Film Friday: Photographer uses a rare converted French cinema lens on his Leica M3

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One of the neatest aspects of film photography is its rich history. Despite photography really only being a century-old technology, at least for the masses, there are so many diverse lenses you can adapt to a wide range of analog cameras.

As reported by 35mmc, photographer Rajat Srivastava recently discovered just how diverse and unique the search for an optic could be while searching for a new for a portrait lens for his Leica M3. Srivastava wanted a 75mm lens because it would work as a 100mm lens on his Leica M8.2 digital rangefinder.

As it turns out, Srivastava happened upon a very unusual lens for sale at The Latent Image in Shrewsbury, UK. The specialty film photography store was selling a French SOM Berthiot 75mm cinema lens. The lens was converted to M mount from C mount, and Srivastava believes there cannot be many other lenses like it, perhaps none.

SOM Berthiot, which is shorthand for Société d’Optique et de Mécanique Berthiot, made C and D mount motion picture lenses. Its lenses were designed for amateur, and professional use and the company won an award for ‘Scientific or Technical Achievement’ from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1958. SOM Berthiot lenses are quite rare and popular among collectors.

The lens that Srivastava purchased was designed for the H-16 Bolex Cine cameras in the late 1950s. The lens is not especially large, and its usability proved quite nice. Srivastava says that most of the time, he’s used the lens at F2.5 or F2.8. ‘There is a lot of vignetting but this does not bother me,’ he writes. ‘The images have what I consider to be a classic look.’

Srivastava continues, ‘Needless to say, this is my favorite lens and I find myself using my other M- mount lens much less frequently.’ To see a few more sample shots, head over to 35mmc. You can view more of Rajat Srivastava’s photography on his website and Instagram.


Image credits: Rajat Srivastava

About Film Fridays: We’ve launched an analog forum and in a continuing effort to promote the fun of the medium, we’ll be sharing film-related content on Fridays, including articles from our friends at 35mmc and KosmoFoto.





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