Anamorphic on a Budget – Kowa 8-Z

April 2, 2017

Time to review another member of the Kowa family. The 8-Z is side-by-side with the Kowa B&H in terms of performance, but are there any actual differences?


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Tito Ferradans here for a review of the Kowa 8-Z. This adapter is a solid performer, delivering excellent results regardless of aperture setting. It has lovely vintage character and organic cool flares. Being a projection lens, it is a double focus setup, so you’ll face challenges when shooting or you’ll need a single focus solution. Definitely a top drawer lens, with artifacts just enough to give the footage some mojo.

The Kowa 8-Z is one of those lenses everybody wants. When someone asks “what is a good projection lens?” it usually comes up right after the Kowa B&H. The 8-Z has a twin sister, the Kowa 16-H, they’re considered the same – but that is subject for another episode. It is a “true anamorphic” adapter with 2x stretch. Focus comes from infinity down to 1.5m or 5ft.

Japanese design, with big front and rear glass ensure you won’t be losing much light. You’ll need a rear clamp to mount it to your taking lens as well as a front clamp to attach diopters and filters. I’m using a Rapido clamp for the front, and you can find the link for it in the description. For the back, I have a custom 3d-printed one that you can download at the blog. I like having this one on rails because of its weight of 510g.

Even though it doesn’t reach the high prices of the B&H, the 8-Z is still uncommon. It usually goes between $500-650 and many of them are shipped out from Japan.

Shaaaaaarp! The Kowa 8-Z starts to suffer only at close range, if you don’t use diopters. I would say to avoid the hassles of double focus, but this is a personal call.

Aaand I was caught off-guard by these flares, as I expected them to be blue! According to feedback from several other users, both versions exist, but the blue ones are much harder to come by. The earliest versions are the ones with cool flares while the modern ones are all golden. This one is still in line with what we saw on the Kowa B&H.

By itself, the 8-Z can go as wide as 58mm on full frame for 3.56:1 aspect ratio. Coming down to 2.4:1, you can use a 50mm lens. Like the B&H, the 8-Z has strong veiling glare when a light source hits the edge of the lens. You can fix that by following the steps detailed in this other video. This will mute the glare and give you better screen real estate.

My friend Matt Leaf argues that the veiling glare is a key part of anamorphic, so, make up your mind before you decide between doing the mod or not! Speaking of mods, anything I said about modding the Kowa B&H can also be done to the 8-Z, so check those out if you wanna improve your lens!

If you liked this review, make sure you hit the like button and help me out by sharing the video with your friends. If you have any questions or suggestions, leave them in the comments and I’ll get back to you. Before you go, don’t forget to subscribe and if you really like this channel, you can support me on Patreon and get awesome rewards, becoming a part of the team and deciding which episodes come next. I’m Tito Ferradans and I’ll see you next week.