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ISCO Anamorphic Projection lenses

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I read an article on 444-films.com [url="http://444-films.com/the-last-iscorama-anamorphic/"]http://444-films.com...ama-anamorphic/[/url] and decided to buy such a lens; found a red ISCO 65mm 2X locally. Basically just unscrew the rear lens and attach the anamorphic adapter to a DSLR/lens setup.

If you are curious, here is an image (link below) taken with a Canon 7D, a Canon EF-S 60mm and the ISCO handheld at the front of the assembly. I have not tested any of its other qualities or shortcomings but this image may serve as a basic reference for anyone else considering such a lens.

This is the first image taken with the setup. I set the red ISCO on infinity and focused with the Canon EF-S 60mm. Next step is to arrange an appropriate clamp.

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Yes, I have one of those Isco Ultrastar projection lenses as well, a red one fitted with a vid-atlantic clamp. It doesn't flare that much and you can't rack focus, but yes - it's very sharp.

I use it on my Nikon D800 now. Here's a shot of the lens attached to my old Nikon D200 (did some still test shots with the anamorphic on my D200 before I got my D800):


The Isco Ultrastar is usable with as wide as a 85mm f/2 Nikkor lens in full frame (FX) mode, as wide as 50mm in 1.5x (DX) crop mode.

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Oh, and I guess I can share some of my still shots with the Isco Ultrastar: [url="http://sprawl.dahlfors.net/anamorphic/"]http://sprawl.dahlfors.net/anamorphic/[/url]

These are stills shot with Nikon D200 at its full 10.2 Mpixel resolution, downsampled and stretched to 1080p. I shot these shots to test the stretch factor of this lens, since I've seen people telling they are anything from 1.7x to 2x. Hence, the shots have a bit different stretch applied to them. As you can notice on the shots of buildings, I had the anamorphic slightly misaligned, so vertical lines have a slight angle to them.

(and yes, I cleaned the sensor after seeing the dust on some of these test shots ;))

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Interesting, thanks for sharing.

Yep, that is the same lens I have.

I've merely been opening my test images in Photoshop: Image>Image Size, unchecking the 'constrain proportions' checkbox and changing the horizontal width from pixels to percent and selecting 200%. The ISCO images have more vertical height than those delivered by the Kowa 16-H when following the above proceedure. I'm unsure if this is the correct method...I'm new to anamorphics.

What lens is the ISCO attached to in your D200 setup, a 55/2.5 Micro Nikkor ?

I enjoyed looking through your samples (a good variety); in particular:




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1) Yes. I believe you will get the best results by first stretching the image with something like 170% to 200% horisontally, and if you output to a lower resolution, then just resampling down the footage for the exported version. I work daily with Photoshop, and that would certainly be the method I would choose for stills, so I'm pretty certain that same procedure would be the best option for film footage.

I'm unsure if all anamorphics behave like this lens or not - but this one seems to be squeezing the image a little bit more at the edges than at the center. I've seen that on a few of my shots at least. It might also be related to what lens I have been using the anamorphic lens with, haven't really done enough testing to confirm that though.

2) On the D200 setup photo, I had a 105mm f/2.5 AI-S Nikkor attached to the anamorphic. The Isco Ultrastar works nicely with lenses that have about 52mm front diameter filter thread. I got five such lenses which fits the anamorphic:
Nikkor AI 200mm f/4 (works with fullframe + crop sensor),
Nikkor AI-S 105mm f/2.5 (full frame + crop),
Nikkor AI-S 85mm f/2 (full frame + crop),
and at 50mm, Nikon 50mm E Series f/1.8 as well as Nikkor 50mm AF-D f/1.4 - which both only work with a 1.5x crop sensor or smaller.

So, the widest I can get with full frame sensor in use without vignetting is with the 85mm f/2. A 2x anamorphic lens gives you twice as wide angle horisontally though, so for width I can squeeze in as much as 42.5 mm (85 divided by 2) lens could reach. The horisontally widest option to shoot with in 1.5x crop sensor mode is then 50mm * 1.5x crop divided by 2 = 37.5mm. Which means, you can get fairly wide shots with this Ultrastar.

I know Andrew Reid of EOSHD tells to avoid most anamorphic projection lenses in his anamorphic guide. Personally, I'd say that this lens does not fall into that category, and I guess Andrew might change his mind if he tries out one of these, especially since he seem to love the really wide 3.55:1 aspect ratio :)
The major downsides with the Ultrastar is no refocusing while filming and the size of it makes it extend quite far out. If you shoot with a crop sensor, I'd really recommend getting the Nikkor E Series 50mm, which is a pancake lens. Makes your rig far smaller: [url="http://www.kenrockwell.com/nikon/images1/50mm-series-e/KEN_5166-460.jpg"]http://www.kenrockwe...EN_5166-460.jpg[/url]

3) Thanks. I got quite a few years of background on still photography. Trying to pick up as much as I can on filming now, and there's a lot to learn :)

[quote name='septemberdawn' timestamp='1343101983' post='14392']
1) I've merely been opening my test images in Photoshop: Image>Image Size, unchecking the 'constrain proportions' checkbox and changing the horizontal width from pixels to percent and selecting 200%. The ISCO images have more vertical height than those delivered by the Kowa 16-H when following the above proceedure. I'm unsure if this is the correct method...I'm new to anamorphics.

2) What lens is the ISCO attached to in your D200 setup, a 55/2.5 Micro Nikkor ?

3) I enjoyed looking through your samples (a good variety)

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I have an ISCO Optic Ultrastar. I've been photographing for 10 years, kinda new to video but I jumped right into the whole anamorphic thing because widescreen fascinates me. Tried the GH2 for a while and loved it. Using the GF3 now because I could get a good deal on it.

The ISCO I bought on eBay (I think from Andy Lee who's also active here) came without a rear lens so it's ready to go. I built a very simple rig with the Velbon Support SPT-1 and i'm using just a rubber hood between the camera+lens and ISCO. I tried with the Minolta 45mm f/2 and Hexar 40mm f/1.8 so far and I think the Minolta gave better results. Sharper and more contrast.

I'm a bit puzzeld about clamps. The vid-atlantic looks nice, but do you screw it into the taking lens? I suppose not, since most of the legacy lenses have moving front elements. But then what would the advantage be over my cheap solution right now?

Here's my setup:

I have no idea which ISCO lens this is - and if there are any differences at all. According to the scale the MFD is 5 meters or 17 ft, but in practise I can get a bit closer, around 2 meters, anything closer and the image gets weird. On the site linked in the first post I read mdf of 1,5 meters in the comments, should this apply to my lens as well or do I have a different one?

This weekend I took the setup to the park and shot a testvideo with the GF3:


I stretched it 2x, exported as 1920x540. I was wondering about the aspect ratio though, it seemd a bit off. Today I photographed a circle with the setup and according to that the stretch ratio should be 1,78x. This seems to make sense as this is a standard in video I think? It would turn 4:3 into 2,37:1 (1,33 x 1,78).

The video lacks sharpness in my opinion. But i think thats because of the low bitrate of the GF3. Looking into the hack right now and going to apply it soon.

While making the video I also shot some pictures (4:3). I stretched those 1,78x which seems to deliver good results. Also the sharpness of the pictures is way better then the video so the lens doesn't seem to be the problem.

Here are some of the pictures (remember, taken in photo mode, not video):




Lager files in my gallery:

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The vid-atlantic clamp is attached with three screws to the anamorphic. The clamp itself has filter threads fitting 52mm filter thread, so I screw the anamorphic onto the taking lens.

My Nikon lenses only extrudes forward and backwards, the front does not rotate. There is a bit of focus breathing on the lenses, which isn't really an issue since I don't refocus while shooting sequences.

Closest focusing mark on my Ultrastar is 1.5 meters, and it surely can focus nicely at that distance with my Nikkor 85mm and 105mm.

For focusing I estimate the distance as good as I can and set the Isco to that value. I then focus it as sharp as I can with the taking lens. The larger the aperture on the taking lens is, the more carefully I need to adjust the focus.

On your video it looks like the lack of sharpness is due to the focus on the two lenses not matching each other perfectly.

Try filming with aperture around f/8 or f/11 and adjust the taking lens and the Ultrastar to match each other to the distance of the subject you want in focus. It's a bit more forgiving with the focus on the taking lens at those apertures, which in turn makes it a bit easier to nail the focus on the Ultrastar. When you nail the focus with the ultrastar, try microadjusting focus a bit on the taking lens.

I believe that some of your focusing issues might be due to the fact that the distance between the front element of your taking lens and the rear of the anamorphic changes when you focus the taking lens.

So, getting a clamp might make it easier with the double focusing. You just need a lens with 52mm or smaller filter thread as well as a lens without rotating front element. The double focusing sure takes some practice before you start to get used to it :)

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Thanks for the tips dahlfors!

My lenses also extrude forward and backwards. But that means either the camera or the anamorphic lens can't be fixed on the rig. I'd have to come up with a solution for that. In your setup the anamorphic lens can move freely forward and backwards I suppose?

Your ISCO looks much more compact than mine though.. With my tiny GF3 it might be a better idea to let the camera do the moving instead of the ISCO maybe...

I don't think the unsharpness off the video is due to focussing. Take a look at the high res pictures in my gallery. They are stills I shot during some of the sequences with the same settings. Aperture was around f/8, f/11 or f/16 for the flare shot. The focus in the stills looks fine to me, also on the ones with bigger apartures (the tree, might be 5.6). Since we're shooting a 2x crop sensor the dof is already twice as big as on a fullframe, so f/5.6 would be like f/11 on fullframe anyway.

I shot on the GF3 with sharpness and contrast at -2. Adding sharpness in post did'nt help much though. But what i've read so far the GF3 kinda sucks for high detailed images. Started hacking the camera yesterday and i'll do some more tests.

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Shame the HK dealers aren't selling cheap versions on eBay... I got my adapters for next to nothing and it works for me.

My ISCO actually has (something that looks like) a filter thread on the back though. I guess some stepup/stepdown ring should do the job as well.

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I dont link the anamorphic to the taking lens ever,
The taking lens just sits directly behind the anamorphic so it is as close a possible to the rear element of the anamorphic
Once you start using step down rings and spacers you are moving the taking lens futher back by doing this.

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The article in the first post mentions that the ISCO's don't flare like anamorphics.

I gave it a try. What do you think?


GF3 hacked with EOSHD GF2 patch (seems to work fine).
Minolta MD Rokkor 135mm f/2.8
Minolta MD Rokkor 28mm f/2.8

The 28mm is obviously too wide. So here's a 2,35:1 crop.

Going to look for a Minolta 35mm.. I think that might work with minimal vignetting so I can crop it to 2,66:1.

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Iscos flare really nicely I use them alot I really like the sky blue flares they make.

I use a Helios f2 58mm with them as the Helios also flares like crazy giving a very artisic combination of Isco anamorphic and Helios taking lens both flaring together.

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i call all these hypergonads cos you strain your balls struggling with them
no doubt these new things are fully corrected sharp but flare is not a patch on the 1970s bulky chretien ones.
sankor 16f or 16c would be so much easier.
no messy support needed.
no massive diopters.
no groin strain
a lot less fiddling
less money
because of hassle factor less use.
just sayin

or you could hunt for a tiny thing

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the other lens next to the moller is
a super rare tiny italian anamorphic from the 1960s.

the silver thing is my prototype redstan hypergonar using original 1970s benoist berthiot optics.not quite iscorama but pretty goodi have 50 loose battered opticswill get maybe 15 or 20 complete lens from it.this is just a quick housing so i can test which optics need polishing and cutting and which are scrap.these will be a bit like the baby hypergonar only variable focus much sharper and usable at f2.8.the cool thing is you can break up focus into zones so you should be able to do good strong dynamic focus pulls.this is very early days but it is already better than optex and century.some of the optics had really lovely coatings but have had to remove because of faults in the glass.some are also radioactive which the lens polisher refuses to touch : )

here is the hypergonar prototype done in black.
nice and small.
it ain't an iscorama but it should be ffing cool E O


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You're actually doing it! I remember Alan (or perhaps it was you) posting about this project on Vimeo a long time ago. Forget Iscorama, this is way cooler. Hypergonar is my favorite image of all anamorphics, but it's hard to use. What do I have to do get on the list?

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