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Convert Contax Zeiss C/Y to Anamorphic PL?


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Like the subject line says, I am crazy and want to convert my Contax Zeiss set (f2.8/25, 1.4/35, 1.4/50, 1.4/85) to anamorphic PL. How stupid or expensive (most likely, both) is this idea, and who would you recommend to do such an insane task? The FAQ mentioned many anamorphics started out as Zeiss lenses in the first place.

Joe Dunton : JDC comes to mind but if you have better ideas, I’d love to hear it.

Thanks!

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Why do you want to spend a fortune and probably a great deal of time converting not particularly special lenses to anamorphic rather than just buying already made anamorphics? There are so many cheap options now.

You could probably find some Chinese company that will make you something, they are flooding the market now with relatively cheap cine lenses of all flavours, but for a one-off custom job it won’t be cheap. The least expensive option would be to actually buy an existing set of anamorphic lenses and then have someone replace the rear spherical group with your Contax lenses, but even that would require a lot of re-machining, engraving, calibration and fuffing about to get it to work. 

A DIY alternative that some people do with those lenses is to simply replace the iris with an oval aperture that fakes the oval out-of-focus highlights of an anamorphic lens. 

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5 hours ago, sines said:

Joe Dunton : JDC comes to mind but if you have better ideas, I’d love to hear it.

Thanks!

I doubt that Joe Dunton would rehouse lenses. He was semi retired last time I saw him, and that was several years ago.

As Dom says, the expense involved in prototyping and building a one off lens package would likely be more than just going out and buying a set of Atlas Orions or similar.

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On 10/6/2020 at 9:35 PM, sines said:

Like the subject line says, I am crazy and want to convert my Contax Zeiss set (f2.8/25, 1.4/35, 1.4/50, 1.4/85) to anamorphic PL. How stupid or expensive (most likely, both) is this idea, and who would you recommend to do such an insane task? The FAQ mentioned many anamorphics started out as Zeiss lenses in the first place.

Joe Dunton : JDC comes to mind but if you have better ideas, I’d love to hear it.

Thanks!

It’s a very expensive idea if you want the lenses to be rental items, if they’re just for your own use then possibly less so. For the former, I’ve heard that TLS has made some custom anamorphic lenses based on vintage sphericals recently: http://www.lensworksrentals.com/meruanamorphicstls

I would first figure out the specs you want: 

1. Squeeze Ratio? 

2. Single focus/dual focus? 

3. Accurate focus scale? 

4. Close focus? 

5. Size/Weight? 

6. Soft and flarey, or sharp and clean? 
 

#1 and #2 will rule out many approaches. To me the biggest question is whether the unique look you’ll be getting from your Contax Zeiss glass plus whatever anamorphic elements you’re pairing them with will be worth what it costs in time and money to have the work done.

Personally, from a lower budget owner-op perspective I draw the line at 1.5x (ish) single focus adapter, beyond that it just becomes too cost prohibitive for me. Here’s what I came up with: 

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Contax Zeiss MMJ (35mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.4, 85mm f/2.8, 135mm f/2.8) + rehoused Iscorama 36). The images retain the character, contrast, and sharpness of the taking lenses, just with added anamorphic funk and distortion. This setup also works great with the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 L. If I needed 2x or PL with classic Zeiss character, I would be looking to rent Cineovisions.

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On 10/9/2020 at 2:18 AM, Satsuki Murashige said:

Contax Zeiss MMJ (35mm f/2.8, 50mm f/1.4, 85mm f/2.8, 135mm f/2.8) + rehoused Iscorama 36). The images retain the character, contrast, and sharpness of the taking lenses, just with added anamorphic funk and distortion. This setup also works great with the Canon 70-200 f/2.8 L. If I needed 2x or PL with classic Zeiss character, I would be looking to rent Cineovisions.

Nice setup, Satsuki!

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6 hours ago, Phil Rhodes said:

Got any footage we can see?

I have a bunch of frames grabs, some of which I’ve posted before. I can share some more when I get home tonite. Still in process of building my website, they will all be avail there soon. 

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Iscorama samples #3:

Sony F5, Pentax SMC 50mm f/1.4, Iscorama 36 (re-housed)

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Sony F5, Zeiss Contax 35mm f/2.8 MMJ, Iscorama 36 (re-housed)

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Sony F5, Zeiss Contax 50mm f/1.4 MMJ, Iscorama 36 (re-housed)

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On 10/13/2020 at 11:06 AM, Satsuki Murashige said:

I have a bunch of frames grabs, some of which I’ve posted before. I can share some more when I get home tonite. Still in process of building my website, they will all be avail there soon. 

Hi Satsuki, Thanks for sharing these! This stuff looks great, knowing what it is, especially the first few frames grab in the wilderness. Any examples of a straight on "Abrams / headlight" flare?

I'm currently in PL mount land — with a Moviecam SL and Blackmagic 6K with PL mount, but the Contax primes are C/Y or EF, and I don't know if it's work the trouble to send them to a place like GL Optic for their PL conversion. I'd need to track down the Isco 36 [like this?] https://www.ebay.com/i/114436636404 and adapt / mount.. like everyone said I'm not sure it's worthwhile. I went down this worm hole a while back and decided I didn't want to deal with it, until I saw your shots above.

Thanks to Adam Van Voorhis, I'll have a full set of T2 Standard Speed primes soon. But I still like anamorphics and wondering if starting with my ƒ1.4 35/50/85 Zeiss "taking" prime lens set is better off being sold, or used as part of a Frankenmorphic IscoZeiss monster.

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18 minutes ago, sines said:

Hi Satsuki, Thanks for sharing these! This stuff looks great, knowing what it is, especially the first few frames grab in the wilderness. Any examples of a straight on "Abrams / headlight" flare?

I'm currently in PL mount land — with a Moviecam SL and Blackmagic 6K with PL mount, but the Contax primes are C/Y or EF, and I don't know if it's work the trouble to send them to a place like GL Optic for their PL conversion. I'd need to track down the Isco 36 [like this?] https://www.ebay.com/i/114436636404 and adapt / mount.. like everyone said I'm not sure it's worthwhile. I went down this worm hole a while back and decided I didn't want to deal with it, until I saw your shots above.

Thanks to Adam Van Voorhis, I'll have a full set of T2 Standard Speed primes soon. But I still like anamorphics and wondering if starting with my ƒ1.4 35/50/85 Zeiss "taking" prime lens set is better off being sold, or used as part of a Frankenmorphic IscoZeiss monster.


Cheers, I like the woods footage the best too. It helps to have an amazing model like Brittany Markert to shoot, makes my job really easy! 🙂

The flare shot I posted is the strongest flare I’ve ever been able to get - the Iscorama 36 MC just doesn’t give you classic horizontal streaks. I bought an Optefex Blue Streak filter to see if I could use them together, but it didn’t give me the look I wanted. 

I have a Moviecam SL as well - frankly, I think you’re better off just shooting on 2x Atlas Orions or something similar - 35mm Scope is already a beautiful look, so in my opinion the value of special anamorphic lenses is relatively minor (unless budget is not a consideration). 

Re: rehousing

The problem is that to really make your Contax lenses work optimally as anamorphic taking lenses, you would need to have small custom housings designed without a focusing ring (fixed at infinity focus) and with the front element as close to the front housing as possible. This is so that you can get the anamorphic adapter and spherical lens as physically close as possible to minimize vignetting. Most spherical rehousings make the lenses larger, expand the focus ring, and recess the front element, which is the opposite of what you want.

You also will need a solid and repeatable mounting system between the two parts. Something like a PL mount flange with a indexed keyway would be ideal. So rather than going with an existing rehousing design, you would need something custom designed.

Re: Iscorama 36

This is not really a good option to mate with your fast Contax Zeiss primes unfortunately. The rear element of the Isco (36mm) is tiny and won’t work well with your f/1.4 glass. That’s part of the reason I went with the f/2.8 Contax Zeiss primes for my set - also because I wanted to mainly shoot at f/2.8 and wide open the lens irises are perfectly round.

You could look for an Iscorama 42 or 54, or something like Aivascope adapters. But really, if you’re gonna go thru the trouble, then I would be looking for the 2x anamorphic elements from old Lomo Roundfronts which might be large enough to be worth trying. They also flare nicely, which it sounds like you want. Don’t know if the 35mm will work - while the Roundfront 50, 75, 100 and 150mm all share the same anamorphic front glass, the 35mm has its own huge anamorphic glass. You’d have to test and see if your 35mm Contax needs this as well. 

The Standard Speeds might actually be a better fit for this project, since they’re already quite small and PL mounted. 

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I believe the eBay listed you shared is actually for a pre-36 Iscorama with an even smaller 30mm rear element. Good with the 50mm spherical that comes with it, but not so versatile with other taking lenses.

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Here's some 35mm anamorphic I shot earlier this year with the Atlas Orion 40mm and 5219 500T:

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Honestly, I don't love the Orions on Alexa, Gemini, or Venice, but on 35mm they look great. Maybe their inherent softness and CA looks cheaper on digital, I'm not entirely sure.

* I wish Atlas would consider offering different rear spherical lenses at some point - I suspect the current Orion sphericals are not great and were designed to hit a certain price point. Imagine how good they would look with Cooke Speed Panchros or Zeiss Contax inside, and some reformulated coatings!  Dan Kanes, if you're reading this, go for it!!

Edited by Satsuki Murashige
*added some thoughts
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