(Yashica) Scoping around…

March 27th, 2013




all taken in 1.5 anamorphic 3:2 stretched by 1.5 to give 2.25:1 aspect ratio.

I recently got myself a Yashica Scope anamorphotic lens. This little gem was originally intended for use with the Yashica 8T2 8mm film camera. I did my first experiments with anamorphotic lenses with an Isco Göttingen Anamorphotic Kiptar which is a lens intended for 36mm film projectors. The Kiptar is a factor 2 anamopthot meaning that the image gets squeezed by a factor 2 horizontally (the lens itself is oblivious to the orientation and in fact the Kiptar was ment to stretch the image by factor 2 for projection) which gives with the now usual 16 : 9 recording format (1 : 1.77) a very wide 1 : 3.55 aspect ratio. Though I do like this extra wide format it is sort of unusual and often one wants to crop to the “regular” modern cinemascope 1 : 2.35.

This will be a rather long post (at least for this site).

The Yashica scope lens has a 1.5 factor giving the easier to handle 1 : 2.66 aspect ratio with 16 : 9 recording after unsqueeze.

Besides that the change is quite a step down — size wise — or a step up — in protability:

Here is the anamorphotic Kiptar on the rig I made for it in front of a canon aps-c dslr.


We used it to shoot this and this. This lens is a monster. The Yashica Scope on the other hand is tiny.


While for the Kiptar there is simply no way to mount it in front of a taking lens without extensive support structure the Yashica was intended to be screwed on a small handheld 8mm camera. However, I am not sure how exactly it was supposed to be mounted since the regular lenses for the 8T2 seem to have different filter threads so there might be some rail or support as well (the 8T2 manual just lists and shows the lens, though).

I bought the Yashica together with a clamp and a support ring the previous owner had fabricated since the lens is to small to be fixed by the clamp itself. This setup allows to mount the lens in front of say a Helios 44-2 58/2 which usually is considered a good taking lens for many anamorphic lenses (and I second that).

Anyway, the Yashica Scope seems to have a 30mm thread and I finally found a candidate for the taking lens for it: the Zeiss Tessar 50/3.5 for Exa/Exakta which was the normal lens for the early Exa cameras. It has a a 30.5×0.5 filter thread (don’t confuse it with the later Zeiss Tessar 50/2.8 which has a 35, 40.5, or 49 x.5 thread depending on the version). Here is a nice list of those Exakta lenses. Mine is the coated version (T) from 1950-1954.

So there is a 0.5mm discrepancy in thread diameter. Though, the Yashica can be mounted it has to be screwed all the way in to be mounted which is not feasible. I am currently trying a 30.5-30 step down ring. However it seems like the thread size is somewhat strange on the Yashica (the ring does not really take it either) so I might open up the ring a little bit and fix it on the Yashica – not decided yet…

Mounting the lens without a clamp poses the problem of fixing the orientation of the anamorphic lens. On its own it turns like 20 degrees to far in but four layers of annuli cut from baking paper fixed that easily. Now the lens somehow screws in. Given its size and the fact that it was designed for 8mm film I find it quite astounding that the Yashica works in front of a 50mm without serious vignetting (it seems to show some field curvature though – need more testing here).

I know that 3.5 is rather slow, but since the Yashica is rather blurry wide open anyway I think this is just fine. The size (or rather smallness) of this setup is incredible:

YashicaScope on the Tessar

the Yashica Scope on a filter adapter on a Zeiss Tessar 50/3.5 on an Exakta adapter on a Nex 5n on a tiny tripod (I thought such minuscule setup cries for a matching stand).

To get even smaller I probably would need a c-mount lens and a Pentax Q or something…

The Tessar is nicely built – much like my Zeiss Biotar 58/2. Actually, the Helios design is said to be based on that Biotar but compared to my Helios the Biotar has the advantage that it has continuos aperture and the same holds for the Tessar. Both have their iris right behind the front element btw.

There is another interesting lens the Industar 50/3.5 which is to the Tessar what the Helios is to the Biotar. This should be a fun lens as well but it has a bigger filter thread and I read that actually the whole lens turns when focussing which is of course a no-no if you want to fix an anamothic lens in front of it.

Up to now my verdict for the Tessar 50/3.5 as taking lens:  

on the minus side:

  • on the slow side
  • as one would expect with those old lenses the setup shows some ca

depending on taste:

  • not too sharp
  • flares easily (even more easy than the Helios)

on the plus side:

  • tiny as the Yashica scope
  • no need for a clamp
  • continuous iris

I will post video samples once the weather gets better over here (spring retracted until further notice a couple of weeks ago…)

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5 Responses to “(Yashica) Scoping around…”

  1. Samuel Says:

    Hello friend,

    I just bought a Yashica Scope and would really appreciate some tips on how to properly mount it.
    I intend to use it with a Blackmagic Pocket and c-mount lenses.
    Would step up/down ring to 30mm work well or i should try a clamp?

    Thank you!!

  2. timh Says:

    A Black magic pocket camera should be a very nice fit. I am envious :)

    How well a step up/down ring will work depends on the taking lens and the ring, I suppose: The main problem is that the anamorphic lens needs to be aligned vertically and the screw mount might or might not be tight in that particular position. Mounting with a clamp does not have this issue. Also, there is more freedom in adjusting the distance to the taking lens.
    So I personally would go with a clamp (and I do :) ), but I see the benefit of haven a ultra compact setup with the bmpc a nice c-mount and a screw-on Yashica scope. As I mentioned a couple of cutout rings of baking paper can help to adjust the tight position of a screw-on ring sometimes. So if you plan to use manly one single taking lens it might be worth the try to find a stepper ring and adapt to fit…


  3. Mike Says:

    Have you tried the yashica against any of the modern canon lenses? Maybe a 50 mm 1.8? From the sample images posted above it looks like there is a lot of blur at the corners of the image? Does this get exasberated the closer the focus distance?

    I have a sankor/singer 16d 2x lens that I use for stills….and I have the chance to pick up a yashica scope that’s available…how would you characterize the look of this adapter? There’s not much footage out there using this lens.



  4. Gianluca Says:

    Hi! I don’t know is this web page is “abandoned” o so, anyway as I’m waiting to get my baby scope I’m very interested in this topic.
    As far as I know the Yashica scope is build by two pieces, the front one alone (the lens itself) should be intendet to be mounted directly in front of the kit lens (8T2 Yashinon lenses). The second part (the “cone shaped”) is intended to be mounted as an “extender”(?) on a 8mm projector to unsqueeze the film. I hope someone ca confirm this or whatever ;)

  5. timh Says:

    Yes, in principle (in the sense of filming in anamorphic fromat) one would need two lenses: one for the camera that compresses the image and one for the projector which desqueezes the image again. Most of the “lens in front of the lens” business comes from using projector lenses for the camera, really…

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