Anamorphic Lenses - Why not for still photographers?!

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by holmburgers, Jul 30, 2010.

  1. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    I'm just thinking about how nice it would be if there were anamorphic lenses for still cameras that would produce negatives that you could then print with anamorphic enlarger lenses; for "wide screen" prints.

    It doesn't seem like that crazy of a proposition, yet why was this never done for still photographers? (or was it?) In the days when every print required enlargment thru optical means, it seems like there would have been a reasonable market for this.

    Has anyone ever gone to the trouble to obtain motion picture lenses for this reason?
     
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  2. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I'm going to take a stab at this and guess that when you project on a screen, the loss in resolution is less important because you're looking at several frames per second, while in a print from a camera and enlarger lens that both heavily distort the view might render sub-par quality prints, especially since a picture might be looked at for minutes at a time - it's a much more discerning scrutiny of each frame, and shortcomings in quality just might show up this way.
    You are effectively using a smaller negative area, so the enlargement factor would definitely come into play. For consumer cameras, it might make sense. For more discerning users, I'm not so sure.

    I'm also thinking about the dynamic of horizontal versus vertical shots. An anamorphic lens will stretch the horizontal dimension of the film back to its original ratio, but all movie shots are horizontal. No vertical shots at all. I just wonder if that would come into play at all with regards to the lens and how it operates.

    Interesting question; I'd like to know more myself.
     
  3. frobozz

    frobozz Subscriber

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    One advantage of anamorphic for movie films is a savings in film area needed... which across the course of a film shoot and release prints, adds up to a staggering amount of film (and cost) saved. For a single picture, or even hundreds of pictures a still photographer might take, this just isn't as big a number and perhaps not worth the hassles and tradeoffs.

    Duncan
     
  4. railwayman3

    railwayman3 Member

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    I feel sure that Isco once made an anamorphic lens (or attachment?) for 35mm still cameras? (I don't think I'm confusing it with the many
    other variations of their lenses for cine, etc.)

    I assume that it wasn't a great success for the reasons already suggested. I could just about see the attractions for slide projection, but using one for negatives would produce a sort of "non-standard" squashed negative with the need for an enlarger with a similar lens. All the extra glass surfaces would probably produce less quality than just making a wide print from a standard neg? (Some point-and-shoot 35mm, and, of course, APS, give a "panoramic" print option by masking the negative.)
     
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  5. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    I consider it just a method to save film like Duncan explained. We are film penny pinchers compared to the movie business. Those 100 foot rolls we put in our bulk loaders would last about a minute of filming or projection, if we even use enough film to own a bulk loading system.
     
  6. Emil

    Emil Member

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    As far as I understand anamorphic technology, it allows you to use more film, not less. You take a 2.35:1 image and stretch it in the vertical to make it fill the entire 4:3 (or 3:2) frame. I think the reason it has never been popular for still photography is because everything is based around the normal aspect ratios of the paper, the enlarger, the trays and so on.
     
  7. Dave in Kansas

    Dave in Kansas Member

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    Does it really have any affect on the amount of film used? I thought all 35mm motion picture film frames were something like 4 sprocket holes high and the lens just stretches the image optically.

    Dave
     
  8. Tom Kershaw

    Tom Kershaw Subscriber

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    Although a certain number of sprockets maybe usual, the film can be used in various ways. VistaVision, popular in the 1950s and 60s ran the film horizontally through the camera, as does IMAX today on 70mm stock.

    Tom
     
  9. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Exactly. It enables you to show a panoramic format by recording a largely square picture on a 35mm piece of film, and you stretch the view as you project in the same ratio as you shrink it while exposing.

    It doesn't save film. It just helps you use the maximum width of 35mm film to project a panoramic format.

     
  10. frobozz

    frobozz Subscriber

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    Right, originally anamorphic adapters were used to create the "amazing new widescreen formats" in order to differentiate movies from TV. Same amount of film used as before, (same image area) but when unsqueezed in projection, you had a much wider format. But then they got cleverer, and did widescreen the same way those silly "panoramic adapters" do: by *losing* information (masking away the top and bottom of frames) instead of adding it through anamorphic squeezing...which still used just as much film, but allowed simpler lenses. Then they got clever still and made the camera advance the film less, to close up the gaps between those masked frames.

    There are some pictures here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3-perf_and_2-perf_pulldown

    Note that movie film moves the other direction from the direction we're used to, so even a "full" frame is smaller than our normal 24x36mm. VistaVision was one format that moved 35mm film in our direction, so had frames almost as big as ours.

    Duncan

     
  11. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Interesting points all around. I think one could summarize the beneifts by saying, with a potentially negligible loss in quality you gain an apparently larger format. This is preferred over shooting in a different format/aspect, that is, using more film in the longrun. Not to mention, anamorphic leneses could be easily added to the already existing cameras & projectors that were abundant in the industry.

    Hence my interest... I could slap an anamorphic lens on any camera & likewise on any enlarger. If the optics are high quality enough I don't think print quality would be a concern.
     
  12. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    A typical anamorphic lens for 35mm film probably won't cover the full frame of a 35mm film camera (which of course is a lot bigger).

    You could try a 35mm anamorphic adapter with 110 or 16mm or Half-Frame. You just need a single lens and can use it for both exposure and printing.

    X-Pan and Widelux are much better solutions. But the cheapest and widest would be to tape a 10 or 12 cm piece of 35mm film to a 4x5 monorail filmholder.
     
  13. lthanlon

    lthanlon Member

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    I sometimes use an Iscorama anamorphic. The anamorphic element is attached to a 50mm f/2.8 lens in a Nikon manual mount. I like the ultrawide aspect ratio when used on my Pronea S APS camera. I then expand the scanned image by a factor of 1.5 in Photoshop.

    [​IMG]
     
  14. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    I believe the anamorphic lenses were used to fit a new frame size into the academy standard 35mm film frame. Still photographers have the ability to use a wider film frame. The anamorphic lenses are expensive, heavy, and give some weird effects in the bokeh of the image.