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Iscorama 36 Proxiscope rehousing – close focus and cine gears

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Hey guys, I wanted to share this rehousing mod I made recently for my Iscorama 36.


It's a replacement for a front piece of old plastic housing, that is made of anodized aluminum and has cine gears, retaining 72mm front filter threads and adding just 50 grams of weight.

It took me quite some time to figure out this design and I'm pretty proud of it! It solves some real-world problems like close-focus, enabling you to focus down to 1.1m, but unlike DIY mode it has a hard stop at 1.1m and infinity, and looks way nicer then a grub screw drilled into a hole. 

I made a little video explaining what it is, since after I posted this on facebook people started asking what it does and what are the specs, and asking how to buy one. https://www.dropbox.com/s/wd1w620ddxnv2je/proxiscope.pdf?dl=0

I have decided to order a small batch of these, and already placed an order at one of the shops that does the first stage of the milling. I will make another video showing a closeup process of swapping the housings, so people can evaluate the effort and see if the price (which will be announced at the same time) is right for them. This is intended as a do-it-at-home kind of mod, but you can also take it to the nearest photo technician and they'd be able to do it for you, it's a simple process that takes 3-5 minutes to perform.

I also made a PDF with some specs, you can find it here. https://www.dropbox.com/s/wd1w620ddxnv2je/proxiscope.pdf?dl=0

If you're interested in getting one – shoot me a message and we'll figure it out, there's a little queue forming already :)

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EOSHD Pro Color for Sony cameras EOSHD Pro LOG for Sony CamerasEOSHD C-LOG and Film Profiles for All Canon DSLRs

I was lucky enough to grab a Proxiscope from Max as soon as it became available...he had previously sent me his prototype to do a test fitting on my DIY close focus modded pre-36 iscorama. Here follows my review after using it for a few weeks...

Full Disclosure:

Although I was graciously approached by max to test out his prototype, I did not take up on the kind offer of a discount in the purchase price of the final housing. This was due to me wanting to give an honest review, as well as back someone who was going to add a great partial rehousing option to those with iscorama 36 lenses. Therefore my review is from the perspective of a regular customer.

I am very happy to report that the Proxiscope housing works flawlessly, not only with MC and pre-36 models- but with lenses that have already been DIY modified (cutting/ shaving stopper and body to allow grub screw stopper to be inserted for new stop etc). This is possible due to the proxiscope locking metal collar that completely bypasses the original plastic section and the front section having an integrated relocated metal stopper. The ingenious design allows the new front to enable the same close-focus ability as the DIY mod, but in a MUCH more elegant and reassuring way. No longer is the fear that the grub screw will work loose and let the rama front go smashing to the ground for example. The integrated focus gear to the design is much better than any third-party gear ring, as those never quite conform properly to the isco's tapered front.

The anodised finish of the Proxiscope is very complimentary to the original isco design as it does not spoil the classic look with obnoxious bulges or with added weight that then restricts it to rail mounting. Focus markings are clear and are denoted in meters, I think feet measurements are also an option. The Proxiscope comes in a nice wooden box, with all the tools needed to install, with easy to follow video instructions to be found on YouTube. Installation takes about 4 mins and can be 100% reversible to original factory condition.

In a world where everyone wants something for free, some may question the price. These people need to take just a second to consider the design time, R&D testing and small-run costs of getting anything of quality made these days. Also the fact that the current cost of a Tokina +0.4 combined with a decent focus gear will run you a comparable amount - without actually giving you the benefit of an 'in-body' solution that the Proxiscope does...Oh, and it's under half the price of the cheapest VD rehousing mod (that you have to wait 90 days+ for!).

So, all in all...a very impressive product that massively improves the practicality of using iscorama 36 lens types for modern film making whilst still maintaining the isco's classic look and light weight. Rehousing is solidly built with clear instructions for installation. Fully compatible with 'factory' iscorama 36 lens types...as well as those with previous DIY close-focus modded lenses.

 

 

(pic below shows slim UV filter attached - not part of Proxiscope)

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Awesome milestone and valuable review from the both of you! Currently, my own Pre-36 is still at VD (still trying to work out a solution to their own mod--apparently, some problematic-level cement on the rear element housing was applied way back--meh),  but should I ever stumble upon another opportunity to upgrade one of these, I'll be sure to look this way.

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On 11/16/2017 at 8:21 PM, Hans Punk said:

 

I was lucky enough to grab a Proxiscope

 

Do you know what is the stretch factor at minimum focus, does it remain close to 1.5x?

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On 12/26/2018 at 11:51 AM, mirekti said:

Do you know what is the stretch factor at minimum focus, does it remain close to 1.5x?

Not meaning to open a can of worms - but most iscorama models (at least 36, pre 36 and 54 types) have an actual stretch factor of 1.42x. But to answer the question - no, I’ve not noticed any discenable shift in ratio when setting minimum focus using the proxiscope.

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1 hour ago, Hans Punk said:

have an actual stretch factor of 1.42x

I have heard this somewhere else the other day, and that’s ok, a perfect match for upcoming S1/S1R as it results in 2.53 aspect ratio i.e. the sides don’t need to be cropped too much to get 2.35, 2.3x or 2.4x or whatever else the magic number is.

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I'm trying to install one of these (really really clever mod and great craftsmanship) but focus is VERY stiff between 3 feet and 6 feet.

Is there an easy fix? Sanding down the paint/anodizing on the focus ring just a bit? It's smooth elsewhere. Thanks. 

I think this might be an issue with the particular Iscorama I'm attempting to install this on, as it may have sustained damage in the past... but it's not the helical within the Iscorama. Whether the screws under the name plate are installed or not, focus is VERY stiff between 3 feet and 6 feet.

Thanks!

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On 11/21/2019 at 10:53 PM, HockeyFan12 said:

I'm trying to install one of these (really really clever mod and great craftsmanship) but focus is VERY stiff between 3 feet and 6 feet.

Is there an easy fix? Sanding down the paint/anodizing on the focus ring just a bit? It's smooth elsewhere. Thanks. 

I think this might be an issue with the particular Iscorama I'm attempting to install this on, as it may have sustained damage in the past... but it's not the helical within the Iscorama. Whether the screws under the name plate are installed or not, focus is VERY stiff between 3 feet and 6 feet.

Thanks!

Please don't sand it, it's a hack, not a fix.

The tolerances on the housing are very tight, If your iscorama is warped, the plastic body is not ideally concentric around the lens helical (which is brass to brass, so no warping there for sure). What you need to do is to adjust the smaller metal ring and the way it sits around the plastic body using three small grub screws, until it's perfectly concentric. Try tightening them quarter turn at a time. It's a game of balance, and time spent doing this depends on how bad the warping of the plastic is. Just play with those screws, spend 10, 15, 30 minutes if needed, quarter turn at a time. Loosen one screw and tighten two others to move the small metal ring in the opposite direction of where the traction happens.

Alternatively you can take a caliper, measure the body in the pace where traction occurs, and compare that diameter measurement to the perpendicular diameter of the oval of the body. If the difference is drastic, like 0.5mm or more, you can try to squeeze the plastic in the direction of bigger diameter, to alter the shape a bit. If iscorama was stored on the side it could be warped that way.

It sounds a bit barbaric to squeeze the plastic, but it's the issue some of my customers had and it help them. Just be gentle. One person measured the tolerance of their rama and the difference in diameters was 1.2mm which is crazy – that polymer really does not age well, plus if the lens was laying in a box on it's side for 50 years it shows too. Also Germans chose a material that simply cannot have good tolerances even in theory – I have several iscoramas, some have nameplates that are exactly 72mm, but some have it at 72.8, and some at 71.2  – this is crazy, and some of them don't even screw into standard metal filters, simply because they're too big.

Maxiscope was my attempt to fix this issue for good, as it's a full metal body that replaces plastic, so you don't have to rely on tolerances and issues of the plastic body anymore. 

Hope this helps.

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Finally got this installed but I'm getting more vignetting than before. Did I do something wrong? Is it something with my lens (which has a bit of a weird old history it seems)... is there any way to address this? Otherwise it's really fantastic.

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On 2/7/2020 at 2:11 PM, HockeyFan12 said:

Finally got this installed but I'm getting more vignetting than before. Did I do something wrong? Is it something with my lens (which has a bit of a weird old history it seems)... is there any way to address this? Otherwise it's really fantastic.

 

More vignetting in general or only in that "extended" range between 1.1-2m?

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6 hours ago, mirekti said:

 

More vignetting in general or only in that "extended" range between 1.1-2m?

I think in general... 

I don't want to slander a good design. This is a really brilliant rehousing option. It also depends on the lens, though. My experiences are follows:

32mm f2 standard speed on 16:9 S35 (23.04mm X 12.96mm sensor size stretched by a 1.4 factor)–a lot of vignetting, unusable. I vaguely remember that with the original housing this didn't vignette, or it was at least a LOT less vignetting. But I haven't A/B'd directly recently.

35mm f2 lomo standard speed on 16:9 S35–less vignetting, still unusable.

35mm f2 nFD well go figure, next to no vignetting.

50mm f2 standard speed on 3:2 full frame (36X24)–next to no vignetting, but a hint more than I remember there being (I remember none). Cropped to 2.4:1, I found it usable.

So it's not that bad. Oddly, retro focus designs seem to have more coverage. I have no idea how the small 30mm rear element of the Iscorama works better with the larger retro focus front elements (which are like 40mm in diameter and yet it still seems to be f2) and yet even right up against the lomo's front element it's vignetting more... weird...

Still, I'd love the option of a shorter focus ring that was milled down. I get that it's long to accommodate a follow focus gear as the front moves, though. This is a good product, just frustratingly not perfect for my needs. However I am going to try a series of 35mm f2 retro focus still lenses and live with it as my main camera is S35.

Edit: where this is weird is 32mm and 50mm should be equivalent between S1H FF cropped on the top and bottom at 50mm and S35 cropped at the sides on 32mm (or even 31mm) but no... advantage FF. Unfortunately my main camera is crop.

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@HockeyFan12 Hey Matt, Proxiscope does not add vignetting compared to the original housing (I design products in a way the front lip is nowhere near the angle of view of the lens itself). I suggest a simple test – put on the old housing (good thing the rehousing is reversible and takes 5 minutes), and shoot a scene from at tripod, then put the new housing on and repeat it. That should help you life your doubts. 

Front element has to travel 6mm to get from inf to 2m. Of course to travel from 2m to 1.1 the front lens has to move more, in our case it's another 6mm. That would obviously increase vignetting and there is no work around that, but still, the front lip is so short that it's not the cause of vignetting even at 1.1m. 

My newest design Nexiscope has three times more trave, and even if the lip is 6mm deep and 72mm in diameter it's not going to vignette.

Cheers.

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Hi Max, thanks for getting back to me. 

Without taking the lens apart, this is the clearest example I have of the problem. I am sliding my finger past the threads of the adapter (while touching the front of it) and as you can see the vignetting is caused by the front threads. This is with a 32mm Zeiss standard speed Mk1 with no step up or step down rings.

If you want I can repeat this with the original housing, but as you know it took me quite some time to get the focus smooth by adjusting the three set screws (which worked great, no complaints there, you were right it was just trial and error). If this looks normal lmk and I will try again to A/B it tonight with the original housing.

I remember a slight amount of vignetting when I used this lens before with the original housing so it's possible you're entirely right. But my adapter has had some dodgy repairs to it so it's possible it's been collimated in an odd way to increase vignetting, too. I have noticed less of a problem with retro focus lenses.

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10 hours ago, mirekti said:

Could you post a photo of these three screws, please?

Watch Max's YouTube videos, it's the three screws you tighten to secure the black metal ring to the Iscorama body before placing the focus ring over it. You need to adjust them to make sure they're smooth. It's not a big deal, just takes some trial and error.

I'm doing more research before posting more. Max has made a really good product, I think the issue is unique to my lens or I'm mistaken about it. Just need to find a day off to try things out more rigorously. Still trying to figure it out but I don't want to dissuade others from using his product, it's very good and I recommend it to you. I can't think of a better option currently available.

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