Fallen Angels wide angle lens

Most noticeable about Wong Kar Wai Fallen Angels 1995 is its use of wide angle lenses. In this video I am going to show you which wide angle lens you can purchase to get the same look.

But first we need to find out which camera was used, to know which sensor the lens should cover. Luckily back 1995 there weren’t that many Cinema cameras and its known Wong Kar Wai used an Arriflex BL4 from 1988 till 1997, before switching to Panaflex in 2000. Arriflex BL4 super 35mm film camera, so we mainly need a lens that covers super35 or an APSC sensor.

Now to the focal length we need. Online discussion a lot have speculated it is the 9.8mm T2.3 Kinoptik Century Tegea with a wide angle adapter to make it a 6.8mm. But there isn’t any footage of the 6.8mm lens to compare, but also the lack of behind the scenes makes it hard to find out.

Checking the film credits, you can find Salon Films credited for the rental equipment. But checking out their rental list. I could not find the 6.8mm attachment. Nor do other rental houses in Hong Kong have this specialty item. 

Instead of just speculating, why not just do a lens test so check out which field of view looks the closest.

So the specifications we need are:

  • A Super 35mm lens
  • Focal length in the range of 6.8mm to 9.8mm
  • A fast aperture of t2.3 or faster, as because the movie was shot with a wide angle, most lighting were practical and required a fast lens to get enough light to expose the film.
  • The lens also either needs to have a very close focus or enable to use a diopter to focus close.

So the two lenses I found that fit this requirement is the Laowa 7.5mm f2, though it’s not a 6.8mm but there just isn’t a lot of ultra wide affordable lenses out there. Though this is a m4/3 version and kinda covers S35 enough for this test.

The 2nd lens is the Meike 10mm T2.2 which I think would get you the closest to the Fallen Angels look as I have another theory that it is not the Tegea but a totally different lens. But first let’s test out the lenses and replicate some shots.

From the test Meike 10mm T2.2 has a much more similar look to the original film then the wider 7.5mm as the 7.5mm just has a much wider field of view with a lot more perspective distortions. While 10mm is wide enough to get the wide angle field of view, yet also keep the perspective distortions limited.

The reason why I think the Meike 10mm t2.2 is the closest to the lens, is because the next Wong Kar Wai movie Happy Together, there is a behind the scenes shot with a camera shown, which we can see the Zeiss Standard Speed 10mm t2.1 is mounted, but the movie also has several deleted scenes where we can see the wide angle lens used.

As both the Zeiss 10mm t2.1 and Meike 10mm t2.2 are quite similar, both have same focal length of 10mm, the T stop is quite similar and both don’t have any barrel distortions. As I do have to note not every wide angle shot was shot with the Zeiss 10mm T2.1 , but mostly all the wide angle that don’t have any barrel distortions it is most likely the Zeiss 10mm t2.1 was used.

However for the shots that has a pronounced barrel distortion. I have an idea which lens it could be, but I am waiting on few lens parts that still need to arrive and make a part 2 which will talk about the 2nd wide angle lens.