Anamorphic on a Budget – Schneider ES Cinelux MC 2x Anamorphic

October 23, 2016

Finally the long due review of the Schneider ES Cinelux MC. One of the most popular modern projection lenses, it’s a lens that can go easy for beginners, but has nothing that excites me too much.


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Tito Ferradans in for a review that’s been long due. As I said many times before, I’m not a huge fan of cumbersome projection lenses, so they were never too high on my list of pending reviews. Then I got this Cinelux with my FM and it would be rude of me to waste this opportunity.

There’s not much cool story behind these, as they are modern anamorphics, designed for 35mm film projectors. Schneider is the company that bought Isco some time ago so their glass is top notch. Being modern, a little too much top notch. First warning of this video is about the multiple versions available. This one – which seems to be the most compact one – is the ES version, but there’s the WA, for wider angles I assume, and the Super Cinelux, which has a horrendous front lip that will mess up your life, so avoid at all costs.

Sometimes these Schneiders come with a spherical projection lens attached to the back. For the purposes of this review, just take that off and combine the anamorphic with any taking lenses you might regularly use. The anamorphic block has the same diameter all throughout. Getting to the tech specs, this is a 2x stretch scope, with no front thread for filters and non-standard rear thread (close to 67mm but not quite). You’re gonna need a clamp to attach this adapter to your taking lens.

I wouldn’t consider this a useful lens for shooting WITHOUT a single focus solution. The reason for that is the ES Cinelux has no focus ring. Focus is adjusted by these two screws at the front of the lens. I can’t even imagine how to work this on set as double focus setups are already tough. This is just stupid. Long story short, get a single focus solution. Rectilux, Rangefinder or FM. Otherwise, don’t even bother with this anamorphic.

Alignment relies on the clamp – here I’m using the lens collar from the FM lens. Since the flares on this one are pretty subtle due to multicoating, check both flares and bokeh for alignment. The easiest way to mount this lens is probably using a lens collar (this one, for the Canon 100mm f/2.8 Macro has the exact same diameter as the Cinelux) and attaching that to 15mm rails. You can find all the ingredients right here for cheap.

For the resolution and world tests I’ll be using the FM lens paired to to the Cinelux.

Prices are all over the place. The Schneider ES Cinelux Anamorphic is rather easy to find on eBay but getting a good price can be challenging as most listings are unrealistic at over $400. I believe a decent amount to pay for this lens would be around $200.

This is when the modern aspects of this lens shine. With a big rear element and multicoating, the Cinelux performs nicely even at fast apertures around 50mm, and quite decently across the frame. Performance drops as the lenses grow longer, being quite soft at 85 or 135 at their maximum aperture. Stop them down a bit to f/4 or 5.6 and things get better. They’re long lenses, that shouldn’t be much of a problem. I’m using the Contax Zeiss set as taking lenses so they don’t bring in too much personality into the charts.

Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 CENTER

Canon EF 40mm f/2.8 CORNERS

Contax Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 CENTER

Contax Zeiss 50mm f/1.4 CORNERS

Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 CENTER

Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4 CORNERS

Contax Zeiss 135mm f/2.8 CENTER

Contax Zeiss 135mm f/2.8 CORNERS

And this is when the modern aspects of this lens DON’T shine, quite literally as flares are muted and almost non existent. They have a saturated – but not alien – blue color that is very pleasing. The weak flares shouldn’t be much of a problem, though, as I already taught you how to boost them up a bit through the use of UV filters.

Contax Zeiss 50mm f/1.4

For a 2x scope, it’s more on the long side, not usable at 40mm even with 2.4:1 aspect ratio. 50mm makes this possible, but barely, with vignette trying to creep in. If you remove the FM, that should clear it. At 58mm you have more leeway with the FM and can go an easy 2.4:1, or 2.66:1 accepting a bit of dark corners. As usual, full 3.56:1 shooting only works from 85mm and up.

Canon EF 40mm f/2.8

Contax Zeiss 50mm f/1.4

Helios 44 58mm f/2

Contax Zeiss 85mm f/1.4

The ES Cinelux has some good points, but overall it doesn’t have anything that excites me too much. I’m not crazy for sharpness and the lack of natural flares are downsides for me – but not for everyone. 2x bokeh is nice. This adapter demands a single focus solution, asking for good money just to make it usable. On the other hand, the simplicity of the setup and reliable results are great points. Just mount it on rails so it’s aligned for good and go out to shoot – no need for crazy mods or tweaks. Definitely a good lens for starting out in anamorphic and getting nice, moody images out of any camera.

Do you own one of these? Write about your experiences in the comments below! If you enjoyed this review and it helped you narrowing which anamorphic to get, I recommend you subscribe to the channel, as anamorphics are the subject of almost all the videos here. For more information beyond the videos, check out my blog where you can find over a hundred posts on the subject. Tito Ferradans out.

I’m adding an extra to this review, that is the music video for Meet Me In Orbit – Another Day, directed, shot and edited by Iban Corominas, who’s been following the channel since the beginning. He used a combination of drone footage (Phantom 3 Pro) with a GH4 paired to the Cinelux and FM Lens. I love the setting and how the video plays out. The lighting is gorgeous and every environment accentuates the anamorphic look with lots of spec highlight and bokeh shapes. When I asked him why he chose to shoot anamorphic, he replied “Well, as you can see, this is a 0 budget production, and I really love the look of the anamorphic when you shot fiction”. It might be a zero BUDGET production, but it has loads of production value. I agree on the rest, though!

I’m gonna constantly try to link something shot with the reviewed lens on these posts. I’m encouraging you, that have these lenses sitting at home to go out and shoot real things! Not only tests (guilty!) or cat videos: Let’s put these babies to good use!

  • TFerradans. · Buying Your First Anamorphic Lens October 25, 2016 at 7:42 pm

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