Faking the Anamorphic Look With a $35 Vintage Lens

The anamorphic look is attractive and loved by many videographers and filmmakers. The problem is, it costs a lot to achieve, and prices itself out of reach for most videographers. But what if you could effectively fake it?

My love for vintage lenses is well documented at this point. There is a veritable feast of glass, and at the cost of some modern comforts, you can experiment until your heart's content, and on a budget. This video focuses on a range of Helios lenses that are famous in the vintage lens loving community. However, vintage lenses for videography has seen a rise over the last few years as innovative gear folk have found ways to mod the lenses for more practical purposes. This includes a sort of fake anamorphic look.

The mod is simple enough: you, in essence, limit the direction and amount of light that travels through the rear element using an oval filter. It's easy enough that it can be done yourself, and without extensive knowledge of lenses or camera maintenance. Even the mod itself is just a piece of plastic that has been crudely colored in, so this really is attainable. It can't quite replicate the real thing, but as you could be shooting oval bokeh for under $40, I'd say it's a cheap way to experiment.

Have you ever modded a vintage lens? Share your experiences in the comment section below.

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2 Comments

El Capitan's picture

Articles like this make these rather crappy lenses double and triple in price on Ebay. Helios is soft and junky compared to Mamiya’s vintage thorium filled glass that is actually amazing. Heck, Takumar is just as good. If not Thorium lenses, you should look no further than stunning Fluorite lenses made by Kowa, which also made lenses for Leica. Why spread this hype about Helios, its (now not) so low price?

Mark Holtze's picture

The price of the Helios won't really double or triple considering the supply and demand of the lens makes that a bit difficult. The biggest driving factor in the price of a vintage lens is reputation and scarcity. The reason the Helios isn't or never will be that expensive (the 44 series) is because it's one of the most wildly produced lenses ever. You can find them everywhere. Compare that to FD L lenses, where the number of available lenses is far less will drive the price up, way up.

Takumar's are great lenses, as mentioned the in this video the nice thing about the Helios is that it's a $30 lens so modding it isn't as big a deal as modding a Takumar 50 lets say that's $50-$70. Also the thoriated glass is so nice on it's own, why mess with it ;).

Just my thoughts on the matter :). You can mod any of these lenses if you really want, but I'd rather mess with a $30 lens than one of my $300 lenses ;)