I have been trying to get the perfect anamorphic setup for over a year now and after messing with some cheaper Isco Ultra lenses and Anamorphot 1.33X/2X adapters, I finally may have found the perfect anamorphic setup with the Isco Micro lens from an eBay seller(AnamorphicLenses).
Now, let me go over some of the problems with cheaper Isco Ultra lenses and also Anamorphot adapters. First, Isco Ultra lenses are rather large and mainly made for projector use. Trying to focus anything closer than like 10 feet is nearly impossible with the Isco Ultra lenses. You can use a diopters but to try to focus within 2-5 feet range(that I wanted) you would have to stop down the aperture to larger than F2.8 and preferably around F4. This means that you will lose a lot of light especially in the dark and also focusing close-ups are pain, nevermind the huge weight.
As for Anamorphot adapters, I started with Anamorphot 1.33X and they work okay for what they are. Flares are really nice but the Anamorphot 1.33X falls short in giving you a true anamorphic look as it is only 1.33X squeeze. Upon returning that, I got the Anamorphot 2X, which was much better. Again, Anamorphot 2X had the same problem as Isco Ultra for close-focusing and needed to stop down F2.8 or higher to get clear image. And sometimes, images you get are so unclear if you don’t have a TON of lighting. Using it in low-light was near impossible unless you were only doing landscapes but close-ups look awful. Anamorphot 2X really became a hit and miss and for close-ups that I wanted within 2-5 feet range for my smartphone reviews, it was just hard to use, hard to focus, and I was literally changing diopters for every shot.
I have been researching a lot of anamorphic lenses and the Isco Micro lenses on eBay really caught my eye as with these, you can shoot wide open at F1.4 and get sharp images. According to the seller, you can get close-up shots up to near 6-inches without use of diopters. And boy, these lenses are so much easier to use than Isco Ultra or Anamorphot adapters because they are great for close-up, sharp images at F1.4. Now, I am still messing around with close-focusing methods so I am still using a +1 diopter for my close-up shots but I don’t have to switch out my diopters between 2 to 5 feet whereas with Anamorphot adapters, I had to switch diopters for 2, 3, 4, and 5 feet respectively (and also I wasn’t using a rangefinder but I hear it is not that great).
If you have used anamorphic lenses before, you know that the hardest part about anamorphic shooting is close-ups and even with expensive anamorphic lenses, you are going to have very hard time doing close-ups. But I think I may have finally found a solution that works with my GH5. For those of you thinking of trying anamorphic, I would advise to invest a little bit more money to get the right setup and I think this is the best budget setup you can go with.
The setup I went with is the most expensive Isco Micro Red w/ single focus rangefinder. I chose this since the lens is the most lightweight plus this one has the closest focus, which meets my needs for my smartphone videos. Most of the Isco Micro lenses sold on eBay are by the same seller from AnamorphicStore.com, you can check them out here.
For a bit cheaper than my setup, you can go with this $599 Isco Micro along with Rangerfinder for $459 Although this sounds very expensive, if you compare with Anamorphot 2X, it is still cheaper AND you get rangefinder along with much better low-light performance(since you can shoot at F1.4) plus much closer close-up shots. Trust me, I have spent many months trying to find the perfect anamorphic setup and this will save you time and money in the long run. Also, these Isco Micro lenses are pretty damn rare, hard to find ones that work well out of the box.
For taking lens, I am using an old Canon FD 50mm F1.4 along with a cheap FD to four-thirds adapter, which I highly-recommend as it is cheap plus the lens works great as it has dedicated aperture ring plus awesome focus dial that has true infinity setting. Manual focus is recommended for anamorphic since automatic focus usually don’t work well with anamorphic lenses anyways. I bought the Canon FD 50mm F1.4 on Amazon for just $89.99 (in perfect condition btw) and you can grab Canon FD to four-thirds mount for about $60 here. For GH5 or APS-C cameras, 50mm is the perfect focal length and the Canon FD works much better than my regular Canon 50mm F1.8 which has horrible focusing ring and the vintage lens gives you more vintage bokeh when used with anamorphic lenses.
You may also need some step-up rings to connect the anamorphic lenses, for Canon FD, you will need 55-58mm step-up ring in order to connect to the anamorphic lens. Also, you may want to setup a rod-support system for the anamorphic lenses for stability, which is what I did. (Grab Rod support base plate on Amazon and Camera Lens Rod support.)
Anyways, I should have a full review eventually but my new videos on my main YouTube channel Max Lee should be using a lot of this setup so subscribe there to check out my new anamorphic videos made with this setup.