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Masterbuilt Vista-M Classic and Soft Flares Prime lenses offer Vintage Looks for Modern Large Formats

Masterbuilt Vista-M Classic and Soft Flares Prime lenses offer Vintage Looks for Modern Large Formats

By Bokeh Rentals | November 26th, 2021

Masterbuilt has been upping the game in vintage-styled cinema lenses for the digital era. The company’s two parallel lens packages, the Vista-M Classic (for “Masterbuilt”) and Soft Flares lenses, are remarkable feats in optical imaging: large format lenses with a vintage style and top-of-the-line technical capabilities, such as their consistent max aperture of T1.4.

These two lens packages are indeed master-built, and although their looks differ optically, they have many key specs in common.

First and foremost, the sets are comprised of the same six focal lengths: 15mm, 25mm, 35mm, 50mm, 85mm and 105mm. All twelve lenses have the same front diameter of 114mm, which means that filters can be swapped out between lenses with minimal tweaking. If a wide shot is lined up on a 25mm with an ND filter on the front, and the crew is moving onto a medium shot on a 50mm—the same ND filter can be applied to the 50mm. And because the two lenses have the same aperture abilities, very few (if any) changes need to be made between setups.

Both the Vista-M Classic Primes and the Soft Flares Primes have crisp sharpness in its areas of focus with a gentle falloff, giving a more tactile, pre-digital feel—akin to 1970s or 1980s lenses like the Canon K-35. The combination of crisp sharpness and gentle fallout distinguishes the Masterbuilt vintage look from the sterile, digital-looking aesthetics from other leading brands. To optimize focus performance, both kits have a 300 degree barrel rotation with focus marks in feet. Smooth, accurate non-breathing focus is ensured, which is crucial when opening up to its impressive 1.4 T-stop or when working in low-light scenarios.

Because these Masterbuilt lenses were heavily inspired by the Canon K-35s, they were built with aspherical elements to capture the aberration that comes with vintage lenses, in stark contrast to the “pixel-perfect” looks of more digital-era minded gear. Subtleties like this in the image give the lenses authenticity among more classic-feeling lenses.

Watch Newsshooter’s close-up look at the new Vista-M lenses from a TM Camera Solutions representative at Cinegear Expo ’19:

Masterbuilt’s products are built towards a vintage sensibility with the technical capabilities of modern day lenses. This includes the convenient features of smooth focus and significantly improved light performance (especially when used with digital camera bodies), as well as the fundamental improvements in frame formats. In fact, the Vista-M Classic and Soft Flares Primes are purpose-built for large formats, such as Super 35, IMAX 65, ARRI ALEXA 65 OPEN GATE, RED MONSTRO 8K VV, and others. Although the looks are inspired by vintage cinema lenses, the Vista-M and Soft Flares lenses are newly housed in solid, beautiful casings of similar weights, much like the Canon K-35s. In order to serve all full-frame large formats, the lenses can be built to LPL, PL, and Panavision mounts.

Not only are the two packages’ looks designed to be interchangeable, but the similar capabilities make it all the more convenient. Similar apertures allow a Vista-M lens to be swapped out with a Soft Flares lens without so much as a lighting reconfiguration—and that’s even if the lenses are of different lengths.

Where the Vista-M and Soft Flares differ, however, is in the exact temperature of their vintage look. Much like the tuning variations in BLACKWING lenses, Masterbuilt designated its different products by their different flare behaviors. The Soft Flares lenses offer softer-edged, smoother contrast flares than the Vista-M Classic Primes. Both the Vista-M and Soft Flares have softer, lower contrast looks, but because of their differing performance with flares, they can be swapped out on a per-setup basis depending on the intensity of flares.

These ultra-quality lenses from Masterbuilt are built to order and have been produced on a limited basis. Finding these sets out in the wild could prove a challenge for any filmmakers, so it’s worth checking in with rental houses ahead of time.

Rent MASTERBUILT VISTA-M CLASSIC lenses from Bokeh Rentals

Rent MASTERBUILT SOFT FLARES lenses from Bokeh Rentals

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