Anamorphic on a Budget – Century Optics 16:9 Ratio Converter

July 11, 2015

In this episode I talk about one of the cheapest anamorphics out there, great for starters and a very cheap lens to have around. The Century Optics is one of the more modern adapters, developed for the DV market. Suggestions are always welcome in the comments below! :)


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Alright! Finally home, shooting properly! Let’s get this show on the road! I’m Tito Ferradans and this is Anamorphic on a Budget Video Reviews. Today we’re talking about the Century Optics 16:9 anamorphic adapter. This little bugger goes by many names and brands, all of them almost equal regarding their strengths and weaknesses.

They were made during the 90s, when the 16:9 aspect ratio was becoming popular but there were still a large amount of good 4:3 video cameras around. Made by Optex, Soligor and mostly Century Optics, these adapters have a 1.33 squeeze factor that converts 4:3 into 16:9. Fortunately for us, 16:9 becomes 2.35:1, our beloved Cinemascope aspect ratio.

Since there was a plethora of cameras with different mounts around, these little adapters have regular threads such as 37 and 58mm but also some strange bayonet mounts. The one I’m using now is the most desired 58mm version, but check below for a quick and dirty tutorial of how to adapt threads into a bayo mounted Century! Unfortunately, they don’t have front threads, but Redstan has clamps specially designed for them. It’s also very easy to stick a step ring at front, using electrical tape.

Here I used an 82-72mm step ring, which will introduce some vignetting on wider lenses, but make the adapter much easier to use since now I can put diopters in front of it.

The first step is to remove the small screw on the side of the Bayonet mount (see picture below). Then, rotate the bayonet lock until it comes off. You’ll see a kind of “pin” on the inside of it.

Now, get a 52-67mm step up ring and, using pliers, carve a cut/dent that can fit around the “pin” mentioned on the previous step. Be careful not to bend the 52mm part of the step ring. Fit it on the back of the Century. The 52mm thread should fit snuggly around the rear glass element. Now, put the bayonet lock back, matching its “pin” to the cut in the step ring. The last step is to put back the small screw on the side, so it doesn’t come off.

And, you’re done!

These adapters have a metal body and weighs around 250g. Alignment is adjusted by loosening the tiny screw on the side and rotating the front element. Then, tightening the screw back in place. Be careful with this piece, since it can come off and it’s very easy to lose it.

These aren’t so hard to find – the 58mm is harder than the other models – either on ebay or craigslist and such. It’s actually easy to find them with owners of old DV gear that don’t even know what they’re holding. Prices range from 350 to 800 bucks, depending on the quality of the glass and cosmetics.

Being a fixed focus adapter, in which all the focusing is done on the taking lens, quality can take a hit if you don’t use it with optimal settings. Distances closer than 4 or 5 meters already get the Century struggling. Diopters are a must and with them you can get pretty good detail with this cheap lens and a fast setup.

Edges are pretty bad, though, doesn’t matter the aperture. Lots of softness and chromatic aberration, much more visible with wider lenses.



Helios 44-2 CENTER

Helios 44-2 CORNERS

On top of that, the Century doesn’t like neither long lenses nor large apertures. You’ll need diopters for both situations since it won’t achieve focus past 85mm, not even on its original focus range, from 5m to infinity, and will create terrible looking images below f/5.6

Jupiter 9 CENTER

Jupiter 9 CORNERS

Tair 11 CENTER


You can also check the link for the downloadable raw images of the tests.

Finally something that can flare! Its strong blue flares are very sci-fi and easy to achieve. Sunlight does wonders and any direct light source can cause them. I find them very attractive. You can see some better ones at Vintage Lenses for Video tests.

A great advantage of this adapter is being able to use wider taking lenses. Here I have an almost vignette free image at 37mm on the 5D3, full frame sensor. Aspect ratio is 2.36:1 instead of 2.4:1 as the previous tests. Vignetting becomes more intense when I add the step ring to use diopters. The only lenses that can beat this are the larger Century WS-13 and the Panasonic LA7200.

Whenever I use this adapter I remember I actually like wide angles. Focusing isn’t as fast as an Iscorama, but once you get the hang of diopters and become fast swapping them, one can achieve wonders using this lens. Being lightweight and compatible with wide angles makes the Century a very versatile lens, good for anyone starting with anamorphic lenses. The stretch is so subtle that this adapter doesn’t create ovals, but its flares are just beautiful.

This is the end for this episode, thanks for watching, I’m Tito Ferradans. Be sure to subscribe for more videos, also check out my blog and previous episodes!

As usual, down here are some extra pictures of the lens along with Redstan’s front clamp. You can also check the Century’s Lens-yclopedia page for more specific information.

  • TFerradans. · Anamorphic Chop Shop – Modding the Century Optics Bayonet. July 18, 2015 at 2:34 am

    […] explained in the Century review, you can use an 82-72 or 77-72mm step down ring with electrical tape to create front threads, and […]

  • TFerradans. · Anamorphic on a Budget – SLR Magic Ep 01 – Anamorphot 1.33x-50 December 6, 2015 at 8:31 am

    […] Anamorphot came out, I didn’t see a point to it. It seemed like a double focus, oversized Century Optics adapter, for twice the price. Almost two years passed before I had the chance to actually see the lens with […]

  • TFerradans. · Anamorphic on a Budget – Isco Wide-Screen 2000 MC February 28, 2016 at 8:36 am

    […] OVERVIEW Well, hello there friends and family, Tito Ferradans tuning in! Anamorphic on a Budget keeps going on 2016, starting off with this Isco Wide-Screen 2000. It’s one of the few members of the Isco anamorphic family not yet reviewed. Following its predecessors’ pattern, the Wide-Screen 2000 doesn’t let down in terms of performance. With a desirable stretch factor of 1.5x and an even more desirable compact, lightweight (225g) and solid build, this is probably the best fixed focus (focus through) anamorphic adapter out there. Focus is fixed from 4m to infinity. Getting close focus shots without diopters is gonna seriously cripple image quality. All focus adjustments are done using the taking lens’ focus ring, exactly like the Century Optics. […]

  • TFerradans. · Anamorphic on a Budget – Iscomorphot 8/1.5x June 19, 2016 at 8:31 am

    […] completely different from what you usually get by using focus through adapters such as the Century Optics. Also, it’s a good change for the Isco lenses because they usually don’t […]

  • TFerradans. · Anamorphic Chop Shop – Flipping the Century Optics August 7, 2016 at 8:34 am

    […] to business, if you have ever considered getting a small Century Optics, there’s a great chance you came across one – or more – posts by people claiming […]

  • TFerradans. · Buying Your First Anamorphic Lens August 15, 2016 at 8:39 am

    […] The Century is the cheap alternative to the Panasonic. With the same focus-through handling, you focus using the taking lens. Glass is not as great, but its compactness brings the advantage of being easily modified to hold diopters. Some of the older Centuries come in non-standard mounts, so you need to do some modding, but that’s also easy. It still goes very wide, at 35mm for Full Frame and has awesome blue flares. Optical downsides are the same as the Panny’s: softness around the edges, lower f-stops on the taking lens and challenging close focus. If you want more info, check the Century’s in-depth review! […]