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Anamorphic zooms vs. primes


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#1 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 07:50 PM

I know with sphereical prime lenses there is an advantage over zooms in image quality. How do anamorphic zooms compare to anamorphic primes and I am specifically talking about Lomos but would also like to know about older Ziess and Cookes as well, just for my own knowlege. Also just for the heck of it, how do modern optics stack up against to the mid 80s stuff and have any pre-existing problems been solved or do they still exist? B)
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 27 March 2007 - 10:36 PM

Anamorphic zooms are not as good as the primes, and they are slow... often a T/4.5 minimum.
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#3 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 01:19 AM

With the zooms, is there a lot of distortion at the wider angle end? Would you recomend using them and if so under what circumstanses?
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#4 Max Jacoby

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 02:57 AM

The problem with anamorphic zooms is that they are converted spherical zooms, with the anamorphic element added at the back (not front or middle like the primes). Because the element is smaller, the quality is not as good and you lose one stop compared to the spherical version. You need to stop down at least 2 stops for them to perform and then you'are already in T8 land, making them useless for interiors and night work. On top of that you don't get that typical anamorphic look (no horizontal flares and no oval highlights). The one good thing is that they don't distort nearly as much as the primes on the wide end however.

To be honest I'd only ever use an anamorphic zoom if I wanted to zoom, provided that I'd have enough stop.
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#5 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 03:20 AM

Well, the Lomo I was looking at is a 35OPF19-1A and LOOKS like a square front anamorphic but specifically stated it would fit a Kinor 35H. If it is indeed does have the anamorphic element on the front of the lens, How does this effect the F or T stop capibilities and how badly does it distort the image if at all in the wide range of the lens? Is having the anamorphic element at the front a destinct disadvantage and why?
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#6 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 03:34 AM

Actually this is not a Lomo but an Ekran 35 OPF19-1A which is described as a "fast" anamorphic zoom with an actual aperture of 1:3,5 according to Olex's website. How big a difference does this make?
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#7 Olex Kalynychenko

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 04:21 AM

I know with sphereical prime lenses there is an advantage over zooms in image quality. How do anamorphic zooms compare to anamorphic primes and I am specifically talking about Lomos


I repaired and serviced of LOMO anamoprhic lenses a some time and had possibility to make tests with
compare a zoom lenses with with prime lenses.
I had for test by film a LOMO round front glass prime lenses, 35 mm, 50 mm, 75 mm, 100 mm, 150 mm, 500 mm and zoom lenses OPF-18 40-240 mm, OPF-15 50-500 mm.
I use sp[ecial test picture with resolution sqares.
I can tell you a some my ideas after test.
If we told about middle range of zoom ( 25..75%) i don't had different quality of images between zoom and prime lenses.
I had a some different at ends of zoom range. The prime lenses had more high quality.
For example.
50 mm and 500 mm prime lenses had better quality from 50-500 mm zoom lens on positions of zoom 50 mm and 500 mm.
And this idea confirm of technical information and diagrams.


About 35 OPF-19-1A 40-120 mm anamoprhic zoom lens.
The lens have mark of manufacturer MKBK ( Moskov optical design office, designer of professional cine lenses).
This lens have geometric aperture F2.8 and effective aperture T3.3
This is zoom lens with front anamorphic components, between, a front focusing components and base components of spherical system.
The optical scheme of OPf-19 similar of design of LOMO prime lenses with round front glass.

The lens have big size , length 330 mm and size of front glass 173 x 195 mm.
The weight of lens 7.5 kg.
The lens have resolution of 50-40 lines per mm at centre and 25-20 liness per mm at corners of film gate.
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#8 Max Jacoby

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 04:37 AM

Is having the anamorphic element at the front a destinct disadvantage and why?

That is an advantage, as the anamorphic element is bigger and therefore gives you a better quality than a rear element. Another advantage is that the zoom can be faster, i.e. T3.3 in your case and you get the typical anamorphic look. As mentioned in another post, Panavision have a 40-80mm T2.8 anamorphic zoom that also has a front element.
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#9 Christian Appelt

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 10:51 AM

How about a Foton 37-140 zoom lens with the large front anamorphic element Foton-A?
I don't know whether there is a problem with putting this one on a Kinor, but the front element is quite good (and will give you the old-style anamorphic look with heavy "breathing" at focus changes...).

Foton-A + Zoom on eBay 1

Foton-A + Zoom on eBay 2

At f4.3 it is also faster than the rear-anamorphosized zoom lenses.
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#10 Olex Kalynychenko

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 02:38 PM

How about a Foton 37-140 zoom lens with the large front anamorphic element Foton-A?
I don't know whether there is a problem with putting this one on a Kinor, but the front element is quite good (and will give you the old-style anamorphic look with heavy "breathing" at focus changes...).


Foton-A zoom lens with front anamorphic attachment not bad lens.
I know version of Foton zoom lens with rear anamorphic adapter . ( 80-280 mm.

The spherical version of Foton have small size, small weight and very good optical characteristics.
The anamorphic version have two bodies ( spherical zoom lens and front anamoprhic adapter ) and this parts must have very good connection and hard support and base plate.
From other side, the front anamoprhic adapter have weight.
And, to focusing of anamorphic version a some details, need to moven of focusing components of spherical and anamoprhic parts at one time. Yes, This do special lever and additional parts.

That's why, the anamorphic system with one front focusing components , middle anamorphic components and spherical components with infinity focus will better.


I prefer of anamorphic lens with design of spherical and anamoprhic components inside of one body.
This is design have more high optical characteristics, because, the all components set hard and precisely.

Any case, Foton-A have very good side, the obtainable price and can be use for shooting.
The second good side - universality, you can use lens at spherical and anamorphic versions.

From my opinion, Foton ( spherical version ) first lens for hand held shooting.
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#11 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 05:57 PM

Will these Fotons work on a Kinor 35H?

LOMO FOTON, 37-140/3.5(4.3 effective). Focus Range: 1.6 m to inf.
Serial 850053. Made in 1985. Lens is in Very Good condition, optically clean, workes properly.
Comes with both caps and Anamorphic front attachment LOMO FOTON A, 37-140/3.5.
Focus Range: 1.6 m to inf. Serial 740004. Made in 1974.

LOMO FOTON, 37-140/3.5(4.3 effective). Focus Range: 1.6 m to inf.
Serial 760085. Made in 1976. Very good condition. Workes properly.
Comes with both caps and Anamorphic front attachment LOMO FOTON A, 37-140/3.5.
Focus Range: 1.6 m to inf. Serial 680019. Made in 1968.

Also is the Ekran 35 OPF19-1A a viable subsitute for a set (35mm, 50mm, 75mm and 150mm ) of Lomo Anamorphic Primes?

Edited by James Steven Beverly, 28 March 2007 - 05:58 PM.

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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 09:15 PM

I think no matter what anamorphic zoom you're going to get, you're going to want to avoid using it unless absolutely necessary (like to zoom during the shot), unless your primes are so bad that they match the quality of the zoom. Anamorphic zooms are flatter, softer, heavier, bigger, and slower -- not attractive qualities for a lens. I'm just saying this in case you think an anamorphic zoom can fill in the gaps in your prime lens set.
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#13 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 28 March 2007 - 10:38 PM

That's exactly what my thought was. Thanks for letting me know. I wanted to fill out my set with a 35mm and 100mm but I thought maybe a zoom would do the whole job. Glad to know this is not the case BEFORE I made a costly mistake. So over all anamorphic zooms are relitively useless except fpr very specific shots and not something one would use on a regular basis in the course of your average shoot. They are hard to match to footage shot with primes and in most cases will not work for anything but a daytime exterior shot. Is this essentially correct? B)
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#14 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 29 March 2007 - 12:46 AM

Well, some DP's swear by them, so it's just my opinion... although the DP's who like anamorphic zooms (John Seale for example) have switched over to shooting in Super-35 and using spherical zooms. Same for the directors who used anamorphic zooms heavily like Ridley Scott -- now they use spherical zooms in Super-35. Using rear-adapted anamorphic zooms a lot is sort of missing the point of shooting in anamorphic.

I used the Primo anamorphic zoom on "Akeelah and the Bee" to grab crowd shots on a B camera during the spelling bees, but it meant lighting auditoriums to f/5.6, but it was worth it just to be able to quickly "steal" shots by zooming in, etc. So they have their uses. I also use them to get tighter inserts sometimes where the sharpness of the lens is less of an issue.

I suppose outdoors in a lot of light (like f/8 or more) the anamorphic zoom is going to behave pretty well.

But I mainly save anamorphic zooms for shots that need zooming.

Front-element anamorphic primes look so different in optical texture than rear-adapted anamorphic zooms and primes that they don't intercut well. Even when timing "Akeelah" photochemically, I had to deal with the browner, lower-contrast look of the Primo anamorphic zoom when intercut with the bluer, higher-contrast Primo anamorphic primes.

So get a zoom because you may need a zoom, but try to get a full set of primes that are similar in speed and sharpness. It's very hard to have an incomplete set of T/2.8 anamorphic primes and a T/4.5 anamorphic zoom because if you always have to use the zoom, you always have to light to near an f/5.6, which affects your style of lighting.
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#15 Olex Kalynychenko

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Posted 29 March 2007 - 01:34 AM

Will these Fotons work on a Kinor 35H?


Yes, will work, but,
Will need see of version of rear mount part of Foton.
The matter is that, the first versions of Fotons had OST-18 lens mount ( Konvas-1M ) and many users install of hand made rear part with OST-19 ( Konvas-2M ) mount.
the next series of Fotons had original, factory made, rear part with OST-19 lens mount.
This is factory part compatible with Konvas and Kinor-35 OST-19.
If you send me pictire of rear side of Foton ( from mount side ), i can tell you version of rear part.


Also is the Ekran 35 OPF19-1A a viable subsitute for a set (35mm, 50mm, 75mm and 150mm ) of Lomo Anamorphic Primes?


OPF-19 will work very good at kit of prime anamorphic lenses with round front glass.
But, will need check of rear mount part of OPF-19 too.
This can be old version for Konvas-2M camera and will need modify for Kinor-35H.
The 150 mm lens need similar test too.
The kit of prime anamoprhic lenses with round front glass 35 mm, 50 mm, 75 mm created for Kinor-35 H camera and have full compatible.

Other idea.
I hope you know, Kinor-35H camera have special matte box for anamorphic lenses with adapters and
a few type of holders for filters.
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#16 Max Jacoby

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Posted 29 March 2007 - 02:40 AM

Even when timing "Akeelah" photochemically, I had to deal with the browner, lower-contrast look of the Primo anamorphic zoom when intercut with the bluer, higher-contrast Primo anamorphic primes.

I noticed the same on a film I did. The shots of the zoom, most of which were done wide open at T4, looked very brownish and low in contrast. Also the sharpness was by far not as good as the primes, so now I avoid using it whenever I can (didn't even carry one on my last film), pity though, because I love zoom-ins.
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#17 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 29 March 2007 - 11:31 PM

What about this particular zoom an Ekran with a T-3.3 effective stop. could one shoot at night with that kind of lens?
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#18 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 30 March 2007 - 12:00 AM

Sure with enough lighting, but I don't know if the quality is any good at wide-open on that lens. It may only start to look decent at f/5.6.

Generally I find it hard to light night areas realistically to more than f/2.8 unless the space is contained. I shot the county fairgrounds in "Astronaut Farmer" at f/2.8 on the Primo anamorphics, and that was by pushing Eterna 500T by one-stop (rated at 640 ASA). And on some close-ups, I increased the level to f/4.

Unless you are shooting in front of some bright storefronts and lit-up marquees, or a brightly-lit gas station, you will find it hard to use an anamorphic zoom at night unless you don't mind overpowering the natural look with some spotlights just to get the stop closer to an f/4.

I mean, I was just watching an old 1960's movie shot on 50 ASA film at night in anamorphic, maybe pushed to 100 ASA, and they got an image - the stores look well-exposed but most of the street is pitch-black.

Today I was just reading the 1961 and 1962 issues of American Cinematographer and they talk about how the intro of 50 ASA 35mm color negative film and the new 40 ASA Kodachrome II will allow "shooting at night in low light levels".

Light levels at night are so varied that you can shoot at any stop and get something depending on the background, but the question is what would look natural. A T/3.3 zoom would limit you to well-lit areas, especially if it really needed to be stopped down past T/4 just to look good. But T/3.3 is not bad.

Just take your light meter around and see, or set your digital still camera at 500 ASA and T/4 and take some snap shots at night and see what gets exposed and what doesn't.
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#19 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 30 March 2007 - 01:38 AM

Thanks for the suggestions. I'll give that a try. The reason I'm so obcessed with anamorphics and night shooting is after our last discussion on anamorphics, I really connected with the idea of using negative space to help create the mood and feel for the horror flick I'm working on right now, Blood Moon Rising. I can and probably will, along with Mel Kekuwa my DP, stylize much of the lighting so it does have a somewhat unrealistic look to it as the red light plays against the sand dunes and mesquite bushes. He does have some pretty big lights but I'm fairly sure that unless circumstances change, the budget won't be there for a Condor or anything like that, although we maybe able to eather rig something or cheat somehow. I have 2 Lomo anamorphic primes a 50 and 75mm, but I'm not sure if that's enough to shoot an entire movie. I DO have a small set of fast Lomo sphereical primes, 35, 50 and 75mm and 22 to 300mm except for the 150mm in standard primes. I'm just not sure if I can create the look I want, those kind of bigger than life Laurence of Arabia vistas at night, with the sphereical primes. There was a scene in Jarhead when they're walking across the desert and the dunes have this kinda orange glow to them that sorta looks a little like what I'm seeing in my head. I think I could get the look with 5218 and fast lenses but not the feel, the vast isolation and emptyness of the desert, the feeling of being totally on your own. Mel suggested using a red flter on the lens but I'm don't want the actors to look like the background so I don't think that will be what I'm looking for, at least not for the majority of the movie also I want the colors of humanity to pop, be very vivd and bright where as the colors of nature to be exactly that, natural EXCEPT for the red of the moon. I saw a scene in Jim McBride's Breathless which was written by Truffaut and Godard where Gere is in a car at dusk with the sky almost glowing red, that also is kinda the look...sorta, I'm trying to create in Blood Moon. At points the red has to be subtle but at other moments, it has to be overwhelming. Whatever lenses I use will have to be able to run the gambit of those changes. The daytime scenes will be hot and harsh. Not white but very warm. The interiors wiill probably be green and blueish in tint. This is what I'm seeing now in my head for the film. I know I can use these lenses on later shoots so even if I can't use them now maybe I should pick them up anyway because Lomo anamorphics are becoming more and more rare as they're converted to PL mounts. I'm just not sure what's the best move here. I do really like the fact that the Ekran is a fast zoom, that part REALLY appeals to me, but maybe I should consintrate on gettin a 35mm Lomo to round out my small set Maybe circumstnases will change and I'll be able to get both, who knows. B)

Edited by James Steven Beverly, 30 March 2007 - 01:42 AM.

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#20 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 30 March 2007 - 01:59 AM

Even I can't afford to light large vistas at night (even an 18K on a condor won't do much on a landscape -- you start talking Musco lights to over a spread, or multiple condors) so don't even mix the words "vista" and "night lighting" in the same sentence unless you have a huge budget.

I had a scene in "Astronaut Farmer" where the script used the phrase "we see the cars drive through the huge landscape at night" and right off the bat I knew that we'd have to shoot day for night and dusk for night to get any wide shots at night. An 18K HMI on a condor basically gets you one city block of distance lit, which is nothing in a wide landscape.

And after shooting a bunch of plates for day for night efx work (we shot the interior car stuff with a greenscreen and planned on day for night backgrounds) and some dusk for night drive bys, the whole sequence was dropped in post to save money partly.

You can light one row of sand dunes at night as long as you don't need to see the landscape beyond. That's like lighting a low hill or a row of buildings on a city block. But even then, if you are using red or magenta gels for a reddish moonlight effect, you need a big bright tungsten unit, like a 20K or 12-light at least.

But a "vista" -- forget it. "Lawrence of Arabia" had to use day for night. In fact, can you name any modern movie with a large night time vista landscape in it that didn't involve visual effects? Probably the largest space I've seen lit at night was for "Thunderheart" (Deakins had a huge wide shot of some rolling Badland hills at night, lit with a Musco) and "Die Hard 2" which had some snowy landscapes lit for a snow mobile chase at night (again, lit with a Musco). Otherwise, most people would fake a wide landscape shot at night at twilight or use day for night techniques.

Maybe you can use a reddish-magenta filter, shoot day for night, and somehow bounce green light (reflectors through green gel?) onto the faces to cancel some of the red in the shadow side.
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