The Hawk V-Lite Vintage ’74 primes are made in Germany by Vantage Film. The ‘74s have the same mechanical and optical design as the industry leading V-Lites, but with coatings that are reminiscent of anamorphic lenses from the 1970s. They deliver the lightweight, reliability and performance of the popular V-Lites, but with more vintage character that is especially noticeable when strong light sources flare the lenses.
Hawk lenses are produced by Vantage Film in Germany. The set of lenses we tested was unique: A set of HAWK V-Lite primes with the Vintage ’74 coatings. These lenses exhibited consistent performance throughout the set. They have moderate contrast and resolution, possibly as a result of the vintage coatings.
Projection scores range from .01 to 1.00.
The Vantage/Hawk Vintage ‘74 lenses are the same optical design as standard V-Lite lenses, but with changes made to the coatings applied to help encourage a prescribed degree of flare to the anamorphic elements in the lenses. While they do flare more than standard V-Lites, their flares have a slightly different feel than actual anamorphic lenses from the 70s or 80s. That said, they do have their charms and with many focal lengths to choose from in the set and modern mechanics, these lenses are a nice choice for their ruggedness and ease of use. Some of the wide lenses do have some focus fall-off on the top and bottom of the frame to look out for, but that shouldn’t be a deal breaker.
I am very deeply in love with Hawk V-Lite ‘74s the same way that someone loves a Maserati – when it works, holy cow, it works. These beauties are coated to give you the anamorphic flare you dream of on steroids –they almost feel like a dream of a dream dropped into a dream, you know? Like the way that in the later seasons of Curb, Larry sort of felt like Larry playing Larry? Except in this case, it’s a good thing.
Hawk is one of those elusive companies that keeps their cards close to the vest, so when they drop lenses, we all drool over them.
I will say – much like a diva, a muse, or a Maserati – be prepared with doses of patience for these babies. They don’t love to play nice if they don’t have someone whispering sweet nothings into their ear – I know of a whole commercial shoot that lost a whole day because the lenses wouldn’t rack focus (with a diopter) to their liking on a product. I wasn’t there, or those babies would have sung, you know what I mean? You gotta respect the divas because they are special – the anamorphic elements are tuned to funk your footage up in a way you could never imagine possible, and you’ll go back and think, wow did I shoot that?
Also, there’s a significant focus ability drop off on the outer thirds (as is consistent in all real vintage anamorphics) – so aim to use this on center-punched shoots, OR shoot in a higher resolution and add crop lines in the monitor to shoot the edgy bits that you like. Or know that your focus will never be on the talent’s face toward the outer edge of your frame.
One name that has quickly become synonymous with “anamorphic,” is Hawk. Vantage Film has been making stunning anamorphic lenses for quite a while now. They started out by rehousing Lomo Round Fronts to make their C-Series primes. The C-Series make gorgeous images but they have aging mechanics and some of the lenses are quite large. Fast-forward to the present and the Hawk V-Lites have become the first choice for many of the biggest DPs in the game.
They are fast, sharp, but they still have classic distortion and lens flares, and they are extremely lightweight and compact, especially the wide and medium focal lengths.For our test we chose the V-Lite Vintage ’74 primes. These ’74 primes were created because of the demand for lenses that had more of a vintage feel.
They are still sharp and have enough contrast, but they flare more easily than the standard V-Lites and have slightly less contrast. The recipe is really nice. Similarly to the Cooke SF primes, the Vintage ‘74s benefit from modern designs and manufacturing techniques but still have a lot of the vintage characteristics that DPs want. It’s hard to find any flaws with V-Lites, other than heavier focus breathing than some of the other lenses we tested.
I really love these lenses because they have great housing that are very user-friendly and the optics let you go really far creatively. I think this set offers the most trademark qualities of anamorphic in one place.
They have a pleasing ghosting effects when looking towards bright highlights. They are much more low contrast that more modern lenses. When wide open, the distortion gets very soft on the edges and creates a very unique effect.
The flaring has some very interesting rainbow angelic halo type of effects that are quite interesting. I really love this set, but it is crucial to know what what kind of environment you will be shooting in and at what stop to get the best result.