WATCH THE VIDEO HERE!

All the RED links on this post are part of eBay’s Partner Network, so if you purchase anything through them, you’re helping me to keep this project going.

You probably remember a few months ago when I posted an extreme tutorial on modifying the Helios 44-2 for crazy looks. It was actually a series of simple operations that involved sanding, polishing and painting parts inside the lens. Since then I’ve sold a number of modded Helios and my original amber has become one of my favorite lenses. The problem is when you want to shoot something more… diverse, having a single focal length can be challenging.

Because of this limitation I decided that I wanted to add versatility to the look. This led me to spending quality time wandering around forums, YouTube and various websites to figure out how to open up a few other lenses. No surprise here, the chosen ones were the Mir 1B (37mm f/2.8) and Jupiter 9 (85mm f/2), to keep the costs down in case of failure and – more importantly – because this is a tried and tested trio. In this process I ended up adding one more step to the Helios mod, but we’ll go about that later.

After figuring out how to crack them open, I cleared my schedule for an entire weekend and devoted myself to making two sets of ambers. At the same time I was comfortable unscrewing every single bit out, there was an intense feeling that I could be wrecking all those lenses at the same time. There were many “creative” solutions on the process but in the end I was able to put everything back together.

A photo posted by Tito Ferradans (@tferradans) on

Since nobody buys weird optics without seeing tests first I took them around the block for another sunset – not as dramatic as the Helios’. Color correction has been kept to a minimum (curves for contrast and boosted up saturation, since I shot at SLog3).

I’m gonna do tutorials further down the line on how to mod the Mir and Jupiter in order to make your own looks, but tests are all I have for this week. If the first video wasn’t enough, here’s another thing I shot with them, this time pairing the ambers to an Iscorama pre36. For that first tracking shot we had the Ronin M at almost maximum load with the A7s2, Helios 44-2, Iscorama and Cinegears wireless follow focus. The close ups were done with the Jupiter 9 and Iscorama, handheld. The final wide shot is just the Mir 1B, as it vignettes too much with the Iscorama.

Tech specs: Each set consists of three lenses, Mir 1B (37mm f/2.8 – aprox f/4), Helios 44-2 (58mm f/2 – aprox f/2.8) and Jupiter 9 (85mm f/2 – aprox f/2.8). The second aperture values are because of the oval disc inside, which limits maximum light transmission. They all feature 49mm filter threads, non-rotating front element while focusing, clickless (preset) aperture rings. All lenses come with front and rear caps. Focus and iris rings are smooth. Multiple elements and inner parts have amber accents for flaring and tone. All three lenses have oval aperture discs inside (while maintaining fully operational apertures) and inner red flare threads for better anamorfaking. They’re natively M42 mount, but come with a rotating M42 to EF adapter so you can realign the oval and flare according to your wishes. Lenses are fitted with seamless focus gears. The Mir 1B has also been modified for a little bit more of close focusing. As for the original lenses, they’re all non-MC models with black bodies.

I have only two sets at the moment, one with polished glass elements (less contrast, more bloom) and one unpolished (the original glass is left untouched). My goal now is to let them go, as I have no need for the overwhelming number of lenses I currently own. If you wanna support this project and get some unique gear at the same time, this is a great chance! The videos above were shot using the unpolished set. The price for each set is $780 (shipping with tracking included, as well as PayPal taxes). If these are picked up quickly, I’ll consider making more.




It’s time to take things to another level on these tutorials. To help me with that I asked Cosimo Murgolo to detail his steps on making the FM2 (Focus Module MODULE) Lens. The post below is derived from his explanation. I have not done the mod myself since I’ll let the FM go when I’m done with all the reviews. If I were to keep it, I would surely chop it. Cosimo’s main motivation with the mod was actually not to make the FM lighter, or friendlier, but to fit his baby scopes inside and take them anywhere.

Cosimo is a big enthusiast and fond of good stuff like anamorphic, trying to learn the most he can while journeying the long road to be a real cinematographer (his words, not mine!). Oh, and as you might notice below, he likes to smash lenses. Cosimo was one of the pioneers with the FM Lens, constantly feeding the conversation about it with new information and his experiences. He is a great enthusiast of doing things yourself and he’s not afraid of the risks. Below is some of his work. All the images have a ton of mood and, to me, it feels like jumping into a time machine due to their vintage feel.







DISCLAIMER! WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY BROKEN OR DAMAGED LENSES. DO THE PROCEDURE AT YOUR OWN RISK! That being said, Cosimo did it, and so did Jesse Heidenfeld, following the same instructions. So, if you’re using the right tools and working with care, you should succeed.

I want to open with a quote of his experience doing the mod. You know, for inspiration:

“This can be easily done with a lathe, the cut will be very tiring to do with the hacksaw. It was fucking exhausting, but desperation brings you anywhere” – Cosimo Murgolo, 2016.

The first step is to disassemble both positive and negative glass out of the lens body – do this by removing the retaining ring on the front of the lens. Store them away in a safe location. There’s no need to risk their integrity hacking and sawing with them attached.


Now go on and take apart the body in two main pieces, the INNER and the OUTER tubes. The screws that hold them together are by the focus scale on the OUTER tube and there are a few more inside, but nothing tricky or new. Document your process, take photos and notes so you can put it back together

More of a reminder than an actual step: make sure you have clean cuts and holes, as the threads should align even after being drilled through and cut short.

Looking at the INNER tube, cut it close to the end of the threads. For safety – and Cosimo really stresses out you should play safe here -, save yourself another 10mm past the end of the threads. This is where you are going to be making holes for clamping the tube to your anamorphic. Cosimo’s recommendation is to use 5mm nylon screws, so, after you drill their threaded holes, you can shave any excess at the end of the INNER tube. Cosimo chose not to leave any room at all, for compactness’ sake and drilled right onto the end of the threads. One big advantage of cutting a little further from the end of the threads is that you can always shave off that extra space afterwards if you want to. You’re unable to extend what’s already been cut, though. So if you’re not 100% confident on your machining skills, or how the process is going, play safe. Don’t risk the entire lens on drilling the perfect holes.

The mod’s goal is to make the FM shorter. It’s up to you to decide how much shorter you want it to be. The more of the OUTER tube you keep, the shorter is your minimum focus going to be. In Cosimo’s mod he knew what he wanted and 1m was enough for close focus, so he chopped off most of the OUTER tube. The cut was made at the end of the tapering from the wider front. You can keep a little more of the OUTER for the ability of going closer with focus.

Going back to the INNER tube, there are a few more things to consider. The most important ones are the small brass stops which calibrate minimum focus and infinity positions. For the mod’s sake, you are going to take these away. You will not be able to control where the OUTER tube stops unscrewing. As you don’t want your modded FM to unscrew right off the threads at minimum focus, we have to fix this issue.

Side note: My Iscorama pre 36 came with the close focus mod. That worked by removing a stopper inside the lens. It was neat, the problem was exactly the same: the front element would fall off the lens if rotated too much. You don’t want to have that happening to you on set. Or anywhere, for that matter.

Time to fix the unscrewing issue. On the unthreaded part at the front of the inner tube, just past the positive diopter, make two 3mm threaded holes on opposite sides. You are going to put little 3mm nylon screws in those. DO NOT SCREW THEM ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE TUBE as, if the screws go on the inside of the tube, they will be in the way of any scope you pair with the FM. The goal for these screws is to act as stoppers, preventing that the OUTER tube falls off the threads.

Once the minimum focus screws have been put in, it’s time to create new infinity stoppers. Same thing, drill small threaded 3mm holes at the end of the threads to act as infinity stoppers. If you skip this step, every time you focus to infinity the positive and negative glasses will kiss (touch), and that’s no good over time.

Since the two pieces (INNER and OUTER tubes) now have a lot less contact area, the outer tube can become wobbly. Use a thick grease to fix this problem and reassemble the FM2. On a side note, Cosimo recommends you keep the rest of the body, as you can easily make clamps and things like that by drilling new holes on it! Here’s a comparison between a DIY clamp made with the leftovers of the mod and the FM Collar 24.

Now you are ready to take on the world with your old (but new) FM2 single focus setup. This mod allows you to fit way more scopes in the FM as well as solves the problem posed in the assembly video, with the Kowa B&H. The problem is the Kowa B&H stays either too far from the focusing diopter or too far from the taking lens when fit inside the FM Lens.


I’m trying to expand the written posts with other collaborators, besides the videos themselves. If you have something that you think it’s a great idea and you want to share it with the community, don’t be shy and reach out, send me a message, leave a comment!

– all photos by Cosimo Murgolo and used with his authorization

Pickfair – Teaser Trailer

In case you already forgot “The New Romantics“, I’m working on a similar project, with pretty much the same team. “Pickfair” is a murder-mystery comedy set in Hollywood’s early 20’s. I don’t think I’ve ever worked on something with such strong visuals. We shot it all at my place, with a tiny crew and super cool gear. I wrote a bit about the gear part for the production design and you can find that below.

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“Friends gather for a murder mystery dinner party, each playing a Hollywood personality. The theme: 1920s Luxury, like the exclusive dinners at Pickfair Estate. When they discover the “bodies” are actually going cold, the group turns amateur sleuth to solve the mystery so they can leave the party…. alive! Everyone is a suspect. Everyone has a secret. With the same zany, slapstick comedy as beloved classics “Clue” and “The Pink Panther” and the twisted reveals of an Agatha Christie novel, ‘Pickfair’ will keep you guessing — and laughing — until the very end.”

Vintage setting, vintage optics
Modern lenses are all about embedded circuits, visual perfection, and lightning-fast auto focus. Efficient and easy, sure – but for “Pickfair” we decided to go in the opposite direction and use 40 year old all-manual lenses. These came all the way from the Soviet Union era. Under my hands they were cleaned and modified in order to boost certain artifacts. These artifacts or “imperfections” are key to setting the mood for the story.

We used three different lenses filming the teaser for “Pickfair”, one from 1971, another from 1985 and the newest one is from 1987. They’re a famous Russian trio of primes – Mir 1B, Helios 44-2 and Jupiter 9. I call them “ambers” because of the tinted glass and pieces inside the lenses that create warmth in the image. Like an endless golden hour!

Anamorphic: not a choice, a requirement
In early Hollywood movies needed distinction from TV. Anamorphic lenses created the legendary Cinemascope aspect ratio and remain in use to modern day. In combination with our vintage amber lenses we are using an anamorphic adapter to build even more character into the raw footage. We like to cook our look in-camera, not in post. Flares? Check. Lovely bokeh? Check. A more intense arms workout? Check!

Low lighting, practical lighting
To balance out all these old-timey optics, modern electronics come into play. we use the best camera technology available for shooting without massive light setups. Scratch that. For shooting exclusively with practical lighting; from meters and meters of twinkly lights, candles, small LEDs, flashlights and regular household bulbs combined with low-powered dimmers. I’ll use the lights that anyone can get their hands on. Practical lighting also strengthens the bond with the Art Department towards visual unity – not to mention the time saved when changing setups without the need to hide tripods and wires!

Flowing movement, character intimacy
The opening shot of the teaser is exactly the feel we want to imbue in our audience, making you feel like you are a guest in the party, one who has maybe seen a little too much. To assist us on the technical side of that kind of movement we will be using a light gimbal. Using a gimbal frees the crew from big, heavy, gear (like steadicams), and needing special training. The gimbal is straightforward and allows movement over any type of terrain, in any way (on foot, bikes, cars or even airplanes!) – all while keeping the movement butter-smooth.

The gimbal is key to long, super-dynamic tracking shots that draw the audience in, melting the disconnect between the screen and viewer, keeping you in the action as if you were in the room – something you’ll be sure to see in the “Pickfair” short!

Lastly, here’s that opening shot, without any cuts, just for the sake of dynamic tracking shots fetish. We have mobile light sources, dimmer-controlled lights, wi-fi controlled LEDs and 30 meters (100ft) of twinkly lights. Oh, and candles.

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE!

All the RED links on this post are part of eBay’s Partner Network, so if you purchase anything through them, you’re helping me to keep this project going.

Tito Ferradans here for some clarification. On the FM review I said it was tricky to put the Kowa Bell & Howell inside the adapter, but looking back at it, that was an understatement. The Kowa B&H is too wide to fit inside the narrow 71mm of the FM tube, so we need to hack it a little bit. Fortunately all these changes are easily reversible.

First step, get the Kowa B&H and remove these three tiny screws around the front ring. Unscrew the ring off. This unlocks the main exterior piece, the one with the focus engravings and all. Just spin it all the way until it comes off.



Lots of grease now and you don’t wanna let that go to waste. Pull the front element all the way, focusing the anamorphic to infinity. Make a quick trip to the kitchen and grab some plastic wrap. Using painter’s tape, secure the plastic wrap around the greasy helicoid at the same time you lock the anamorphic focused to infinity.



I had this piece of metal tube that came with the FM. It’s pretty close to 71mm. You can get something similar at a hardware store. Since the B&H is so short, I wanted it to be as much to the front as I could, but at the same time secured inside the tube. The solution was making the lens wrapping thicker with many layers of tape. Stuff it in the tube and make sure it’s straight.




The issue now is gonna be that the taking lenses have to go as inside of that tube as possible since the back of the Kowa is all the way in there. Most of the hard work is done by now.

With the lens collar mounted, align the Kowa. Lock it as forward as possible. Time to wrap up this party. Get the FM body and put it around the anamorphic. Tighten the screws around the tube and you’re good to go.



As pointed before, the FM is not a great combination with the B&H since the anamorphic is either too far back from the focusing diopter or too far forward from the taking lens. Or in the middle for both (which I think is a terrible solution).



Ok, that’s it for this week. Subscribe now because I have some cool stuff cooking for next week and head on to the blog for more tutorials, reviews and useful information! Tito Ferradans, out.

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE!

All the RED links on this post are part of eBay’s Partner Network, so if you purchase anything through them, you’re helping me to keep this project going.

Tito Ferradans here for a tweak that’ll boost the flares of your modern projection lens. It’s been out for a while – posted (and confirmed) by James Price on EOSHD and his Vimeo page – but I still see people talking about the lack of flares in certain lenses as a deal breaker. This type of comment is particularly true about the Cineluxes and Ultra Stars around. Due to modern coatings, flares on these newer projection lenses are much reduced – almost gone. So, let’s shine some light on the subject! (pun intended)

The trick to make them pop is to stack UV filters between the anamorphic and taking lens. This simply adds more elements and reflections on the light’s path to the sensor. And what are reflections and crappy elements good for? Flares! Here are a few samples with an increasing number of UV filters stacked.




What the UV filters do is basically enhance the original flare, bumping its brightness up and adding an element to the reflections. I mention the modern projection lenses as examples, but the method works for pretty much any adapter, like the Kowa B&H. This method is particularly good for rail mounted scopes, such as the FM I’m using for these tests, since it doesn’t require realigning and screwing multiple things together.



Tests with Kowa B&H by James Price

Cheap and easy, do you think this is an improved way of dealing with modern anamorphics that are less prone to flare? Let me know in the comments below. Now’s a great time to subscribe and if this video wasn’t enough to fulfill your desire for knowledge, make your way to the blog and delve into a plethora of articles and tutorials like this one. See you soon, Tito Ferradans.

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE!

All the RED links on this post are part of eBay’s Partner Network, so if you purchase anything through them, you’re helping me to keep this project going.

OVERVIEW
Crossover episode! If TV shows do it, why wouldn’t reviews too? Today is a mix of “chop shop” and “on a budget reviews”! Anyway, I’m Tito Ferradans and now’s the time to talk about that Bell & Howell mod I mentioned a few weeks back. Quick recap, the Bell & Howell Anamorphic Projection lens is an awesome 2x projection lens with crazy sci-fi flares and single focus workings. The main drawback is that focus throw is stupid long and renders single focus useless, plus focus at infinity is really sketchy.

As you can follow on the EOSHD thread, Chris Bold started to experiment with modding the Bell & Howell to make it more usable. The issues being tackled were shortening the focus throw and making the lens capable of infinity focusing. The concept for it is pretty simple, just get a new focus helicoid and install the optics there. Sounds easy, but when you get on to the nitty gritty of it, you gotta attach a bunch of disconnected parts together, screw things onto each other, get rid of some original parts and still make it look sort of good.

Over the course of nine months, Bold has constantly updated the thread with detailed information from his experiments and the process of making custom parts that go perfectly together. Honestly, it was one of those tasks that you look at and think “Wow, what a hero for doing this and sharing all the info for free!”. Now he’s reached a final production model and is an expert at modding these scopes for real-world use.

The mod shortens focus throw down to 360 degrees and it has two versions, one that focuses down to 1m, and the extreme one, which allows for close focusing at 30cm – beating all other anamorphic close focusing capabilities without diopters so far! It also features real 58mm filter threads for close ups and other filters – with a cool non-rotating front -, a screw-on lens cap, focus gears and the ability to focus to infinity. One of the best things that come with the modded version is the lens support. Made out of a modified telescope mount, it slides onto 15mm rails and once you get the anamorphic aligned once, you need not to worry about it again. Plus, if your lens has a front thread of under 58mm, you can slide it into the tube without screwing anything together and have it hold pretty decently together.

As with the original Bell & Howell, you focus your taking lens to infinity and do all the focus work on the anamorphic. My SINGLE issue with the mod is that focus is reversed, Nikon style. Took me a few minutes and shots to get used to it.

PRICE and AVAILABILITY
The original plan was to sell mod-kits so each user could make their own lens, but the process, albeit apparently simple, has more than enough room for messing up. For this reason Bold has decided to sell final modded units instead of a bunch of small parts and a tutorial. I understand – and support – his decision, considering that the original post is pretty much a tutorial on how to make your own, at the expense of materials, tests and LOADS of time. You can find the modded Bell & Howells on eBay for around $1000, with slight variation due to the condition of the original lens. On a detailed breakdown of parts, labor and tools he showed me, $1000 is a great deal.

As far as resolution, flares and sensor coverage go, the modded version doesn’t affect performance in any way. The tests for the original Bell & Howell Anamorphic Projection Lens are still valid and the main change is regarding its real world use.

WORLD TEST
Now THIS is more like what I expected when I first discovered that the Bell & Howell was single focus. The ability to rack focus quickly makes a world of difference to this adapter. The lens support is also superb. I made a very compact rig for handheld shooting and switching between taking lenses was much easier than any of the other setups I’ve tested this far. Crop is still intense for my taste, but I believe this is indeed a lens for small sensors and it could achieve mind-blowing results when combined with the right camera. True, the mod makes it considerably more expensive than the original Bell & Howell, but opposed to any single focus solution that attach to projection lenses, this one doesn’t make the system heavier nor does it add any artifacts. It’s also cheaper than a projection lens plus a single focus solution for 2x bokeh and some of the coolest flares in the market – I really can’t get tired of these.

I’d like to take a moment to thank Chris Bold for the collaborative process and determination to pursue the mod through so many months. Bold is also one of the main collaborators of the Anamorphic Lens-yclopedia’s current form, the guy is pretty solid! Getting to meet amazing new people in the process of making each episode is one of my favorite parts of these anamorphic videos. Moving in this direction, feel free to suggest new episodes and ask questions in the comments below. Don’t forget to subscribe to the channel to receive updates about upcoming videos and check the blog for previous reviews and tutorials. Tito Ferradans signing out.





WATCH THE VIDEO HERE!

All the RED links on this post are part of eBay’s Partner Network, so if you purchase anything through them, you’re helping me to keep this project going.

OVERVIEW
Tito Ferradans here to tell you that it’s finally time to test out the remaining single focus solution! The Focus Module – popularly known as FM lens – was the first variable-strength diopter to come out on the market to solve the issue of double focusing with projection lenses. I’ve written enough about variable-strength diopters, so I won’t dwell on its workings. The name, Focus Module, is pretty straightforward about the product’s goal. This was the second anamorphic-related product released by Anamorphic Shop.

Released in late 2014, it was the first taste of single focus with beloved projection lenses such as the Kowa B&H, Schneider Cinelux and Isco Blue Star. I’ll avoid as many comparisons as possible with equivalent products (Rectilux and Rangefinder) as I’m working on a comparison video between all three of them. That being said, since the FM was the first one to be released, I believe people were more tolerant with it. Close to release, a gigantic thread grew on EOSHD, with both strong love and hate for the product.

The FM Lens is massive. The casing weighs 850g and measures 15cm from top to bottom, focused to infinity. It grows additional 2.7cm at close focus. Focus goes from infinity down to 65cm in just over 180 degrees of throw. The one I got already came with a custom follow focus ring, but that doesn’t originally come with lens. Front thread is 105mm (male) and rear thread is 72mm, with a custom step-down ring for the Schneider Cinelux. If using another anamorphic than the Cinelux, you won’t have rear threads. In order to use the front threads, unscrew the front lip and install your 105mm filter backwards on it.

The back clamp is also a lens collar and has a slot for a 1/4″ screw for lens support. The front part of the lens rotates and moves with focusing, which makes it hard to use another lens support than at the back. The rotation is also challenging for variable NDs and polarizers. This is a setup that REQUIRES rails. You can’t just hang the FM in front of your taking lens and go out to shoot.

In order to get it working, focus your anamorphic to infinity and place it inside the Focus Module. This is also the time when you align the lens and lock it into place internally. The FM can take multiple anamorphics but might need additional accessories to hold them in place like the FM Collar 24, since the inner diameter of the tube is 71mm. It all has to fit under 89mm length, which is why the Schneider Cinelux is the ideal candidate (71mm diameter and 89mm length).

Anamorphic Shop’s youtube channel has a video on how to fit the Cinelux in there. It’s a straightforward process that is also explained on their product page.

My FM Lens came fitted with an Isco Cinelux inside, but to keep it all leveled I swapped that for a Kowa B&H and used the same Contax Zeiss lenses I used for the other single focus solutions reviews. Putting the Kowa in there required some disassembly.

PRICE and AVAILABILITY
The FM Lens used to sell for 640 euro which translates to about 700 dollars, not including the anamorphic lens. They ran out of stock a few months ago and it doesn’t look like there’s a plan of making more any time soon. Currently, the only way to acquire a Focus Module is through the used market. Unfortunately there’s no constant supply and prices vary from $750 all the way up to $1100 – usually including the anamorphic inside.

RESOLUTION
I must say I didn’t expect it to be this sharp. I was able to get pretty decent results down to f/1.4, but the sharpest images come from f/2.8 and upwards.

The large front element doesn’t worry me since the FM is capable of very decent close focusing, dismissing the need for extra diopters. If you want to get the full resolution frames for these tests, they’re available for download here.


Contax Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 CENTER

Contax Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 CORNERS


Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 CENTER

Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 CORNERS


Contax Zeiss 135mm f/2.8 CENTER

Nikon 135mm f/2.8 CORNERS

FLARES
The FM is neutral on the flares, introducing no other reflections or colors to the Kowa’s original flare.

SENSOR COVERAGE
For 2.4:1 shooting, you can go as wide as 50mm, since the 40mm pancake already introduces intense vignetting. As for 3.56:1, 85mm is the way to go. Test ahead, because vignetting creeps in slightly as you focus closer. It’s not a lot, but definitely some.

WORLD TEST
The biggest challenge with shooting the FM is its weight. Support at the back of the lens, and by a single screw, isn’t a well thought out solution. It causes the lens to rotate ever so slightly if you’re not careful when moving. I was able to jury rig mine with 1/4″ screws, nuts and spacers, but I heard of users building big rigs just to be able to work properly with it. The focus throw is also very long, which works with the thick focus gear that came with it, but wouldn’t work with a normal gear – I’ve heard good things about FocusMaker to solve this issue, but it’s not a standard follow focus. The results aren’t unpleasing, though. Single focus solutions have a spell that always blows me away when I use them. The FM is no exception to the rule. My confession is that support and weight sucks, but having the anamorphic always aligned, just sliding in and out as I swapped taking lenses was a more than pleasant experience.

The main issue, in terms of performance, is that you can get a bloom/glow kind of thing when using fast apertures with the FM, like what you see in the low-light tests. I am OK with that – I usually add that in post to most of my footage – but it’s something that, as I just said, I’d rather add in post than in camera.


Photo and mod by Cosimo Murgolo

One cool mod that came to be because of the FM Lens was the chopped version of it. It has the style of the Rangefinder and Rectilux Core DNA, just the focusing optics, sawed off from the rest of the body and attached to an anamorphic adapter. This was developed by Cosimo Murgolo and also in play by Jesse Heidenfeld and allows much better results with the Kowa B&H and shorter anamorphics, allowing them to go much wider. Would you have the guts to do it?

Besides that, stay tuned for a shootout mixing all three single focus out there (Rectilux, Rangefinder and FM), as I might be the only person with all of them at hand to do it! Subscribe now to be notified when it comes up! Also, feel free to check the blog for countless other articles, tutorials and reviews. That’s it for today. See you soon!




WATCH THE VIDEO HERE!

Tito Ferradans here for the first non-anamorphic tutorial. Some of you might’ve read me saying that – for The New Romantics pilot episode – I tweaked up my Contax Zeiss lens set. I added Leitax mounts to all of them, getting rid of adapters’ wiggliness and, most relevantly than this, I added focus gears to all five lenses (28, 35, 50, 85 and 135mm). Instead of buying focus gears and switch them from lens to lens – which would’ve taken too much time on set – or buying a ton of those straps of gears and then fitting them to every lens, I took the most direct route and 3d printed them. As 3D printers become more and more popular, I thought it would be a useful tutorial.

I (not so) recently got a Micro 3D Printer, which is tiny but big enough to print focus gears for most lenses, with a print area of about 10x10x10cm. The next step was going to Thingiverse and downloading a free project for seamless gears – the original maker recommends ABS plastic, but I only had PLA, so I’m here to assure you both materials work just fine. To fully enjoy the beauty of this file, I recommend downloading OpenSCAD and playing with the customizable file. Now that the software was kind of ready, I went back to the lenses. Doing the first one is the hardest part – especially for me, that had never 3D printed in my life – and it took me FIVE days. After that, I was getting two done per day.

I’m going off the subject. Back to the lenses, using a caliper, measure the diameter of the focus ring – in millimeters. BE. VERY. PRECISE. For this Tokina 28-70mm, I measured 80.45 mm so I’ll add 0.15mm to that number and input this information into OpenSCAD.

The file you got from Thingiverse has three customizable parameters. The first parameter is the number of teeth. It affects how wide the gear is going to be. For a set of lenses, I like to keep the number of teeth constant so I don’t have to even adjust the follow focus after switching lenses. A thicker gear is also much more resistant than a thin one. The second of of them is the diameter of the hole where the lens should pass. I prefer to make this a tight fit so I can sand it down if it’s too tight. If it’s too lose, you gotta print another one. The third parameter is the height of the gear. Some lenses have a lot of travel when focusing – like the Iscoramas, Rectilux or Focus Module for example – so having a regular, 10mm gear, isn’t enough as it will travel off the follow focus’ reach. Make it thicker to ensure your follow focus won’t slip off during operation. You can also get this measurement with a caliper.


Now that all the numbers are in, run the script (F5), create the model (F6) and export the STL for print. Every 3D printer’s got their own software, so just load up the model and the important part is to set the right resolution. As this is a precision part, I had good results with 150 micrometers and filling it so the space inside the gear is solid instead of hollow. Did I mention 3D printing takes forever? A focus gear takes an average of six hours to print, so be patient.


*elevator music*

After it’s done, get rid of any imperfections by sanding them away. I always used a coarse – 80 grit – sandpaper, but you can use a thin one for a finer feel. Usually the gear doesn’t fit the lens right off the bat – which is good because it has to be tight – so the process is to do a bit of sanding, then test it out. More sanding, more testing. Getting it in is also another interesting step, as you don’t want it to simply slide in – that would be too lose. Fitting it is a constant challenge of leveling down the gear on the lens’ body a few millimeters at a time. Wiggling and patience are your best tools. You WILL have sore hands after doing this for a while. Also, lenses that have a rubber ring are better fits than the ones that are plain metal, since the rubber helps a lot with grip.

After this, you’re pretty much done. Just put the lens on the camera and get your follow focus running! I hope you found this tutorial useful and I’d be more than glad to see the results you get from it! Be patient all throughout. It’s a slow process, but comparing the costs to the results, it’s definitely worth your while. This is a different tutorial than usual, since it’s not DIRECTLY related to anamorphic – even though you CAN (and should) make focus gears for your scopes – so subscribe and be sure to check the archives to get addicted to anamorphic shooting. See you soon, Tito Ferradans out.

A photo posted by Tito Ferradans (@tferradans) on

Don’t be offended if I sent you this link and said nothing else. Please understand that replying to individual questions about this or that lens eats up a lot of my time and prevents me from developing original content for a larger audience – yourself included. So read the post and watch the video below as I did my best to answer your (and others’) request. If you still have questions, I suggest you join group discussions either on facebook or EOSHD and do some more research on your own. There’s no absolute answer to “which lens should I buy?”. It’s all in your heart and mind.

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All the RED links on this post are part of eBay’s Partner Network, so if you purchase anything through them, you’re helping me to keep this project going.

Tito Ferradans here from the Anamorphic on a Budget guide and the upcoming Anamorphic Cookbook. So, there’s this question I get asked AT LEAST twice a day: “Hey dude, I watched all your videos and errrr… I still don’t know what lens to buy! Can you help me?” and, sure, I can! I replied to every single message I got so far. Facebook, emails, comments, instagram, whatever. The problem is it takes me quite the time to help each person and that’s not an efficient solution because tomorrow I’ll end up replying something very similar to somebody else. I was inspired to write this post after reading a great reply by Chris Bold on EOSHD and decided to write this post to help anyone tormented by the question of “which anamorphic should I buy?”

“There’s really no one piece of advice that’s going to fit everyone’s needs. The best way to decide on your first anamorphic is to research, research, research.

Tito’s Anamorphic blog is one of the best starting points. And you won’t find a larger collected body of anamorphic knowledge than this forum. Search it deeply! Also look at test footage on Youtube and Vimeo of various lenses to see if a particular brand of lens produces an aesthetic that really appeals to you.

Watch some films shot with anamorphic. I just re-watched the original Mad Max, and realized there are some shots with horrible aberrations at the edges, and the film has barrel distortion throughout. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. What matters is how the images made me feel, not how razor sharp or technically precise they were.”

– Chris Bold, 2016

This is oriented to those who never used an anamorphic lens before and desperately wanna be a part of the game. No, it’s not the final word about which lens should one choose and there are PLENTY of different ways to approaching anamorphics, but, once again, if you’re starting out now, you better start with the basics. There are usually a few other branches to the original question like I want sharpness!, I want flares!, I have so and so as taking lenses, I use this or that camera, I want it for less than $50 bucks, I want something easy to use!.

Heads up: nothing fulfills all of these requirements.

“Once you find a lens or two that falls within your budget, search EOSHD and other forums to see what others have built to get the most out of those lenses. You’ll find that there are different strategies to mounting them… from ‘bailing wire & bubble gum,’ to buying specialty parts, to custom-fabricating parts on your own, and many options in between.

1.33x adapters don’t have the sharpest image quality and don’t do well in low light, but are often the easiest to use. They tend to be lightweight and adapt easily to taking lenses. Usually good flares but less oval bokeh. They are relatively easy to acquire and will run you between $500-800. Not a bad choice for starting anamorphic.

Big projector lenses will give you that nice 2x oval bokeh, but vary wildly in terms of flare and image quality. They are invariably heavy so they require a certain amount of adaptation and support (which adds even more weight).

Although I don’t have one, there are some dual-focus lenses that appear to deliver great images. But dual focus seems to present another set of headaches if you’re shooting something with lots of movement. Probably not something you want to take on as a beginner. Dual focus owners can speak better to the learning curve and the time involved to get good focus during dynamic/complicated shots.”

Anamorphics don’t have a 24-70 f/2.8 – a lens that can shoot pretty much anything. Each adapter has its quirks and widely different price tags. In this post I’m aiming towards simplicity, towards a learning journey and not for a definitive answer. Most of the lenses I picked as “beginner” lenses have 1.33x stretch, which leads to a resulting aspect ratio of 2.36:1, almost perfect Cinemascope with no need for cropping or tweaking the camera settings. One step at a time and you’re gonna feel at home shooting anamorphic in no time!

Panasonic LA7200

The Panasonic LA7200 is one of the most common entry-level anamorphics. Its advantages are clear, it has large glass, light build, not extremely hard to find or super expensive and it’s a focus-through adapter, meaning that you’re gonna handle your camera the same way you always did, focusing with your spherical lens. It’s a great match for modern zooms like the 24-70 and it’s the widest anamorphic adapter out there, going as wide as 28mm with no vignetting on Full Frame. Oh, you want sci-fi flares? Sure, the Panny’s got them.

Its downsides are softness around the edges and the need to stop down the taking lens to f/4-5.6 to get sharp images. Close focus is also an issue, with the extra challenge of “how do I cover this front glass??”. The cheapest way is taping the diopters to its front. Needless to say it’s quite risky, but works wonders. If you want more info, check the LA7200’s in-depth review!

Century Optics DS-1609

The Century is the cheap alternative to the Panasonic. With the same focus-through handling, you focus using the taking lens. Glass is not as great, but its compactness brings the advantage of being easily modified to hold diopters. Some of the older Centuries come in non-standard mounts, so you need to do some modding, but that’s also easy. It still goes very wide, at 35mm for Full Frame and has awesome blue flares. Optical downsides are the same as the Panny’s: softness around the edges, lower f-stops on the taking lens and challenging close focus. If you want more info, check the Century’s in-depth review!

SLR Magic Anamorphot 1.33x

The SLR Magic 1.33x Anamorphot is a renovation of the concept behind the Panny and Century. You still use your taking lens for focusing, but SLR Magic added a “Near” dial which allows for good quality and close focusing at the same time at the expense of infinity focus. It also has standard threads at the front and back, so no need for modding anything. This one doesn’t go as wide as the others but I had great results pairing it to Canon’s 40mm pancake. The recommended aperture is f/2.8 or slower, so it’s also not great for low-light and fast lenses. Flares are stupidly intense and that can be considered both good and bad, depending on personal taste.

The Anamorphot’s greatest advantage is that it’s readily available at several retailers and buyers get top-quality support from SLR Magic if they have any issues with the lens. I believe this adapter is one of the key stones in the increasing interest for anamorphics lately. If you want more info, check the SLR Magic’s Anamorphot in-depth review!

Isco Optic Blue Star (or Cinelux) Anamorphic

These are the only projection lenses in the list – I’m considering them as identical – and the only one with 2x stretch. It used to be one of the most common and cheapest anamorphics on eBay because it “lacks” the “vintage character”. I won’t go into that subject in this video, so here are some advantages of the Blue Star: it’s sharp all across the frame (at any aperture), easy to buy and a the perfect candidate for single focus attachments (Rectilux, Rangefinder or FM) down the road. The 2x stretch leads to noticeably oval bokeh, an anamorphic trademark, but the modern coatings mute any strong flares, resulting in a much cleaner image. The widest you can go, on Full Frame, for full sensor coverage, is 85mm, but if you’re extracting a 2.4:1 crop from the center of the frame, a 60mm focal length should be enough!

The bad news are these adapters are heavier and bigger than the other lenses mentioned so far, requiring lens support. If you haven’t got a single focus attachment this is a double-focus setup (you got to focus your taking lens AND the anamorphic at the same distance to get sharp images). The resulting image is also a 3.56:1 stripe against a black background, so you’ll get better results shooting 4:3 or cropping the sides in post.

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These are my four strongest suggestions for anyone starting out with anamorphics. The Panny and the Century were two of my first lenses and I still like them very much today for their simplicity. Small steps is the best way to go since there’s A LOT to learn. Trying to encompass it all at once will very likely make you want to give up. Go out and get a lens, learn how to play with it an then start working on its downsides to improve them. This process will naturally lead you through all the steps in order to master anamorphic shooting and all of its quirks.

“Ultimately there is no perfect anamorphic solution. Every choice has benefits and drawbacks. The only way to know the best choice for your is to list our your needs, search through the options, and find the type of lens that most closely matches your needs.

What Bioskop said, [‘To hell with sharp, as Anamorphic lenses are all about the defects they produce’]. It is okay if your anamorphic images aren’t perfect – they aren’t meant to be.

Most importantly, MONEY = TIME. If you save money buying a cheap anamorphic, the more time you’ll have to spend getting it to work. So they key the questions are: what’s your total budget, and how much spare time are you willing to spend building your rig?

I saved money buying some B&H’s, but the time it took me to get them to where I needed was enormous. If I had to do it over again, I might have chosen a different route. Then again, I learned a LOT in the process.”

Buying your first anamorphic lens is an important step, but once you get started you’ll realize you are making it a much bigger deal than it actually is. I don’t have the first lens I bought anymore. Nor the second, third or fourth for that matter. I believe this is true to most anamorphic enthusiasts because going through the lenses is a very experimental process: sometimes I find a feature I really like in a lens and then I keep it for a while, then I get tired of it and let it go. Trying to find the perfect lens right from the start is not the right way to go because when you think you finally found it you’ll start to see its problems and get seriously disappointed.

If you want some help along the journey, subscribe to my YouTube channel, check my previous videos and head on to the blog for an extensive guide – for free! – and other useful tools plus this super cool and exclusive t-shirt. If you want more detailed assistance of which lens to buy, I work as a consultant and, for a fee, will help you with your specific case. I’ll help choosing taking lenses (or finding an anamorphic that suits the ones you already have) and making recommendations that are cut to your own scenario. Contact me through email and let’s talk!

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE!

All the RED links on this post are part of eBay’s Partner Network, so if you purchase anything through them, you’re helping me to keep this project going.

OVERVIEW
Tito Ferradans here for an unusual review. If you read the Anamorphic on a Budget guide, you’ll know that I dislike projection lenses. They’re usually too heavy and bulky and yield poor results. Based on that, it might come as a surprise that this episode is about the Bell & Howell Anamorphic Projection Lens. No, not the Kowa B&H, the OTHER Bell & Howell. The long and weird-looking one. Not exactly light, at 500g, the Bell & Howell has a unique feature among projection lenses: it is a single focus 2x stretch adapter. Set your taking lens to infinity and do all the work on the anamorphic. My attention was to this adapter was drawn by an EOSHD thread by QuickHitRecord.

That all might sound super exciting now, but here come the drawbacks: this lens doesn’t focus to infinity, only to about 12m, and original minimum focus is at 2.4m, with almost three full turns of the focus ring. You can tweak it by loosening the two limiting screws on the head. Even though the focus throw becomes completely laughable (almost five complete turns), it focuses down to 0.6m without any diopters. That means you could live with more common and cheaper +1 and up 58mm diopters.


Ok, I just said 58mm diopters, but the lens doesn’t actually have 58mm threads. The front threads are very close to standard 55mm, but not quite, so I just taped a 55-58mm step ring to it and everything works great. The back is also very important in terms of threading: you want to make sure you’re getting one of these that has the silver ring screwed to the back of it. This ring is the key to mounting the Bell & Howell to other lenses since it has Series 7 threads and you can get cheap Series 7 to filter thread adapters. Mine didn’t have one, so I articulated a solution with Chris Bold, and he’s selling the rings for $30. These are made of polyurethane, which is a plastic, so the best approach is to screw in your S7 adapter and don’t take it out to avoid stripping the threads.

Due to its shape and size, I would strongly recommend using lens support to avoid stressing the filter threads.

PRICE and AVAILABILITY
While not so common on eBay lately, the Bell & Howell Projection lens goes for super cheap most of the time. You can get easy deals for less than $200, or go in a rush and buy one for $400.

RESOLUTION
Definitely NOT a knife-sharp killer, but decent enough for a lens that you can get for two hundred bucks. Holds up pretty nicely even when the taking lens is wide open – since its original taking lens is f/1.4, as the label states – and improves considerably as you stop it down (which worsens vignetting). It’s particularly fidgety regarding the taking lens’ infinity position, so test a nudge under infinity and see if the image quality improves. For me it made noticeable of difference.


Contax Zeiss 35mm f/2.8


Contax Zeiss 50mm f/1.4


Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4

FLARES
Prepare yourself to be blown away by these flares. The most natural looking and smooth blue flares I’ve ever seen – and that teal tinge, oh man… Flares are, by far, one of strongest aspects about this adapter. I even got a coated taking lens so only the Bell & Howell’s flares would be showing.


Contax Zeiss 50mm f/1.4

SENSOR COVERAGE
Due to its long body, small optics and 2x stretch, the Bell & Howell vignettes easily. On full frame, for a Cinemascope crop you need to be over 85mm and for full sensor coverage, at least 120mm. Using the A7s2 crop mode (2.2x), I was able to get a clear 2.4:1 crop at 40mm and full sensor at 50mm.


Contax Zeiss 28mm f/2.8


Contax Zeiss 35mm f/2.8


Canon EF 40mm f/2.8


Contax Zeiss 50mm f/1.4

WORLD TEST
The first thing I concluded when testing this lens for real is that single focus is worth nothing if you have to twist the focus ring a thousand times to rack just a couple of meters. Also, the taking lens infinity setting is much more fidgety than expected, with constant back and forth to find the optimal position. As for low-light, you CAN get sharp images at fast apertures, it’s just a very hard challenge if there’s any movement in the scene, requiring focus adjustments. The infinity setting on the B&H is also not so great, because past a certain distance things start to become smudgy. The flares are beautiful on real life, though. The one trick I wasn’t expecting to work was when I put a diopter in front of it and things sharpened up nicely. In my opinion, the best shots in this test were made with the diopter attached.

If you think this is a lens with cool features and somewhat cumbersome, be sure to check the next video, which is about the custom mod developed by Chris Bold and how to apply it to your own Bell & Howell. To get that, subscribe now and wait until the notification pops up! While you wait, I highly recommend some light reading over at my blog about some other anamorphics and cool tutorials to improve your the look of your footage. Do you have a suggestion of what I should do afterwards? Please let me know in the comments below! Tito Ferradans out to hack some lenses open!



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