A Tale of Two Lenses

Canon TV C-16 21.6mm-129mm F2.7 Zoom

Canon TV C-16 21.6mm-129mm F2.7 Zoom

Since my Panasonic GH series cameras can be adapted to use just about any lens, I am always keeping an eye out at thrift stores for vintage 35mm still camera and16mm motion picture and TV lenses. Usually when you find a lens in a thrift store it is usually either overpriced, not very special, or is in poor condition. I was very pleasantly surprised when my wife found not one, but two interesting lenses in the same week at the same thrift store.

The first lens is a very rare Canon TV C-16 zoom lens. Usually, if you are lucky enough to find this lens, it has a common C-mount that is typically used for surveillance video cameras.

c-16 lens mount

The odd bayonet mount

This lens had an unusual bayonet mount, my best guess through research, is that the lens was for a Cinema Products or Aaton 16mm film camera. But what was really special is that the lens came its original leather case, was in a Canon branded plastic bag with desiccant packet, and had apparently never been used. And at $15, this lens was the steal of the century.


A practically new lens

The only problem is adapting the lens to fit the Panasonic micro four-thirds mount, had it been a C-mount lens, adapting it would be as simple as buying the common off-the-shelf adapter. But with the bayonet mount, I had to fabricate my own adapter. I measured the lens barrel and found that it had an outside diameter of 45mm, the closest adapter I could think of is the common M42 to micro 4/3 mount adapter, which has a 42mm threaded mount. I am fortunate enough to have a brother-in-law who has a metal lathe, so I took a M42 to micro 4/3 adapter and machined it to 45mm to allow it to slip onto the lens barrel. I then adjusted the back focus of the lens by moving the adapter forward and back until I had sharp focus throughout it’s zoom and focus range, I then locked the adapter into position using a set screw. The final result is a very versatile 21.5mm-129mm f2.7 cinema zoom lens. When used with my Panasonic GH3 camera with its 2X crop factor, the lens functions as a 43mm-258mm T2.8 zoom. It is now my go-to cinema lens for shooting film–style video.

C-16 Lens test graded 1080P from Jay Shaffer on Vimeo.

The second lens that my wife found is a Soligor 135mm f2.8 lens for a mere $8.


Soligor 135mm f2.8

This lens came with a T2 threaded mount, while this is unusual for a 35mm still camera lens, as the T2 mount is commonly used to mount cameras to telescopes. I ordered an adapter and was pleasantly surprised that it fit perfectly to allow the lens to focus when mounted on my GH3. Of course this lens becomes effectively a 270mm f2.8 telephoto lens. Being that it has such a wide aperture, it works well as a low contrast still portrait lens or as a cinema lens where you want a soft background.

Overall, I have to say that these two lenses are the best bargains in my rather extensive vintage lens collection.

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