The BLACKWING7 binaries are the first lenses produced by TRIBE7. These are new optical design formulas inspired by 1950s and 1960s optical designs. 10 sets of binaries were produced (37mm, 57mm, and 77mm) and they showcase some of the more extreme possibilities achievable from TRIBE7. Their lenses will be tunable, allowing the buyer to decide what degree of focus fall-off and spherical aberration they want, as well as how subtle or how extreme they want the lenses to flare and ghosts.
The set of binaries we tested has medium focus fall off, and the most extreme level of flare and ghosting, which is important to keep in mind when looking at these tests, since there will be BLACKWING7 lenses offered that have a different aesthetic, especially in regards to flare/ghosting.
I think TRIBE7 did something special with this set, which was, listen to the consumer. The BLACKWING7 set is unique in that you can choose the level of tuning or de-tuning to your taste. After decades of lens manufacturers, in theory, locking you in to one "look" per set, I find it exciting that TRIBE7 puts the consumer in the driver seat.
The binaries are special because they're the first edition off the assembly line of the BLACKWING7 series. So it was a treat to have this set in our lineup. Tons of character, big flares, halation towards the edges, smooth focus roll-off, and gorgeous bokeh...most of which can be adjusted to taste!
We were lucky to be able to include one of the only 10 sets of BLACKWING7 binaries in existence at the time of our testing. We had three focal lengths, and the lenses were tuned by TRIBE7 to be pretty wild, particularly in regards to their flare/ghost character. PLEASE KEEP IN MIND: the set we tested DOES NOT represent every set of BLACKWING7 primes. TRIBE7 is offering 3 different tuning options, and the binaries were essentially working sets of prototypes. Our lens tests give you a very good idea of what is to be expected from TRIBE7’s lens sets, but it does not tell the whole story. Disclaimer over…
The housings are excellent, and they didn’t feel like prototypes at all. Our set had been working non-stop, and was due for service, but even then, the housings were loved by our camera team for their excellent mechanics. As for the look, TRIBE7 does not hesitate to inform people that their lenses are inspired by 1950s and 1960s optical designs. I think it’s a great look. The lenses sharp enough for me. Bokeh is really interesting wide open. I would leave the lenses wide open and shoot 99% of my work like that. Our set was very low-contrast, so shadows are lifted, and highlights have a gentle roll off. It’s a nice look, and you can always add more contrast in post. Focus breathing is present, but I never found it to be too distracting.
What was distracting to me were the lens flares from this set. The lenticular rainbow halo pupil flares from the binaries is their calling card. Some people will like it. I feel like it overwhelms the image. It’s an aberration I don’t mind in small doses, but in this set, it’s quite extreme. The good news, this is just one flavor of tuning. TRIBE7 can all but eliminate the effect if you choose a different tuning. So again, don’t make your final opinion of TRIBE7’s lenses on these tests alone. This is just one flavor of these lenses.
I think that TRIBE7 is doing something really great with these lenses. The look is a unique and wonderful vintage aesthetic that I have only seen in certain vintage lenses. Nothing else being built today looks quite like these. They are going to be very popular lenses for filmmakers that want a bit more character and texture form their lenses.