Hartblei Super-Rotator 80mm f/2.8 MC - Review / Test Report
Lens Reviews -
Canon EOS (APS-C)
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Special thanks to Markus Stamm for providing this lens!
Occasionally we all want to try something very different - a macro or fisheye
lens for instance or a tilt-shift lens. Nonetheless most us don´t really
want to invest a fortune for a specialty task and this is the point
where we can look to the east - not to the far east but to Russia, Belarus
or Ukraine where we can find a couple of manufacturers offering exotic lens designs.
They also offer "normal" lenses but here the involved compromises,
specifically the lack of AF and aperture coupling, are usually unacceptable
for mainstream lenses. But for rarely used, specialty items these compromises are viable.
So let´s have a look at the Hartblei Super-Rotator 80mm f/2.8 MC - a tilt-shift
lens (also available as 65mm and 120mm variant). The first odd thing is the name
which sounds distinctively German but it is indeed a lens from Ukraine.
Most Hartblei lenses are in medium format but some are available for 35mm SLRs/DSLRs
like the sample in Canon EOS fit used for testing on a Canon EOS 350D / Digital
RebelXT. On such an APS-C DSLR the field-of-view is equivalent to 128mm on
full frame cameras.
The optical design is made of just 6 elements in 5 groups without any
special elements. The filter size is 62mm. As mentioned it is a tilt-shift
lens with a tilt movement range of 0-8 degrees and a shift movement of 0-12mm.
The rather fat lens has a weight of 800g. The minimum focus distance is 0.6m.
Unlike e.g. Canon TS-E lenses the Hartblei is more flexible because
the tilt-shift function is not limited to a one axis.
The tilt feature allows you to change the focus plane either to produce
more or less depth-of-field than conventional lenses at the same
The shift function can be used to correct a distorted perspective by
producing a trapezoid image thus counteracting the distortion effect
when using the lens off a strictly horizontal composition.
Both features can be controlled via dedicated handles (sticks) which
can be rotated (thus the name Super-Rotator) to the desired
effect. Depending on the specific camera model the rear control stick
can sometimes collide with the (camera build-in) flash housing (e.g.
on the Canon EOS 10D) but you can remove the sticks and control
the tilt/shift function directly via the underlying control rings
(a little less convenient).
As mentioned above the lens doesn't provide AF (not unusual - it´s the
same with Canon TS-E lenses) nor any aperture coupling - in fact the
camera isn´t even aware that the lens is mounted. Therefore you
have to the the camera to either manual or aperture-priority mode.
It´s a little cumbersome at first but get used to it after a while.
The build quality of the lens is pretty good which is typical for many
russian made lenses. The focus ring operates very smooth and well
damped and the aperture and tilt/shift ring offer discrete steps
with pronounced "clicks".