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.
UPDATE – OCTOBER 2016: I’m selling aperture discs for this mod on a small scale on eBay, so if you’re looking to get some for a decent price, check out the listing!
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!
First baby anamorphic review, the Iscomorphot 8/1.5x is part of the Isco family but shares very little with its bigger brothers and sisters. More suited to smaller sensor cameras, it was a challenge on the A7s II.
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.
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
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
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
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!
For this tutorial we’re gonna need an empty 72mm ring, with the retaining ring intact – you can get the spares from last week, like me – or just order a cheap 72mm UV filter. A lens wrench, an exacto knife and, the secret piece, a Tamron 28-200mm Close Up filter. They go on eBay for under $30 and are fairly common, the only problem is that they come in a weird mount without filter threads.
You might’ve guessed this step: Remove the diopter from its retaining ring. These flaps keep it in place, so rip them off using the exacto knife. Take your time and be careful not to score the glass. Now put it on the 72mm ring and screw back the retaining ring. Lastly, celebrate and go out to shoot the medium-to-close-up shots you used to struggle with.
This was more of an insider trick rather than a real tutorial, trying to shine some light into the tricks I learned along the way that don’t necessarily involve buying expensive lenses or tricky DIY stuff. It’s something I believe will benefit most anamorphic users out there. If you found this useful, subscribe now and keep an eye for the following videos, for they should be helpful too. If you got some free time on your hands, head on to the blog and check out the rest of the reviews and posts! Ferradans out.
JULY 13th, 2016 – UPDATE: After posting this tutorial, a friend reached out about a unusual Tamron diopter that, according to him, is only sold in Japan. WHOISJSD confirmed that the Tamron A9F Close Up Filter is indeed 72mm threaded and +0.5 in strength. Here are his tests. The one I use in the video is the A9FB (B for Bayonet). The only problem is that it’s hard (impossible?) to find the A9F on eBay. If you wanna give it a shot, contact WHOISJSD through Instagram or Twitter and see if he can grab one for you! He warns they would go for about $50 though, which isn’t so cheap compared to the mod option. “That said, the quality is excellent. No ghosting, no chromatic aberration. I’m a fan. We did a lot of shots with it on my friend’s Sony and my 1.33x [anamorphic]“, WHOISJSD says. On the bright side, you just need to take it out of the box and shoot.
Since I watched “The Hateful Eight” and noticed a split field shot, meaning, a close up filter that only covers half of the lens, I wanted to get myself a set of these. With no help from eBay, I ended up making my own, and here’s how you can do yours!
Tito Ferradans here for an extremely hardcore tutorial on how to make your own split field diopters. In case you don’t know what split fields are, they are diopters that cover only half the lens. By doing so you can have things in focus on the foreground and background at the same time. I started to obsess about these after watching “The Hateful Eight”, which features a split field shot, and started to hunt them on eBay with no luck. All I could find were small sized ones and I needed at least 72mm to fit my anamorphics. It takes some practice to get used to the technique, so the sooner you get yours done, the sooner you can start practicing.
Electricity is a key part in this tutorial, so play SUPER SAFE. I had a ton of help from my friend Bruno Nicko, who’s starting his own channel with a series of DIY videos (his first project is revamping a dead electric scooter). Many things can go wrong with electricity, so I asked Bruno to explain the details regarding resistance, current, voltage and everything else so you have a rough idea if you’re gonna burn your house down. Always wear protective gear and be extra careful with all the steps in this tutorial.
Let’s get started with an easy step: remove the diopter from its original filter frame. These rings are super cheap and you won’t be using them anymore, so don’t worry if the locking ring breaks in the process.
Now, the electrical rig. Connect the transformer to the wires and the wires to the ceramic box (this thing is meant to resist great heat and contain electricity). Now make your nichrome loop – my wire was too thin (gauge 34) so we had to make it thicker, since the heat was melting it right off the bat. Connect the loop to the ceramic box too. The nichrome wire works as a resistance and heats up as electricity passes through. I highly recommend using an extension with its own fuse instead of connecting this contraption directly to a wall outlet.
Step away from this for a second, fill your spray bottle with water and put it in the fridge.
With your diopter, ruler and exacto knife, head outside. It’s time to score the edges of the diopter to hold the wire in place. Use a piece of cloth as a base so the glass doesn’t get scratched and there’s some tolerance for the pressure you’re applying. Don’t put too much pressure or you’ll break the lens, but if you do it too lightly you won’t carve the line you need. WEAR MASK, GLOVES AND GOGGLES for this. Glass dust is a mean thing.
Back to the wiring, rig up everything to hold the lens in place. Don’t hold it with your hands for cutting: the wire goes over 800°C and the glass heats up as well, so you don’t wanna hold that. We used a bunch of clamps to hold the ceramic box and another two (attached to a tripod as a flexible arm) to hold the lens in place. The two popsicle sticks make sure the clamp isn’t scratching the glass. The sticks also handle the heat. Fit the nichrome wire on both sides of the lens using the cuts in the glass. The wire should run right through the middle of the diopter. We used the convex side so the lens itself helps in keeping the wire stretched. You want it to be as stretched as possible, applying some counter-pressure to the glass.
This is the hard part, it’s also when magic happens right before your eyes. Turn on the transformer and wait for the wire to heat up, give it a good minute. Turn it off, spray the glass with cold water. Heat it up again, spray it with cold water. It takes time. My transformer was at the very edge of dying while we did this. You’ll be motivated to continue since you’re able to see the cracks forming through the glass. The center is the thickest part, and it’s a pain, but eventually it’ll give in. As a reference, the entire process took about four hours for me, but we were still figuring things out along the way.
This will get you two halves of a circle and an edge that tries to cut you just by looking at it. Once more with your mask, gloves and goggles, head outside. Grab the sandpaper and the bucket of water. Using a coarse sandpaper (or sanding sponge, in my case), submerge the glass and sand the edge away. Don’t do it flat, always sand the glass at an angle to smooth it out. This step takes a reasonable amount of time. When the edge is straight, switch to a thinner grade sandpaper for finishing it up. Now you have a friendly edge that won’t chop your fingers off, the problem is that the white of it will introduce a terrible glow across the frame. Using the black sharpie marker, paint it the best you can. Since you sanded it down, the ink will stick for good.
The last step is to get the glass and mount it onto the circular polarizer ring, so you can rotate it as you please once you put it in front of your lens. On the bright side, each set of diopters gives you TWO sets of split fields so you can keep the leftovers as backup gear.
Last minute advice, if you’re thinking of trying a different method than the wire, I did that for my first diopter. I tried the flaming thread method, then a glass cutter, both failed. We ended up hammering a ruler to the line down the middle of the glass. It cracked unevenly, of course, and I had to sand down 1/8th of an inch on the good half of the diopter. It doesn’t look like much but it took me three and a half hours to dust it and the resulting split still could use some more polishing to get straighter.
In case you wanna see some more split field in Hollywood, here’s a supercut! Music is a bit off, but the technique is well represented and you can see which ones are split diopters and which ones are done in post!