There's limitless creative freedom for any artist that seeks to play with untested waters. With the new formula for the Berlin Kino 400 now available for pre-order camera tinkerer and photographer, Pierro Pozella wanted to further push the aesthetic boundaries of the emulsion and make results even more cinematic. How? By customizing an anamorphic lens. Find out the fruits of Pozella's artistic efforts with his camera lens and the Berlin Kino 400 2019 edition here.
Pierro is no stranger to tinkering, modifying and repairing cameras -- in fact, there's a joy to be felt when being able to breathe life once again with older cameras. Some of his favorite projects were having repaired a Leica IIIf used during D-Day in WWII, sandproofing a Fuji Klasse, converting a Leica M2 to a Leica M3, repairing a Hasselblad Xpan II which gave him knowledge and insight in the technicalities of his future repairs. For Pierro, being able to see a piece of history become part of the present once again, is an opportunity.
"I originally started repairing as I saw many many film cameras being thrown away as they had broken, were unable to be repaired ending up in the bi and these cameras held so much history and where beautiful objects in themselves I could not just sit by and watch. I decided to start repairing them after a few years of unsuccessful repairs I then started to be able to revive a few here and there. As time went on the more I learned from reverse engineering and the more cameras I was able to save and bring back to life progressing to taking on even electrical compacts most repairs now avoid. This then led on to me opening up a repair shop to help others keep their film cameras alive."
Here's how he came up with converting the lens. Prior to testing the Berlin Kino 400, Pierro first wanted to maximize his experimentation with the emulsion by customizing an anamorphic optic. After becoming obsessed with the Hasselblad X-Pan format and with all things about cinematography, he wanted to replicate the qualities of a cinematic shot into a still photograph. Thus started his journey in exploring the vast world of anamorphic lenses. Pierro first researched and made various blueprints of set-ups before finding the most befitting system, the Leica R. For Pierro, Leica R lenses would be able to take the weight of an anamorphic optic due to its sturdy built and the glass already renders images beautifully, even for black and white shooters. Pierro set out for an old 16 mm projector X2 anamorphic optic, which was small enough to house inside the Leica R lens. He also used a Leica R 60 mm Macro. He then utilized 3D modeling and printing in developing the lens.
" I was able to remove the internal housing of the front of the lens in combination with modifying the rear element of the anamorphic optic to allow them to sit as close as possible to the Leica R glass, this reduced vignetting and improved the overall image quality. However, I still needed to mount the optic, to do this I used CAD software to design several parts in order to support and house the anamorphic elements still allowing for the dual focuses mechanism to work. The easiest part was developing the new parts needed as all the measurements where there then 3d printed them as needed then using repair knowledge to create light sealed connections between all parts. The most difficult part to complete was working with the two optics themselves as there were a few calculations needed."
Pierro loves the Berlin Kino 400's full-on expressionist aesthetic, the seamless gradient between black and white giving rich tonality to his photographs. When he used the anamorphic lens, he noted the edges of the frame starting to swirl the film, losing no detail but instead enhancing the characteristics of the lens. Pierro went for a daylight street shoot with Philip Quiza and Phoebe Chan, opting for intricate architectural backgrounds with varying ranges of tone and shade.
"The film impressed me when I took an image where there was a lot of backlight yet the foreground being very dark. I exposed to the darkest areas and I was still able to pull back the detail in the high lights without destroying the negative or the grain becoming too overwhelming... The contrast of the film played on the cinematic lighting the lens was able to render keeping up with the performance of the lens. I really enjoyed how the lens was able to open up a whole new side to the film which I have no seen as of yet."
That said, Pierro believes that everyone should at least try a roll of the Berlin Kino 400 to experiment with, especially for people looking for cinematic qualities with stronger grain in a film. He personally loves how the Berlin Kino 400 renders the skin tone in black and white quite well.
What comes next for Pierro? Well, he's eager to refine his repairing skills and enrich his knowledge to keep film cameras alive, and hopefully move into the world of camera customization completely!
For more of Pierro's customized and repaired cameras, check out his Instagram and visit his website for his photography! Get your own rolls of the Berlin Kino 400 film at the Online Shop and Gallery Stores and experiment away with vogue black and white!