If you are a video creator or photographer you know that different lenses for you camera are important to give your images good quality or a certain look. Depending on the purpose and your experience you very likely need multiple ones. But can you afford buying original lens after lens and to spend all that money on them?
Luckily there is a cheap alternative. Lenses for surveillance cameras so called CCTV lenses are available for relatively little money. As they usually don't contain electronics or stabilization mechanisms they can be build at little cost although their glass is often pretty good.
Step 1: The Settings
They can not only replace original lenses with similar properties but can also offer specifications that are not available from the official lens program. Examples are this 500 mm tele lens where the maximum from Nikon is currently 110 mm or this 8mm? wide angle where the minimum from Nikon is 10 mm for my Nikon 1.
Probably the most used format for CCTV lenses is the C mount which was first used for 16 mm movie cameras by Bell & Howell. As they are often used to monitor badly lit places they often come with a larger aperture that offers a shallow depth of field and great low light capabilities. Unfortunately they will usually not directly fit your camera especially when it's a mirrorless. So you need an adaptor.
But it's not really expensive and widely available for most common cameras. The camera settings will need to be changed to fully manual in most cases as there is no electronic feedback for e.g. aperture and shutter. Some models allow using aperture priority mode though which is preferable as that way at least the exposure can be chosen automatically. This also means that you need to change all other settings on your lens mechanically by yourself of course.
Another widely used format is T2 introduced by Tamron which you find on telescopes or microscopes. This allows you to also easily take microscopic or astronomy images as a bonus. Note that you may need extension rings to adjust the focus point of the lens to the one of your camera.
Step 2: The Quality
If you are searching for a lens make sure that its sensor size matches the one of your camera. Otherwise you will get bad vignetting if it's considerably smaller. Depending on the actual quality these lenses can not only be incredibly cheap - they can also be incredibly bad. So you need to do some research for example in forums to find out which ones offer a decent quality. You can also check out my blog for a comparison of different wide angle CCTV lenses.
So if you are carefully deciding which lens you actually buy it can give you great artistic opportunities and save you a lot of money.