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Red Oktober or the Month of Kiev part 2 – Sunstars and Flare

Some lenses have signature sun stars due to the blades in the lens and they give a specific looks to the image when pointed at a source of light.

This is an effect that is hated by probably as many people as love it and so as I could find nothing on the net about the Sunstar or Flare effects of the Helios 103 lens, I thought I would try it out in a picture I know well to see what it would do.

The two images below are at the same road in Colombo, with the first one from a Nikon F2A with the Nikkor 50/1.2; which is famous for it’s 18 point Sun Stars due to the shape of the 9 bladed diaphragm.

This lens is pretty special for this effect and although you will find other Sunstars from some other lenses – this one is unique for the amount of points and the clarity.

If you look about half way down the image on the right hand side you will also see some Lens Flare or Direct Flare in the two ellipsis. These are commonly caused by the additional refractive layer of the filter (in this case dark orange) and are especially prevalent in colour film when using a UV or polarising filter where they assume the colour specific to either the filter used or the coating of the lens.

The image below from the Kiev 4AM and Helios 103 doesn’t have the same star shapes but it does have a lot more direct flare and the lens did not have a filter on it.

Something I have noticed over time with the Russian lenses is the large amount of lens and direct flare without the use of filter and this is probably due to the lens coating as much as the make up of the elements (but am happy to get comments if I am talking complete rubbish here).

This one is an old one from New York in 2010 using the Kiev 60 and Mir 65/3.5 without a filter showing flare and 6 point sunbursts.

This next one is from a couple of months ago using the Voigtlander R2A with an un-filtered Nokton 40/1.4 but that has a Multi Coating on the lens giving the flare the distinct colour.

And this one is also using an unfiltered lens – this time the Ultra Wide 15mm Heliar lens from Voigtlander on the Bessa L showing the 10 point sunburst that this lens gives.

So after all of this sharing of flare and sunbursts I think the view on whether you like it or not is a very personal one. I don’t subscribe to the haters point of view but also don’t generally go looking for it as an effect.

What is useful to know is how your lenses behave and when to remove the filter from the front or use an uncoated lens to avoid unwanted flare.

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Posted by simon on October 14, 2011

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