$50 lens, $190 million movie: This vintage Russian lens is the secret weapon of “Dune: Part Two”

helios 44- russian lens

Dune: Part Two has captivated the audience with its breathtaking visuals, just like the first movie. But a surprising element emerged amidst the cutting-edge technology and high budget: a $50 vintage lens from the 1960s played a crucial role. The secret weapon? The Helios 44-2, a Soviet-made lens known for its distinct swirly bokeh.

Cinematographer Greig Fraser, also known for his work on “The Batman” (which also used the Helios lens), strategically incorporated a specially modified version of this lens into the movie’s arsenal.

“The Soviet glass was especially well suited to what we were doing; we used them all in harmony, effectively,” Fraser told Arri Rental. “What I love about 65mm [large format] is that it removes restrictions for me, opening up so many more lens options. You can work with lenses originally designed for smaller formats, where you see parts of the glass that were never intended to be seen.”

The company behind the modified Helios, IronGlass, expressed their delight on social media. “We are thrilled to finally confirm that IronGlass x VLFV MKII lenses were used on the phenomenal DUNE: Part Two!” the company wrote.

“This achievement is a testament to our team’s hard work and dedication, who continue to push boundaries and deliver world-class products. We are also immensely proud of our MKII lenses, which were carefully selected & crafted to contribute to the visual splendour of this iconic film. We are grateful for the opportunity to showcase Ukrainian products on such a grand stage and look forward to continuing our journey in the world of cinematography.”

I love seeing vintage gear being used in new, high-budget movies, or in modern context in general. It’s not always cameras or lenses, but sometimes they’re also used as props or as a part of scenography and story. I particularly love the Helios 44-2; I have it on my dad’s old Zenit film camera and I’m not only emotionally attached to it, but I love its sharpness and that gorgeous bokeh!

helios 44-2

Dune: Part Two is a perfect testament to the power of combining innovative technology with the timeless charm of vintage gear. This unexpected marriage has resulted in a visually stunning cinematic experience that we all love so much.

[via Digital Camera World]

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