REDISCOVERING THE B SERIES ANAMORPHIC LENSES

Cinematographer Bill Pope, ASC approached Panavision looking for anamorphic lenses that had flare and performance characteristics that would be different than what you might see with more modern anamorphic lenses.

In the case of the B series, everything is more modern as these were designed in early 1960's. Prior to last September, these lenses were rarely used and largely forgotten. Then Bill came to Panavision trying to find a combination of anamorphic lenses that would define different elements of an upcoming movie that he was to shoot titled "The World's End. 

Dan Sasaki brought 2 B-series lenses from his shop and we put them on a camera, pointed a light at the lens and I recall Bill saying "that's it!" I think he referred to it as being the "Creature lens".

In order to compile a working set of  B's, we had to do a complete overhaul of the mechanics, but we didn't touch the glass. The lenses remained fully intact with the exception of having to add a gear ring to the T-stop on some of the lenses to enable motor control. Between the work of Panavision Woodland Hills and Panavision London, we managed to get a complement of anamorphic lenses together that spanned our entire line. B, C, D, E, G and Primo.

Once the word got out about these vintage lenses, the demand has skyrocketed, and if you visit the headquarters in Woodland Hills you might notice that there is an empty shelf in one of our museum displays - formerly featuring B-series lenses. Now these anamorphic lenses as well as vintage spherical (P-Vintage primes and zooms) are working around the world once again.

By Jim Roudebush