I swear, this is probably the last time I’m talking about lenses in the Isco family. The baby Iscorama, or Iscomorphot 8/1.5x is a tiny lens that will give you single focus and work pretty well with smaller sensors. It delivers a dreamy look and I’d say it’s only sharp past f/5.6 on the taking lens.
Remember when I talked about this lens and called it Iscomorphot 8/1.5x? I was wrong. That is the Isco Anamorphot 8/1.5x and THIS ONE is the Iscomorphot 8/1.5x, or Baby Iscorama. This tiny lens weighs 170g, less than half a pound and is one of the most desired baby anamorphics, trailing right after the baby Hypergonar and baby Bolex.
As an official member of the Iscorama family, this adapter has 1.5x stretch and it is single focus, meaning you only set your taking lens to infinity and do the rest of the work on the Iscomorphot’s focus ring. Focus comes down to 0.5m, or 1.7ft, which is much better than all the other Iscoramas, pretty much killing the need for diopters. It also features focus markings in both meters and feet and a focus throw of roughly 180 degrees.
If you still want diopters and other filters, the front threads are 39mm. The rear threads are standard size at 24mm, so you can make a clamp out of step rings. Unlike other Iscoramas, this one doesn’t have an alignment mechanism, just a red dot and the focus marker pointing which direction should be facing up for proper alignment – so I recommend getting a Rapido Clamp for it.
When it comes to availability and prices, this one comes in waves. They’re either abundant on eBay or impossible to find. Prices vary widely between $400-700 with some off-the-curve auctions for a little less or a lot more (as high as $1000).
In terms of resolution and sharpness, this is definitely the weakest member of the family, with super soft and blurry images unless you really stop down the taking lens.
Flares are more neutral than other Iscos, showing up as white or the light-source’s color___, which I think that adds to its dreamy feel.
Vignetting is when this lens takes hard hits. On the A7s2 I had to use the 2.2x crop mode, and then I got vignette clear images from 40mm and up. This matches around 90mm on full frame.
MORE ABOUT SHOOTING WITH THE LENS
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Tito Ferradans here for a super quick anamorfake tutorial. This one doesn’t go into great lengths of modding our base lens, the Canon EF 50mm f/1.4. We’ll just add lovely oval bokeh. I got a few requests for an autofocus mod, so I decided to give a go. I got all the info for this mod from Grant Gilmore, a few months ago and only now I was able to put it to the test! Let’s begin.
First off, you’ll need your Canon EF 50mm f/1.4, a lens wrench, the desired aperture disc, some sandpaper black or color sharpies and electrical tape. The streak flare is optional and I won’t include it in this video.
Go to the rear side of the Canon and, with the pointy end of the lens wrench, twist out the rear element. It comes off easily. The element right below it might try to come off too if you turn the lens upside down, so be warned that the concave side is the one pointing up. Put this loose element back in carefully, if you happen to take it off.
For the aperture disc, I recommend getting an acrylic cut, like the ones I used for the Mir, Helios and Jupiter. Files are available in the description! The biggest oval is f/2, then 2.8, 4 and 5.6 as they shrink. Be sure to sand it very carefully to smooth out the laser-cut edges and paint it black with a sharpie. Since the disc is a tiny bit smaller than the diameter of the rear element, add a small piece of electrical tape on each side and cut the excess. This will make your life easier for spinning the disc into alignment.
Past these steps, all you need to do is slot the aperture disc on the empty side of the element we took off. It fits perfectly in there. Then, put the lens back together.
If you wanna get alignment right in your first try, put some marks on the lens so we know how the element screws back in. In order to do that, I’ll put a bright tape triangle on the 50mm mark which faces up. Now I’ll add another triangle on the rear element, pointing directly to the first triangle. This way I know that the major axis of the top of the oval has to align with this triangle on the rear element.
When I put the lens back together, voilá! It’s perfect! Remember to clean your glass before shooting to wipe out fingerprints and tape residue.
A few notes on this process: unlike the other anamorfake mods, here I’m not putting the oval directly over the aperture mechanism. Not ideal, and if this was a wide angle, it’s very likely the results wouldn’t come without a consequence, as we see here. That being said, this mod works pretty well and takes only a few minutes to execute. The coolest part is that you can use the lens regularly, with the added benefit of anamorphic bokeh!
This episode would not have been possible without Grant’s help! If you have tried something related to the subject and wanna see it featured on the channel, leave a comment or send me a message! What did you think of this mod? Are you gonna try it on a 50/1.4 for some pretty low-light portraits? Let me know what you think in the comments below! Before you go, don’t forget to subscribe and hit the like button, so more people come across this video! See you next week! Ferradans, out.
Back in July I received a front locking ring for the Kowa 16H, made by Huu-Tuan Nguyen. Unlike a regular clamp, the ring is designed to fit over the Kowa’s original front ring, adding a series of benefits. I think the ring looks great. It fits with the style of the Kowa 16-H with all the silver extrusions, sells for a great price and solves a bunch of pesky issues.
The Kowa’s front ring is super easy to remove, locked in place by three tiny screws. Take them out and unscrew the ring. Now put Huu-Tuan’s ring in place and lock it with these three screws.
The universal advantage of this ring is front 72mm threads for diopters and other filters – or a 72mm Rangefinder. This one is useful for everyone that uses Kowa lenses, since they don’t have front threads at all.
The other bonuses are geared towards Rectilux HCDNA users. The HCDNA is held in place by six pointy screws. After putting it on and taking it off a couple of times, your Kowa’s front ring will show several bites into the metal. Not really pretty, especially if we can solve it. By replacing the Kowa’s original ring we add 75mm male threads that fit the HCDNA’s inner threads! Then we proceed to lock the HCDNA with one single screw, provided with the ring.
Another common issue working with the HCDNA is that focus occasionally slips from infinity on the anamorphic lens as you rotate the HCDNA’s focus ring. This affects your image drastically and my previous solution was using electrical tape to hold the anamorphic in place. Again, not pretty, especially if it can be solved. The solution with this ring is to focus your Kowa to infinity and tighten the front ring. This will prevent your focus ring from turning!
In terms of pricing, the rings cost $40 and the locking screw costs $5. You can contact Huu-Tuan on facebook and find out how to place your orders. Link in the video description. You can also find some other products there, like clamps. As of now, he offers solutions for the top tier Kowas and the Kowa 16-D. According to Huu-Tuan the ring works for all the 16-H’s sister lenses (Kowa B&H, 8Z and Elmoscope II), but the focus-locking feature may not work as intended. Check with him before purchasing in order to confirm it fits your needs.
My favorite part about these small scale anamorphic upgrades, designed by people in our community is that they don’t set out to fix all the problems at once. If you shoot anamorphic long enough, you’ll know it’s not possible to have all the good parts, We all compromise with some caveats. Huu-Tuan’s rings aim to solve a specific problem without creating additional issues. What else can we ask for?
The anamorphic world has always had a strong community and DIY aspects. The problem is most of the times folks keep their solutions to themselves and no one else can benefit from that. It makes me very happy to see these little solutions coming up because it means people are still determined to solve the issues they face with their scopes, but now they’re open to sharing them with all of us. Honestly, that has always been at the core of this channel and I hope we all keep walking towards a more collaborative community.
If you’re still watching and you agree with what I just said, this is the time to subscribe and like this video! Thanks Huu-Tuan, for sending me the ring and giving me all the info I needed for this episode. If you have any comments about the ring, or suggestions for future episodes, please leave a comment below! I’m Tito Ferradans and I’ll see you next week.