Kubrick’s f/0.7 lenses now available for rent (but start saving up)


Legendary filmmaker Stanley Kubrick pushed the boundaries of moviemaking in many ways, and was responsible for some of the most enduring visuals in cinema. When he made Barry Lyndon in 1975, Kubrick shot with two ultra-rare Carl Zeiss primes, which had originally been created for NASA for use in the Apollo space program and were modified for Kubrick to use with a Mitchell BNC camera (which was also specially modified to accept the lenses).  

Carl Zeiss made ten f/0.7 prime lenses in the 1960s, selling six to NASA, keeping one, and selling the remaining three to filmmaker Stanley Kubrick.  

Using the 50mm and 35mm f/0.7 lenses, Kubrick was able to film some scenes purely by candlelight. Now, Germany-based company P+S Technik has announced that they’ve modified a PS-Cam X35 HD to be able to accept Kubrick’s primes, and the whole package is available to rent. Exactly how much it will all cost is still unclear (P+S Technik’s brochure simply says ‘on request’) but the camera alone costs €750 per day, so we doubt it will be within the means of most casual videographers.

For more background on Kubrick’s use of the modified f/0.7 primes, check out the short video below, and the full, fascinating story of the various modifications that Kubrick requested can be found here

And you can see samples, and some test footage shot with the lenses at the Kubrick Collection website.

Barry Lyndon: Use of the Mitchell BNC Camera and Zeiss Lenses


Kim Letkeman

Excellent film clip. Thanks for this. A peek into what makes great people great in the first place.

Andy Crowe

They probably shouldn’t have shot those sample videos with so many point light sources in the background…


so that we know the lens was not shot at open?


The music stood out for me more than anything, got me interested in Baroque music as a youngster.


just saw BARRY LYNDON last week (again)

second best movie all time. sooooo awe inspiring…


Man! I wish at least 1/10 of current filmmakers would be as good as Kubrick. What you can see in cinemas this summer cannot be described by any amount of dirty words …


don’t know the camera but it got a 24.2mm diagonal sensor (slightly larger than 4/3″) and a lens factor of about 1.85x. so a 50/0.7 will do the job as 93/1.3.

so for the lens part, a 85/1.2L on 5D should be able to beat it.


How did I know that at some point someone would say that a Canon 5D etc will “beat” this lens.


oh just sit back and laugh at these armchair nobodies.


not only the aperture size.
the coating on 50/0.7 should be terrible even brand new by today’s standard.


what an idiot …
an F stop is an F stop al the bull about it will be F1.2 shows what an idiot the poster is
and Zeiss T* coating was exellent then and still is NOW
these lenses were built to the top spec that money could buy not some modern production lens


I don’t know if this lens got a T* which was almost as good as Pentax smc in the early 1970s.

Zeiss did apply T* to Japanese glasses but Japanese found the quality not as good as their own so they sent Germans home.

> If he wanted shallow DOF …
who ever mentioned DOF?
for me, I mean everything you can find in the output image that is controlled by aperture. though as someone pointed out that the sensor will have problem to take anything larger than f/1.4 but that’s a sensor issue.

we can get extra speed at the cost of image quality but at the same speed we get same image quality (amount of light) from f/0.7 on PS-Cam as f/1.3 on 35mm format, same light gathering capability.

Kim Letkeman

“so for the lens part, a 85/1.2L on 5D should be able to beat it”

If he wanted shallow DOF, then yes. But he struggled mightily against the DOF issue. What he *really* wanted — and you should have understood it from the text — was speed. And the .7 slaughters the 1.2 …


Great piece to read and watch.


Nice to see an article like this instead of the latest piece of techno trash


Sorry for triple post server error


Nice to see an article like this instead of the latest piece of techno trash


Nice to see an article like this instead of the latest piece of techno trash


Before everybody gets crazy about no modern lens being that fast…

All modern cameras use microlens arrays on the sensor. In that case, acceptance of the sensor is limited similar to the way acceptance of the viewfinder is limited (not showing any DOF and brightness above a certain aperture).

Even a f/1.2 lens is partialy wasted on modern cameras (of course they internally boost ISO to hide this kind of effects) . A /0.7 wouldn’t be any brighter either.


This is correct, unfortunately. And in addition to the decreased light intensity, you are also losing the small depth of field effect from the light that misses the pixel from the larger apertures. The only way forward is for manufacturers to start using BSI CMOS sensors for larger sensor cameras (m43, APS C, FF). These don’t require microlenses, but due to yield issues they are more expensive than front side CMOS.


(duplicate post)


optics (more photons) or electronics (higher PE)
but for the film there should be another way to attack,
chemical, that we may invent very bright candles.
I don’t have an answer but maybe some sodium/aluminum?

@rossdoyle, you have the issue with or without microlens.


I had a lens that was almost that fast, but completely different application.
65mm f/0.75 X-Ray lens. Produced rather “ethereal” images. What is impressive is getting any kind of back focus out of such a lens.

Molteni Bruno

This site, in Italian language, show optical schemes of Carl Zeiss f/0.7 prime and others infos.

Here is google translation: http://tinyurl.com/ofdwjp8

Bruno Molteni

David Hull

Wow that takes me back a bit — I loved that movie. I remember commenting at the time how fantastic the photography was. Now I guess I know why.


too bad the movie was terrible, probably is worst.


I respectfully disagree. I think it was one of his best. But that is what is good about subjective opinions: we can both be right!


Perhaps Ryan O’Neal was miscast, but most of the rest of the film looked and felt like a camera had been placed in that century.


Barry Lyndon is perhaps his best film, and one of the greatest films ever made. And I don’t use the phrase EVER lightly.
It is also one of the most underrated films of all time unfortunately.
I urge everyone to see this gem.

Stu 5

Also regarded by many critics as being one of the best.


People seem to have forgotten that the use of these lenses was widely publicised before, during and after the release of the film.
Kubrick had his moments (Dr. Strangelove for example) but is also probably the most over-rated director in cinema history, having made some dreadful turkeys. “Eyes Wide Shut”, his final effort, is undoubtedly the worst of all. Laughable or appalling, depending on how you’re feeling at the time.


yeah you’re right , the “most over-rated director in cinema history”, movies like Lolita, paths of glory, the shining, 2001 space odyssey , clockwork orange are dreadful… Go Michael Bay, oh that’s a real director.


Eyes wide shut is a massacred version of the original movie, the way Kubrick wanted it to be shown to public, a thing that Time Warner did not accept, the subject being too explosive. TW has issued the movie after his death only, cut down the way we know it, and that movie was not that bad, unless you know nuts about what happens in the backside of our society. If we will ever get a directors cut that shows us the whole original movie is questionnable. Kubrick has, in all his movies, always tried to show to the world how rotten our “honorable” society really is. To me, he was one of the greatest filmakers of the last century.


Probably these lenses have a lot of thorium in the glass or other radioactive materials so common in bright lenses that days. I wouldn’t keep one inside my room. However, I wouldn’t get a cancer playing with one of these for a couple of days.


You could look this up and not leave it to conjecture.


Easy to test with a Geiger counter.

Marcin 3M

High levels of radiation together with high sensitivity of film…

But anyway, I’ve checked old nikkor 1,4/35 with my gammascout, and while it is radioactive, it is also far less emitting than an old swiss glowing in the dark hand watch.


Have you ever held a geiger counter near a BBQ or coal stove? Or measured radiation in a plane at altitude? All these (and more) give you thousands of times more radiation than any lens will ever emit.

Little known fact is, however, that small dosages are actually scientifically proven to be healthy and beneficial to life.


So you’re saying that for Stan, it was about the glass…

mike kobal

sweet, the PSCamX35mm records up to 450fps, has a global shutter, on the market since Fall 2011. Sony, Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, wake up and take notes!


Yes. And the only price I could find online was 58,000 euros to get it.

Sony, Canon, Nikon, Panasonic: Put that notepad back down!


There are scientific-oriented cameras that can do a lot more, but slow-motion scenes would certainly be impressive slowed down to 60fps.

Paul Janders

The metal rim around this lens that looks like a sprocket is used for focus pulling. If you’ve never heard of focus pulling in cinematography you can read about it here:


Peter Vancoillie

Great. I saw this lens for real at a local exhibition here in Ghent in 2006, it was about the works, requisites and camera’s/lenses Kubrick used. Love his films too.

I didn’t make pictures myself, but I found this:

Paul Janders

Fascinating story. Thanks for the posting.


After 50 year, is there any other lens better than this ones ?
If there is no other lens better than this ones, why ?
50 year is very long time. Why leica, Zeiss and other manufacturer did not create it ?

Nishi Drew

Speed alone is not a factor in determining how good a lens is, and I’m sure these lenses are top of the league, but are also extremely expensive, so much so that there’s little worth in creating them. And check out how expensive Canon’s 50mm F/1.0 was, and how optically crippled it was.

Huxley in au

The military–industrial complex can use a ‘room’ or bunker moving the experiments around as needed under good light.
Young movie makers follow their brands up from $5k to expensive projects and fix hardware lens limits with more lights or very expensive all digital software.


The conspiracy theory is that NASA hired Kubrick to film the Moon landing.

Part of his reward was access to these lenses.


Everything is possible in the mind of a conspiracist.


Yeah but then he was not satisfied with the picture so he financed private moon landing with Russians to be able to film on the actual moon, then told NASA it was done in the studio.


They dropped one on the floor and smashed it, but that information has been classified until 2040 so keep it to yourself.


At this age, I would be worried about the dust, haze and fungus.

M Jesper

Yeah moondust really gets in there good. 😉 Probably the worst kind of dust we’ve ever set foot on, due to the lack of erosion etc.


“Carl Zeiss made ten f/0.7 prime lenses in the 1960s, selling six to NASA, keeping one, and selling the remaining two to filmmaker Stanley Kubrick.”

6 + 1 + 2 = 10?

Vinc T

That is why you are not an inventor!

(Nice catch!)


Don’t worry about the math, after all a government agency was involved 🙂


Sorry, but it does say, “selling the reamining three…..” . Read it again.


Yes km25, everybody else misread it, but you got it right because you’re awesome like that 😉

Or, perhaps it used to be wrong and DPReview edited it. Which is what I hoped for in initially posting. Did that not occur to you? I guess you’re not so awesome after all :/


The last one has been left on the moon, but pssst, keep that secret.


It’s “Barry Lyndon”, not “Barry Lydon”.


welcome to dpreview.com


Equivalency debate starting in 3…2…1


Ok then 😉 The P+S camera has a sensor with 24mm diagonal, 135 format has 43mm diagonal, so the crop factor is approx. 1.8. The 50/0.7 is then equivalent to 90/1.26, and the 35/0.7 is equivalent to 63//1.26. Still impressive, but most of it you can do (for a small fraction of the cost) with Canon’s cinema lenses and a 1D C.


assuming you have Kubrick’s skill in direction, and his team of professionals behind you.

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