Here’s a big and super rare scope that fits into the exotic family of 1.75x scopes! And it’s a Kowa. Oh, this could be good!
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Tito Ferradans here, this time with the help of a fellow Vancouverite, Victor Prokopowicz. Victor came to me because he was having trouble with his Kowa 1.75x. Because of the massive front ring, he wasn’t able to fit it inside the back of the Rectilux HCDNA. So he gave me all the parts, I took the Rectilux apart (like shown in the tutorial I posted here) and he took the back of it to mill it wider.
As soon as he brought the HCDNA back I put everything together and the fit was perfect, so I took it out for a spin and test shots.
This Kowa is a heavy lens, at 600g, or 1.5lb, plus the weight of the HCDNA so I had a Rapido clamp mounted to 15mm rails, which made alignment a lot easier when swapping taking lenses. This is one of those lenses that feels heavier than it looks. If it didn’t deliver such beautiful images, I’d say it’s too heavy.
Part of the select club of 1.75x scopes, this Kowa has no front or rear threads, making clamps mandatory. Focus comes as close as 1.5m or 5ft, and the body has marks in ft. Due to its double focus nature, I’d stick to the HCDNA, which is the only single focus solution right now capable of covering the big front glass and making this lens shine.
It’s hard to place this Kowa on a price chart. The last ones to show up on eBay sold (or are still listed) for ridiculous over-two-thousand dollars marks. I guess it’s that rare. Victor told me he actually found his on a random, old school used items site and had to phone down the store in the US to hear about their return policies. The Kowa was the only thing sticking out in their inventory, so he was a bit suspicions. It turned out the lens was real, and he paid a lot less than two grand for it. There are still scopes out there, friends.
Image quality is pretty good at all apertures, and the smudges you see at f/1.4 are because the newspaper wasn’t perfectly flat against the wall and DOF was shallow enough to get parts of it blurry. At 135 and wide open the Kowa struggles a little bit, but still holds up alright. A little sharpening in post and you’re ready to go. $$ sound. Price increases.
Flares are not super crazy, but very much present. They show a reddish hue a bit deeper than the Kowa B&H and Iscoramas. Remarkable flares from a remarkable scope. Price goes up!
I have an extensive test for vignetting. The initial problem here was that the HCDNA was sitting too far from the front of the Kowa. This is what we had. Heavy vignetting until 50mm, then almost clear at 85mm and finally clear at 135mm. Let’s step back to 40mm. That’s bad. After getting the back of the HCDNA wider, we were able to clear a lot more of the frame, getting 2.4:1 clear around 50mm on Full Frame and no trace of vignetting at 85mm. Once we remove the HCDNA entirely, you can clear 50mm!!! And get a tiny bit of dark edges at 40mm using Canon’s pancake. Price goes up a lot.
This Kowa was a beast of a lens, it’s large, sturdy, could be used as a bludgeoning weapon, delivers Kowa-like sharp images, goes pretty wide for its stretch factor and has unique reddish flares. I am not surprised at the asking prices on these after testing. It’s too heavy for my style, I mean, I got these skinny arms that will die upon a heavy handheld setup.
I’d like to thank Viktor for letting me run all of these tests and for trusting me with his gems. What did you think of the results on this one? Is everyone already scouring the web for lucky finds like this? Let me know if you succeed in the comments and don’t forget to subscribe before you go. If you enjoyed this video, please hit the like button. I’m Tito Ferradans and I’ll see you next week. Thanks for watching!