Crafting the Anamorphic Look with the Rokinon/Samyang 35mm T1.5 Cine Lens

January 15th, 2020
Crafting the Anamorphic Look with the Rokinon/Samyang 35mm T1.5 Cine Lens

This is a guest post by Tito Ferradans, a filmmaker from Brazil who’s based in Vancouver. He is a tech guy, passionate for sci-fi narratives and he runs a Youtube channel about anamorphic lenses. This time, Tito wrote for us about how to “anamorfake” the fairly affordable Rokinon/Samyang 35mm T1.5 Cine Lens. 

So you want to achieve the anamorphic look or make your footage more “cinematic”, but you’re not ready or you don’t have enough time to figure out anamorphic adapters. You also don’t have enough money for cine anamorphics (who has it?). Lucky for you, I spent the last three years breaking down what makes the anamorphic look into components that can be created separately without any anamorphic glass. That’s my Anamorfake It Until You Make It! guide. More about it later! If you wanna rush in make sure to use the code C5D for 10% off at checkout!

In this tutorial, we’ll be modifying the popular Rokinon 35mm T1.5 Cine version. This 35mm is a very versatile lens. It has great minimum focus and features a fast aperture which boosts bokeh for the smart shooter. 35mm is a mandatory focal length in any set, acting like a normal lens on S35 cameras and a mild wide-angle on full-frame. The one I’m using is in EF mount as it’s the most versatile budget mount on the market. In the following steps, we’ll open up the lens, take out some elements and add an oval insert to the aperture mechanism.

Modifying a lens can feel like a daunting experience if you have never done it before. I still get shivers every time I’m opening a new lens. The secret to staying cool and safe is to take notes and film/photograph the process, paying close attention to what piece goes where, as well as its orientation. The mod we’re attempting today is a simple one.

In this video, you can see me doing it all in just over ten minutes. I usually don’t share these in writing anymore, but I teamed up with cinema5D to provide you with an illustrated guide here so you can do the process at your own pace!

For this mod, we’re gonna need the lens (obviously), a lens wrench (not mandatory), scissors, a Phillips screwdriver (#000), marking tape, a permanent black marker, and oval inserts you can get from me on eBay.

Before I even touch the lens I paint the oval insert black. The ovals come in thin transparent acrylic. Use the permanent marker for that. Paint both sides of the disc and do two coats. Set it aside.

Now get the lens and notice how the locking pin on the mount aligns with the line for the aperture mark. That is important for reassembling the lens later. Get the screwdriver and remove the three screws that hold the mount in place, putting them on a safe place.

Then take out the lens mount and set it aside too.

This gives us great access to the rear group of the lens. Time to check where the aperture line is again. Using it as a reference, cut a small triangle of marking tape and place it on the rear group, aligned with the aperture line.

You’ll notice two little grooves on the housing around the glass. You can use the lens wrench here to loosen the initial tension. If you don’t feel like getting a lens wrench just for this one mod, get a firm grip around the rear group (rubber gloves help) hands and twist it out. There’s a lot of turns on this one.

This gives you access to the aperture mechanism. You can open and close it, see how it works up close. You’ll also see that there’s not a lot of room in there for our oval insert. We’re going to have to attach it to the rear group itself.

Use the triangle mark to align the oval insert. Considering its narrowest diameter, the oval must be perpendicular to the triangle. This ensures that when you screw it back into the lens, the oval will be in the proper orientation – I learned this the hard way. The cheap option to stick the disc in place is using little loops of tape. The fancy way of doing it is using double-sided tape. Make sure you stick the tape to the metal housing around the element, not to the glass itself!

All that is left to do is screw this little guy back in place and reinstall the mount. Be prepared, though: there is a good chance that the oval will not be perfectly aligned. Here’s trick I learned after doing a dozen of these mods and adjusting the ovals to perfection: reinstall the lens mount using only one screw.

Make sure the notch in the mount is aligned with the aperture line as we observed early on, and install the screw closest to that point.

Then mount the lens on your camera and check how the ovals are looking. For me, they were a bit off to the left. To fix that I need to reopen the lens, get to the oval again, and twist it a little bit in the opposite direction.

This is the only challenging part of this mod. Sometimes it takes me up to three tries until I get it perfect. Take your time, think it through and make the adjustments.

Once you are happy with the alignment, install the rest of the screws, locking the mount in its original position!

This concludes the modding process for the Rokinon 35mm. Go out and shoot some good-looking oval bokeh! Notice that the aperture mechanism still works perfectly, allowing you to stop down the lens. The downside of doing so is that the oval shape will start to get cut off until it disappears completely. After installing one of these mods, I also throw a variable ND on the lens and use that to control exposure, instead of the aperture ring.

In terms of crafting the anamorphic look, this mod won’t make your lens squeeze the footage or produce streak flares. This is the cleanest style of modification. The Anamorfake It! guide includes several other aspects of creating an anamorphic look with distortion, lens flares, detailed instructions for modifying over fifteen lenses, how to make your own mods plus video tutorials and a ton of resource material that you can use in your projects. This is all without actually changing the way you shoot – if you ever used adapters, you know they require a lot of compromises. To inspire you a little more, use the code C5D at checkout for a 10% discount!

What did you think of Tito’s guide to anamorfake your lens? Or do you prefer actual anamorphic lens shooting, now that they’re getting more affordable? Let us know in the comments below!

19
Leave a reply

guest
Filter:
all
Sort by:
latest
Member
January 18th, 2020

Funny coincidence, this is what i was discussing with my husband in the last two days too. He wants to butcher a few cheap lenses we have around to make them anamorph-fake (as his gift to me, he’s a stills photographer mostly, and in his primary job he’s an engineer), but what I wanted was to actually start a company about it and create a zoom lens with a constant aperture with these features.

Think about it. What is the “magic” focal length in zooms in APS-C and MFT cameras (that arguably sell more than FF cameras)? These are zooms ranging to 16-50mm or 17-50mm at a constant aperture of f/2.8. Tamron and Tokina have these lenses too, and they cost just $150 on eBay these days (EF). What if we could license or copy that zoom design (if out of patent), and make an EF zoom (no electronics, with aperture ring) that has BOTH the glass imperfections of the Helios 44m and 77m, AND an oval shape aperture? With the option of flares or not (I personally love the amamorphic look, but NOT the flares). Such a lens could easily adapted with a $10 EF adapter to any APS-C or MFT camera! Boom!

Some Q&A, to explain my vision:

Q: Why a zoom?
A: Why not? In the old days, people wanted primes because they were much sharper, since film was soft. But in today’s world, with crisp digital sensors, a modern zoom is plenty sharp for narrative purposes. As long as the aperture is constant, f/2.8 is plenty good for an APS-C camera to have some good background blur, and look cinematic. The fact that it’s a zoom it’d be like an added bonus in fact, so we don’t have to carry too many primes with us. As for an MFT camera, a speedbooster should be used. The lens should cover up to 1.34x, which is the crop factor of a BMPCC 4k + a 0.71x speedbooster. This in fact, would make the BMPCC4k, GH5 and GH5s the best cameras to use such a lens with. The speedbooster would effectively make the aperture an f/2.0, which is plenty enough to get some bokeh and look cinematic. Currently, while I have a whole stack of lenses, my favorite is the Tamron 17-50mm on my BMPCC 4k, with a speedbooster. It covers more ground than the crowd favorite, Sigma 18-35, and the aperture is nearly identical between the two lenses with the speedbooster. More bang for the buck. My intention would be to use that same system, but with an anamorphic look.

Q: Why not buy the phaux-anamorphic filters, like Cinemorph?
A: Because these work only on specific focal lengths (usually work better with over 50mm, super fast lenses). With an IR CUT and ND filter on top, it gets too crowded, and it creates unwanted flares. Plus, they go only up to 72mm (I have lenses at 82mm filter thread).

Q: Why not buy a Helios 44m/77m and just use that with an anamorphic filter? Some people have done that.
A: Because they are too long for action filmmaking. When doing all the conversions (crop factors, film size, anamorphic ratio etc), the widest Tarantino/Leone shoot is at around 21mm, with bulk of their shots at around 28mm (some longer ones too, but I’m talking about bulk here). The Helios lenses mentioned at 50 or 58mm are too long for most scenes on a narrative film (particularly a very cinematic action film). Same goes for the Sirui 50mm anamorphic lens for $500, which was released a few weeks ago: too long for most scenes.

Q: Do I have to shoot with the aperture wide open?
A: Not necessarily. Lomo already has their Neptune system, which allows for aperture plates to be changed on the fly. Some additional innovation could create an oval aperture that can be changed in size (although that geometry/math problem is not my forte, it’s my husband’s). But let’s say that it can’t be done, and you have to shoot wide open: to me at least, this is not a problem. Remember, film was soft. Look at any film from the 60s to 90s (even if their film as rescanned and cleaned) and you will see that their look was soft. It’s also why Arri didn’t want to leave their 2.8k resolution either, until Netflix forced them to create 4k sensors. In narratives, it’s a pleasing look. Heck, look even at modern digital films shot with old anamorphic lenses: they’re soft. Especially the top and bottom of the screen, are super-extra soft! So softness is not a problem when shooting narratives. In fact, when movies are super-sharp, they take the viewer out of the story! Softness is only a problem when we shoot documentaries or still pictures. But such a lens would be geared towards narrative filmmakers (with a proper focus ring too, with a long focus throw that easily accepts follow focus).

So in conclusion: there is a MARKET for that stuff. So far, no one has done it, except a few hackers here and there. Whoever has the capital, drive, and maybe kickstarter charisma, maybe could bring something like this to the market. It won’t be me, but hopefully someone. :)

Member
January 18th, 2020
Reply to  Tito Ferradans

I’d say start with a cheap lens. A tamron 17-50 (EF-S, non-VC version) costs just $150 on ebay. If you’re successful with that one, then you can sell modified versions of it for the bmpcc/gh5/gh5s crowd. I think you can have more selling success with that crowd than a full frame one, or even the more photo-centric, posh APS-C one. The people who got the bmpcc/gh5 deliberately try to find such hacks, they’re trying to do cinema on the cheap. So that Tamron is the perfect candidate IMHO, when used with a $150 speedbooster. I’d suggest against the VC version of Tamron, because it doesn’t work well with Viltrox. The non-VC one works perfectly, and it covers all the way to 1.35x, which is the bmpcc 4k + speedbooster. The Sigmas do NOT cover completely so wide!!

Member
January 16th, 2020

I made a comment here, and it went to moderation due to its length. Someone could look at it? Thx!

Frank Lee
Frank Lee
Guest
January 17th, 2020
Reply to  Eugenia L

I put swear words in mine, because they were warranted. It it went to moderation because OH NOES BAD WORDS.

Nebukad Nezzar
Member
January 15th, 2020

What a coincidence, I just did exactly this a couple of days ago with the exact same lens :) As a tutorial I used this video from 2017 made by an Italian filmmaker —> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Es4C9j-GOqY

Some lazy test shots with my modded lens —> https://imgur.com/a/7K0vIFN

For the ovals I just used a laser cut thick paper. Cost about 10€ with an online service. The effect is surprisingly nice! Combined with a anamorphic adapter even better ;) —> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYLwpwGSpcE

 Marcos Soriano
Marcos Soriano
Member
January 16th, 2020
Reply to  Tito Ferradans

I did this an even simpler way. I made an oval insert out of black cardstock with a Cricut printer that fit exactly between my lenses (Nikon Mount) and my focal reducer (Nikon to M43). Printed them just to size so they fit firmly in the focal reducer and don’t move, and made a notch in one side so I can easily pull it out with a thumbnail. It was fun to experiment with, but I haven’t used it on any projects because you lose stops with it.

 Markus Magnon
Markus Magnon
Member
January 15th, 2020

You have to whot wide open to get this bokeh. Real anamorphic lenses are more than just oval bokeh. I would never suggest anyone to shoot with a Rokinon lens wide open. Because it is terrible soft. And not in a good way. Not like “it looks like a pro mist filter” or something. Don´t waste your time faking lenses. Get a set of good primes and learn how to frame a scene. Much more important than getting this “look”. IMHO.

Robert Niessner
Robert Niessner
Guest
January 17th, 2020
Reply to  Tito Ferradans

I got 7 out of 10 correct.

Nebukad Nezzar
Member
January 15th, 2020
Reply to  Markus Magnon

Actually, you’re not forced to use the lens wide open! You could print/cut a smaller oval (“equivalent” to an apterture of f/2.8 for instance). Then you’re able to stop down and use the lens at this aperture. Of course DOF is reduced as a side effect.

And frankly, if you’re short on money, the Rokinon/Samyang/Walimex lenses are not too shabby. And this is such a cheap and fun mod. I’d recommend trying it! ;)

Frank Lee
Frank Lee
Guest
January 17th, 2020
Reply to  Nebukad Nezzar

Nope. These lenses are EXTREMELY shabby. Having used the very model of lens featured in this article, I can tell you that it produced absolutely unusable images. I would have been embarrassed to show them. Soft as hell, low-contrast, full of ghosting. The worst lens I have ever used, bar none.

Frank Lee
Frank Lee
Guest
January 17th, 2020
Reply to  Markus Magnon

AMEN. I have used this Rokinon lens, and it is utter shit; and not just wide open.

I can’t emphasize enough how far you should throw this lens away from your production. You will ruin your image before it’s ever recorded. You are WAY better off using a decent still lens. Not to mention that this guy has an EF mount, and thus TONS of still options with quality that obliterates this Rokinon/Samyang POS.

Frank Lee
Frank Lee
Guest
January 17th, 2020
Reply to  Markus Magnon

AMEN. I have used this Rokinon lens, and it is utter shìt; and not just wide open.

I can’t emphasize enough how far you should throw this lens away from your production. You will ruin your image before it’s ever recorded. You are WAY better off using a decent still lens. Not to mention that this guy has an EF mount, and thus TONS of still options with quality that obliterates this Rokinon/Samyang POS.

Frank Lee
Frank Lee
Guest
January 17th, 2020
Reply to  Markus Magnon

AMEN. I have used this Rokinon lens, and it is utter garbage; and not just wide open.

I can’t emphasize enough how far you should throw this lens away from your production. You will ruin your image before it’s ever recorded. You are WAY better off using a decent still lens. Not to mention that this guy has an EF mount, and thus TONS of still options with quality that obliterates this Rokinon/Samyang POS.

Filter:
all
Sort by:
latest

Take part in the CineD community experience