(Photos are of my actual lenses)
This is the first and oldest generation of the now legendary Zeiss “Super Speed" lenses, commonly referred to as “B-Speeds.” Introduced in the 1970s they were originally housed in tiny metal work with an ARRI Bayonet Mount. The lens designs share a lot of DNA with later versions of the Super Speeds. In fact the 18mm, 25mm and 35mm are the same optical design as the more modern MKII and MKIII Super Speeds. The 50mm and 85mm optical designs are unique to the B-Speeds.
Zeiss Super Speeds contain glass elements made of “rare earth element glass,” (which lens manufacturers are no longer allowed to use). They have their original coatings, and arguably most important their original iris design. The thing that sets B-Speeds apart from other Zeiss Super Speeds and any other lens ever made is their unique 9-blade iris that results in an aperture that has the shape of a triangle with rounded side. This iris design not only gives the lenses a more gentle focus roll off, but it also produces one of the most striking bokeh effects of any other lens. Shoot them wide open and similar to other lenses, out-of-focus pinpoint light sources are round orbs. However stop down to T2, and the circular orbs turn into rounded triangles. Stop down to T5.6 and the effect becomes more exaggerated. The benefit is that B-Speeds give you multiple looks within the same set, and the ability to make your project stand out.
There is no breathing on the 18mm, very low on the 25mm, and low/moderate on the 35mm, 50mm and 85mm. Flares are very nice thanks to the vintage T* coating. Don’t be afraid to shoot them wide open, which results in a beautiful flattering, creamy look with a slight glow to highlights. Stop down and the look is sharper and has more contrast. Personally I like to shoot them at T2.
These are small, fast, gorgeous, vintage lenses that can produce results no other lens can replicate.
1 - Zeiss B-Speed 35mm T1.4
1 - Zeiss B-Speed 85mm T1.4
1 - Case
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