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December 2019

Anamorphic

Iscorama 36 vs Bolex Moller 16/32/1.5x

December 1, 2019

The greatest comparison between anamorphic adapters you’re gonna see this year. The kings of image quality and 1.5x stretch go head to head and only one can emerge victorious! Iscorama vs Bolex Moller!

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Tito Ferradans here for another big match in the anamorphic game! Today we’re putting the Bolex Moller 16/32/1.5x against the world’s favorite Iscorama Pre-36. These are the top 1.5x stretch scopes out there and you can watch their individual reviews before watching this comparison. Before I start, I’d like to thank Evan Burns for letting me play with this Bolex for these tests! You’re awesome, man!

There’s constant speculation over which of them is the better anamorphic, so let’s put down all the rumors and work with facts! To make things easier, I’ll be using a series of different categories for the comparisons. They are DIMENSIONS, EASE OF USE, PRICE, IMAGE QUALITY, FLARES and VIGNETTING!

DIMENSIONS
The Iscorama weighs 400g, with lots of plastic body parts that get old and crack, versus the Bolex that weighs 370g and is made of solid metal and glass. Fairly close, eh? If we factor in the Rectilux HCDNA as a single focus solution, the Bolex goes up to 1kg. In terms of size, the Bolex by itself can be compared to the size of the Iscorama and both make great compact rigs, but once you add a HCDNA in front of the Bolex for single focus, the Iscorama is the clear winner, thanks to the plastic housing.

EASE OF USE
The Bolex has 39mm rear threads and it’s not hard to get a clamp for it, but you still need one for alignment. The front threads are standard 62mm, so this gives you versatility when looking for diopters. What kills it is the double focus process, especially when compared to the Iscorama, which is naturally single focus. The Isco has standard 49mm rear threads and a built-in alignment mechanism, so you don’t need any extra gear for it. The front threads are 72mm, which isn’t too bad for finding cheap low-power diopters.

Sure, you can add a single focus solution to the Bolex, but then you’re adding one more step to your setup. Native minimum focus is 1m on the Bolex and 2m on the Iscorama, both with an extremely long, full 360 degrees, focus throw. These focus numbers are quite loose, though, because minimum focus changes if you add a HCDNA to the Bolex, and there is an easy process to shorten the minimum focus of the Iscorama – DIY style or with the Proxiscope mod, or even a full rehousing at VanDiemen. The ultimate minimum focus without diopters for the Iscorama is 1.1m.

Since this whole focus thing is debatable for both lenses and adds complications in both cases, I will not take it into account for declaring the Iscorama winner of this category. You literally take it out of the box and screw it to your taking lens and you’re ready to shoot, single focus. No need for any extras.

PRICE and AVAILABILITY
We’re talking about gems here. These are not easy to find, regardless of having the money or not. So you usually have to act swiftly once something pops up. When I got into anamorphics, back in 2012, an Iscorama would sell for around $2000 and a Bolex could fetch not more than $1000. Today, an Iscorama sells fairly easy at $3300 but can reach higher prices. The prices on the Bolex continue to go up, sitting right now between 2000 and 2300. Since the Bolex is double focus, if you want to use it for anything fast, you’ll need a single focus solution, and that adds another $500 to $1000 depending if you’re going with the Rapido FVD-16A or the Rectilux HCDNA. Even adding that cost, the Bolex wins as the cheaper option.

IMAGE QUALITY
This was fun. The Bolex clearly has a warmer tone than the Iscorama and maybe even a touch better contrast. The Rectilux HCDNA adds a bit of softness throughout. When we get to the nitty gritty, the Bolex performs better with longer taking lenses while the Isco will struggle with the faster apertures. Both lenses sharpen similarly as they’re stopped down, which is disturbing. If I disregard the double focus aspect, the Bolex wins. If I make the Bolex single focus, the Iscorama wins. Tough call. Let’s go with the Bolex. At least you’ll have the OPTION of being super sharp by taking out the HCDNA when you need it.

FLARES
This is a tough one. The Iscorama has strong orange flares that show up easily, while the Bolex has cool purple tinged streaks. The Bolex wins this category only because the Iscorama is prone to a weird box-shaped rainbow flare that requires some modding in order to disappear. This tends to show up on wider taking lenses and when the light source is closer to the center of the frame.

VIGNETTING
This was one of the only easy comparisons in this test: The Iscorama can clear 40mm on full frame, while the Bolex fails that number even before adding the HCDNA. Once you add the single focus solution the clear frame for the Bolex moves up north of 50mm. With 1.5x stretch clear the entire frame is worth extra points for a slightly wider 2.66:1 aspect ratio when shooting 16:9, as opposed to the standard 2.4:1. So Iscorama scores.

ADD ONs
Neither lens provides you with focus gears and from their raw form they can both be improved. The easy addition to the Bolex is a single focus solution and both the FVD and Rectilux have focus gears, plus a solid clamp that goes on rails so you never have to realign it. Take your pick from Rapido or Redstan. For the Iscorama, you can go for a full rehousing at Van Diemen which can be a lengthy and expensive process, or do it your own by purchasing the Proxiscope or Maxiscope mods, from Max Prodaniuk, which adds focus gears, shortens minimum focus, makes the Isco ready for rails and fixes alignment issues. I can’t recommend it enough.

Let’s tally up the score. The Iscorama takes DIMENSIONS, EASE OF USE and VIGNETTING, the Bolex wins PRICE, IMAGE QUALITY and FLARES. So in terms of raw categories it’s a tie. If any of these categories is key to you, this is enough for your pick, but for a winner, let’s discuss how much better than the competitor each lens performs in their categories. The Iscorama has easy wins in its three categories, but the Bolex struggles to outperform the Iscorama in IMAGE QUALITY, only getting an edge at longer lenses, the box-flare on the Iscorama can also be fixed and that would lead to a tie on FLARES. The price category is a clear win for the Bolex if you keep it double focus, but once you make it single focus, the price difference between both lenses is not that far apart.

On that note, the Iscorama is the best lens here. Cue all the hate comments below! Cue the all the “I KNEW IT” comments below too! And before you go, here’s a reason to subscribe: The Iscorama might be the winner, BUT… There’s an odd secret about it! If you wanna know more about it, hit subscribe and stay tuned for next week’s video, when all facts are finally out! Thank you for watching, and I’ll see you next week!