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!



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.

The Century I used to make this video is for sale, and in great shape (in the process of opening it up, I’ve cleaned it well and solved its issues). Needless to say the lens comes in the original configuration, with the rear element NOT flipped.

Hello ladies and gentlemen. Tito Ferradans here to test out another myth related to the small Century Optics adapter.

Sidebar: the Century I used for this video came without its locking screw, so I had to go out and find it in the real world. If you ever come across this problem, the answer is 4-40 screws. Get a small one, cut it shorter and superglue a nut to the top so it’s easier to handle with your bare hands! End sidebar.




Back to business, if you have ever considered getting a small Century Optics, there’s a great chance you came across one – or more – posts by people claiming that flipping the rear element of the lens will improve its close focus capabilities and still allow for infinity focus.

“Diopters simply allow you to get really close focus, something that is often a issue in anamorphic world, since old anamorphic lenses typically have garbage CF. However, you are talking about an adapter, which makes things a bit different from the normal anamorphic lenses which is the base of my experience.

To my knowledge, the only way a diopter would make a lens sharper, is if the anamorphic adapter was not properly aligned to begin with, and the diopter serves to correct the adapter to it’s expected working condition. For example, if you have a diopter on your lens, and you can focus from relatively close distances to infinity… there was something wrong with your set-up before. The diopter didn’t improve your image, really than fix it. That may seem like semantics, but it would be giving the diopter too much credit otherwise.

For instance, read the first post in this:

http://vimeo.com/groups/anamorphic/forumthread:232783 [DEAD LINK]

I was just fiddling with this Century Optics adapter (DS-1609-58) and had real trouble with focusing etc.. Tried diopters on it and got it working a bit better.

BUT just now I screwed out the rear glass element and reversed it and put it back in. And to my surprise it’s working like a charm now. I can focus on objects close as few inches without diopters, have infinity focus and the picture is way much sharper than before. Even the 105mm 2.8 Takumar which previously only showed just totally blurred and out of focus image is now crisp and clear all the way. And now with NEX E Zoom lens I can go with 28mm without any sign of vignetting…

You see the diopter improving the image like that is the job of a diopter filter. I see an anamorphic adapter set-up that clearly isn’t working properly, and a diopter being used as a make-shift optical element to get it to work.

So, I apologize, you were right. I wasn’t clear that these adapters don’t seem to be aligned properly to work, thus the diopter isn’t really improving as it is fixing.

Typically, a diopter is used on working optical systems, and when that occurs, it is not used to improve sharpness, but rather to simply change the close focus ability of a lens. I suppose, like these people are doing, you could use a diopter to fix what is otherwise a broken optical system, but using it as a make-shift element.” – Ryan Patrick O’Hara, 2012

or

“The Optex has a 1.33x squeeze ratio and produces more subtle flares than 1.5x or 2x anamorphic adapters. However, if you point it directly at a bright light, ala Spielberg, it will give you long horizontal flare beams.

Anamorphic adapters typically use two lens elements to produce a non-focused wide-angle adapter with different magnification ratios in horizontal and vertical directions. To produce sharp results, the astigmatism of the two lens elements must be aligned to converge close to the focal plane of the normal lens that you’re using with the adapter. The “focus” ring on an adjustable adapter allows you to converge the anamorphic elements manually.

On a fixed anamorphic adapter, the lens elements are set to converge at infinity and typically have a working range down to about 6-8 feet. You can use a diopter in front of the adapter to pull it in for close-focus shots. The Optex happens to have a rear anamorphic lens element that can be removed and put back in an inverted position, which makes it work in close-focus range without needing a diopter.” – LPowell, 2011

The question here is, if turning the glass around would bring such benefits, why weren’t they originally made that way? It’s time to check out if this works.

I’ve reached out to Brian Caldwell – designer of the glass for the Metabones Speedbooster – asking for his input on what I should expect after turning the glass inside out. Here’s what he said:

“Assuming the rear group is a cemented doublet with a leading negative element, then flipping it would move the principle plane of the rear group towards the front group. This is similar to focusing the adapter for a closer object distance. However, I expect that the aberration balance would be completely trashed, especially at longer focal lengths where you use the entire rear aperture of the adapter. Also, the squeeze ratio would drop, just like it always does when focusing a dual-focus adapter to a closer object.

Personally, I wouldn’t do it except as a fun experiment. I would expect much better results with a diopter.” – Caldwell, 2016

So here we go for an exciting round of testing!

On the first test I’m racking focus between 75cm (the first Lego set), 1.4m (the AT-AT Walker) and 2.5m at the wall. Since the goal is to test faster apertures, lenses are all wide open. Results are very poor at close focus for the unflipped Century. The +0.5 achromat improved focus for both the AT-AT and the wall, but not much for the close focus mark. I must say it was surprising to see how much better things looked with the flipped rear element – especially at the wider end.




Contax Zeiss 35mm f/2.8




Canon EF 40mm f/2.8




Contax Zeiss 50mm f/1.4

Then I went on to test chromatic aberration. With Canon’s 40mm I found myself an interesting scenario with lots of high contrast between bright and dark, with a relatively easy subject to focus on. Also known as “rug hanging on a tree”. Chromatic aberration is pretty bad on either cases, so, fortunately it’s not a big deal to have the rear element flipped or not.




Canon EF 40mm f/2.8



Canon EF 40mm f/2.8

From that I moved to test infinity focus on super wide shots. This is where the flip really struggled, as I could see the loss of sharpness much more easily, and the edge compromise creeping in much further into the frame.



Contax Zeiss 35mm f/2.8

The last test is for longer lenses and I used a Jupiter 9 – 85mm – at f/2.8 to see how it performed and if the stretch factor was affected by the flipped rear element. I won’t deny the mod is much sharper than the original configuration for close focus, but the stretch factor indeed decreases. In my case, I was getting around 1.25x. Also, you can notice the diamond shaped bokeh indicating that there’s something wrong with the setup (much like what I mentioned about the SLR Magic Anamorphot 1.33x-50)




Jupiter 9 85mm f/2

If you wanna do the trick to your own Century, just unscrew these two small screws at the back – they don’t come off completely – and remove the cover. Then take out the glass, flip it and close it back. Be careful because the entire back of the body comes loose when you do this! The process doesn’t take 5 minutes.




I believe it’s a useful technique for medium close ups. If you can’t afford a +0.5 diopter (seriously?!), I’d say it’s a reasonable solution. The edges become more messed up, but they’re already pretty bad on the original, so it’s not a huge deal.

The biggest issue is that now you’ll have to play to the Century’s strong side, using wider lenses and stepping away from pretty much anything above 50mm.

I’ll admit that the results for this video were very surprising, and I expected image quality to drop much more. What about you? Let me know if you’ll be flipping your Century, or keep on using diopters! If you want more tips, tests and tricks now’s a great time to subscribe to the channel, and if you want information in writing, head to the blog for an even larger amount of articles! See you soon, 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 to introduce you to another weird – and unique – mod for the Helios 44-2 – I was corrected about the pronunciation of the lens’ name, live and learn, folks. Helios is the right one, as opposed to Heeelios.

A few months ago, researching for the USSR Lens Buyer’s Guide, I came across this video, about a “cat eye” Helios aperture mod which automatically triggered my “anamorphic sense” due to the shape of the iris and the possibility of adjusting its values. The same channel also had a test video which pretty much confirmed my expectations, with the slight issue of the oval being turned on its side. I reached out to the person behind it, after realizing I’d bought several lenses from him in the past.

Roman is a very knowledgeable guy and promptly replied that he could make me one of those cat eye Helios. The last issue I had to solve was how to get it aligned properly, which was achieved through the use of a special M42 to EF adapter. The white spot on the adapter marks the direction that’ll face UP when attached to the camera, so aligning is easy.

The mod has a few limitations, such as the minimum and maximum apertures, from f/5.6 to f/11, which can be slow for low-light depending on your camera’s ISO limits. For the A7s2 it was a breeze and it allowed me to change aperture on the fly – which is the main issue with the oval aperture disk mod. The only downside is that the oval rotates very slightly upon opening and closing (I’d say around one degree). It’s hard to notice anyway, but I thought I should mention it here.

I think this mod is a GREAT combo to go with any 1.33x adapter for the following reasons: first, the oval aperture shape reinforces the anamorphic aspect of the footage, when most of these adapters don’t get nice ovals. Second, the slower aperture is also a good thing to get sharp images with 1.33x focus through adapters.

If you’re interested in getting one of the cat eye modded Helios, Roman is selling his spares on his eBay store, along with some other Russian glass at good price. Also, his channel – Retro Foto House – is very much worth of checking out, with lots of unusual – and useful! – tutorials and reliable information about soviet lenses such as Nikon mods, disassembly guides, relubing and cleaning.

That’s it for now. Subscribe if you’d like to stay updated on the anamorphic subject, and check out the blog for plenty of tutorials and reviews! Ferradans out.

A video posted by Tito Ferradans (@tferradans) on




Balance.

Spring and summer have been fun. For the first half of June I was swamped during the pre-production and production for The New Romantics’ pilot episode – which had very long days, but the footage looks really good – followed by a two-week break all the way back home in Brasil. The last time I’d been there was over a year ago, and I really missed the people. Ariana tagged along for the ride and by the time we got back to Vancouver I think we were more tired than when we left.

The trip was just the perfect length, since by the last days we were already looking forward to coming back home and squeezing Finnegan. It was good to step out of my intense selling, filming, editing schedule for this long and it made reevaluate how I spend my time.

I turned my room inside out when we got back – I brought every single piece of gear I had left behind when moving from Brasil to Canada – and was determined to optimize where I’d keep boxes, rig parts, lens pieces and tools. Now things are looking rather organized and I think I know where each item is – or should be. On the next weeks I’ll be putting some effort into shooting more episodes for the YouTube channel and working on the Russian mod-set (Mir 1B, Helios 44-2 and Jupiter 9), with polished glass, amber tinting and oval apertures. The Helios 44-2 tutorial was received so well that I decided to expand the family. I’m also waiting for a lot of 10 Helios 44-2s for modding.

I’m also getting back to the USSR Lens Buyer’s Guide that went on hold before shooting The New Romantics. I have many lenses to talk about, countless pictures to take and choose from and a decent amount of pages to write before the project is completed.

Lastly, this was a little VFX stunt I started early this year and just finished now – rocks modeled and textured by Paul H. Paulino, animation by Fernão Morato, camera handled by Bruno Nicko and outstanding extra performance by Ariana Saadat in the background. My plan is to keep doing these small bits of eye tricks to practice and to have fun. I already have another one in the works!

This is a long post about thinking I was smart when I was stupid. It could’ve had terrible consequences but I was lucky enough to get through without losing money in spite of taking all the wrong steps.

By the end of May, some of you might remember a couple LOMO BAS Squarefronts popped up on eBay. One of the listings was for a complete set, using photos stolen from the web, the seller being a malamutecinema (now erased account). Several people, myself included, reported the listing for several days until it was taken down. On my case, I found an 80mm 35BAS-4-7, from a new seller based in Kazakhstan, sergew001-6. The lens was up for auction and I sent him a message offering to buy it directly if he cancelled the auction, for a considerable amount of money. He told me he was expecting to get a little more than that in the auction and would contact me two hours prior to its end in case the price wasn’t what he expected.

When the time came, he sent me a message and told me to raise the bid on the item so he would cancel the auction. It was the middle of the night here, and I wasn’t thinking straight about how stupid that instruction was, so I did it. He stopped replying and 5 minutes to go, somebody surpassed my bid. Then the timer hit zero and the auction was over. I sent him a bunch of messages about how dishonest that was and yadda yadda. He apologized and said it was his first time on eBay, and a bunch of other things. He said that he cancelled the auction after it was over and sent me a payment request on PayPal. I sent him the money and he went silent.

I spent the entire next day worried about my money. The name on his emails was Sergey Davydov, but PayPal gave me a different name. Let’s just say D., for I’m not interested in being a possible target for anyone. Upon googling his name, I was linked to the WHOIS domain registration page of Malamute Cinema. The domain registration info has been changed after I confronted him about it.

My nerves went on lockdown until the money popped back in my account as a refund. He said it was blocked for 21 days and the original buyer also paid for the lens and he had to honor the eBay deal.

On the same message he mentioned he had a 50mm BAS that he would auction too. Then we moved off eBay’s messages onto gmail. About his name, he clarified that Sergey Davydov was his alias, but his name was indeed D., but also that there were many D.s and he couldn’t be all of them – like the one on Malamute Cinema. I should’ve stepped out of the story here, but getting a set of LOMOs was my lens-goal of 2016, so I kept pushing forward.

Besides mentioning the 50mm, he said he’d be getting some roundfronts, already tweaked and ready to go (PL mount, focus gears, colimated) in about a month’s time. By that time, I was totally into the tale and sent him the money for the 50mm. In my head I thought “you know what, this is a nice guy and this is a good deal, I’ll send the money as ‘friends and family’”.

BREAK: NEVER. EVER. EVER do that. Multiple people told me that when I figured out the scam, and I was very lucky to get my money back.

On May 28th D. confirmed that payment was through and he would ship them on June 5th. I had already talked to Olex (lens technician, in Ukraine) and Viktor (to install PL mounts, in St. Petersburg) and worked the best logistics. D. would ship the lens to Viktor so he could replace the mount, then Viktor would send it to Olex for servicing and fine-tuning. I sent D. a few emails about why June 5th, and not the next day, but again he was dead silent. Then instead of one day worrying, I spent a week.

On June 5th, he replies that the lens has been shipped and sends me the tracking code. He also mentions that the lenses that would be ready in mid-July will be done in the following week. It’s a full set of roundfronts. I make him an offer for three of them (35, 50 and 75), and we agree on the price, to be paid when the lenses reach him.

In the meantime I’m turning my finances upside down to figure out how to send the agreed amount, selling many of my lenses/anamorphics – including my beloved Iscorama 42 – and getting a little bit closer every day. Talking to a few friends, I realized it wouldn’t be smart to send him any extra money before the first lens (50mm BAS) arrived at Viktor’s workshop. Before the deadline, D. sends me an email saying that PayPal’s taxes are too high and asking if I’d be OK with a bank transfer, or Visa Direct Transfer. I used that as an excuse to buy myself some time while I went to the bank and asked about how safe these transfers are, and what kind of information I’d need from him.

June 19th he gave me an ultimatum in a rather annoyed email. The same day Viktor tells me the lens is ready for pick up and that he’ll swing by the post office later to get it. I was able to get myself another day by saying the bank had blocked my transfer and asked for more documents.

On the morning of June 21st I get a notification that the 50mm has been delivered, as well as an email from Viktor with the following images attached.






I don’t need to tell you this is NOT a 50mm BAS as depicted earlier by D.



I immediately posted on Facebook asking for advice and tried to open a claim on PayPal’s website. Since I sent the money as “Friends and Family” the website wouldn’t allow me, so I decided it couldn’t get any worse and called PayPal directly.

While I waited for a person to pick up the phone on the other side I ran all the crap I did wrong. Starting off with the “Friends and Family” thing, then sending such a big amount to an unknown person and lastly, for PayPal’s sake, getting the package shipped to an address other than my own – an address in another continent even! Then a girl named Wendy picked up and asked me what was my problem.

I went on to detailing the transfer, what happened upon delivery and what I wanted to do moving forward. I was lucky to have written in the notes section of payment that the money was regarding the 50mm BAS. Wendy asked then about the difference between both lenses.

- Could you explain me better how these lenses are different, and why you want to reverse the transaction?
- Sure. The lens he charged me for is a rare Russian cinema lens, the one he shipped is a $50 paperweight.
- Oh my god! Let me put his funds on hold.

That’s when my hope started to return. Wendy instructed me to not dispose of the box, gather as much proof as I could that the whole thing wasn’t a mere accident. She put his money on hold and told me he had ten days to reply to the claim or PayPal would return the money to my account. Things were indeed escalating in terms of worrying about money in this whole story. It started with one day, then a week, now another ten days!

I reached out to Viktor and asked him to hold onto the box in case we had to return it. I also provided Olex with all the info I got on D., so he would blacklist him for his other customers and spread the word about it. Then I waited.

On July 2nd PayPal restored my money and I started to organize all the info to write this post.

In the meantime he listed some other lenses on eBay and things didn’t end well for the buyers either. It seems to be a running scam now, for new sellers (zero feedback), from Kazakhstan and LOMO anamorphic glass. It might be a killer deal, but I’m no longer interested unless it’s from a reputable/known seller.

The reason I’m sharing this story is because it’s one of the best ways to avoid more people falling into such schemes. I’ve been buying and selling lenses (and anamorphics) for about five years now and hadn’t had any trouble with sellers or buyers so far. You might not even be buying LOMO anamorphics or anything super expensive, but always make sure you’re dealing with someone trustworthy and that will hold their word to the end.

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 to help you achieving wider angles – around 30mm! – with 2x anamorphic adapters! It’s common knowledge that you need a taking lens around 85mm to get full frame coverage on 2x scopes. It’s time to conquer another good 20mm off that mark. These instructions were relayed to me by John Barlow, maker of the Rectilux. According to him, this is the widest you can go with no vignetting while getting full frame coverage. It’s a rather cheap and simple procedure, so I recommend it. For this video we’re gonna be adapting an enlarger lens, the El-Nikkor 63mm f/2.8. There’s a f/3.5 version, get the faster one. It’s a tiny lens, super light. In a certain way this mod reminds me of the original Iscorama lens, a 50mm locked to infinity, that’s about as wide as you can go on the Isco. I guarantee it’s a great match for the Rectilux, and I bet it works just as good for other single focus solutions and 2x scopes.

Here’s what you’re gonna need: A 63mm f/2.8 El-Nikkor enlarging lens, M39 to M42 adapter ring, M42 to EF adapter (this was my choice, you can get your own camera mount), M42 extension tubes, thin copper wire, pliers and gorilla tape! It’s also good to have a 40.5-58mm step up ring for the Nikkor’s front thread and then step to whatever size you want! In my case, for the Rectilux, I used a 58-67mm step ring.

First step when you get the El-Nikkor is to remove the M39 extension tube. This is an enlarger lens, meaning it’s always focused to infinity – which is good – but with a flange distance that’s slightly different from the standard. Screw in the M39 to M42 adapter and then the shortest M42 extension tube. Before it’s all in, add a few loops of copper wire there for spacing.




Add the M42 to EF adapter at its back. Mount this contraption on the camera. Infinity will be falling past the sensor, so start unscrewing the lens from the extension tube until infinity is in focus. Now fill the gap with a few loops of the copper wire and make sure it’s tight. This step might require repeating to ensure it’s all good.



To wrap it up and make it a little nicer to look cover the entire thing with gorilla tape – which has the perfect size! The tape is super strong, so the wire-filled gap won’t move, and your lens will end up looking more reliable. Using an exacto knife I cut off the tape that covered the f-stop markings, screwed in the step-up ring and put lens caps on.



Now just attach the El-Nikkor to any 2x stretch scope and go shoot 3.56:1 compositions with 31mm horizontal field of view with no vignetting! This is pretty much the widest you can get for full frame coverage! Subscribe if you liked the tutorial, and check the blog for many others involving diopters, the Helios 44 and various anamorphic adapters. See you soon, 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.

I am selling the lens I used for this tutorial on eBay. It’s in perfect shape, no haze, fungus or scratches and great anamorphic bokeh. I would love to keep it, but I know I would barely use it, so it will be happier on somebody else’s hands.

Hey folks, Tito Ferradans here for another Chop Shop. Playing with the Helios was cool, but as any of you anamorphic users out there know, the true challenge with scopes is getting real wide angle AND close focus at the same time. Working to solve this issue, I got a Pentacon 29mm f/2.8, an inexpensive and fairly common wide angle lens. With the lens in front of me, I cracked it open and inserted an oval aperture in there. This way bokeh turns oval and you get a decent wide angle feeling with anamorphic defocus plus super close focus capabilities (the Pentacon focuses down to 0.25m). Here’s how to do it:

First, get yourself a Pentacon 29mm (auto or electric, it doesn’t matter). They’re particularly cheap in Europe. I haven’t tried the “Made in G.D.R”. version explained in the following link. Even though getting it open is a different process, I believe the aperture should be the same size.

Opening the lens is the hardest part. I followed a guide, but my version was slightly different (PENTACON auto 2.8/29 MULTI COATING), so there was a different way of getting it open. All I needed to do was to remove the label ring, using a lens wrench and then remove the front optical block by simply twisting it out.


That gave me clear access to the aperture, where I dropped one of these aperture disks, especially suited for the Pentacon 29mm’s iris – which is considerably smaller than the Helios 44 version. You can get them cut at any laser cutting shop or order them online at Big Blue Saw – if you go to Big Blue Saw, use this file and it should work seamlessly with their system.

Depending on the material, you’ll probably need to sand the disk down to as close as paper thin as you can. Now, with the front element removed, tape the disk to its back. It’s useful to have markings for its orientation. I also painted my disk black with a sharpie marker. I ended up opening the lens, adjusting and closing it back a number of times!




When you’re through putting the oval aperture, close the lens back up and you’re good to go.

For extreme anamorphic goodness, combine this lens with a 1.33x adapter like the Century Optics or Panasonic LA7200 and you get flares, distortion combined with the fake ovals. Who could tell you’re being cheap, if it all looks amazing?

So, how do you like all of these crafting tutorials? Are they being as useful as the reviews, more useful, or completely useless? If you like them, go ahead and subscribe, because there is still more to come. If you don’t like them, well, go ahead an subscribe too, because the reviews won’t stop! Lastly, I’m running out of shirts, so I’m putting together a waitlist. If you want a shirt, send me an email with your size and I’ll keep you posted on a second batch! For checking additional content, tutorials and reviews, go to the Anamorphic on a Budget page!




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, with a baby on the way! Hell no, guys, it’s just a lens! This is my first review for one of the baby anamorphics, the Iscomorphot 8/1.5x. The awkward part is that this name represents two different lenses, the one I’ll be talking about today is the fixed focus version, which works by focusing with your taking lens. As the name states, this is a 1.5x stretch, trademark of Isco optics, super tiny lens, weighting only 60g! Fortunately it has front threads – tiny 30.5mm threads – and it usually comes with two diopters (which are way too strong at +2 and +4). The rear threads are non-standard, but I already made a video on how to mount these on your taking lenses and align it using Rapido Clamps.

This one was originally meant for Super 8 cameras, so the small lens size wasn’t a problem, but when using it on the A7s2, I had to go with the 2.2x crop mode, meaning this is not a lens for full frame cameras and large sensors in general, being a much more suitable alternative for smaller sensors such as MFT. I reckon it probably does wonders on a BMPCC.

PRICE and AVAILABILITY
Not very common online, these little things usually go for $500 to $800 bucks. There seem to be a steady supply (even if one at a time) on eBay Germany.

RESOLUTION
Without diopters, using this adapter is a pain. It’s rather soft until f/5.6 or slower at any focal lengths, so the step up ring for the filter threads was a must so I could use lower powered diopters besides the original +2.5 and +5 that came with it. When that is fixed, the image quality improves considerably. A cheap +0.5 and +1 diopters will do wonders if you’re using this adapter.


Contax Zeiss 35mm f/2.8


Contax Zeiss 50mm f/1.4


Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4

FLARES
Wow, this baby flares. The Iscomorphot has a very pronounced and distinctive orange flare. It’s completely different from what you usually get by using focus through adapters such as the Century Optics. Also, it’s a good change for the Isco lenses because they usually don’t flare!


Contax Zeiss 50mm f/1.4

SENSOR COVERAGE
As a Super 8 adapter, the Iscomorphot doesn’t like big sensors. I shot it on the A7s2 crop mode (2.2x) and it was barely vignette free at 35mm, with glare around the corners when lighting is too strong. 28mm already shows dark edges. That means that if you’re using this lens on full frame, you’re gonna be vignette free from 80mm and up, which is not very friendly. I would stick with a smaller sensor and a wider range of focal lengths.


Contax Zeiss 28mm f/2.8


Contax Zeiss 35mm f/2.8

WORLD TEST
Focus was hard if not close to infinity, so I used diopters for every single shot. When the taking lenses are stopped down to f/5.6 or slower, focus becomes easier, and the flares are very pleasing. Due to the combination of small rear element and full frame lenses, there were losses in light transmission. These were noticeable especially at night, when it didn’t make a difference if the taking lens was at f/1.4 or f/2. Focus was even harder at faster apertures and bokeh was very subtle. Again, the flares were still awesome. This was the first lens I wished I had a small sensor camera, so I could achieve its full potential. I guess I just can’t handle babies in my life right now!

Baby lens, quick review! I guess we’re done for today. Before you go, don’t forget to subscribe to the channel and then head to the blog where I have plenty of other reviews and cool tutorials about anamorphics. If you’re not too late, you might even be able to get one of these awesome cinemascope t-shirts. See you there!

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