Anamorphic Lens Test

GH4 and ISCO Anamorphic Lens Test.

DIY Anamorphic fun on a budget.

One of the lessons I have learned over the many years that I have been involved with photography, is that hands-on practice is the best way to improve your skills.

There simply is no substitute for getting out there and trying to figure stuff out for yourself!

This may seem daunting at first, but gradually the unique blend of art and science that is photography, slowly comes into focus. Having mastered the basics of exposure, you can then begin to experiment. A great way to expand your skills is to set yourself small projects which test your knowledge and ability to figure out technical conundrums, and also your level of persistence!

As you may know, I like to imagine the end-product or print before I start to work, which helps me choose camera settings and such-like , and with this in mind, I decided to get involved in a low budget project, using anamorphic lenses to emulate the ‘look’ of one of my favourite films: Blade Runner.

Initially, to keep this post manageable (and readable), I shall list a few aims, issues and solutions which hopefully will be helpful, and illuminating.


  • Emulate the widescreen ‘look’ of Blade Runner and achieve some linear flare
  • Keep the budget realistic

Issues Part 1

  • Lack of any knowledge regarding Anamorphic lenses
  • Purchasing a lens without due diligence
  • Sourcing a primary lens (manual focus)
  • Attaching the two lenses together
  • Keeping things straight
  • How to focus two lens
  • Close subjects are out of focus
  • Frustration, and dealing with failure

Overview Of Kit

Here is an excellent resource by Andrew Reid of EOSHD which helped me get started, and is full of useful anamorphic lens information.

For my work, I tend to use a mixture of Canon DSLR’s and a micro 4/3 Panasonic GH4 which mainly deals with video. I have a few, very inexpensive, and very well made Chinese adapters which allow me to marry old legacy lenses (Canon FD and Russian curiosities) to modern digital bodies, which I absolutely recommend for maximum old-school fun.  The cameras suddenly becomes a great, manual focus, street machines, with a vintage ‘look’ from the older glass manufacturing process.

After a little research, I decided on a combination of the GH4 (which has a 4:3 anamorphic video setting) and a Chinese (Fotodiox) adapter married to my Canon A1, 50mm f1.4 FD lens, which I found in a cupboard. It is a really lovely, relatively cheap, sharp lens with good contrast, and was recommended as a good field of view match for my ISCO anamorphic projector lens.

Due Diligence

In order to keep the budget realistic, I purchased a modified, gold projector lens from ebay, allegedly based upon an ISCO Blue Star, and therein began my first series of problems.

To be continued…