Pentax 67 Lens Flare: How to Master the In-Camera Lens Flare on the Pentax 67 by David Rose

Pentax 67 Lens Flare: How to create the perfect lens flare on the Pentax 67 by David Rose on Shoot It With Film

Written by David Rose

One of my favorite camera and lens systems of all time is the legendary Pentax 67 plus the SMC 105mm F2.4 lens combo.

Not only is this a great medium format setup for all types of shooting, but the glass in this particular lens is capable of producing a gorgeous and immediately recognizable “red orb” lens flare which really puts it in a class of its own:

How to Master the Lens Flare with the Pentax 67 Medium Format Film Camera
How to Master the Lens Flare with the Pentax 67 Medium Format Film Camera
Pentax 67 Lens Flare: How to create the perfect lens flare on the Pentax 67 by David Rose on Shoot It With Film
Somewhere, somehow, J.J. Abrams is probably shedding a single tear of joy…

While the technique for getting this flare is not super difficult, there is an optimal combination of factors that you’ll want to take into account for best results.

This includes: (1) the lighting and time of day, (2) using the right film stock, and (3) the correct composing/metering technique.

Factor 1: Lighting and Time of Day

If you want your lens flares to look straight out of a fairy tale, you’ll want to shoot in the last few minutes of sunset right before the sun dips out of view.

The window for this best lighting is typically only about 5-10 minutes long, so be sure to have everything ready beforehand. Nothing is more anxiety inducing than having the wrong film loaded while the sun is inexorably getting closer to the horizon line.

You’ll also want to select a location that doesn’t have tall mountains or buildings obscuring the horizon, since you’ll need the sun positioned behind your subject (but not directly behind… more on this later).

Tips on creating the perfect lens flare with the Pentax 67 medium format film camera by David Rose on Shoot It With Film

Below is an example of a shot taken more toward the middle of the day, which didn’t work as well for 2 reasons…

(1) in order to get the sun and your subject in the same shot you essentially have to shoot straight up from the ground, which is never a flattering angle, and

(2) the harsher the sunlight, the less it will accommodate exposure latitude, which blows out highlights and/or muddies shadows.

Pentax 67 Lens Flare: How to create the perfect lens flare on the Pentax 67 by David Rose on Shoot It With Film
Portra 400 + mid-afternoon sunlight = harsh lighting and difficult angles.

Factor 2: Choosing the Right Film Stock

I recommend using Kodak Ektar 100. I’ve tried to capture these lens flares with various types of films, but the most consistent by far is Ektar. It’s ideal for two very important reasons: it’s vibrant colors and exposure latitude.

Now, here you might interject that color positive slide film (Fuji Velvia, Provia, etc.) has even richer colors than Ektar, and while this is true, it also handles overexposure poorly. While I’ve never tried to capture one of these shots on slide film, I can almost guarantee it would be unusably overexposed by the intensity of the light.

Please note that not all of these rules are hard and fast. Case in point, the following shot was captured in the mid afternoon on Kodak Portra 400 (gasp)… although, in this scenario, it definitely helped to accentuate the orange flare by having the sunlight subdued somewhat by the trees:

Tips on creating the perfect lens flare with the Pentax 67 medium format film camera by David Rose on Shoot It With Film
My beautiful wife captured on Portra 400 during a later afternoon photo walk.

Factor 3: Metering and Composition for the Pentax 67 Lens Flare

With my Pentax 67, I almost always shoot wide open at f/2.4 (this lens is that sharp) and use the in-camera pentaprism light meter.

When I’m metering for the lens flare, I’ll typically find my exposure by just leaving the sun out of my field of view (literally just angling the camera away from the sun and onto my subject). Once I’ve found the right shutter speed, I’ll swing the sun back into the frame to compose my shot.

This method works especially well with Ektar since it has insane exposure latitude and can still deliver a perfectly usable image even when shooting straight into the sun.

Also, for anyone who needs to hear this, if you try to meter with the sun still in frame your photo will come out extremely underexposed, since your camera will think you’re idiotically trying to take a picture of the brightest object in the solar system and will compensate accordingly.

What you’re probably thinking right about now…

For composition, if we’re using the rule of thirds, you’ll want to place your subject on one grid line, and the light source (sun) on the other.

As far as placement goes, you’ll find that you can easily see the lens flare in-camera as you are shooting, which makes it easy to place it wherever you want by adjusting the angle and direction.

This is a useful composition tool, but please don’t make the mistake of looking directly at the sun through your viewfinder. (Spoiler alert) It’s still just as bright as ever and you’ll go blind temporarily… or permanently.

I usually try to look toward one of the opposite corners away from the sun and compose using peripheral vision, and even then it’s difficult to keep your eye open for more than a few seconds while you shoot your shot.

Pentax 67 Lens Flare: How to create the perfect lens flare on the Pentax 67 by David Rose on Shoot It With Film

Also, pro tip, you definitely don’t want to place the sun directly behind or too close to your subject.

You’ll still be able to see the lens flare, but they subject will likely be washed out by the blinding light. I’ve made this mistake so that you don’t have to, as you can see here:

Tips on creating the perfect lens flare with the Pentax 67 medium format film camera by David Rose on Shoot It With Film
The sun tends to overpower anything close to it? Whoulda thought… shot on Portra 400.

And that’s pretty much it! Congratulations, you should now be able to capture amazing lens flares with your Pentax 67!

I hope you enjoyed this article, and please feel free to reach out to me (DM’ing on Instagram is probably easiest) if you have any questions at all.

I would also love to see the images you’re able to capture using this technique. Tag me in your photos or use #pentax67lensflare so I can check out your work.

Thank you so much, David! David is a regular contributor here at Shoot It With Film, and you can check out his other articles here, such as his Guide to Choosing a Color Film.

You can also find more of David’s work on Instagram!

Leaving questions about creating a beautiful lens flare with the Pentax 67 below in the comments, and if you’d like to pick up a Pentax 67 for yourself, you can find it at KEH Camera or on eBay!

David Rose

David Rose is a regular contributor for Shoot It With Film. Find his other articles here, such as Guide to Choosing a Color Film and 35mm vs 120: Choosing a Film Format.

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Very interesting! I googled Pentax67+lens+orb and I found this great article published only 2 days ago!!! I had a good idea how to get that kind of result but I was wondering if a lens was better. Also I did not think that a specific film stock would be better. I left the film world 15 years ago and I’m happy to revisit it! Thanks for sharing this information!

Glad you found it helpful! I think the 105mm is the best (and only) lens that can produce this specific type of flare.

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