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  1. #1
    holmburgers's Avatar
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    Anamorphic Lenses - Why not for still photographers?!

    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?
    Last edited by holmburgers; 07-30-2010 at 02:09 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    If you are the big tree, we are the small axe

  2. #2
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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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.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  3. #3

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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

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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.)
    Last edited by railwayman3; 07-30-2010 at 03:48 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  5. #5
    jp498's Avatar
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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. #6

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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. #7

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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. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave in Kansas View Post
    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
    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. #9
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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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.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave in Kansas View Post
    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
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  10. #10

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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

    Quote Originally Posted by Thomas Bertilsson View Post
    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.

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