Anywhere you look online, it is stated that Canon K35 lenses were used for Aliens, but I recently had a back and forth with someone in the "Anamorphic Shooters" facebook group that piqued my curiosity. I haven't seen any mention of this in the forums, so I'm interested in what info anyone might have aside from this seemingly sensible hearsay:
"Aliens was shot on Panavision lenses, most likely rehoused Zeiss HS optics. The K35s story is an internet myth, one that is repeated as gospel by most rehousing and hire companies. The K35s were used simply on the b-camera for cutaways."
Me - "Really? I can’t find any source that says that, how do you know?"
"A guy I know worked with Adrian Biddle on a commercial project before his death. K35s were not highly regarded lenses until 10 years ago... no one wanted them and there is no way 20th Century Fox would ever let an entire blockbuster with a budget of 18 million be shot on them. Adrian Biddle replaced veteran Dick Bush who was fired by James Cameron. Bush was a very old school DP and there's no way on earth he'd not used Panavison lenses. Aliens was Biddles first movie as a DP and he'd never have been able to send back a full Panavision lens set and replace them with K35s. They had a short schedule and since no one wanted the K35s Biddles was able to get them cheap and have them used on the B-camera for additional coverage.
The internet and especially rental houses listings are full of half truths... and myths ... the reality is... a huge number of movies simply used Panavision glass. Panavision were rehousing lenses since the 1950s and still are... and in that time have used Bausch & Lomb, Nikon, Leica and especially Zeiss optics as the basis for their lenses. If you believe the internet: Hitchcocks, "The Birds" was shot on SuperBaltars... even though the movie came out in 1962 and the lenses were released in 1966/67. The Godfather was shot on SuperBaltars... even though a good portion of the lens was shot on Gordon Willis' custom made Panavision 40mm. American Hustle was shot on K35s... well half true, the original casings were so useless they were quickly replaced by Zeiss Superspeeds. Kubrick used K35 on Barry Lyndon... not true... he used an early Canon FD specially rehoused. Aliens being shot on the K35s is yet another one of those myths. In their original unrehoused form they were a pain and in fact 10 years ago a case of lenses would cost you about 5k.
...the K35s are very popular now... but never were at the time... even though they did win an Oscar. All but the 18 and 35mm are basically rehoused FDs (with some improvements to the coatings) which is why they cover a LF sensor. The truth about lens choices pre digital... often it was a lot less sexy and complicated than we think... it was what was there, what worked and what gave the sharpest image on 35mm film. Plus the most reliable mechanics... and that was part of the K35s downfall... and their uneven focus throws.
you might find this piece worth a read. Gregory Irwin who worked on American Hustle also AC'd on Joker, Interstellar... his credits list is huge."