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Anamorphic

Building a LOMO Anamorphic Squarefront Set.

March 22, 2020

This is a short version of my almost 2-year long journey hunting down and slowly putting together a 3-lens set of LOMO Squarefront anamorphics.

USEFUL LINKS:

All the RED links on this post are part of eBay’s Partner Network, so if you purchase anything through them, you’re helping me to keep this project going.

Tito Ferradans here today for a bit of story. It’s no secret I love Russian glass. I’ve modded the basic classics, I hunted down specific serial numbers and I’m writing a guide about Soviet era lenses. Combine that with my passion for anamorphics and you’d wonder why it took me so long to start posting about LOMO anamorphics.

LOMOs are the top of the top when it comes to Russian glass. Designed and manufactured as cinema lenses, for various reasons (price, age, build quality, image quality) they’re some of the few cine anamorphics that sell for a price that regular folks can pay if they set out to do so.

I’ve had a few LOMO anamorphics along the years. One of my first lenses was a 50mm two-piece squarefront in OCT-18 mount that I wanted really bad to adapt to Canon EF. I failed and ended up selling it. A while later I was able to grab an 80mm single-block squarefront, this time in an unknown mount. This was all in Brazil, so access to tools and people related to the subject was non-existent. Turns out I had to sell that one too.

Then I thought I had struck gold when I got a huge 12-120mm with a rear anamorphic adapter. Luck was still not on my side and the rear anamorphic was misaligned and wouldn’t produce proper images. Still in Brazil, still stuck. Sold them too. At this point is worth noting that all three buyers were very happy with their purchases and able to get the lenses fixed (sometimes their feedback took weeks, others it was months).

In 2016 I set out to achieve my long-dreamed goal and piece together a 3-lens squarefront set. 35, 50, 85, or something along those lines. I was gonna take my time until I found deals I could live with. I wanted to pay no more than $4k per lens and knew I would probably have to spend some more with servicing and upgrades.

You all know how the first part of that went, and that I almost lost $3k to a scammer after setting up an international operation. The second part, which I kept secret to avoid further bad luck, was when I was in Brazil, a friend of mine told me he was getting rid of his set. We met, tested the lenses, as expected, fixes were more than necessary to make them fully usable.

The price was within my margins so I went for it. This was July of 2016, and this is what I got:

A 35, 50 and 75mm set of squarefronts. Sounds great, but here are the issues: the PL mounts were sketchy, some too thick, some too loose. None of the lenses had proper rail support for the front block and alignment was pretty funky, with the locking rings coming loose and missing tiny screws.

On the 35, the rear anamorphic element was badly chipped. Unusable, I’d have to find a replacement. The front element also had a crack, but it wasn’t in any key part of the image. The mechanics were funky when focusing, with the front block popping out of the lock when close focused.

The 50 and 75 shared the same front element, which is a no-go for any set scenario, so I’d have to track down another identical copy of that, and fix the mechanical issues as well.

The next step was tackle the glass replacement parts, without which the whole project would sink. I spent about four months on that and got super lucky on eBay, being able to find the exact ones I needed, from the same seller, in different auctions and different moments in time, then I had to engage on bid wars, win the bids and be able to rely on the super-helpful Chris Bold for getting the lenses (the seller wouldn’t do international sales, no matter what, and Chris was able to pick them up personally then ship them up here).

All that was left now was disassembly, glass replacement, mechanical fixes and servicing. I contacted more than a few qualified pros for that and they all turned me down. It would either take too much of their time, or it would be too expensive for me. Plus it involved shipping non-tracked packages with contents worth thousands of dollars. I wasn’t feeling too comfortable with that.

Months went by before I could do anything, and then I got an interesting email from Van Diemen. This message was about their rehousing of LOMO squarefronts in single block designs. Convenient, huh?

This is the point I’m stopping this LOMO saga for this week, and next week will be focused on the process and results from Van Diemen. In this one I just wanted to cover my four-year journey of failures. Have you ever had a lens-saga like that? Tell me about it in the comments below! Now hit the like button and remember to subscribe for the final episode on this LOMO month! I’m Tito Ferradans and this is Anamorphic (hardcore) on a Budget. See you next week!

Very convenient, I thought, so I asked them a couple questions, argued about the price for a little more and spent a few months gathering the money I was missing.

Anamorphic

Anamorphic on a Budget – LOMO Foton-A 37-140mm f/3.5

March 15, 2020

This is my first time talking about actual cinema anamorphics. I decided to start with LOMOs because Russian glass has a special place in my heart, and the Foton-A is one of the rare lenses I’m never letting go.

USEFUL LINKS:

Tito Ferradans here for some rare glass. It’s time to tell you all about one of my most precious possessions: the LOMO Foton-A. This is a cinema lens made in the Soviet Union. It’s a long-range zoom, going from 37mm to 140mm, which allows you to shoot an entire show with just one lens. It’s got a ton of character and texture, awesome blue flares (anamorphic zoom flares are something special). I’ve used it in such way more than once – to get the clips you’re seeing right now.

LOMOs are the top tier when it comes to Soviet lenses, and LOMO anamorphics are in a category of their own, with several different generations and price tags. I would say this is probably the cheapest anamorphic zoom in existence, and in terms of performance, it’s more comparable to the first generation LOMO Squarefronts rather than the superior Roundfronts that came afterwards. As expected of a cinema lens, stretch is 2x, delivering stretched bokeh.

The first of the Foton-A’s many downsides is its speed. With a slow aperture of f/3.5 (T/4.4), all the way down to f/16. You really can’t do low-light or crazy shallow depth of field. It also features just eight aperture blades, which won’t smooth bokeh when stopping down. This lens won’t give you smooth ovals at any f-stop, just wide open. The second downside is its weight. This thing weighs 6kg or 13 pounds, which means it isn’t a handheld friendly rig, requiring lots of support and even a sturdy tripod. It’s true you can shoot an entire project with it, but moving it around is an intense process! The third downside is that the anamorphic and spherical blocks are not permanently connected – focus syncs through matching a pin on both pieces -, and that makes lens swaps super awkward. On the bright side, the whole setup doesn’t extend while focusing or zooming and you don’t need to realign it, ever.

The Foton originally comes in OCT-18 mount, which is a mount “inspired” by Arri Standard mount. Usually, OCT-18 lenses are a pain to convert and adapt, but the Foton features a mount-locking ring that allows you to easily swap mounts if you so desire. RAF Camera makes a few different ones and, in my case, I have both the EF and PL versions for it. Swapping them is a relatively simple process – especially when compared to usual mount changes that cost hundreds of dollars.

Focus comes down to 1.6m or 5ft. It’s not really a great minimum focus distance. The only way you can get closer is with diopters. I don’t have the original diopters, so I managed to find a 4×4 +0.8 Tiffen diopter that I rig to the front of the lens. Minimum focus performance isn’t crippled as other anamorphics, though. I believe mine could be improved with servicing, but I didn’t have enough time – or budget – to do so yet.

I’ve had two copies of the Foton-A since I got into anamorphics. I was lucky to get crazy good deals on both of them, but other than those two times, it’s hard to see it going for under $8-10k. One recently popped up on eBay for $4k and got me tempted. The spherical block is relatively common and sells between $800 to $1000, but the anamorphic block is hard to come across and I never saw it being sold separately. This lens also has its own diopters, made to fit perfectly around the front element (+1 and +0.8). Their regular market price these days is $500 each – if you can track one down. You can also do several upgrades for it, like de-clicking, installing focus gears for zoom, aperture and focus, or opting for levers instead of gears.

If you’re looking for resolution, this is not the lens for you. It’s not really sharp wide open, and even when stopped down, things can still be mushy – especially at longer focal lengths. This unit hasn’t been serviced, but the lack of sharpness is a shared aspect with my previous copy too. It’s up to you to decide if this is sharp enough for your purposes. If I thought it was unusable, I wouldn’t keep the lens. Here are different charts at different focal lengths.

The flares are outstanding, though. Thick, blocky, deep blue, they show up rather easily, even from light coming from the sides of the lens – as in “the source doesn’t have to be in the frame”. They’re very sci-fi-ish, and that’s one of my favorite aspects of this lens.

Vignetting is not really an issue. Designed for S35 film, you won’t get full frame coverage – at 37mm you see the inside of the anamorphic block, at 140mm there’s massive black edges. When switching to APS-C crop, all vignetting issues are gone.

I’m a big fan of the Foton-A. Maybe I’m just attached – the first copy I got had me jumping international hoops all the way from Brazil – or maybe it really adds layers of meaning to the cinematography of certain projects. I’m a fan of its low-contrast, low-sharpness look, I like how its distortion affects straight lines on the frame and the grittiness that all of its artifacts bring to the footage. It’s much easier to use and mechanically reliable than most adapter setups, it doesn’t require clamps, special support or a million step rings. It’s a very convenient zoom, but still affected by a slow aperture, super heavy construction and poor minimum focus. When it comes down to practical use, I’d choose this lens over most adapters too, simply because it’s practicality on set. No need to triple check focus, sync taking lens and anamorphic, or realign for every focal length change.

What do you think of this lens? Would you pick this one over an adapter? What did you think of its performance? This episode is another part of my LOMO month and if you liked it and want more info on these awesome anamorphics, you should subscribe now. Leave a comment below if you have any questions or suggestions and I’ll get back to you soon! Lastly, if you wanna help me out with all the research and costs related to keeping this channel alive, you can check my Patreon page for awesome rewards and a more direct contact line with me. See you next week, Tito Ferradans, out.

Anamorphic Day-to-Day

How I Almost Missed NAB Show 2019

February 26, 2020

I started writing this shortly after we came back from NAB last year. The gears got stuck and I just managed to push them back in motion now as we approach NAB 2020.

At some point in late February I realized I had a shot at going to NAB this year. It was something I wanted for at least a few years – plus Las Vegas isn’t that far from Vancouver. I had stopped making videos for the channel in September and I left Facebook by Christmas. I felt I was done with all of this anamorphic and youtube stuff, so going to NAB was a sort of farewell.

I had a good flow of work and my contract ended the week prior to the event so I asked Ari if she wanted to come (it’s a gear thing, I thought she could be bored). She was excited for Vegas. We got tickets. It was too late to get a good price on a hotel but we got an airbnb. The NAB website said from April 6-11, but that’s too much time to feed G.A.S. so I thought of staying the weekend to check out the showroom and be done.

The plan was to arrive early on the week to explore the city and surrounding areas for a couple days, then NAB on the weekend, then back home early on the following Monday to start working on new things. If you’re a seasoned NAB visitor, my mistake might be apparent already. So we go, we explore, we drive, we eat – oh, the food!

Saturday comes around and we head to the convention center to get our NAB passes and drool over gear. We get there and the showroom is still being put together, only contractors coming in and out. We go to the information booth in the lobby and that’s when we learn that the showroom only opens on Monday at 9am – two hours after we’re scheduled to board our plane. I feel somehow I should’ve known that schedule from the start although the website wasn’t at all clear about it.

I’m devastated. “This-was-all-for-nothing” style. “What-a-waste-of-money-and-time” style. In a mix of anger, disappointment and sadness I storm out of the lobby and Ari catches up. By the time I sit down outside I’m set on trying to enjoy the two days we have left and miss out on what I came to see. It’s a crappy plan and it doesn’t really make me happy, but it definitely cuts my losses.

We take a car back to the airbnb. I’m done with the day and Ari is telling me this is all too stupid. I’m not taking it too well. We talk some more, call the airlines. Changing the flight is more expensive than getting a new one. My best shot at getting a refund for missing the flight is getting my airport fees and taxes back. I file for that anyway. It comes to $15.

Ariana says we’re not leaving without seeing the showroom. She says I can argue and fight all I want but she’s getting us new tickets home for late Tuesday instead of Monday morning. If I wanna go back by myself, I can, but she’s gonna see the showroom. That makes me recover a bit and I start looking for a place we can stay.

I start seeing past my anger and self-doubt from the misunderstanding by the time we book a room at Circus Circus – the creepiest and most bizarre place I’ve ever paid to sleep at. It’s gonna be good and it’s gonna be fun. We have the weekend to enjoy the city so we find some comedy, a little knife-throwing, and more delicious food – now with NAB discounts. It’s not like Vegas has little to offer.

Monday rolls around and we hit the showroom. It’s a lot of fun. Ari is a compositor and there’s a lot of post-production tech that she’s interested in. In the first day I just wander around in awe. We stop at Boris FX’s booth for a Mocha demo and sign up for some random prize raffle. I talk to a bunch of people, ask questions to brand representatives, hang out at the Atlas booth with Forrest Schultz, some folks recognize me from the channel – Tom Antos and Raafi Rivero right at the start, and more through the day. I stuff my backpack with free samples and gifts. I don’t have a goal and I feel pretty accomplished by now.

The last thing I do is to attend Adobe’s talk on “Editing for Youtube: Keeping Pace with Rapid Change” because, well, I relate to all of the words in that sentence: I use Premiere and After Effects for work. The guys from Corridor Digital were at the talk and I’ve been a fan for a while, so I went for it.

I sat there and watched. Ariana joined me halfway and by the time the panel was over she bolted from her seat to the front of the stage (if you watch the video, on the very last seconds she’s the girl in yellow that comes from the bottom right of frame).

Before I catch up to her she’s taking photos of the panelists at the request of the mediator. I just hover over there waiting for her to be done so we can head out. That’s when Sam Gorski, from Corridor Digital, points very directly at me and says “man, I love your channel”. My mind goes “Haha, me? this guy here? Tito? Nah, he must be thinking of someone else, I don’t even look like in the videos for a while”. So I react in the most natural way I can: I point at myself and mouth back “Me?” with a mildly concerned face. To that he goes “Yeah, man, you, with the anamorphic stuff”. I’m pretty sure there’s no one there with an “anamorphic stuff” channel, so it can only be me.

I come closer, we chat for a bit, talk about anamorfaking and how cheap and effective it is, especially for VFX and post-production – this conversation was a huge encouragement to the Anamorfake It guide. Sam emphasizes a bunch of things about my videos that I thought no one cared or that held me back in the sense of generating income. The showroom is closing so we wrap up the chat. At this point I’m shifting my perspective about the channel and how much of its impact is unknown to me. I also have it very clear that Ari is a big catalyst for the things I want to do but I’m afraid to take the shot and I’m very thankful to be with her.

The second day is much shorter than the first since we have to finally catch our flight mid-afternoon. On the bus from the hotel to the showroom the guy sitting next to me recognizes me and we chat about his experiments with shooting scope and anamorfaking.

At this point I have already decided that I’m not letting the channel die just yet and that my work has value and importance. The conversations all point to what I set out to do from the channel’s start: to provide information that allows anyone wanting to experiment with the anamorphic look to do so without breaking the bank. I don’t know yet what I’ll do to start making videos again, or what to cover in them, but I know that on this second day I’m making connections.

While on the lobby outside the showroom I study the floor map to mark the booths I wanna hit to try and create connections that could benefit the anamorphic chat (Cooke, Scorpio, P+S Technik, TLS, LumaFusion, FiLMiC Pro, some more Atlas, etc). In the middle of that we get an email from Boris FX. Remember we signed up for some random raffle prizes? It turns out Ariana won a full pass for 2020’s NAB Show.

The second day is much less overwhelming than the first, we see a bunch more demos. I talk to a lot more people than I did in the first day and we head out around noon for the airport. By the time we leave the ground we already know we’re coming back for 2020. This time I’ll be there for my birthday!

This experience was key for resurrecting the channel and changing my take on it. I don’t have expectations of it making up all my income – as I expected before -, I just find it important to put the content out there and hope that it helps someone in need of it. I’m also set on putting out different options for people that want to support my work through the sales of merchandise, guides, mods and whatever else I can come up with. I helped you and you wanna help me back? Buy something! :)

I started to write this post the day after we got home (April 10, 2019), but I never finish it because I’m worried about stupid things. First I don’t wanna sound like I’m tooting my own horn for the Corridor Digital part, although I am super proud of it. Second, I find it hard to reveal my mistakes online for anyone to see. I messed up with the schedule and that was not the image I wanted to cast.

It took me a while to realize that not revealing where I go wrong makes for a too-perfect-life and that’s one of the biggest problems with the internet right now. I don’t wanna add to it. I make mistakes. I mess up almost as much as I get things right, sometimes more. Plus mistakes make good stories and that’s something definitely worth sharing.

Anamorphic

How to Buy an Anamorphic Lens!

February 9, 2020

I recommend opening the image on a new tab and maxing out the zoom. This is my thought process for buying an anamorphic lens. It can be your first, it can be your twentieth. Have fun!

Below is a list with all the things mentioned in the flowchart. There’s a brief description and useful links. This should equip you with more than enough information on whatever endpoint you reach!

All the RED links on this post are part of eBay’s Partner Network, so if you purchase anything through them, you’re helping me to keep this project going.

Aivascope 1.5x 
The second version of the Aivascope. A single focus adapter that rivals image quality with the mighty Iscorama. It makes some of the most beautiful flares among adapters. Product Page / Test Videos

Anamorfake It Until You Make It!
An extensive guide I wrote on how to craft the anamorphic look without anamorphic glass. – Product Page / Videos

Anamorphic Mode
Some cameras offer this alternative recording mode that shoots 3:2, 4:3, or 6:5 aspect ratio for better use of sensor area. + info at Cinema5D

Atlas Orion Lenses
These are the new love of low-budget productions. Affordable anamorphics for cinema rates. Official Website / Video Review

Baby Hypergonar
One of the most famous baby scopes. This thing is tiny and incredibly rare. Performs pretty well, but offers an odd squeeze factor (1.75x) and requires a lot of extras for proper rigging. Also not the best in terms of coverage. Look for one on eBay / Test Videos

Blade Runner 2049
A sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic, featuring Ryan Gosling. It was shot by Roger Deakins, who is known for not using anamorphics. IMDB / ShotOnWhat

Bolex Moller 16/32/1.5x Anamorphot
The double-focus cousin of the Iscoramas. These gems are hard to find and pricy, but produce beautiful images. Look for one on eBay / Video Review

Communism
A political theory derived from Karl Marx, advocating class war and leading to a society in which all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs. Wikipedia

Davinci Resolve / Color Grading
DaVinci Resolve is a color correction and non-linear video editing application for macOS, Windows, and Linux. Official Website / Tutorial on Fixing Flares

Diopters
Auxiliary lenses that help with close focus, especially for anamorphic lenses. Look for some on eBay / + info at Anamorphic on a Budget

Glasswerk One Lenses
German lens maker, debuting with two lines of cine anamorphic lenses and claiming innovative optical design to deliver always perfect oval bokeh. Official Website

Iscorama
The unbeaten holy grail of anamorphics. Single focus, compact, razor sharp. Sells for large sums of money. Look for one on eBay / Video Review

Isco Ultra Star Anamorphic Lens
A popular, fairly cheap and reliable anamorphic adapter. Due to its modern coatings, it barely flares. Delivers sharp images and beautiful oval bokeh. Look for one on eBay / Video Review

Kowa B&H / 8-Z / 16-H / Elmoscope II
The golden standard when it comes to 2x projection lenses. Vintage glass leads to strong flares, extreme distortion around the edges and excellent image quality. Look for one on eBay / Video Review / + info about Sample Variance

Letus AnamorphX PRO 1.33x Anamorphic Adapter
The absolute king of the hill when it comes to “how wide does it go”. Delivers great image quality, but weighs a lot and requires double focusing. Official Website / Video Review

LOMO NAP2-3 Anamorphic Lens
A doorstop that smart people manage to adapt into usable optics. Look for one on eBay / + info at EOSHD

LOMO Squarefronts and Roundfronts
LOMOs are the cinema lenses of the Soviet Union. Needless to say they’re not in production anymore and are very sought after because of the character they bring to the footage. Squarefronts are older and less reliable, using a synchro focus mechanism. Roundfronts are newer and use variable diopters for focusing (see below). + info at Anamorphic on a Budget

Moller Anamorphot 46/2x
A very heavy projection lens. Makes handling the camera a real challenge. Delivers beautiful flares and image quality, but its unyielding size and weight make it unusable for me. Look for one on eBay

Panasonic LA7200 1.33x Anamorphic Adapter
Second place to the “how wide does it go” list, the LA7200 was a very popular adapter for beginners. Now not so much due to the many new additions to the market such as SLR Magic and Sirui. Look for one on eBay / Video Review

Rapido FMJ
FMJ stands for Front Metal Jacket, a metal tube that hides your adapter from prying eyes, disguising your DIY setup as a single unit. Official Website / Video Review

Rapido Full Package C
This Rapido package includes the FMJ, FVD16a and a Schneider Cinelux, all of which are referenced in this list, so look for their own definitions. The advantage of the package is they all come together. Official Website

Rapido FVD16A
The best cost/performance ratio on the market for single focus solutions (see Single Focus Solutions below). Official Website / Video Review

Rapido FVD35A
The FVD16A (see above) is a limiting factor when it comes to vignetting on some of the bigger adapters in the market. The FVD35A supercharges on the size, keeping your image cleaner and wider. Official Website

Sankor 16D
A cheaper and reliable 16mm anamorphic projection lens. Nice purple/blue flares. Look for one on eBay / Video Review

Schneider Anamorphic Lens
Sibling to the Isco Ultra Star (see above), but less friendly to double focusing since it doesn’t have a focus ring. Requires a single focus solution for better operation. Look for one on eBay / Video Review

Scope 30mm T/2
In April 1st, 2018 I said I made a lens. A lot of people loved the idea so much that they got mad when I said it was all a joke. Launch Video / VFX Breakdown

Single Focus Solution / Variable Diopter
All the rave when it comes to converting double-focus setups into single focus. Set everything to infinity and go out to shoot. + info at Anamorphic Cookbook / Video Review

Sirui 50mm f/1.8 1.33x Anamorphic Lens
A groundbreaking lens from a tripod-making company. Shook the foundations of the cheap anamorphic market in the end of 2019. Official Website / Video Review / Modding Instructions

SLR Magic 1.33x-40 Compact Anamorphic Adapter
Also one of my most popular recommendations, a super cheap adapter that works straight out of the box without requiring lots of clamps, step rings and other paraphernalia. Get one at B&H / Video Review

SLR Magic Anamorphot 65
The Anamorphot 65 was developed in partnership with Fujinon for perfect pairing with their MK lenses. Bigger elements mean less vignetting and can be made single focus when paired with said Fujinon MK lenses and a dual-motor follow focus system. Get one at B&H / + info at Cinema 5D

Van Diemen Rehousings
These rehousings are amazing. The downside is they take a long time and cost a small fortune. You provide all the glass, they do the mechanical design and building. Official Website / Video Review

Vazen 40mm T2 1.8x Anamorphic Lens
Vazen made a splash by offering a lens suited to MFT cameras and aiming at 4:3 shooting, optiminzing sensor use and squeeze ratio. Built like a tank, could be called a cine lens, but much cheaper than the other ones. Official Website / Video Review

Xelmus Apollo Anamorphic Lenses
A brand new lens maker from Ukraine who promises to revolutionize performance on the low-budget end of cinema anamorphics. Official Website / Video Review


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!

USEFUL LINKS:

All the RED links on this post are part of eBay’s Partner Network, so if you purchase anything through them, you’re helping me to keep this project going.

You can support this project on Patreon. Make your contribution and help the Anamorphic Cookbook!

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!

Anamorphic

Anamorfake It Until You Make It!

November 13, 2019

I’ve seen the effects of my research while watching anamorphic adapters on eBay. Prices have been consistently going up since 2014 and good adapters are increasingly harder to find. This made me sad because the whole point of the Anamorphic on a Budget project was to achieve the anamorphic look without breaking the bank. Then adapters became expensive and the look was locked away from those without as many resources.

GET THE GUIDE NOW!

So I spun the process on its head and started looking at the final image. I wanted to reverse engineer the look as if I never knew anamorphics existed. What other tools had I at my reach that could put me on the right track? Over the last two years I combined various techniques to craft a look that no one could tell if the footage is anamorphic or not. As I went down this path I also came to the conclusion that most anamorphic adapters are overrated (in price and performance).

Then I compiled all the data into a guide that is close to two hundred pages long – almost half of them with detailed tutorials for modding lenses and the other half with post-production techniques, mods that don’t require opening lenses and related products such as streak filters and plugins.

To prove the point that it’s nearly impossible to tell anamorphic apart from anamorfake I made a little quiz using my own footage and shots from a few friends. I figured it would be a fun way to bring attention to the fact that not even seasoned shooters can get them right.

Can you tell anamorfake shots apart from real anamorphic ones?

I’m betting you can’t. I’m so confident in my prediction that I’m giving a 15% discount code for the “Anamorfake It Until You Make It” guide in the off chance you get all ten images right! Click the “NEXT” button below to start.