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A Moment of Clarity

Chris Elkerton

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I was just sitting here, eating my mince pie and drinking my tea when, I had what alcoholics refer to as "a moment of clarity". It was sparked by an advert on the TV for Lambrini, which is truly the worst thing I have ever seen. (For those who don't know what Lambrini is, it's a cheap wine mainly consumed by women on hen nights) (If you don't know what a hen night it, its a bunch of hysterical women drinking too much and behaving like promiscuous idiots, under the guise that their friend from work, who they don't even like is getting married)

This advert like so many others has jumped on the anamorphic band wagon. Which is not a bad thing in itself, they have just done so in the most horrible way possible. Probably shot on spherical with some tacky flares, but that's not the point and I digress.


I love anamorphic as much as the next man, but it seems the world has gone mad.

I know the topic of price has been a hot one on this forum so I will choose my words carefully. After all who the hell am I to tell another man what to sell his lens for.


With the introduction of the new anamorphic adapters, love them or hate them, they have brought about interesting eBay auctions with low start prices. Perhaps it was inevitable as people clamber to raise cash to follow in Andrews footsteps as one of the first adopters of the SLR Magic. :rolleyes:  Interestingly I have seen Kowa 8Z's go for around £250, that's a great buy for whoever bought it. Lots of lenses for sale = cheap prices for all.

Here comes my point, these auctions give us an indication of what these lenses are actually worth at this present moment in time. I'll pause there..... Don't get angry, keep reading.

After all you can put your scope lens on eBay for £1200, cross your arms and stubbornly claim that's what its worth, that's your business, I'm not knocking anyone for doing that. You won't sell it. But again, that is your prerogative.

There are people selling lenses on eBay who have no idea of what they are actually selling, let alone if it works or not. But alas it has some bent glass on the front so they slap it on eBay with a description reading "Anamorphic lens" and they convince themselves it's "worth" £1000.

There have been lenses for sale on eBay for as long as I have been looking, that have never sold. Why? Simple, no one wants to pay the price they are asking. Basic economics. So is that what they are really worth? The simple answer is...........(say it in your best Chris Rock voice) "Naaaat Really". There is a big difference between something being rare and valuable and something being a piece of old tat. I suppose people will realize that eventually.


There have been arguments on this forum about inflated Iscorama prices. "They're not worth this, They're not worth that". What I would say is; they are worth what people are willing to pay for them. That's it. Personally I don't have $4500 to spend, but if I did, I would have been really tempted by "Macgregor's" 2004 Leica delight. What a lens, what pedigree, what a luxury. Someone said "worth every penny", yes quite possibly. The photos he posted were truly breathtaking. Thoughts start to run through your head, "if I had that lens I could capture images like that!" Hmmmm maybe, but there's a lot more at play here than just a nice piece of bent glass. Location, lighting, talent! I have seen images captured on Iscoramas that were very ordinary, I have seen images captured on a £300 Samyang that were truly beautiful.

Look at what happened in this thread started by robtilbury Guess the camera and morph lens!

This is a strange example. We all thought the video was shot spherical. We agreed it was a great looking piece with really nice shots, I personally really liked it, but there wasn't any anamorphic "character". Turns out it was shot on an Iscorama, the holy grail of anamorphic. I know a lot of this was down to wide lenses and stopping down to f8 but still we called an Iscorama spherical.


So back to my "moment of clarity". For me my frustrating journey of looking for a bargain lens has come to an end. What I have found is, there are no bargains, if it seems like a bargain it's a scam. If it's worth anything, someone will have bashed its name into eBay using their ham fists and come back with a ridiculous price from another listing, which they will demand until they turn blue in the face.


I could save like mad, spend £3000-6000 on a lens, cross my fingers and hope that it works. My girlfriend would leave me and I would have to eat baked beans for a year, but I could do it. Then I would have something truly amazing to shoot photos of my cat with. (no offense to those who shoot pictures of their cat, I do it all the time)

Or.... and here is where it gets interesting, I could use that money to travel the world, see things, beautiful things. I could buy grip and lighting, I could finance (all be it very cheaply) a short film, I could photograph it all on a £300 boring lens, it doesn't matter. I could hone my skills, learn my trade. I have become bogged down in lenses and kit over the past few years. No more. If you have an Iscorama, or a Lomo roundfront, that's great. Shoot with it, do great things with it, share them.


I think the early adopters of the DSLR anamorphic resurgence did so to add something different to their work. Just like we are all trying to do. They hunted for bargains and forged a new path. Is that still the case, is anamorphic still as "different" as it once was? Has that Lambrini advert killed it? I don't know. Maybe. Maybe not. Are the new anamorphic lenses that are coming out turd, who knows.

All I know is, I will no longer be obsessed with finding the perfect lens, for me it doesn't exist.

I'm going to buy a spherical Samyang, put tape across the top and bottom of the screen and wonder the Earth like Ryu at the end of Street Fighter II (If you're 18 and don't know what Street Fighter II is, it was an arcade game in the early 90's) (If you're 15 and don't know what an arcade game is, you haven't lived)


Congratulations if you made it to the end and thanks for reading. :)

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Chris, congrats for breaking through this spiral of desire for gear! There is a lot you have written which is very true and is also a subject of debate in other threads ("is better/more expensive gear necessary for a good movie"). We want more, better and newer gear. This is also what this blog is about. There is at least one new camera or lens or whatever being tested every week... But it is also a lot of fun: to play with some new toys  :)

And they don't have to be always expensive: Although I have Iscoramas I bought a €100,- Moeller 32/2 which are usually very cheap and I really have a lot of fun with that thing...

However I wish I will become a bit more sensible about spending money - like you! In any case very good food for thougth.


PS I haven't seen the commercial in question but it can not be more annoying than the latest Star Trek ! 

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