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Canon XL and GL Series DV Camcorders
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Old February 11th, 2005, 09:31 AM   #16
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You can buy them new from Bolex in Switzerland, but getting it shipped to me in England was going to cost just under GPB 1000 - say $1800. So I bought second hand in London.

I've just found I can use the Aspheron on my Canon EOS still
camera. I took the Tecpro 0.5x apart and attached the powerful close-up lens to the front of my 28mm. Then I attached the Aspheron to the front of that.
OK, I have to use f11 to bring the corners sharp, but it makes a wow of a zero distortion 15mm lens. Behold: serious wideness.

There's a filter specialist called SRB Film Service, based in Luton who supply and can manufacture all kinds of adapters. I've got some pretty odd size adapters from them before, straight from stock, but if they don't have it on their list, they can machine one themselves. You need an 85mm to whatever your lens's filter thread is.

http://www.srbfilm.co.uk

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Old February 11th, 2005, 09:44 AM   #17
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CaVision LH100P

Tom, thanks. I looked at your photos again & noticed you'd labeled the lens shade clearly. Sorry.

And you're right about the aspect ratio--hadn't thought of that. I'll ask CaVision which of their hoods they've tested with the XL2's 16:9.
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Old February 11th, 2005, 09:53 AM   #18
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$1800 US dollars? If so.....holy feaking ****. That is some serious glass and John got a heck of a deal. I was thinking it might be in the $1000 range.....I love the lack of distortion but I am not sure I can justify the cost. Let me know if am reading this wrong and it is not "that" expensive. I know good lenses are expensive but I was hoping that the price John got was something I might be able to find myself should I decide to go this route.

Thanks!
Marty

Oh yeah...I have a question regarding the performance. Can you still obtain sharp image all the way to the edges when you have a larger aperture like f2.8 or such when using it on the FX1?
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Old February 11th, 2005, 10:22 AM   #19
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Marty, the minute I read Tom's first post of yesterday, my radar went off and I jumped onto Google. The best search string I found was "bolex aspheron," which yielded 97 separate weblinks (not counting the redundancies Google winnows out).

I found that Bolex has made Aspheron lenses as separate attachments and as built-ins (on some 8mm film cams). I found Bolex Aspherons at 4mm, intended (Tom, correct me here) for their 10mm Switar prime. I also saw listings for a 4.5mm and a 5.5mm from Bolex. One site listed 1976 as the introduction date of the Aspheron line.

If Bolex's own site, http://www.bolex.ch/, lists their Aspherons separately, I didn't find it in a cursory look. I'll email them.

They have a listing of used equipment here: http://www.bolex.ch/neps.htm.

That same search string yielded few images at Google, but they were, ahem, illustrative of the paucity of this line. I'm now in learning mode about aspherical designs from other OEMs.

Prices are hard to glean from the web. I found an old auction at a non-Ebay site where a "Bolex Aspheron" sold for $475, but neither lens specs nor currency were specified. A Japanese site lists an Aspheron+lens combo for 138,000 Yen, which looks to be about US $1300.

Daily rents seem to hover in the mid-10s range.
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Old February 11th, 2005, 01:21 PM   #20
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technical info

For those interested, Canon has some background on aspherical optics:

http://www.canon.com/technology/deta...pherical_lens/
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Old February 11th, 2005, 02:58 PM   #21
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Well I was drooling untill getting to the part about having to get an adapter made. Don't understand why there isn't one available.

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Old February 11th, 2005, 03:33 PM   #22
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Having a better understanding of how an aspherical lens works is great. But it brings into question how the light might get all screwed up bouncing around the rest of the "lens". In other words the graphics on the canon site does a great job of showing how an aspherical lens focus all of the light to a fine point, which would in theory be the CCD, film plane, whatever. And that would be ok in a standalone lens. But since this unit goes onto another lens which has optical properties that will influence the image itself it seems sketchy.

Of course it is hard to argue with Toms images which show perfect geometry using this adapter with the VX2000. What about Chromatic Abberation and shift toward the edges?

Just wondering. In the last 2 months since I started using a Wide Angle Adapter and had problems, I have been taken to school! I have learned so much about lenses, optics and all of his googa!

It's great. You always learn the most when something doesn't work and you have to research to fix it or understand it.
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Old February 11th, 2005, 04:10 PM   #23
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I'm with you, Marty. Ignorance is a painful wonder, easily cured.

I'll be a guinea pig. This Bolex Aspheron I bought is s'posed to ship today from Montreal. I'll report my initial results with Canon's 14x manual zoom (the only XL series lens I have).

Open Request to Tom Hardwick: Would you have access to an XL2 with one of their OIS lenses (the white jobs)? If so, would you be able to post any stills from footage taken through the Bolex/Canon lens combo?
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Old February 13th, 2005, 04:34 AM   #24
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I'm sorry John, but I have no access to an XL2. The cameraman alongside me at last week's shoot had an XL1, and he was suitably impressed with the Aspheron on the VX2000. We simply didn't have time to try it on his 16X zoom.

A word to Raymond: You have to have a special adapter made for the Aspheron simply because of the position of the attachment thread on the lens. The aspheric is designed to work with Bolex's Vario Switar 12.5 - 100 mm zoom, and the 85 mm thread suits this lens perfectly.

Marty: The aspheric element simply ''gathers in the light'' before pumping it into the front element of the zoom to which it's attached. Same as with any converter lens, telephoto, wide-angle, spherical or otherwise. The beauty of the expensively ground aspheric surface is that it minimises the barrel distortion which all spherical lenses give.

If you can live with bendy doors and curving horizons, don't waste money on an aspheric. The chromatic aberations are largely uncontrolled, and a multi-element design such as the Century often does better in this department. But from my experience it's lack of distortion that's immediately obvious and the number one benefit; chromatic aberation is not something people notice in moving images.

tom.
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Old February 13th, 2005, 09:37 AM   #25
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Got your photos, Tom

Thank you; nicely done. Had you prepared these stills for some other purpose?

My lens is a few days away, so:

Did you have any trouble removing the textured rubber ring from the front flange of the Aspheron? Was it glued on? If so---& if you glued it back on---what adhesive did you use, or did you let friction keep it?

I couldn't find any info at Bolex's site about a case for this Aspheron. Do you know if they ever sold one? If so, have you got a picture &/or a source for sales? If not, what do you use to keep your Aspheron safe?

Last: can you think of any reason Bolex would have skimped on coatings (or other preventives) for chroma aberration? Surely it wasn't to keep cost down!
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Old February 13th, 2005, 10:11 AM   #26
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Glad the photos got to you safely John. All shot to SD card on my camcorder actually. I have more ...

I write to a huge number of people and for magazines, so I'm always out testing kit and accessories and photographing it. The editor of a British magazine asked if I'd do the test on the XL2 but I turned the job down as I thought the readers would be better informed if a current XL1s user did the test. I like to think I know my limitations. :-)

The cylimndrical rubber 'focus' ring just peels (carefully) off. It's decoration really, and can be popped back any time. It's like a big elastic band, so stays in place ok.

Interesting news about the case, and no - I've never heard of one. I just keep it end-capped in my camera bag.

John - at that price there's no skimping going on at Bolex! The lens is beautifully multi-coated as you'll have seen from my photos, and with the lens in place in front of your camera it's like a black hole down there. The chromatic aberation comes about because this is a single element - go here for more on this:

http://www.dvinfo.net/articles/optics/lensdefects.php

Some of what looks like chromatic aberation may well be due to the angle at which the light strikes the chips, and this is well documented in digital circles. As I say, it's certainly not glaring, not in the way barrel distortion is.

tom.
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Old February 13th, 2005, 04:17 PM   #27
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Tom, thanks for the link to that DV lens article---it explains plenty.

Browsing SRB's website, I found a stock 72mm-(lens)-to-86mm-(accessory) adapter for £5.50---or about $11, if I can find comparable here in the US. CaVision wants $74 for their LH-100P shade (includes $15 shipping), so to match your Aspheron kit will have cost me $801. That's more than I paid for my Canon zoom for the XL2, but easily worth it, from all appearances.

Can't wait to test this piece of glass. The more I learn the XL2, with its "true" 16:9 aspect ratio, the wider I crave to go.

Have you shot with any of the recent "rectilinear" ultrawides available for stills cameras? If so---& given DV's inherent resolution limits---how would you generally compare the Bolex Aspheron's performance?
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Old February 13th, 2005, 08:49 PM   #28
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Started to google around for it and guess who turned up:

"Bolex Aspheron wide-angle converter lens wanted. This single element converter was sold by Bolex to compliment some of their Switar lenses. Send details to tomh@rdwick.freeserve.co.uk"

http://www.fvi.org.uk/smalladverts2.htm
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Old February 13th, 2005, 11:34 PM   #29
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Yeah, from what I can tell, Tom doesn't actually sleep. He just sends emails and turns down lucrative magazine-writing deals.
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Old February 14th, 2005, 01:57 AM   #30
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Here I am, not sleeping again.
John - the Bolex thread is 85 mm and so the SRB has to be a 'special'. Another picture on its way to you.

For many years I had a 20 mm f2.8 Canon FD on my EF 35 mm SLR, and this got me really hooked on non-distorting very wide-angle lenses. Loved the perspective distortion, yes - but that was there for the taking or leaving. Finding the equivalent prime for a 1/3" chipped camcorder means finding a prime lens with a focal length of something like 3 mm. They're not to be found.

The Aspheron does the next best thing. It's been designed to work on 16 mm Kodachrome, and each frame of that well exceeds the resolution capability of HDV, let alone DV. So DV is a very limiting factor.

One interesting (movie) super-wide shot is to have the camera at ground level with you squatting down. Then you move (track) the camera in a wide arc around you, just above the grass, bringing it to a stop on the subject. It can be a very smoothly controlled move (needs a side-screen though), and the resulting perspective is most unusual.

Ignacio - that 'wanted' advert you found didn't turn anything up. I spent some time finding an Aspheron I could afford.

tom.
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