Following the idea of the extremely modded Helios, I worked on modding the Mir 1B 37mm f/2.8 and Jupiter 9 85mm f/2. Here’s the look with very basic color grade (curves and saturation). All artifacts, flares and tint come straight from camera.
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.
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 DJI 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), lenses selling individually. You’re able to get unpolished versions of the Mir 1B, Helios 44-2 or Jupiter 9.
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 $650 off-eBay (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
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.
“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.
A detailed tutorial on how to fit the Kowa B&H – one of the best anamorphics available – inside the FM lens for single focus. All changes are reversible. Not the best solution, but something doable for those who don’t feel like cutting their FM in half!
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.
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.
If the Bell & Howell seemed an interesting options, a few weeks ago, here’s the mod to make it great. Single focus, 2x stretch, awesome flares. All of that with 58mm front threads, non-rotating front, focus gears, lens support and 360 degrees of focus throw!
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.
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.