Trailing off from anamorphic for a little bit for a quick review of my newest addiction, the FlapJack LED EdgeLight by Fotodiox. I’m a big fan of portable light sources and this one fills a void in my heart with cool daylight.
Tito Ferradans here, once again trailing off the anamorphic business. For this episode I wanted to talk about lights. As any decent cinematographer, I love lights. I’m the biggest fan of practical lighting and portable light sources. Here’s some stuff I shot with flashlights, phones and fire.
Some weeks ago, along with the Fotodiox ND Throttle, I got the FlapJack LED Edge Light panel. This one is the version 200L, with 4 by 11 inches and color temperature of 5600K, daylight – but there are bi-color versions as well. The daylight version costs about $140 (or at B&H), which is pretty amazing for what it delivers.
I held back as long as I could before doing this review because I wanted an in-depth review, with both pros and cons of the light. I have failed. I haven’t found anything I dislike about this LED. On a basic level, it hits all the marks: color is accurate. It has a 1/4″ hole to be attached to a tripod, a smooth dimmer to control intensity, and a small display with battery level, power output and color temperature.
On a deeper analysis, it uses external batteries for power – the NP-F style battery – allowing you to stock up batteries and swap them as they dry out. It comes in an (almost) hard case, with slots for everything: a hot shoe to 1/4″ screw for mounting the light on a camera; one battery; a dual charger; an AC plug if you wanna use a wall outlet; and a car plug that keeps tempting me to light the inside of a moving vehicle. I’ve done it before, guerrilla style, and power was our biggest challenge – with wires running to the car’s battery. Super safe stuff. The wires melted.
It’s basically a light you can take anywhere and power easily. In these few weeks I’ve had, I took it to the beach for a scene, as well as I shot under pouring rain – not the friendliest of scenarios – and had no issues or malfunctions yet. The manual says the battery lasts two and a half hours at full power. To me, it felt endless. I shot for two days straight (nights, actually) without charging. On the beginning of the second night the LED alerted me I was on the last bit of battery, but it still blasted it until wrapping the shoot. We did turn it off between takes – we’re not maniacs, you know. But still, when my camera beeps its battery is running out, I know I have less than five minutes, not many hours!
This is another piece of gear I throw in my bag whenever I go out to shoot, lately. Along with my two kicks, but that’s subject for another day. When I opened the box I was like “Hey, an LED light? Doesn’t Fotodiox only make adapters??”. Well, they’re not limited to adapters, and based on this light, I’m curious to try out some more gear.
If you’re interested in more practical lighting and portable lights, they’ll certainly come back in future episodes, so subscribe. If you were here for anamorphics, we’ll be back on that next week! I’m Tito Ferradans and I’ll see you then.
Tito Ferradans in for a review that’s been long due. As I said many times before, I’m not a huge fan of cumbersome projection lenses, so they were never too high on my list of pending reviews. Then I got this Cinelux with my FM and it would be rude of me to waste this opportunity.
There’s not much cool story behind these, as they are modern anamorphics, designed for 35mm film projectors. Schneider is the company that bought Isco some time ago so their glass is top notch. Being modern, a little too much top notch. First warning of this video is about the multiple versions available. This one – which seems to be the most compact one – is the ES version, but there’s the WA, for wider angles I assume, and the Super Cinelux, which has a horrendous front lip that will mess up your life, so avoid at all costs.
Sometimes these Schneiders come with a spherical projection lens attached to the back. For the purposes of this review, just take that off and combine the anamorphic with any taking lenses you might regularly use. The anamorphic block has the same diameter all throughout. Getting to the tech specs, this is a 2x stretch scope, with no front thread for filters and non-standard rear thread (close to 67mm but not quite). You’re gonna need a clamp to attach this adapter to your taking lens.
I wouldn’t consider this a useful lens for shooting WITHOUT a single focus solution. The reason for that is the ES Cinelux has no focus ring. Focus is adjusted by these two screws at the front of the lens. I can’t even imagine how to work this on set as double focus setups are already tough. This is just stupid. Long story short, get a single focus solution. Rectilux, Rangefinder or FM. Otherwise, don’t even bother with this anamorphic.
Alignment relies on the clamp – here I’m using the lens collar from the FM lens. Since the flares on this one are pretty subtle due to multicoating, check both flares and bokeh for alignment. The easiest way to mount this lens is probably using a lens collar (this one, for the Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro has the exact same diameter as the Cinelux) and attaching that to 15mm rails. You can find all the ingredients right here for cheap.
For the resolution and world tests I’ll be using the FM lens paired to to the Cinelux.
PRICE and AVAILABILITY
Prices are all over the place. The Schneider ES Cinelux Anamorphic is rather easy to find on eBay but getting a good price can be challenging as most listings are unrealistic at over $400. I believe a decent amount to pay for this lens would be around $200.
This is when the modern aspects of this lens shine. With a big rear element and multicoating, the Cinelux performs nicely even at fast apertures around 50mm, and quite decently across the frame. Performance drops as the lenses grow longer, being quite soft at 85 or 135 at their maximum aperture. Stop them down a bit to f/4 or 5.6 and things get better. They’re long lenses, that shouldn’t be much of a problem. I’m using the Contax Zeiss set as taking lenses so they don’t bring in too much personality into the charts.
Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 CENTER
Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 CORNERS
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
And this is when the modern aspects of this lens DON’T shine, quite literally as flares are muted and almost non existent. They have a saturated – but not alien – blue color that is very pleasing. The weak flares shouldn’t be much of a problem, though, as I already taught you how to boost them up a bit through the use of UV filters.
Contax Zeiss 50mm f/1.4
For a 2x scope, it’s more on the long side, not usable at 40mm even with 2.4:1 aspect ratio. 50mm makes this possible, but barely, with vignette trying to creep in. If you remove the FM, that should clear it. At 58mm you have more leeway with the FM and can go an easy 2.4:1, or 2.66:1 accepting a bit of dark corners. As usual, full 3.56:1 shooting only works from 85mm and up.
Canon EF 40mm f/2.8
Contax Zeiss 50mm f/1.4
Helios 44 58mm f/2
Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4
The ES Cinelux has some good points, but overall it doesn’t have anything that excites me too much. I’m not crazy for sharpness and the lack of natural flares are downsides for me – but not for everyone. 2x bokeh is nice. This adapter demands a single focus solution, asking for good money just to make it usable. On the other hand, the simplicity of the setup and reliable results are great points. Just mount it on rails so it’s aligned for good and go out to shoot – no need for crazy mods or tweaks. Definitely a good lens for starting out in anamorphic and getting nice, moody images out of any camera.
Do you own one of these? Write about your experiences in the comments below! If you enjoyed this review and it helped you narrowing which anamorphic to get, I recommend you subscribe to the channel, as anamorphics are the subject of almost all the videos here. For more information beyond the videos, check out my blog where you can find over a hundred posts on the subject. Tito Ferradans out.
I’m adding an extra to this review, that is the music video for Meet Me In Orbit – Another Day, directed, shot and edited by Iban Corominas, who’s been following the channel since the beginning. He used a combination of drone footage (Phantom 3 Pro) with a GH4 paired to the Cinelux and FM Lens. I love the setting and how the video plays out. The lighting is gorgeous and every environment accentuates the anamorphic look with lots of spec highlight and bokeh shapes. When I asked him why he chose to shoot anamorphic, he replied “Well, as you can see, this is a 0 budget production, and I really love the look of the anamorphic when you shot fiction”. It might be a zero BUDGET production, but it has loads of production value. I agree on the rest, though!
I’m gonna constantly try to link something shot with the reviewed lens on these posts. I’m encouraging you, that have these lenses sitting at home to go out and shoot real things! Not only tests (guilty!) or cat videos: Let’s put these babies to good use!
Hi there, people! Tito Ferradans here for another Anamorphic Chop Shop! For this episode I teamed up with a great friend of mine, Fernão Morato, for some designing.
As you might remember from the Panasonic LA7200 review, I once made an extra piece that fitted perfectly around the lens front, creating 105mm threads for diopters and such. It was a great add-on, but I had to glue it to the front of the lens and it created some vignetting since the filter threads were too tall regarding the glass.
When I sold my old Panasonic, I threw this piece along in the deal. Now I’m making a new version of it, fixing what the first one had wrong and, instead of selling it, it’s here for free so anyone can make it.
UPDATE – NOVEMBER 2016: I started selling these filter holders on a small scale on eBay, so if you’re looking to get one, check out the listing!
I sat down with Fernão and we worked on the design to fit snuggly inside the adapter. Instead of going with 105mm filters we went with 95mm because that’s easier to step down (105mm filters are very rare). I tried 3d printing the filter threads and that was hopeless (the level of detail is too small for the printer to handle) so I decided to simplify. The solution was laser cut it out of 6mm-thick acrylic, with a hole in the middle so I could slot in a 95mm filter ring without the glass and glue it in place.
The mold is a little bit loose so you can easily slot it in or out. Mine was transparent, so I painted it black, glued the UV filter ring inside and added felt with double sided tape to the edges so it holds safely, but isn’t impossible to take out. The attachment introduces a little bit of vignetting on the wider end (between 28 and 32mm), as you can see in these shots, but that can either be easily cropped out if needed.
That wraps our weekly episode. Be sure to subscribe for the upcoming episodes and let me know in the comments if you’re getting one done – or if you want to buy one from me! I know getting small volume laser cut can be challenging. Lastly, for additional articles and videos, check the blog. I’m Tito Ferradans, and I’ll see you next week.
Taking the previous mod as the base, this one builds up on it, intensifying changes to the glass, adding a seamless focus gear and a rotating adapter so alignment is never an issue. This mod aims to make your lens more usable and even more special. :)
Heya, I’m Tito Ferradans and today we’re here to work on a few upgrades to the Helios 44-2 Extreme mod. You probably watched the original video, as it is the most popular one in the channel. After finishing the mod and doing it over and over to fulfill ebay orders, I started to wonder about some other components I handled repeatedly for the mod.
Namely the optics. Not everyone wants polishing – which I can understand, and I myself prefer the unpolished version – so I kept staring at this black coating that covered the sides of the biggest glass elements. I decided to give it a go and try to take it off. In order to do that, I used what I had at hand: nail polish remover. It was messy, I think I poisoned myself a little by breathing fumes, but it got the job done. Since that first experience I experimented some other chemicals and the most efficient one is 100% acetone. I got this huge bottle at a drugstore for $10. Still, don’t breathe it in too much, prefer doing this on a well ventilated area. Wear gloves.
The first step is to take the glass out of the lens. Easy peasy, it’s been explained in the other tutorial. Now, with cotton pads embedded with acetone, rub the sides of the glass to take off the black coating. We’re gonna replace that with something else. You might get some black paint over the top and bottom of the lens, it’s ok for now, just be sure to remove everything from the sides. Some of the ones I did were pretty hard to take off, so be persistent.
Now that they’re clear, get your sharpie collection out. As I implemented this mod on my Amber set, I’ll go with orange. Keep the gloves on. Carefully paint the sides of each group. The ink will take a little bit to dry, so add several layers until you have a nicely saturated color. The new tint will make your lens look amazing from the outside, and it’s an extra layer to tinting the flares. Put the lens back together and let’s move on to the next step: focus gears.
As I’ve shown in a previous video, you can easily make your own 3d-printed focus gears. The hard part is getting the right measurements for each lens. Again, as I wanted to up the game with the Ambers, I spent a good week experimenting and finding the ideal measurements for the Helios 44-2. Continuing with the freebie collection, I’m uploading the STL model right here for you to download and print it yourself. Important to remind you that mine are printed with PLA and you’re likely to have different results if using ABS or a different material. There’s still a bit of sanding involved, but this way you can get a super-tight fit.
The reason why I prefer smart adapters (with electronic contacts) is because they allow me to control electronic lenses. I had a decent Canon arsenal until recently and that was a must, not so much for auto-focus, but for aperture control. Also, I rent my gear and lots of people shoot with Canon lenses, so smart is a requirement.
The best thing about this adapter is the internal variable ND, no doubt. The Pro version has a slot for a 1/4″ screw as support. It even has a geared control ring and hard stops – from ND2 to ND400, 1 to 8.5 stops of light reduction. It’s another layer of control over your exposure, a very useful one , as it lets me hold onto 1/50th shutter speeds. Here are shot samples with and without the adapter so you can check how sharpness is affected. Download full resolution images here. I messed up on the 8th photo, a gust of wind shook the camera and I didn’t notice at the moment.
Sharpness is practically unaffected. I shot these tests with the Contax Zeiss 50mm at f/2. There’s a noticeable green cast, but that doesn’t worry me since it’s the kind of thing that can be easily fixed in post. The maximum setting has a strong blue cast and somewhat of a shape across the image, but that’s a very extreme case. Back down from it a tiny bit and you’re fine.
Having the ND inside the adapter – instead of filter form – frees me from forgetting the step rings! It’s an obvious choice for me when shooting during daylight with the A7s2. It retails for $250, much cheaper than Metabones’ Smart Adapter. Construction is solid, all parts are metal and it feels sturdy as a rock – or a Russian lens!
There are a few downsides, though. I don’t know if the weather is to blame – Vancouver’s been crazy lately, cold, warm, cold, warm – but I’ve had a little bit of grease pooling on the outside of the control ring. Nothing leaks inside, and it’s a very small amount, but it’s there.
The more concerning issue for me is that the electronic connectors make the camera go a little nuts with super-tight fit adapters. More specifically, I had this happening with my Leitax mounts. I think the metal lets current pass through and that gets misread by the camera. My M42s are all good though, as well as any of my other lenses and adapters (Rokinon, Canon and Pentax). The fix for the problem is really simple. I just unscrew the adapter from the camera a tiny bit, so the contacts don’t touch each other, and that’s it. Since the adapter-camera fit is very strong, there is no chance of it rotating and falling down. I had no issues with my Canon electronic lenses, and they all worked perfectly with the adapter for aperture control.
Even considering these issues, I am very happy with the adapter. It’s part of my go-to gear kit already and I thank Bohus for sending it my way. My quest for the best support gear continues. If you want more videos like this one, wait no longer and subscribe. If you’re here for anamorphics, worry not! I’m Tito Ferradans and we’ll come back to that next week!