Som Berthiot Lens
5 frames with...

5 Frames with the Som Berthiot 75mm French Cine lens on my Leica M3

June 22, 2022

I am a photography enthusiast who enjoys Street Photography, especially street portraits. I was looking for a portrait lens for my M3 and 75mm was a focal length that really interested me. My digital camera is an M8.2 and this focal length would work as a 100mm lens on the M8.2 body

I chanced upon this particular lens when it was listed with The Latent Image in Shrewsbury. The lens was range finder coupled and converted to an M- Mount (from a C Mount, I presume). There are not many, if any, of these around with an m-mount conversion

I did some search and found more information on these lenses here and here – it seems these French lens were designed for the H-16 Bolex Cine cameras in the 1950s. There wasn’t much more information or photographs on the internet. The gentleman at Latent Image, Mr Temple, was very helpful and told me that he had been using the lens himself and was partial to French lens’s. It was slightly above my budget but still cost less than all the other 75mm lens and somehow the history of the lens and the unusual origin intrigued me.  I felt the lens would gel well with my well used but beloved M3

Top

Front

The lens is a decent size but not cumbersome to carry as an all day lens. The hood does add to the size but not the weight. It is well built but not a heavy lens since the cine cameras in the 1930s were mostly handled, I suppose.  Changing the apertures is not as smooth as other lens I have but focusing is pretty straightforward since this is rangefinder coupled

I like to shoot wide open and sharpness is not usually my priority. I have hardly used this lens at f/8 or above. 90% of time I use it at f/2.5 or 2.8 and all the attached images are taken at these wide open apertures. There is a lot of vignetting but this does not bother me. The images have what I consider to be a classic look. The fact that they were designed to be used with cine cameras might have something to do with the quality of photographs they produce

All of these images are from a single roll of Fomapan 100, shot at box speed, developed at home with Ilfosol 3 and scanned using Silverfast on an Epson V600

Man with the Cigarette

Roses

Rose

Barista

Lennon

Selfie

Needless to say, this is my favourite lens and I find myself using my other M- mount lens much less frequently. All the images were taken on the same day and my favourite in this set is that of Lennon, my King Charles Cavalier, who inevitably ends up being a subject in almost all of my rolls…

Thanks for looking at the images and I hope you like them as much as I do

Rajat Srivastava

www.havecamerawillshoot.co.uk 

https://www.instagram.com/noir_state_of_mind

 

 

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17 Comments

  • Reply
    thorsten wulff
    June 22, 2022 at 10:14 am

    Very nice, Rajat. The bokeh almost looks like from a petzval lens. Say hi to Lennon!

    • Reply
      Rajat Srivastava
      June 22, 2022 at 10:34 am

      Thank you so much, Thorsten. I wasn’t aware of the Petzval lens but have looked them up now. Very original look. Lennon says Hi too 🙂

  • Reply
    Bill barton
    June 22, 2022 at 1:01 pm

    It’s fun using older odd ball lenses, you are never sure what you are going to get. I have a number of Russian Fed lenses from the mid to late 30’s that I use on my Sony a7s. They also fit in with a newer Jupiter 8 the Russian copy of the 85mm sonar from the 50’s. Enjoy

    • Reply
      Rajat Srivastava
      June 22, 2022 at 3:41 pm

      Thanks Bill. One of the charms of photography. The options are almost limitless

  • Reply
    Dan Castelli
    June 22, 2022 at 4:59 pm

    Um, my wife said we look the same. I take that as a compliment!

    I love how the lens rendered the B&W portrait of the gentleman smoking. It’s got the classic feeling of a lens from mid-century.
    A few months into the pandemic, I purchased a 75mm f/2.5 Voigtlander w/the aux. finder. I thought the extra ‘reach’ would serve me well by allowing me to keep a safe distance from my subject during these terrible times. I like the focal length, and I use it enough to keep it, but not as much as I should. It’s tiny & lightweight. It’s a nice fit on my (film) CL and my M2.
    After reading your post, I’m going to start using it more.

    Regards,
    Dan [flickr.com/photos/dcastelli9574/]

    • Reply
      Rajat Srivastava
      June 22, 2022 at 6:04 pm

      Thank you Dan. You must be a very good looking man in that case 😉

      I find the 75mm focal length just right. I do not use a 75mm viewfinder, the lens brings up the 50mm frameline and by pressing the frameline lever I get the 90mm framelines, which then gives me an approximate idea about the framing (half way between the two). Keeps the camera set up light.

      • Reply
        Castelli Daniel
        June 22, 2022 at 11:37 pm

        We are!

  • Reply
    khedara
    June 22, 2022 at 9:27 pm

    Pictures look great Rajat. Neat lens, not only for portraits seems.

    • Reply
      Rajat Srivastava
      June 22, 2022 at 11:29 pm

      Thank you Khe. It does work for other scenarios but portraits are where it shines the most, I think

  • Reply
    Johan
    June 23, 2022 at 1:37 am

    Lovely, pics. Thanks for sharing! Curious if anyone out there ever converted Nikon Cine lenses (c mount) to Leica M?

  • Reply
    Nick
    June 23, 2022 at 11:21 am

    An interesting article Rajat. When one thinks of lenses you don’t usually consider those made in France. Makes you want to explore other manufacturer options 🙂

    • Reply
      Rajat Srivastava
      June 24, 2022 at 9:00 pm

      Thank you Nick 🙂

  • Reply
    Terry B
    June 23, 2022 at 3:30 pm

    This is an interesting lens, but I seriously doubt it is a conversion of a 16mm C mount cine lens which only cover a frame size of approx. 10.26mm x 7.49mm. The covering power of 16mm cine lenses is woefully inadequate and are therefore not suitable for 35mm or FF sensors. Indeed, the 16mm film frame is just about 1/4 of a 4/3rds sensor.

    I suspect what you have is a Roger Lemasson conversion as he was known for converting 35mm format Berthiot lenses to Leica screw (although his main pre-occupation was converting lenses to Contax RF mount). From then, it would be a relatively simple matter to add an M adapter ring.

    Your lens is likely to be a variation of the 75mm FF lens found here: http://www.collection-appareils.fr/objectifs/html/objectif-96-Berthiot_T%C3%A9l%C3%A9.html

    • Reply
      Rajat Srivastava
      June 24, 2022 at 9:07 pm

      Thank you Terry. That is very useful and probably what this lens is. There is a lot of vignetting, so makes me wonder if it was a 35mm lens at all in the first place.

      • Reply
        Terry B
        June 25, 2022 at 12:08 pm

        Hi, Rajat.
        If it were genuinely designed for 16mm cine use, it would exhibit a lot of image fall-off owing to its lack of covering power for the 35mm frame. In appearance it would look like vignetting, but the lack of overall sharpness outside of the coveing power it was designed for would give the game away. And I’m not seeing this in some of your images, and you say these images are shot wide open and which would only enhance the appearance of image fall-off.

        As for the lens being a conversion from a C-mount, I suppose this is possible, but the optic cell itself could simply have been one designed for 35mm use and pressed into service to produce the C-mount version. A simple test would answer this. If you get a chance, how about taking some images of a brick wall and stopping down for each? This will readily show an improvement of vignetting caused by light fall-off, and you will get a good look at the lens’ covering power.

        Whichever is the case with your lens, it is certainly one for discussion and may even have a link with Roger Lemasson, so a rarity indeed.

  • Reply
    chrisomac
    June 27, 2022 at 4:17 am

    Pour la photo de rue ça doit être pratique et rapide ?

  • Reply
    Des McSweeney
    June 28, 2022 at 10:19 am

    I think “smoking man” is the outstanding photo in this collection (sorry doggie). I like 75 for street too and am currently without but do have a plan 😉

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