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» Film-Tech Forum   » Operations   » Film Handlers' Forum   » Types of Projection Lenses

Author Topic: Types of Projection Lenses
Iben Jimenez
Film Handler

Posts: 27
From: Cayey, PR, US
Registered: Mar 2006

 - posted 04-23-2006 01:58 AM      Profile for Iben Jimenez   Email Iben Jimenez   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
What is the difference between the different kind of lenses?Integrated, anamorphic attachment, prime lenses, wide angle and so on.

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Alan Gouger
Master Film Handler

Posts: 479
From: Bradenton, FL, USA
Registered: Jul 2000

 - posted 04-23-2006 10:02 AM      Profile for Alan Gouger   Author's Homepage   Email Alan Gouger   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I would like to know this as well.
For anamorphic are the integrated lens better then the very best prime and anamorphic combined.
What is the very best separate lens blue or red. Ive seen Schneider MC and MC HD. It gets confusion.

Maybe someone can make a list in order of priority from good to the very best. That would be very helpful.

Thank you.

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Mark Gulbrandsen
Resident Trollmaster

Posts: 16254
From: Bountiful, Utah
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 04-23-2006 10:52 AM      Profile for Mark Gulbrandsen   Email Mark Gulbrandsen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The Blue 6 element ISCO anamorphic is unequaled by any other anamorphic lens in all aspects, it is also the only one that maintains constant 2X expansion through out its entire adjustment range and across the width of an image. The drawback is its shitty locking mechanism that unlocks for those removing it from the lens mount every time and then over time it goes out of adjustment, all ISCO anamorphics and their compacts have this shitty locking mechanism. Guttag wraps electrical tape around his to keep em locked... not a good fix by any means and can turn into a gooey mess at some later date. ISCO should really fix this problem but with their recent financial woes I guess we're lucky to still have them around. Schneider still has the best locking mechanism but the more inferior anamorphic optics overall and still never consistant. No joke but I have seen old B&L's that look better than Schneiders anamorphics... I even had the opportunity to demo that difference to the President of Schneider once! He was downstairs and I was upstairs switching lenses showing him the bad lens and his lens. When the ultra sharp B&L image poped up on screen he said that must be his lens.... when actually it WAS the B&L [Big Grin] . Definately not ALL B&L lemnses were this good though but there is an occasional exceptional one now and then out there.


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Alan Gouger
Master Film Handler

Posts: 479
From: Bradenton, FL, USA
Registered: Jul 2000

 - posted 04-23-2006 01:20 PM      Profile for Alan Gouger   Author's Homepage   Email Alan Gouger   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi Mark

By locking do mean the little thumb screw type lock.
Here is the lens I am using.

What I do not like about this lens is the focus. I can get perfect focus for center and ether one of the left/right sides but never both sides or the entire image. If I shoot for the best uniform left/right side focus then the center is soft. My primary is dead on. I can see the need for a new anamorphic in the future.

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Louis Bornwasser
Film God

Posts: 4433
From: prospect ky usa
Registered: Mar 2005

 - posted 04-23-2006 01:52 PM      Profile for Louis Bornwasser   Author's Homepage   Email Louis Bornwasser   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
These lenses do not "travel" well. Try getting your dealer to send these for repair. The new Schneider repair facility is the former Century Optics in L.A.; they do phenomenal work. When adjusted these are easily the best anamorphic lenses available. The trouble you have is common, leading many to devalue the lenses. Louis

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Mark Gulbrandsen
Resident Trollmaster

Posts: 16254
From: Bountiful, Utah
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 04-23-2006 02:02 PM      Profile for Mark Gulbrandsen   Email Mark Gulbrandsen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Louis Bornwasser
When adjusted these are easily the best anamorphic lenses available.
I couldn't disagree more with that statement. I've installed hundreds of Schneider anamorphics over the years and thay are still to this day very inconsistant in many ways. Also they do not even begin to approach the ISCO Blue Star's performance, The Blue Star simply walks all over even the best tweeked Schneider.

The present Schneider lock/ astigmatism adjustment is even better than the knob type. Both adjustments are done with an ball type Allen driver(provided with each lens... need any?) There are two flush mounted Allen screws so as to not be in the way of the optics. I highly reccomend sending your Schneider anamorphic lens to Century Optics so they can tweek every last bit of resolution out of it. Hope it survives the return trip back to you though!


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Steve Guttag
We forgot the crackers Gromit!!!

Posts: 12268
From: Annapolis, MD
Registered: Dec 1999

 - posted 04-23-2006 06:47 PM      Profile for Steve Guttag   Email Steve Guttag   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Yea, but Mark, the Schneider anamorphics are EXtra W I D E! The Current Schneider integrated anamorphics (ES series) do a reasonable job with short EF prime lenses (much better than that absolute CRAP of the 80s) but are still inferior to the Blue-Star as you noted.

I couldn't agree more about ISCO's "locking" bites. Yes I do use electrical tape but not the cheap stuff that comes at 50-cents a roll just to prevent the glue ooze. I don't consider it a solution, just a work around and I do complain about the locking thing at every show. The original way, which was an outgrowth of B&L's way to use a locking ring was much better.

As to ranking of lenses...this will get you many heated debates as no lens manufacturer has a lock on the entire line or on all parameters. What is important to you may be less so to another person.

In general, if you go with Schneider or ISCO you wont go wrong.

General rules of thumb though:

ISCO makes superior separate anamorphics (Ultra Star 5-element, Blue-Star 6-element)

Schneider makes easier to work with integrated anamorphics (ES-Anamorphics) since they are detachable. ISCO loses ground here since they are only 4-element on their integrated line AND they are not detachable.

Schneider lenses are more contrasty often giving the illusion of superior resolution.

ISCO lenses often yield a superior resolution and more uniform though not quite as constrasty as Schneider (when measured with resolution targets).

ISCO has a greater latitutde in its depth of focus. Schneider really requires absolute perfect alignment of the lens to the film plane. Any skewing will come off of corner-to-corner sharpness. ISCO will not suffer nearly as much.

Schneider will increase your color temp by about 200K giving the illusion of brightness (bluer) but in fact it is no brighter than ISCO which can often drop your color temp by as much as 100K

With Schneider, you can go down as short as 28mm for 16mm Scope! An ISCO Ultra-Star PLUS with a Schneider ES anamorphic is a DYNAMITE combination for 16mm scope.

The ISCO Vario-Kiptaron 20-60mm lens must have had devine intervention in its design (16mm only, sorry) makes 16mm look incredible and is better than either ISCO Ultra-Star PLUS or Schneider Super-Cinelux or Variable Prime.

ISCO has more "nifty" attachments like their .52X magnifiers for FLAT as well as CURVED screens.

Schneider currently has more lens lines currently offered (SC, Variable Prime, Premier).

Anyway, you also asked about the lens lines and how to keep them straight:

First ISCO

Kiptaron (I think there are still in this line available in the long focal lengths). This is their old line and it goes back a ways. They are Silver and Black and each lens can often fit both 62.5mm lens holders as well as 70.6mm lens holders. If ISCO still makes them, they are for over 150mm since there is little point in new designs for focal lengths that long today.

Ultra. This was really the beginning of the modern lens. In fact, when this lens was in its heyday, Schneider was distributing ISCO and it was called the Cinelux Ultra. These are Golden lenses and were available up till rather recently (within the last few years). It wouldn't surprise me if some of them are still available new from Strong, the USA importer. These are good lenses though they are not as sharp in the corners as later designs they are really decent. After Schneider split off, the "Cinelux" name was literally milled off the lens barrels of remaining stock. Do not confuse these with the CInelux Xenons which were out in the 70s as well. The xenons were very fast lenses (f/1.7) and had worse corner-to-corner sharpness. Please also note, the focal lengths from 100-150mm are still only in the "Ultra" line and are 35 and 70mm capable.

Ultra-Star This was the next evolution in the Ultra line. They came out in the 1986-1987 era. Brightness uniformity went up on these lenses as well as corner to corner sharpness. The rear elements started to get MUCH larger and dealt with the shorter focal lengths much better with more stable focus. "Studio" versions of these lenses were also available as a special order item where stop rings were inserted at the factory (I want to say there were three rings inserted in each lens) for improved depth of focus at the expense of some light. You will also note the Ultra-Star lenses have a blue stripe going around their golden barrels but no f-stop designator since they were f/2.4 on average. Since Schneider had f/2.0 lenses at the time, ISCO didn't want people to presume that Schneider's lenses were brighter.

There is also a line of 70mm format lenses from just over 100mm to just under 60mm within this line. it is a shame but these lenses were coming out just as 70mm was no longer being put into mainstream cinemas.

Ultra-Star PLUS

These are denoted by their RED barrels. Their standard design is f/2.1 but f/1.7 versions are available and f/2.4 and f/2.7 studio stop down rings are available for the technician to install as needed/desired. They have excellent corner-to-corner sharpness but their bigger claim to fame is their superior corner-to-corner illumination. It is said that their inlet pupils are designed to take in as much light coming from the lamphouse as possible. One thing people may note is if an aperture plate seemed perfectly cut with an older lens, with an Ultra-Star PLUS, it will seem OVERCUT as it seems to almost look around the aperture plate for all of the light it can. I've noticed that it tends to have larger than normal "fringe" areas to hide on the masking...probably attributed to this input light collector.

Now onto Schneider....

When Schneider and ISCO parted ways, they had their Cinelux line of lenses.

Schneider's lens lines have always seemed a bit more modular. The Cinelux line could be used for 16mm with the proper lens barrel by merely taking the guts out of the 70.6mm barrel and screwing them into a 42.5mm barrel. From 105mm to 150mm they are about as identical as one could imagine to the ISCO versions. The Schneider versions can be separated to insert stop down rings though. Schneider offers their Cinelux line up to 180mm though only up to 150mm is acceptable for 70mm film.

The Cinelux and all lines thus far for film have used the "fools gold" color for their lenses...a yellow gold color but you are no fool for using them...they are good lenses.

The first change was the Super-Cinelex Line of lenses. These are their current line of standard lenses of fixed focal length. Super-Cinelux is normally denoted by "SC" on their barrels. Schneider has always reigned supreme in the contrast department. Even their test film shows this off.

Schneider also chose to offer their 100mm in a redesigned Super-Cinelux.

For 70mm film they have a line from 95mm down to 60mm in 5mm increments.

Variable Prime

This was the next inovation from Schneider. This lens was designed to be a no-compromise lens that has a variable focal length that does not make the user pay a penalty in the quality of the image. Its main purpose is to allow one to show the ENTIRE 1.85 frame and achieve the maximum light since one need not spill any more light than necessary to high the fringe from the aperture plate. One could cut down on installation time by merely using precut 1.85 plates, and adjust this lens to perfectly fit the 1.85 screen..whola, done! I've noticed that many installers dont' seem to realize that it has a proper orientation. Since it was designed as a 1.85:1 lens, the wider portion of the exiting element of the lens should be in the horizontal direction.

A curious decision is that they did not include threads on the lens so it could work with an anamorphic...perhaps the optics prohibit such a mating from working properly.

What ever you do, don't call it a ZOOM (denotes that focus doesn't change as focal length is adjusted) or associate it with the "Magna-Com" tends to make the Schneider folk angry. It certainly seems to live up to its claim as it looks as good as the Super-Cinelux line and it is adjustable.

Cinelux Premier

This is the latest line and I think all of the focal lengths that are going to be offered are now available. This guy brings a greater uniformity of light to the table AND a variable iris from f/1.7 to f/2.4! For those of us that have to provide uniform light levels over a wide number for formats, this is a real interesting lens. It should be used in theatres that have vertical only masking so SCOPE and FLAT are balanced in light levels though I doubt many of the chains are going to pay its substantially higher price.

I have not looked at it yet, but am looking forward to seeing in operation in the future. It will have very stiff competition and a long legacy to live up to.

Both companies have large format lenses, DCinema lenses and other special designs. Schneider even brought out some EXTRA-short 35mm lenses for IMAX theatres to fill their IMAX screens with 1.85 35mm.

I think we are all better off having two such good competitors to keep each other striving for better products. Kudos to both of them.

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Brad Miller

Posts: 17695
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99

 - posted 04-23-2006 09:38 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Even more important than the fact that Schneider lenses are better than ISCOs [Razz] is the fact that Mark is about to be booted from this forum for the nonsense location he has listed in his profile.

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Mark Gulbrandsen
Resident Trollmaster

Posts: 16254
From: Bountiful, Utah
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 04-23-2006 10:10 PM      Profile for Mark Gulbrandsen   Email Mark Gulbrandsen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 

B&L is way better than Schneider.... just ask Dwight next time you see him. He CAN'T deny the dog that bit him in the foot at the Elk Grove Cinema story!


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