NONS is a small camera manufacturer known for their Instax SLRs that accept various vintage and modern lenses. They’ve recently sent me their newest 35mm 𝒇2.4 glass for a test drive.
Who is this lens for?
NONS 35mm 𝒇2.4 EF-mount manual lens is for NONS SL42 and SL660 instant film camera owners. It’s an affordable ($109 new), well-made small-batch glass with manual controls that renders images with modern-looking bokeh.
Though it fits on its native Canon EF mount, this lens will not let you shoot at infinity (unless you combine a small aperture with some free-lensing), and you will need a hack to stop your camera from rejecting a non-OEM lens.
SL42 and SL660 instant film cameras can take EF, Nikon F, M42, Pentax K, Contax/Yashica, and medium format lenses. However, both Instax Mini and Square formats are significantly larger than the 35mm full-frame. Because of that, the image circle of those lenses is insufficient for Instax film, which leads to heavy vignetting. NONS uses optics to counter vignetting to various degrees.
This lens is the result of NONS’ experience with bending light and an improvement over their first offering of the kind: the 50mm 𝒇1.8 manual lens. Both lenses were developed specifically for the NONS instant film cameras to minimize vignetting and optimize the close-focus shooting experience. The 35mm 𝒇2.4 lens features a larger image circle (less vignetting), shorter close-focus distance, and better distortion correction over its predecessor.
However, for this review, I’ve tested the lens with my Canon EOS 5. Though I can’t judge lens’ vignetting on this camera, 35mm film can produce significantly better scans than instant film. I used PrimeFilm XAs for mine.
Design, ergonomics, and build quality.
The lens is well-built. It features a painted metal exterior and an aluminum base, weighing 225g/8oz. The only plastic/rubber components on the exterior are the focus and aperture rings. There’s a small black screw near the base that isn’t flush with the body, though it’s hardly a complaint as you have to look for it, and it doesn’t affect the usability or performance in any way.
The focus ring has a 180° trow, and the apertures range from 𝒇2.4 to 𝒇22 with full- and half-stop clicks. Next to the aperture and distance markings, you’ll find a depth of field calculator — very helpful for zone focusing. The focus range on this lens is .24m (.8’) to infinity; the ring is particularly sensitive between 2m-∞ (just over one degree of a turn) though I haven’t had any issues with that.
I do wish that the lens had better typography. All the lettering on the barrel is white, and the markings are sometimes difficult to discern. It would’ve benefitted from some colour coding. I also found the aperture values to be too close; the half-stop clicks made switching them challenging when I was rushing to take an action shot. Not a huge deal, but something to keep in mind as you may need some time to adjust.
The optical qualities of this lens are rather impressive. Made by an indie producer in a small batch, this glass shows minimal chromatic aberrations, retains its sharpness when shot wide-open, and renders pleasing, modern-looking bokeh (w/o cat-eye or swirly distortions).
Since the lens produces a larger-than-average image circle, it’s hard to judge its performance around the corners. From what I saw, there is some blurring and stretching of the image in the fringes, though I doubt you’d ever notice that on instant film.
Chromatic aberration isn’t noticeable or significant on this lens. The fine tips of the tree branches in the next two images show a bit of a purple cast, though I couldn’t discern the edges even when I zoomed in on my 34MP scans of Fujifilm Superia X-Tra 400 and Kodak Gold 200.
If you zoom far enough, you may notice some softness. I doubt you’ll ever notice it if you use the lens on a camera and the medium it’s meant for. Better yet, the lens’ resolution remains relatively constant, regardless of the aperture selected. Thus a detailed portrait with a shallow depth of field is certainly possible — as long as you manage to nail the focus and avoid motion blur.
The lens renders medium/natural contrast. The films I used on this lens aren’t perfectly colour-accurate, but the renderings I got were consistent with most other lenses I tried on those emulsions. Nothing out of the ordinary.
NONS’ 35mm lens is a modern glass with manual controls. Its 𝒇2.4 max aperture is useful for low-light conditions, and it can produce pronounced bokeh (especially at the near-macro close-up distances). It’s reasonably sharp, and the controls, despite some drawbacks, are fairly easy to get used to; I was able to capture at least a few action shots that I liked on this lens, which should be even easier to do on a camera that’s built for it.
Though it may lack some character/unique distortions that I enjoy on vintage lenses, NONS’ new lens can produce pleasing, high-res images. Given its price and specifics adjusted for the instant cameras, it seems like something you’d want to have along with either NONS SL42 or SL660.
Where to buy your NONS 35mm F/2.4 lens.
All NONS cameras and lenses can be bought directly from the manufacturer on their website.
❤ By the way: If you’re looking to buy an SL42 or SL660 instant film camera for your NONS 35mm F/2.4 lens, consider using this link so that this website may get a small percentage of that sale — at no extra charge for you — thanks!