Instagram has spread through the film industry faster than Benedict Cumberbatch - and it's a great fit. It allows Behind the Scenes photos to be shared instantly across the globe providing a glimpse into the people, tools, and techniques that go into making our favorite creative projects come to life. Naturally, we curated a list of our favorite lens-centric Instagrammers. Check out our list and the descriptions, follow, share, and enjoy!
From the earliest days of his interest in photography and throughout his cinematography career Phil Holland has been completely fascinated by lenses and what he could get out of them. He admits to having spent an unhealthy amount of time testing and digging into many, many lenses. Early on this curiosity was driven mainly from exploring different motion picture film formats, and these days is more due to the various format sizes found on modern digital cinema cameras.
He believes that these days cinematographers are spoiled for lens choices with more glass that ever being reasonably priced plus more access to all sorts of format sizes. Though this is potentially the most exciting time, Phil considers it occasionally overwhelming looking at all of the lenses out there at different price points. “But eventually”, he says, “the lens character will be the deciding factor for discerning creatives. Whether that decision is for the tone of a specific project or a personal style decision, that look is the most powerful thing when crafting a shot.”
Alex Nelson claims to have what he considers an unhealthy preoccupation with lenses and optics. As the chief engineer at Duclos Lenses, he spends most of his time customizing and modifying lenses for cinematographers. He also started a company, Zero Optik, to design and build mechanical lens rehousings for unusual or vintage optics. Ultimately, that means regardless of the day of the week or time of day, you can probably find him working on or thinking about some optical project. His Instagram posts are a mix of those projects and 35mm film photography.
Steve M. is a lens tech at a rental house, and thinks it’s pretty awesome to love your job as much as he loves his! He began his instagram account figuring that if he liked lenses as much as he does, there much be other out there that like them too, so he started sharing so people could see the #lensguts. His #lensguts photos are an excellent glimpse into the small community of cinema lens service technicians - showing us the inner workings of some of the worlds most advanced optics.
Nick has worked for T-Stop Rentals in the Hollywood area of Los Angeles, CA for the past three years. It’s his responsibility to maintain all of the cinema equipment there…
He explains that working on delicate pieces of technology just fascinates him, so when he started working on lenses he was in heaven. “There’s something so old school about working on lenses”, he says, “as opposed to working on digital cameras and monitors. With everything digital these days it’s a real treat to work on a technology that is still very analog. It feels great to be a part of such a specialized and relatively small community of technicians.”
Scott Gleine is a fellow cinema lens technician, but is also an avid photographer who is interested in pretty much all types of lenses. He loves the way that various lenses can be used to tell a story and find the choice of lens to be such an integral part in that. His job enables him to constantly learn about lenses and explore different approaches that are available.
Jorge Diaz-Amador has been a lens technician for over 17 years, starting CinemaTechnic in Miami 2000. As a working DP for several years prior to his technical career, he understood the unique power of lenses in the art of cinematography. In 2010 he joined Abel Cine to manage their lens service. In 2016 he re-started CinemaTechnic in California.
Alan Besedin is a creator of vintagelensesforvideo.com, a website dedicated to vintage lenses, so it’s safe to say lenses take up a big part of his personal and professional life! “What I love about lenses the most” he explains “is how they transform the images projected through them onto a camera sensor! Vintage lenses in particular bring out the magic that can’t be seen with a naked eye. At the point where cameras are now pretty much “perfect,” lenses more than ever contribute towards the “look” created by a cinematographer!” Alan loves exploring all of these looks, which makes discovering new/old lenses the biggest passion in his life.
Mario Contini considers the lens to be the most organic way to disrupt an image before the light travels through the gate. “If you think of what we see with our eyes is truth and a pure reality” he says, “a lens distorts that. They provide a new way to look at the world, a way to manipulate it. And for a creative person it's like a drug! That's why lenses fascinate me so much, I get to escape and create a world from a unique and new POV.”
As a focus puller Mario has worked with every PL-mount anamorphic lens and gained tremendous respect for design and optics. He believes that no two lenses create the same exact image and each set or focal length has a unique characteristic: breathing, flaring, resolution, focus fall-off, etc... As a cinematographer he uses the optical flaws and imperfections of each lens to his advantage.
Mark LaFleur has been interested in lenses since his dad gave him his Pentax MX 35mm SLR more than 20 years ago. He shot any Pentax lens he could find on the used market (as well as some affordable and “quirky” Russian glass). He admits that that really fueled his obsession over how much a lens contributes to an image. Back then his understanding of lenses was somewhat superficial. He knew the basics, but when photography shifted to cinematography that’s when interest turned into obsession. He explains that he can truly appreciate every lens that’s ever been made. And no matter how perfect an image they create, or more often how “imperfect” and image they create, he will continue to collect lenses, because of their unique individual personalities.
“There is no best lens,” he claims. “There often isn’t even a “better” lens. I love them all, and I try to test as many as I can get my hands on, because they all have something to show us. Looking through a lens is a new perspective. It’s a chance to look through someone else’s eyes.” Also follow @oldfastglass
“Lenses are my life” says Michael Koerner, Owner of Koerner Camera, and says that what sets them apart from other rental houses is their lenses. The company feels that they offer superior and better maintained lenses than most other rental houses. When Michael started Koerner Camera over 20 years ago the first thing he purchased was a lens projector and autocollimator, knowing that you are only as good as your test tools and knowledge. Having impeccably maintained glass has been a key to their success.
Joe Gunawan is an aspiring DP as well as working camera op and 1st AC. Joe explains that he loves lenses because he believes that along with light, lenses give what we see on camera personality, a style. “It’s almost like a chef choosing certain spices and amounts for their dishes” he explains. “I love using a variety of lenses because they can help you tell a better story.”
Snehal Patel is a sales manager for Zeiss Cinema lenses. He is also a still photographer and video producer. He loves how lenses allow him to create a story with emotion, in either still or moving image. He loves how the curvature of the glass, the color transmission and other characteristic of glass are all important to creating the final output. He explains that cameras alone cannot create anything without light being projected onto the film plane, and loves that that projection can be manipulated in so many different ways, just by choosing different lenses. He enjoys experimenting with lens combinations to see what kind of frames he can create, to help the audience understand his point of view.
James Neihouse, ASC has been a filmmaker for more than 40 years. In that time, he has worked in almost every format from IMAX to 8mm. Apart from being the first, and most important part of the image capture chain, the lens, to him, is the soul of the photographic process. “They each have their own qualities and unique character,” he explains. “The focal length and ‘look’ of the lens chosen for a shot will have a direct effect on how the image is perceived. This choice is a basic part of telling your story, and will have a definite emotional impact on the audience.” James says that he is often asked what is the best lens, and his answer is always “the one that helps you tell your story the best”.
Vincent Laforet is a DGA Director and DP working out of Los Angeles. He is well-known for his innovative and exemplary photographs and films, and for his forward-thinking use of technology. Vincent has produced commercials for such companies as Nike, Apple, CNN and Canon, and has photographed for Vanity Fair, National Geographic, and Sports Illustrated. In past years, Vincent has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for his photography of the 9/11 attacks from overseas, as well as the Platinum, Silver, and Bronze Cannes Lions for his directing work.
Jan Tichy is a professional photographer from Prague. All his life he has been a collector. He began by collecting old manual lenses and old cameras. Soon he began to realize that while he could collect all the lenses and admire their amazing build and quality of used materials, he could easily adapt them to digital cameras and use them.
[At first] he was searching for the sharpest lenses and explains that while that is fairly easy, it can get expensive. Now his passion is more focused on the unsharp lenses and bokeh and that is a never-ending story. He mostly shoots weddings and portraits - two disciplines where he can get the most of vintage lenses and their unique character. He explains that they help him to create images that look different, and to add a distinctive mood or feel to the images.
David Kovaluk has been shooting for over 10 years now. As the son of an artist and an engineer, he has always found himself straddling both worlds: the artistic and the technical. Understanding photography on a technical level has been integral to the success of his ability to see his vision through. In fact, the science and hardware are as much a part of his passion for creating as the final works themselves.
“Optics for example,” he begins, “are such a powerful component of photography. When I began shooting, I pretty much used whatever lens was on the camera, physically moving about the subject to compose images, as most beginners do.” He quickly became fascinated, however, with the hardware and discovered what differing focal lengths, even the same focal length, but differing optical designs, would yield in his work. He began to understand and discover the nuances of each optical design. Now he sees life through these lenses. “Lenses, have enriched how I see the world giving me the ability to analyze craters on the moon, wonder at the incredible structure of snowflakes, and see everything in between.”
Christiaan Lefering fell in love with vintage lenses when he moved to digital mirrorless and since that day the madness/obsession started with Minolta MCII Rokkor Lenses and he started to collect them… After a while he found a Russian lens on a flea market and because of that a new obsession walked right onto his doorstep...Collecting and, of course, using vintage lenses. For his personal and professional life it gives him extra options to create a mood in a scene or photograph. “And those lenses look really badass on your camera/rig” he proclaims.
Since he can remember, Jason-Paris Mavrokefalos has always been obsessed with digital technology. But it was in 2010, when he decided to attend film school in NY after working as a TV Producer for a while, where he first realised the importance of lenses. “In the final project, we decided along with a couple of friends to sell our film stocks and rent Canon 5D2s. S16 film was pretty but shooting -almost- vistavision digital, with the ability to adapt photo and cine lenses was very exciting” he explains. Since then, he has been working as a director/AC, and even though he shoots exclusively on digital cameras, his appreciation for manual and vintage lenses grew, since he feels it’s the primary way to shape the digital image in a way he finds aesthetically pleasing. As a result, he has been researching and using different lenses on a daily basis for the last 5 years, which eventually led to an appreciation and love geeky details such as engineering design, optical design, coatings, ergonomics, etc. His page on instagram was mainly created to share this passion with others.
"Working on lenses has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences I've ever had", says Jeffrey Marzigliano. While receiving training during visits to several major manufacturers, the most valuable knowledge he has gained over those years has been a result of experimentation and improvisation. Another of the major things that he has learned working on lenses is the importance of process and the need for repeatable success. “It’s important to have a strong base of constants and to know the limits so you can test those limits” he says. These are guidelines that he uses in his everyday life as well, especially in his other passions. “In order to create something great you need to start with a good foundation. Whether I’m fixing a vintage lens, building a custom piece of furniture or cooking a feast, I use all the skills I’ve learned to achieve the greatest possible result.”
Brian Aichlmayr is a IATSE 600 1st Assistant Camera local to Houston, Tx. His favorite parts of a cine lens are the iris blades and the focus ring. “With the iris” he explains, “I find being able to control out of focus beads of light in your backgrounds and the shape of your bokeh fascinating. From the anamorphic oval, MK1 Zeiss Super Speeds triangle to the traditional WFO circle. They all have their own places and creative ways in being used.” He goes on to explain that as a focus puller, the lens gear is one of the most important aspects of a lens. A smooth adjustment is crucial for usable shots so he can create his portion of the art. If he has to put too much pressure on a lens at any given time it may move the camera and create more work for the camera operator or make the shot unusable. He uses lenses in his everyday life, and without them wouldn't be able to do basic functions like drive or even his job really as I wear glasses/ contacts to see clear. Just like a camera.
As a senior photo tech at Lensrentals.com, lenses are not just a passion, but also a job for Joey Miller. When he first started working there, he was testing hundreds of lenses a week, checking for autofocus accuracy, electronic and mechanical integrity, and optical resolution on the good ole ISO 12233 chart. Over time he realized that seeing so many copies of a single lens really helps you grasp the true character of a lens, its variations, its idiosyncrasies. Eventually, Lensrentals.com added in Imatest and a Wells optical bench to dig a little deeper. “Once we had OLAF and our MTF bench and started doing more extensive MTF testing, and created our own custom resolution chart for our in-house testing, we really came into our own” Miller states. “Breaking a lens down by the numbers, and then taking it out into the field and creating something beautiful with it really locks in a two-fold appreciation for these bits of plastic, metal, and glass.”
Pierre Andurand has been President and CEO of Angenieux since 2011. In this role he oversees and moderates the company’s balance of delivering excellence in its traditional area - lenses - as well as its development of new technologies… His posts range from the occasional snapshot to some unique glimpses behind the scenes at Angenieux HQ.
Richard Gale runs a boutique camera lens manufacturing company in the UK. Originally known as Dog Schidt Optiks, they recently rebranded to 'Richard Gale Optics UK'. As the original name would suggest, they started for a bit of fun - with the intention of making maybe 10-20 lenses for fellow vintage lens enthusiasts (a year or two before the vintage lens explosion happened), but demand meant the entire outfit increased in size and now 5 years on they've made significant developments and are running a full time business servicing vintage lens enthusiasts worldwide. Their current range is the APOGEE lens series which employs a novel waterstop aperture insert feature in a matched lens set aimed primarily at the digital cinematography market. They’ve also developed a number of more exotic products including their OLIVIA-SCOPE anamorphic lens system and the FORBES70 large format motion camera. As an avid photographer Richard always enjoyed searching for rare and interesting camera equipment that I can use in my own photographic work, as well as for collection purposes. He supposes a large proportion of his instagram feed is spent documenting some of his camera and lens acquisitions as well as showing progress within the lens manufacturing business.
Last but not least is ME - Matthew Duclos. I began my life-long pursuit of cinema lens perfection back in my early teens, working with my father during Summer breaks. I've now spent over 15 years dedicating every spare moment I have to the art and science of lenses. My instagram feed is split pretty evenly between lenses and my daughters - the two things I love most in the world. Also, as of a year or so ago, when instagram allowed multiple logins on one device, Duclos Lenses received it's own dedicated feed which you should definitely follow: www.instagram.com/ducloslenses
That wraps up our Top 25 Lens Lovers of Instagram post. We hope you enjoyed it. If you're a lens lover like the rest of us here, drop a comment below with your Instagram handle and we'll be sure to share in our next Instagram post.