The Las Vegas NAB Show is a daunting experience for attendees and presenters alike. Post pandemic the show is more streamlined as exhibitors shrink their footprint or co-brand with partners. An intriguing aspect of the show are the “private” or “NDA” rooms. Surprisingly we discovered a vintage cinema lens rental opportunity this year when we bumped into Clint Lealos in one of these little rooms. Clint, if you don’t know, has been on a year’s long quest to preserve the lenses he loves through his Ancient Optics venture. About five or six years ago he began buying all the excellent quality (and matched) Konica Hexanon lenses he could find. But let me give you a little background on why.
In 1873, Rokuemon Sugiura, was the first Japanese business man to start selling photographic materials in Tokyo. He would eventually make Japan’s first camera, “The Cherry Portable Camera” in 1902. A generation later, in 1931, his son designed and sold the first “Made in Japan” camera lens. Their exacting quality control standards for raw materials gave them a reputation for excellence. In fact, only 30% of the glass made for their lenses was accepted after quality control testing, resulting in an incredibly consistent sets of lenses. Although it had many names over the years, The company accumulated incredible accomplishments over the years operating under various names, but eventually became known as Konica.
The Konica Hexanon 57mm f1.2 has been coveted by photographers for decades and the series in total are some of the greatest optics ever produced. The 40mm by f1.8 is one of our personal favorite lenses, because of its gorgeous bokeh and bold flares. Undeniably, the 28mm f1.8 is the fastest 28mm of its time. It has an impressive close focus of just under 7 inches. Every focal length is a top performer, making this truly a “no compromise” set of vintage cinema lenses. Aberrations are well controlled for the time, resulting in the perfect balance between performance and character. Hexanons are known for their sharpness even wide open. A smooth focus fall off in the corners and vibrant colors gives them their “pop” look. The bokeh is smooth and even throughout the set. Flares are subtle with purple and gold coloring.
Exactly 150 years after Konica started the Japanese photographic industry, the Hexanons get their first ride on cinema cameras. Now in sexy anodized aluminum housings with 110mm diameter fronts and a PL mount. This glass covers full frame sensors like Arri Alexa LF @ open gate. The set consists of 8 well spaced focal lengths from 21mm to 135mm. There are currently only 15 sets of these lenses in the world. Accordingly, you can arrange your vintage cinema lens rental here at MP&E.