I had a chance to play with a near final version of the new SLR Magic 1.33x Anamorphic Adapter today with Andrew Chan.
This adapter is a completely new design from other anamorphic adapters I’ve used. It has unique focusing abilities which give it the strengths of single focus designs like the Panasonic LA7200 with the added capabilities of what you’d find in dual focus anamorphic adapters like those from Bolex or Kowa.
In its normal focus mode, with the SLR Magic 35mm T1.4 CINE II lens, you get a picture that can focus from 2.8m to infinity.
The lens also has a NEAR mode that works as a variable built in diopter. This works by rotating the ring on the anamorphic adapter towards the “near” marker on the adapter barrel when an object is closer than 2m and it moves the rear element of the adapter changing the focus capabilities of the lens. It’s easy just to think of it as a macro mode, and something I’ll cover more in depth on video when we get a copy of our own.
First, this lens is best pared with the SLR Magic 35mm T1.4 CINE II, which has been beefed up to not have lens slop while the anamorphic adapter is attached to the taking lens. Use the LA7200 enough and it will make even the most robust metal slr lens start to slop from all the weight hanging off the end of the filter threads.
Second, the LA7200 does not work at 35mm, not even close. You can fudge it with diopters, but the edges of the image will be an unfocused mess.
Lastly, this is a brand new lens with a warranty, not something you have to get lucky on an eBay auction. Every lens will work and look the same. If you have a problem, it will be simple enough to get actual support.
Image Quality. I look forward to having more time to shoot with the SLR Magic anamorphic adapter in the upcoming months, but in the few hours I tested it I can give you some of my opinions. First of those being that this adapter is in no way a copy of any anamorphic adapter that has come before it. Testing the lens at infinity gives this away quickly as none of the other adapters can do 35mm without some degree of edge blurring.
When the lens enters it’s “NEAR” mode that works as a variable diopter, you can get some fantastically sharp images as well as exaggerated bokeh. The lens appeared to be out resolving my BMCC, which is something my LA7200 could never do, so I’d like to see what it does at even higher resolutions.
The closest new and available 1.33x option that you could compare would be a Hawk V-lite 35mm at somewhere over $40,000. For a fraction of the price …
Yesterday driftwood released what is probably the last and greatest update for hacked GH2 cameras.
This group of settings is called Apocalypse Now and works to achieve a better and smoother color matrix that not only improves upon the native 4:2:0 h.264 of the camera, but also softens the natural sharpness of the Panasonic lenses when used in video mode.
If you have a higher-end monitor capable you should be able to see the subtle changes in color rendition to the blue channel in this still.
These are just preliminary tests, but I would hazard to say that I would now recommend using Panasonic electronic lenses without fear of sharpening artifacts.
One of the advantages of anamorphic lenses and adapters is a wider FOV. Since they are basically just horizontal-only wide angle adapters they certainly are a help for those looking for a wider field of view with EF Mount lenses. Here’s my experience with anamorphic lenses with the GH2 (1.85 crop), and how they should work on the Black Magic Cinema Camera.
1. Panasonic LA7200
1.33x adapter, focus-through
recommended taking lens
Nikon 17-35 (Sigma 17-35 2.8-4 lower budget option)
Designed for the DVX100, this adapter works best on the GH2 at 17-20mm and can work down to 14-15mm depending on the lens.
I’ve found that placing a +.25 diopter between the taking lens and the adapter clears up Chromatic Abberation. On the BMC, the Tokina 11-16 should be the best option for this adapter. I estimate it should go nearly to 12mm wide and be in the excellent zone by 15-16mm. Also note: This lens has blue flares, but getting oblong bokeh requires the use of front diopters and very limited focus.
2. Bolex Moller 8/19/1,5x
1.5x Adapter designed for 8mm film. Dual focus – In macro, this lens will change to 1.33 an can focus as close as 0.5m.
recommended taking lens
Nikkor 28mm f2 or equivalent (f2-f4 without vignette)
Nikkor 35mm f2 or equivalent (should not vignette on BMC)
Manual focus prime lenses past 35mm should work without vignette, zoom lenses need to be tested.
These lenses are fairly rare, but show up on ebay from time to time. The adapter itself is very tiny, but has sharpness equal to an Iscorama 36. Because the rear element is only 24mm in diameter, wide angle lenses will vignette over f4. This lens is also dual focus, but can be used to rack focus in certain situations. (working on a tutorial for this)
3. Iscorama 36 (also other related 1.5x Iscoramas)
recommended taking lens (outside of what it comes with)
Any sharp manual Nikon or Canon prime lens down to 28mm, possibly 25mm, depending on lens design. You will also need a clamp from redstan.com. You should have no trouble adapting this lens to any prime up to 105mm. Redstan also sells a .4 72mm achromat diopter that is necessary for focus closer than 6ft. This achromat changes the ratio to 1.33. I’ve liked using the Nikkor 50mm 1.8, 1.4, The Nikkor 35mm f2 and a few other Nikon prime lenses.
This lens is really fantastic in build quality and image quality. Probably the closest to cinema anamorphic quality you can get in a cheap anamorphic, as well as being able to resolve over 4k resolution. The potential downsides are that it can be difficult to rack focus and is harder to adapt to taking lenses due to its triangular shaped rear element. When adapted extremly wide the edges of the frame can succumb to distortion which is normal for older anamorphics.
There are many other anamorphic lenses out there. Most are 2x adapters, which means you crop …
Bolex Anamorphot 8/19/1.5x Compatibility chart
Before we get into Bolex tutorials, here’s a chart showing basic compatibility with different cameras. Canon DSLRs will be similar to the Red Scarlet at 4k.
Optimal Prime Wide (widest with no vignette up to f22)
Panasonic GH2: 40mm
Black Magic Cinema: 31mm
Red Scarlet 4k: 46mm
Red Scarlet 3k: 37mm
Widest Prime with minimal circular bokeh
4k Red: 40mm
3k Red: 32mm
Absolute Widest – no vignette faster than f2
4k Red: 32mm
3k Red: 26mm…