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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

So I want to shoot anamorphic. What now?

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

I have absolutely no experience whatsoever in anamorphic shooting, never even tried it once. I've tried searching and lurking the forums but it seems too complicated for me and quite confusing. And I sadly can't purchase Andrew's anamorphic shooting guide down to my payment methods.

I want to shoot anamorphic. Where do I start? I can get my hand on a gh4 to shoot in 4:3 so that's the camera.

What would be the entry price? I have no problem with budget if the higher-end ones are worth it. But I have no idea what I am talking about.

Where should I be looking? Camera Lenses? Projector lenses? Adapters (slr magic)?

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Spend no more than 200 dollars on an anamorphic lens. My best lens has been my cheapest, a sankor 16D. I prefer to stay with the 2x stretch since I shoot completely on Magic lantern raw, and can change the resolution to my liking.

 

With anything other than an iscorama 36/54 or cinegon, or a pro level anamorphic lens, you will have to dual focus, meaning getting focus is sort of like whittling down the focus until you can peak it using both lenses. i open up the aperature when shooting anamorphic, since it makes the DOF so low that I have to get the accuracy down to a pinpoint amount.

 

Most anamorphic don't focus closer than 5-6 feet. My sankor goes out to just over 6 feet.

 

camera sensor size is important. On full frame you need to use at least an 80mm lens so as not to get an lens vignetting, or seeing the barrel (seeing inside you anamorphic lens).

 

on a cropped sensor, you can get away with a 50mm.

 

Lens breathing: this is when the anamorphic stretch ratio changes while you change the focus. I have not tested it on my sankor, but on my SLR magic is breathes, noticeably, and I do not like it. Personal choice though.

 

to attach, you either need a clamp (I use an XL vamp clamp from vid-atlantic). My clamp has seen a lot of wear and even though it works, I would suggest a more heavy duty clamp. Make sure you have step up and down rings so you can put it on many different taking lenses (the lens you attach it too.)

 

Get the Vid Atlandtic front filter clamp. I highly recommend it.

 

To prevent wear on the exterior of the anamorphic lens (scratches, paint chips, dents) I wrap several layers of blue masking tape around the anamorphic lens where the clamp with press down on the barrel. I have no use marks on my sankor since I bought it almost a year ago.

 

Don't get any lens that is bigger than the rectimascope 48/2x. Anything bigger is unwieldy, overpriced on ebay, doesnt focus well, and is not worth the hassle. trust me.

 

Always make sure there is NO fungus, scratches, or internal dust. Never had to get a lens cleaned, and I never intend to.

 

Ebay is the best place to buy anamorphics. Check around on ebay.de and ebay.co.uk as well. sometimes some lenses don't show up as available to the US, even though it can be set to "worldwide".

 

Support. My lens is very iffy attached to my rokinon 85mm f1.4, and I had one break before at the lens mount, so i suggest using some sort of support. I use a manfrotto 239 telephoto lens support, but you can use rails with an adjustable vertical mount.

 

Focus Module: on this forum there is a thread for a device called the "anamorphic focus module". It is a device claiming to allow for close focus AND single rack focusing. I am personally super excited for this device, as it comes with rails and a camera mount.

 

good rule of thumb, anything that looks like a sankor 16c, 16D, 16F, are usually the cream of the crop in my opinion. Had some very minor sharpness issues with my sankor at times, but nothing super noticeable. The most sharp one that is under 700 dollars is the kowa lens. there are several types, not sure if it is all of them or just one particular, but for me, sankor 16D does the job. Kowas are supposed to be just as optically good as an iscorama 36, but I've never tried them.

 

Diopters, get a +1,+2, and a +.5 if you can get it, or wait for the focus module as previously mentioned.

 

When mounting you anamorphic via clamp, you may experience lens sagging, where you can get the lens perfectly level. What I do is put a UV filter on my primary, screw the mount on to that, place my anamorphic inside the clamp, line it up, and let it rest on the UV filter. This way it is perfectly aligned with the lens, and will not sag. then tighten it. be careful so as not to put a lot of stress on the UV filter. My main UV filter has come loose and wiggles inside its housing.

 

Light can come through the clamp if it is big like mine. Stuff some clean nylon like cloth to block the sun from getting inside. imo it creates weird reflections. can be artistic though.

 

Those are most of my recommendations. hoped they helped!

 

Sources: me, lotta trial and error.

Anamorphics I have owned in order of purchase: Schneider Kreuznach 2x, some big mother hubber jumbo anamorphic (2x), Isco 2000 (1.5x) (traded in for) SLR magic (1.33x), Sankor 16D (2x), and just recently bought an eiki 16F (2x) for $150.

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my suggestion would be to just plump and pay for a iscorama 36 if you have the budget.  if not, as has already been suggested a lovely sankor or similar.  dual focus isnt a negative quality if you can set a workflow to suit fixed focus / no racking shots.  if you cant live with this, the 'rama is your only option.  (or this new fm module - which is gonna be a rather big and heavy lump!)  again, weight shouldnt be seen as a negative, but an attribute you use when considering how to shoot the piece.  

 

IMO you should be shooting with as big sensor as possible.  if not, at least with a speed booster.  the whole reason you wanna go anamorphic is for the 'look'.  with the gh4 it might have a 4:3 mode in 4k, but the sensor area becomes only slightly bigger than s16mm - and as we all know, its harder to get bokeh with smaller sensors.  without bokeh, there's no point in shooting morphic IMO.  nothing, and i mean nothing beats an 85mm + morphic on full frame.  f2.8 and it's sharp, while being relatively wide as well as shallow.  on gh4 (4k mode) you'll need a 30mm f1.4 to match the 'look', and since you;ll likely be shooting wide open a 30mm f1.4 is never as sharp as an 85mm at f2.8.

 

just my personal opinions I have gathered after a few years of having the anamorphic illness. 

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

Wow that's incredibly detailed, helpful and informative. Cheers Kerrick and Rich!

So if I understood I should look for a "Sankor d16" or an "Iscorama 36". Okay. The Iscorama you mention is more money so what's the advantage?

Do these lenses have a focal length I can choose?

What's the dual focus thing you mention?

Yes I am that ignorant. Information on that format is stupidly rare ot there.

From what I can understand anamorphic lenses were first designed when spherical lenses were not covering the entire 35mm film, so anamorphic was created to squeez the larger image to cover exactly the entire 35mm film, therefore effectively increasing the image format size giving lower film grain, shallower depth of field, wider field of view, and all the characteristics associated with squeezing the image like distorted bokeh and vertical light flares. Did I get that right?

So using an anamorphic lens on a digital sensor will squeez the image horizontally leaving a part of the sensor unused, effectively giving a smaller format with more noise, deeper dof, etc. Is that correct?

So I think I should use the largest sensor possible. Would a 5D work well with anamorphic vs the GH4? I mean the H.264 16:9 mode. Will raw give a larger image format?

Sorry for the load of questions!

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So if I understood I should look for a "Sankor d16" or an "Iscorama 36". Okay. The Iscorama you mention is more money so what's the advantage?

What's the dual focus thing you mention?

 

When mounting an anamorphic adapter over your prime lens, you'll need to focus with both the adapter and the prime. This is called dual focus, where you have to deal with two focus rings.

Iscoramas are expensive because they use a mechanical design that allow you to single focus (just as you regularly do on a manual prime lens). You adjust your prime to infinity, and focus with the adapter's focus ring. It's design is patented so no other vintage anamorphic adapters will have this luxury... hence the price of the product compared to others.

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Guest Ebrahim Saadawi

Thank you. Very helpful. I didn't actually realize until now that anamorphic lenses are coupled with spherical lenses and not self-contained with focal lengths/aperture and so on. So I guess the underlying spherical lens determines the focal length and the aperture opening?

I wouldn't have a problem focusing with dual rings. I tend to prefocus before rolling and don't adjust focus whilst recording. So no issues I guess.

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Thank you. Very helpful. I didn't actually realize until now that anamorphic lenses are coupled with spherical lenses and not self-contained with focal lengths/aperture and so on. So I guess the underlying spherical lens determines the focal length and the aperture opening?

I wouldn't have a problem focusing with dual rings. I tend to prefocus before rolling and don't adjust focus whilst recording. So no issues I guess.

If I had the money I would listen to what rich101 suggested, an iscorama 36 single focus, for what I am experiencing  with double focus system I can say that sometimes may distract  and destroy your creativity and tire you down, worrying all the time about getting the focus right, there is a bit of frustration to consider IMO.

  Ok! you said you prefocus and don't adjust focus while recording.

Wait till you have a single focus anamorphic lens in your hand, you may rethink and change totally direction, like  for example going for a short film, music video, or just  go down in the street  with your camera and improvise, record just what is passing by, and while  you are there something strange may happen, and you catch the moment, you can't with a double focus system.

This is  only my opinion by the way.

Nothing wrong with double focus lens, I have 4 of them now, but I also had an experience with a single focus lens which I sold unfortunately cos I needed money to buy a new camera.

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My anamorphic setup is based on having a >$1000 dollar budget, since most iscos go for 2000 or more. Plus, I don't like the 1.5 or even 1.33 squeeze. I like 2x since I shoot on a 7D, I can maximize recording resolution in raw mode.

 

For the smaller sensor issue, I've shot 99% of all my videos and work on my 7D, and only ever used 2 large sensor cameras, a 5dmark2 and a 6D. Never spent enough time with either to see if they were worthwhile, but for magic lantern, the 7D is the second best for raw recording, as it can shoot the second highest res in raw and record for the second longest time. And hopefully, the dual iso for video will be coming to it soon.

 

And really, the whole sensor size thing is just silly for me. I mean, sure, the sony a7s has amazing lowlight, but its still compressed... and I've been spoiled by raw.

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There's a lot of dual focus lenses that look good. But to me it was too much extra in the workflow for alignment, dual focusing. Not the kind of fast workflow that suits me.

 

1) The cheap solution: Get some affordable 2x anamorphic adapter like the above-mentioned Sankor, Schneider Cinelux or Isco Ultrastar. The FM lens module that comes out soon should make these a bit easier to handle thanks to rail mount system and single focusing.

 

2) Expensive and rare/hard-to-get solution: The Iscorama 36 is wonderful. 1.5x anamorphic adapter. Very hard to find a replacement if you'd damage it.

 

3) Solution if you're patient: If you can wait for a while, there's also the SLR Magic 2x anamorphic coming in the near future. Andrew had an article with test footage from an early prototype if you check the archive on EOSHD.

 

Personally I really love the look that you get out of 2x anamorphics. Nothing bad about the 1.5x image out of the Iscorama - it's lovely as well, but the 2x look is something I tend to prefer. Hence I'm considering getting the FM lens module as well...

 

And I really recommend finding some way of buying the anamorphic guide. The guide + this whole forum + the anamorphic lens-yclopedia that this forum put together are the best resources I've found on anamorphic lenses.

 

Here's a link to the anamorphic lens-yclopedia: https://drive.google.com/a/bambuser.com/folderview?id=0BzVcUB-5ReiZajVncE9rYU9heDQ&usp=sharing#

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If you're not fussed about Dual Focus, then look at the following 2x anamorphics:

 

Kowa for Bell&Howell - this is one of the best quality lenses in terms of glass (definitely on a par with an Iscorama).

Kowa Prominar 8Z or 16H - these are the same as above, but not as good glass.

Sankor (Singer) 16D - this is the cheapest & not as sharp as the above lenses, has blue flares.

 

(These 4 lenses have big rear elements, which gives you more choice with the taking lenses you can use)

 

2 Others to consider:

 

Iscomorphot 8/2x - made by Isco-Gottingen (same firm as Iscorama), small & Very Sharp (sharper than an Iscorama), but its a fixed focus lens @ 4m (so you'll need diopters). This can be had for under £300.

Isco Widescreen 2000 MC 1.5x - Bigger brother of Iscomorphot, but eventhough its a fixed focus @ 5m, if you stop down the taking lens to f4/5.6 you can rack focus. This is about £500.

 

Edit: Forgot the Bolex Moller! (Slaps head & DOH!)

 

There are those big heavy colourful lens beasts as well, but they are...how should I put it...cheap & too clinical for my tastes.

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If you're not fussed about Dual Focus, then look at the following 2x anamorphics:

 

Kowa for Bell&Howell - this is one of the best quality lenses in terms of glass (definitely on a par with an Iscorama).

Kowa Prominar 8Z or 16H - these are the same as above, but not as good glass.

Sankor (Singer) 16D - this is the cheapest & not as sharp as the above lenses, has blue flares.

 

(These 4 lenses have big rear elements, which gives you more choice with the taking lenses you can use)

 

2 Others to consider:

 

Iscomorphot 8/2x - made by Isco-Gottingen (same firm as Iscorama), small & Very Sharp (sharper than an Iscorama), but its a fixed focus lens @ 4m (so you'll need diopters). This can be had for under £300.

Isco Widescreen 2000 MC 1.5x - Bigger brother of Iscomorphot, but eventhough its a fixed focus @ 5m, if you stop down the taking lens to f4/5.6 you can rack focus. This is about £500.

 

There are those big heavy colourful lens beasts as well, but they are...how should I put it...cheap & too clinical for my tastes.

But here said 

>

 

(ELMOSCOPE-II) much smaller run than kowa bell howell better quality control.
it is an 8z that would go through additional tests by elmo.
elmo made the best ever cine projector so they made sure all the optics where the best they could be.

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