Anamorphic on a Budget – Rectilux HardcoreDNA

October 8, 2017

Is the Rectilux HardCoreDNA the ultimate single focus solution? I can’t say there are many others left untested in the market!


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Tito Ferradans here for another of those reviews which seem to be long awaited. Let’s talk about the Rectilux HardcoreDNA and the wonders it can make. I’ve been using this guy for the last few reviews and I have no reason to complain.

The HardcoreDNA is the upgraded version of the CoreDNA, which is the “compact” version of the Rectilux 3FF-W. With its design and manufacture headed by John Barlow, the Rectilux is a niche product, with small production runs and usually sold out even before the packages are shipped. If you want one, get in line – and soon! – because these can take a while. The difference between the Core and Hardcore is strictly mechanical and you can buy the parts for upgrade separately while keeping the same glass. This review pretty much covers both models.

This piece of gear is a single focus solution, turning an anamorphic double focus system – all of those projection lenses – into single focus. I already wrote about how they work, so go for it if you wanna know the details. If you’re happy with just knowing it works, then be happy, because it works wonders. All you have to do is set both your taking lens and anamorphic adapter to infinity and attach the HardcoreDNA in front of it all. Now all the focus is handled in a single ring.

It weighs 625g – or 1.3lbs -, and it’s quite compact, especially when compared to the bigger Rectilux versions, or the FM Lens. This one is here to fight with the Rangefinder for the title of best single focus solution. It’s got focus gears, distance scales (both in meters and feet), it’s easy to carry, quick to install, fits multiple lenses and delivers impressive results. Also, it comes in black – the previous version, the CoreDNA, came in blueish purple.

Focus comes down to 0.7m, 2ft, with a throw of just under 180 degrees and a non-rotating front element (which is also a plus). The front threads are fit for 86mm filters and the opening on the back is 75mm wide, which goes snuggly around a 72mm step ring. Mounting works by tightening the six screws around the adapter, which makes a strong bond between the Rectilux and the anamorphic adapter.

To make this more interesting and update the Single Focus Shootout, I did all of my tests with both the HardCoreDNA and the Rangefinder.

As far as I can tell, all previous batches of the Core/HardCoreDNA have been sold out a while before shipping. John keeps a waiting list and if you wanna get in the next batch, speak directly to him through Payment is required before shipping and also as a way to save your spot on the line. If you don’t like that, the only option is to wait around until someone sells theirs – pro-tip: doesn’t happen very often. Pricing is £749 plus shipping, which translates to roughly $1000 plus shipping.

As happened the previous versions, the effects of the Rectilux glass on the scope are hard to notice. After more than a year on and off using single focus solutions, I can tell that there is a subtle softening of the image, but that is easily surpassed by the increased usability single focus brings. I paid close attention and couldn’t notice quality loss around the corners either. You can spot the difference between using a single focus solution versus double focus on the Single Focus Shootout chart.

Again, the little things you notice after lots of shooting, the Rectiluxes (all versions) intensify a green streak that’s present on the original scope’s flare or, in some cases, add a green element to the flare. This doesn’t bother me – if it did, I would’ve noticed a long time ago!

The HardCoreDNA fits in front of the scope like a glove, overlapping the mechanics and placing the glass as close as possible. The clamp style is what allows this closeness, opposed to filter threads that reinforce a gap between glass elements. The advantage of having the glass closer is it lowers mechanical vignetting, as there is less obstructions in the light’s path.

Now if I bring back the chart I used for the shootout and put the Rangefinder versus the HardCoreDNA, the crown changes hands by a very slim margin, as many of the advantages of the Rangefinder are also present – or improved – in the new edition of the Rectilux.

If you go back a few episodes, you’ll notice I’ve been using the HardCoreDNA for many of them – Sankor 16-D, Kowa 8-Z, Isco Ultra Star, Kowa 16-D and more in the future. This adapter is my go-to single focus and I didn’t blink when deciding if I should keep my 3FF-W or let it go in favor of the HardCoreDNA. Its only downsides are the high price, when compared to other single focus solutions in the market and the waiting period. I think the images speak for themselves in terms of performance and ease of use. I highly recommend this one here.

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