Monthly Archives:

November 2015

Day-to-Day

Thanksgiving.

November 10, 2015

Almost an entire month late, I started to write this one right after Thanksgiving (October 12th)! For the majority of October I was relocated to a friend’s apartment. Ariana was kind enough to harbor me on her couch for a little over two weeks. If you’re thinking sleeping on a couch sucks, have a look at the kind of sunrises I got there.

Neat, isn’t it? Well, it was also a great incentive to get up early and do stuff. Like maniacally bike around Stanley Park, or to North Van, or from the airport, or anywhere that seemed stupid enough to grant me a good amount of exercise and getting used to different areas of the city. It was also a great time to read more and more books, including among them “Ready Player One”, which I couldn’t put down until it was over – and was mentioned on a previous post.

During this time, some music videos came out, shot by Matt, two of them using some of my anamorphics, and I’m still impressed with the quality of the footage he was able to get out of a 7D, shooting H.264. Well done, my friend, well done!


Plus, the music video for Hello – which entitles the aforementioned previous post – directed by Matt and Jake also came out. I really like the way this looks and sounds, plus it was great to work with these guys for extra content on their new album. Now that I’ve re-read this sentence, it seemed confusing so: I haven’t worked on the music video below! Hahaha.

But, back to the post title, this was about Thanksgiving. Last year we went to a friend of May’s place and had a decent dinner with them, even though I was already in my unwilling “no-food-down” diet, so I didn’t get to enjoy it so much. I remember it was raining like hell, and we took a bus there, to a part of town we’d never been before. This year, I was at Ariana’s and, well, she wanted to stick to traditions and organize a huge meal and gather friends. It wasn’t like I had a choice to not-be-a-part-of-it, and even if I had, wouldn’t make a difference. Nicko and Nati joined us early in the day and we went shopping for the missing ingredients, then as they started cooking I was constantly out, getting things we forgot about the first time, or looking for stuff in more distant stores. There was a whole “Apple Cider Quest” which ended up unsuccessful since there was no non-alcoholic apple cider to be found anywhere and I ended up getting the ingredients for some variation of it based on apple juice. Sweet! – in all senses.

I tend not to remember rainy days very well, but I’m pretty sure this one will last. The amount of food we made was enough for everyone to take some home and me and Ariana eat for a week, and we still had to get rid of a lot of leftovers because they were going bad. The day was also a kind of test to see how we worked as a team, since we’re all planning on moving together to a bigger (and cheaper) place – a house or large apartment – outside of downtown, but not too far – bikeable distances, please.

I guess when I started to write this post I was going to talk about the collaboration and feeling part of a team, being around friends and all that, but it’s pretty obvious by now and I desperately need other subjects to write about here! I guess I’ve dried this well, at last.

Weird limp post… I should’ve finished it back then!

Anamorphic

Anamorphic on a Budget – Iscorama 36

November 8, 2015

The Holy Grail of anamorphic adapters. I mean, really. Everyone wants these and they’re paying top dollar for a reason. For several reasons, actually!

USEFUL LINKS:

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 can support this project on Patreon. Make your contribution and help the Anamorphic Cookbook!

OVERVIEW
Tito Ferradans here for a video about the most desired anamorphic adapters of all times, the Iscorama Pre36 and the 36 itself. They’re so similar that I’m gonna have one video to cover both in spite of not having an actual Iscorama 36 at hand here. Oh, the Iscorama Cinegon also falls in the same category as an almost identical lens. These were the very first anamorphics released by Isco Optics and, needless to say, were a huge success, leading to the Iscoramas 42 and 54, as well as the Iscorama 2000 series.

And what’s the difference between the 36 and the Pre36? The 36 is an independent adapter, while the Pre36 was released first, paired with a cheap 50mm with focus fixed to infinity. The original taking lens could be on Exakta, Nikon F, M42 or Minolta SR mounts. As the other Iscoramas, the 36 has a rear element diameter of 36mm. The Pre36 is slightly smaller, at 30mm and the Cinegon is slightly bigger, at 38mm. The coatings are also a little different, with the Pre36 and Cinegon rendering orange warm flares and the 36 has a LITTLE less prominent flare.

Part of the Iscorama family, these are the smallest ones, compact and lightweight, at 400g. Front thread is 72mm and back is 49mm, again you can either use clamps or simply stack step rings. The protruding rear element is a great feature that allows you to bring the front of the taking lens really close together. Stretch is 1.5x, leading to an aspect ratio of 2.66:1 when used with a 16:9 sensor. Alignment is set by pressing these two buttons on the side and rotating the front part.

As its big brothers, minimum focus stands at 2m, but there are a few hacks to bring it down to 1.3m – which usually lead to unscrewing the front element, so be careful. Focus follows the standard Isco operation, taking lens set to infinity and single focusing on the Isco’s ring. The lens body, though, has several plastic pieces, which is great for weight, but terrible for long term durability. It’s quite common to find units with stiff focus or even harder aligning.

The reason this is the holy grail of adapter is due to a series of factors. First, it’s lightweight and small, second, flares are beautiful and easy to achieve, third, it packs quite the punch in terms of image quality even at the fastest apertures.

PRICE and AVAILABILITY
Recently, thanks to the increasing number of single focus solutions, Iscoramas are popping more and more around the market. Ebay is kind of the usual place, but you can also check forums such as EOSHD or DVXUser’s Marketplace. Prices are still as high as ever, around $3500. Every once in a while you see one going for a bargain, at something near $2000, so keep an eye out.

RESOLUTION
A killer image quality is one of the main reasons people are so greedy about this adapter. Great performance even at f/1.4 with the Zeiss lenses.


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

Contax Zeiss 135mm f/2.8 CORNERS

DOWNLOAD ORIGINAL SAMPLES HERE

FLARES
Orange and warm flares for this baby. It knocks it out of the park when compared with its multi-coated siblings (the 42 and 54). It has the classic look of a desired anamorphic flare: large, organic, multi-layered and with a long streak.


Contax Zeiss 50mm f/1.4

SENSOR COVERAGE
Designed to cover 50mm and up on full frame sensors, it starts to vignette shortly below that, being totally unusable at 35mm.

WORLD TEST
No complaining here, simple to use and sharp to the point that I didn’t need to keep triple checking focus all the time. Rack focusing is possible and very smooth and the resulting image has a very organic and dreamy feel about it. The 1.5x stretch is enough to make the oval bokeh become more pronounced. Minimum focus at 2m was the only issue, but still solved swiftly thanks to my large arsenal of diopters. If the 54 wasn’t great for run-n-gun, this one definitely plays the part, being small and light. There’s not much more to say, it’s world use is very similar to the other Iscoramas.

Before wrapping this up, I’d like to thank Rob Bannister, for letting me have the lens for a while and review it. You most definitely can rent this Iscorama Pre36 at Creative Camera Rentals. Next week I’m gonna talk about the rehousing job offered by Van Diemen, in the UK, which transforms this tiny little thing into this artillery shell. Subscribe now if you haven’t yet, to receive future updates, and head on to my blog to check some more anamorphic goodness. One last thing, I’m trying to grow the channel by putting up more content and your feedback plays a great part, as well as helping me reaching a larger audience by sharing the video on social media, groups, email lists or whatever. I really appreciate your help so thank you for watching and we’ll meet again next week. Ferradans out.



Day-to-Day

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension

November 4, 2015

Ever since the first Paranormal Activity movie came out, there was an element that I really liked about it: the fact that it absorbs the viewer into a story that’s told by the camera – I wrote about this a while ago, calling it Diegetic Cinematography – plus, it was a horror movie. The problem is, doesn’t matter how much I want to like Paranormal Activity, I simply can’t. I tried with the first movie, it bored me to death, with less than five minutes of actual cool stuff going on. It should’ve been a short. I admire its budget/box office ratio, very much like Blair Witch Project.

Its concept of how to tell a horror story was something I liked so much that I forced myself to watch all the other movies in the franchise, as they came out. They just got more and more predictable and boring, leaving aside the true horror of its nature, making everything more and more explicit and resorting almost exclusively to jump scares. Yesterday I watched what’s supposed to be the conclusion of the series, “The Ghost Dimension“. You don’t even need to guess what I thought of it. It was one of the worst disappointments ever – I watched it right after Crimson Peak. Individually, Crimson Peak was incredibly boring, but at least had very cool looking effects, even though lacking the whole ‘foreplay’ you expect from horror movies, where most of the time you don’t actually see the ghost – or whatever supernatural creature the movie features. In Crimson Peak you have long shots and close ups of the ghosts, which is cool for some reasons and anti-climatic for some others. The characters are also incredibly stupid and take forever to unravel the plot. Overall, a weak movie, not worth watching again. Compared to Ghost Dimension, though, Crimson Peak is an amazingly well written and shot horror movie.

It feels like in the previous movies they depleted completely all the possibilities of jump scares imaginable and the only way of trying to add any depth to such a flat story (pun intended) was to make it 3D, with jump scares that fly onto your face combined with footage processed to look like old VHS, on a supernatural camera that can “see this other realm”. Well, the image looks like crap, and I admire that, the problem is whenever the spirits appear, they show an incredible amount of detail that isn’t present anywhere else in the shot. It’s like taking a very low-quality photograph and inserting a super sharp and amazing 3D model into it. It just doesn’t match.

My rule of thumb regarding the Paranormal Activity series still applies: watch the trailer and be done with it. 95% of the good scenes are there, as well as the – lack of – story. Save yourself some time and watch a better movie.

Anamorphic

Anamorphic on a Budget – DSO Ep 03 – Optical Attachments

November 1, 2015

On the last (for now) installment of the DogSchidt Optiks produtcs I talk about their optical attachments (aka TRUMP 38 and 88), which make a full standard prime set with its core in the TRUMP 58. More customizing options to what was already great. I also went a little crazy on the test video because I felt the TRUMP one was a little too simple for its capabilities.

USEFUL LINKS:

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 can support this project on Patreon. Make your contribution and help the Anamorphic Cookbook!

Tito Ferradans here, back for (what seems to be) the last episode about DogSchidt Optiks gear. Last week we talked about the TRUMP, the week before was the FlareFactory58, all of it provided by my associate at Creative Camera Rentals, Rob Bannister, so if you like these babies – or if you like any of the other anamorphics I talked about so far, there’s a great chance you’re able to rent them from us!

For this video the subjects are DSO’s optical attachments, both the wide-angle and the telephoto. These kinds of adapters were quite common during the DV era and were kind of forgotten afterwards – mainly because their resolving power sucked! The difference between those adapters and these ones here are: first, original optical design and freshly ground glass so there’s no loss of quality or light on the resulting image, second, their power (0.66x for the wide angle and 1.55x for the telephoto) when combined with the Helios 44 core inside the FlareFactory or the TRUMP results in the field of view of a 38mm and an 88mm respectively.


The attachments have different price tags if you’re buying them for the TRUMP – £700 for the 38mm and £820 for the 88 – or the FlareFactory – £300 for the 38mm and £340 for the 88mm. A lot more expensive than the standard ebay wide angle and telephoto attachments made by Century Optics, Panasonic, Sony and many others. The ones by DSO are also HEAVY, weighting around 600 grams each (the 38 is a little lighter) and big. The glass inside is large and beautiful and “characterless” so it’s like it doesn’t exist, not adding any artifacts, ghosts, haze or whatever – same principle as the Rectilux, it’s meant to be invisible.

The ingenious part, to me, comes from the fact that now you can have a single TRUMP, plus the optical attachments and that gives you a full optical matching standard prime kit (35, 50, 85) with fast apertures, or crazy apertures, and tints and whatever else you got there. You don’t need to modify three different lenses and pray to god that they all create similar looking footage. You’ll be using the same lens so everything will match every time. Again, the simplicity of the TRUMP is key, just screw in or remove the elements to switch between different focal lengths, quick and easy.

Rear threads are 52mm and front threads are large 86mm. As mentioned before, you’re likely to use an 86-82mm step down ring for vari-NDs and other filters. The cool thing about these guys is that you can pick a few step rings and use them on various different lenses, with apertures as fast as f/1.7 with no light loss. You also have a stripe with the aperture values marked so you can easily control the iris.

Just for the sake of “why the hell not?”, here are a few shots comparing the TRUMP 38 to the Mir 1B (37mm), and the TRUMP 88 against the Jupiter 9, the most common lenses used to match with the Helios 44.




Another interesting thing achieved with DSO’s optical attachments is the increased separation between subject and background, which is also a strong element in play when using anamorphic adapters. By using the 38, you get the wide angle, but your depth of field is shifted towards the 58mm taking lens, enhancing the bokeh.

I tried to define the 88 module, but I’m lacking words, I just realized that I must have a thing for eighty-something millimeters. I hope the footage is enough to prove my point here.


That’s it for this week, folks. We’ve reached the end of DSO’s reviews, covering the FlareFactory58, the TRUMP and now the optical attachments. If you like these lenses, you can rent them from us at Creative Camera Rentals! As of this time, this channel still doesn’t pay my bills or anything, so if you wanna help me growing the available content online for free, be sure to subscribe and help me spreading the word about the reviews and lenses. You can also check the entire Anamorphic on a Budget guide at my blog, entirely for free! See you next week.