Vintage C-mount cinema (often shortened to cine) lenses are an excellent option if you want the best quality you can get and are okay with spending a little bit more. Decent ones start around $50, about the price of a higher-end new CCTV lens or a really nice used one by a more well-known company, and nicer ones can go for hundreds of dollars depending on the make and condition of the lens.

Owners of some mirrorless cinema cameras (also plagued by the same issues caused by a small sensor size) will sometimes use these lenses as they're really good for the price and often come in shorter focal lengths since they were designed for cameras that used much smaller film. They're also pretty light, so you won't get such a front-heavy camera like you'd get using a lens from a DSLR or DSLM.

One thing to keep in mind is that since they are used, and a few decades old, C-mount cine lenses may be damaged or have fungi. Most sellers are pretty honest about this in my experience, but just keep an eye out and definitely don't purchase something if the seller doesn't show the actual glass of the lens.

Also, keep in mind that not all of them have focusing rings. Almost all of these lenses are prime lenses, meaning they have a fixed focal length. If you find a lens with 2 rings on it, one for focusing and one for adjusting the aperture, then it will probably work well with the Pi HQ camera. 

Some vintage C-mount lenses measure the focal length in customary units. This is contrary to how most other lenses are measured, and I was slightly confused by this at first. To get the focal length in millimeters, my understanding is that you just have to multiply the focal length in inches by 25.4.

This guide was first published on Aug 12, 2020. It was last updated on Aug 12, 2020.

This page (Vintage C-mount Cinema Lenses) was last updated on Apr 13, 2021.

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