The Super Panatar Variable Type Anamorphic Lens
Operating and installation characteristics of the prismatic optical system
developed by Panavision, Inc.
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The 70mm Newsletter
|Written by: ROBERT GOTTSCHALK,
President, Panavision, Inc., Hollywood. Calif. MOTION PICTURE HERALD 3 JULY 54.
Prepared for in70mm.com by Brian Guckian, Dublin, Ireland||Date:
THE ARRIVAL of the variable anamorphic attachments for projectors has been
welcomed by exhibitors. Its arrival means competition among the processes
now available. The exhibitor, therefore, has choice. There is no monopoly on
special attachments, or wide-screen processes, which marries the exhibitor
to any single method of screen presentation. Given that freedom of choice,
he has the opportunity to compare processes, and after a careful, studied
comparison, he has the opportunity to buy that attachment which suits him in
performance, price and availability.|
It is important to distinguish between the two basic types of anamorphic
lenses. The first type to appear on the market was the cylindrical lens with
an expansion power of two, to complement the camera lenses used in
CinemaScope production. Naturally, it is absolutely essential that the
projection lens "unsqueeze" the picture in the same degree that the taking
lens "squeezed" it in photography. It will be seen therefore that since the
optics of a "cylindrical" lens are designed for a fixed power, or
magnification, of two, its use is restricted solely to the projection of
There is disagreement among the studios as to which anamorphic ratio is the
most desirable. This could be a most unhealthy situation for the exhibitor
if it were not for the introduction of the variable prismatic anamorphic
lens, which is the other basic lens type.
The exhibitor who purchases Super Panatar variable anamorphic lenses can
show the present CinemaScope product, and by simply turning a knob on the
lens, show any other practicable anamorphic ratio which might come out of
I feel that a word or two about comparison tests should be said at this
time. Comparison tests conducted in an unscientific manner can be extremely
misleading. Experience has shown that in order to conduct a fair comparison
test it is imperative that the following conditions exist: (1) Same
objective lens be used with all anamorphic lenses being tested, (2) arc
powered by generator, not rectifier, and amperage and trim carefully
checked, (3) screen brightness meter held in rigid mount and not moved
between tests, (4) same reel of film on each test, (5) proper mounting of
anamorphic lens, and (6) proper squeeze ratio set on variable anamorphic
The writer has been present at many comparison tests and has found few to be
conducted scientifically. I recall one in particular where two different
makes of cylindrical lenses were compared. One was rated as having a much
greater light transmission than the other. Knowing this to be an optical
impossibility, I objected to the findings, even though the Super Panatar was
not involved. A second test with more rigid control indicated equal
As far as the quality of projected image is concerned I strongly recommend
the exhibitor to pay particular notice to the sides of the picture. It is
here that the exhibitor will notice a definite difference both in respect to
sharpness and amount of distortion of image.
The Super Panatar uses what is called thermo-setting plastic for cementing
lens elements, as opposed to the less durable and less expensive balsam
cement. And installation of the Super Panatar lens is very simple.
The fact that various anamorphic processes are in the field is itself one of
the healthiest things that has happened to exhibition. Exhibitors would be
wise to avail themselves of every opportunity to make comparisons of
The Super Panatar prismatic projection lens for expansion of squeeze prints
is pictured above as mounted on a projector, seen from the port side. The
Super Panatar is not attached to the lens mount, but to the mechanism frame.
For this, on acceptance bracket is supplied, consisting in a pad which is
first bolted to the projector, and the lens bracket itself. This type of
mounting has been designed to control lateral tilt of the lens so that the
lens is in a level position regardless of the angle of the projector, thus
to make horizontal lines of the picture, when projected on a curved screen,
appear straight from the main floor.
By means of pivot pins, the lens is mounted on the bracket and aligned
exactly with the projector optical system, finally checking this alignment
(before locking the lens firmly in position) by projecting a picture or
target film on the screen.
The knob pictured on top of the lens, near the front, is an "aspect ratio
control" knob. By means of it, the proportions of a squeeze picture
projected at full aperture can be changed from the aspect ratio for which
the print was made. This procedure, producing expansion at a different rate
from that of compression, is said to be allowable if it causes distortion no
greater than 5%. In projecting cartoons, and title material, some believe
that distortion may be practically ignored altogether.
Prism surfaces of the Super Panatar may be cleaned by removing screws which
hold the lens housing to the chassis and removing the chassis from the
housing. The prism can then be cleaned without being detached from the
chassis, which the manufacturer warns, must never be done.
More in 70mm reading:
Panavison Large Format Motion Picture Systems
Importance of Panavision
Panavision 70 Lens
"The Motion Picture Projectionist"
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