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Hacked my Lomo Anamorphic!!
  • Last year, HHL did me a great deal on a vintage Lomo Square Front anamorphic adapter. This iron-clad Soviet relic from the 70's is huge in both mass and legend, and can be found only rarely these days on eBay. I mated it with another awe-inspiring product of the post-60's era, a Konica Hexanon 35-100mm f2.8 varifocal zoom. To seal the deal, I mounted them together on the cheapest 15-inch rails I could find. An overbuilt pain in the ass to be sure, but loaded with widescreen cinemascopic charisma.

    The only fly in the ointment was a common affliction found in lenses that have survived years of abuse: fungus :( HHL told me about it before I bought the Lomo, so it came as no surprise, and at first I didn't see any visible effects on my footage. After some practice with anamorphic double-focusing, however, I started to notice the subtle milky spots produced by the fungus stains. Bummer.

    Soon after I received the Lomo, I tried to take off the front lens plate to see how it was put together. Predictably, there was just one little screw out of the eight that would not budge, dissuading me from going any further. This morning, however, I finally resolved to force my way into the Lomo's inner sanctum, and pried up the lid until the wretched screw head broke off. This exposed the thick front anamorphic lens element, which was wedged in place with a few metal shims. After coaxing these out, the front element compliantly dropped into my palm, along with the fleeting scent of decades-old lubricant. Success!

    To disinfect the Lomo's interior realms, I mixed up some Butanone spiked with a dash of Stolichnaya vodka. This made its anamorphic parts glisten appreciatively. After it's reassembled, I'll put up some frame grabs.
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    Lomo on the bench.JPG
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    Lomo face plate detached.JPG
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    Lomo innards revealed.JPG
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  • 10 Replies sorted by
  • @LPowell Love to read about people hacking away with hardware as well as software. I've done it all my life with audio gear.

    You have of course correctly demonstrated the various laws of hardware hacking:

    1) If there are n screws, then 7 out of 8 times, the number you can easily undo will always be n-1. The remaining screw will end up with a completely destroyed head. Given enough work with a drill, you can usually persuade this one to yield.

    2) Once in every 8 attempts to do anything like this, all the screws will come out easily, but just as you are congratulating yourself, one of them will fall onto the floor and roll into a crack in a floorboard or similar.

    3) If all the screws come out and you manage to retrieve the screw, you will get it all back together again and it will work perfectly. Shortly after this, you will always discover one internal component which you do not recognise. Do not be tempted to take your hardware apart again just to replace this as regardless of whether you do or not, it will never make any difference to whether the thing works or not, and you will not be able to work out where it goes in any case. In addition you risk 1) or 2) happening the second time around.

    However you will feel obliged to keep that small additional part. You will never need it. The only exception is if the hardware fails, at which point you will remember the missing part but will not remember where you put it.

  • Ha ha,...nice one Mark.
  • It makes me sooo happy to hear that you have been able to clean the lens LPowell. You are a legend and it's fitting for you to have a legendary lens to shoot with. It's GREAT to hear a happy ending! (Beginning actually...) :) Cheers to you Bro!
  • Nice. I can only imagine when the front element got moved... Prison Break?
  • @Mark_the_Harp "you will always discover one internal component which you do not recognise. Do not be tempted to take your hardware apart again just to replace this as regardless of whether you do or not, it will never make any difference to whether the thing works or not"

    LOL, when I reassembled the Lomo, there was one metal shim that refused to fit, so I left it out. As predicted, the lens works fine without it.
  • Very cool. I hope you are keeping your other lenses at a safe distance and that the fungus did not etch tiny traces into the glass, which is too often the case. I have a couple of old zooms that I can't bear to toss, maybe I'll take them apart.
  • Cool job.
    But it would behave as an adapter right? You'd still need to focus on both lenses?
    Last time I took apart my 35mm anamorphic the collimation was ruined.
  • @LPowell It looks like a beast! Can't wait to see what images you get out of it!
  • @DrDave - The fungus was already dead and dried up, and I was able to remove all of it from the inside of the front element. Unfortunately, the inside of the rear element has a lens coating that was permanently stained by the spores. I was able to clean it enough that it no longer shows up in footage, but cosmetically, you can see what remains of it when you peer through the glass at an oblique angle. I may try some toothpaste next.

    @ed_lee83 - Yes, Lomo Square Fronts were made as attachments to standard lenses, with a coupled dual focusing system. The front anamorphic section can be removed intact, and focused separately to produce images that are sharply aligned. This thing is literally built like a tank and I doubt its collimation could be either lost or adjusted at this point.
  • any sample footage yet, @LPowell ?