not at infinity. While central sharpness might decrease, having less field curvature could result in better corners overall.

 Guylberht's gear list:Guylberht's gear list
Sony a6000 Sony E 35mm F1.8 OSS Sony E PZ 18-105mm F4 G OSS Samyang 12mm F2 NCS CS +6 more
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