The look of the Dog Schidt Optiks Trump Lenses / by Bennett Cerf

Dog Schidt Optiks is a company from England, helmed by a DP named Richard Gale, which has begun to corner a niche in the lens market that has long been inhabited by the amateur and the curious photographer. They've taken old Russian lenses, opened them up and rebuilt them in a cinema friendly housing. That, in itself, is fantastic if you're into the old school dirty, creamy, flary feel of vintage lenses. They've gone one step further however and added an enormous amount of flexibility and options to them. You can change the rear elements from the classic to a modern Multicoated, Uncoated and an Ultra Low Contrast one which Richard calls the "Special Sauce". I see the latter one like Samuel Jackson in Pulp Fiction see's the AK47.  If you're interested in learning more about the company, News Shooter did a great article about Dog Schidt Optiks last year. It's worth a read.

So why am I writing about these lenses?

These lenses are like an analogue dream come true in a digital universe. They really are so organic and flexible. However, there was a PROBLEM-- No one appeared to have put up a test that shows all these amazing options in one place. This is where my friend Phil Abatecola from Distant Signal comes in. He just bought the lenses recently with a daunting variety of inserts and rear elements. So we decided to test them out and share them. All the tests were done on my Sony FS7 with my friends Ihui from Polartropica and Yoko Okumura.

Who wants to know?

I think this test is for director's and DP's who really are looking for new visual ideas. Although this set doesn't include a wide prime like a 24mm or wider, I still think you can get amazingly diverse looks for cheap. Below, I've compared some of the Trump looks with movies that were shot with lenses that have the same effects.

What does it all mean when you're trying to tell a story?

Below is a real world attempt by Domenic Barbero to get an anamorphic affect with these lenses using the anamorphic waterhouse stops and a 4mm streak filter. I think with all the backlighting and sunset lighting, these images really have a nostalgic and otherworldly effect. The flares add a layer that guides your eye as another layer of texture. I think images with textures have a different kind of seductive quality than the clean, ultrasharp modern lens look that we've become used to. The softer effects really tap into something deeply subconcious in my opinion.

I'm offering 3 different ways to look at these tests:

--The Long Version with all the tests

--Bite Sized Versions of most of the tests

--A PDF with stills and explanations of the lens and camera settings

The Long Version

Phil Abatecola has also put up the Test video on Youtube. Check it out if you're having any trouble with my site. Youtube Trump38 & 58 Test

Individual Clips

Results for the Custom Inserts below 


Click on the image below for the PDF. It will give you a good idea of what these lenses can do at a glance. If you want an uncompressed version, you can email me and I'll hook you up as soon as I can.