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Shooting with Anamorphic Lenses and Filters: an Overview with Film Riot

12.2.12 @ 5:43PM Tags : , , , ,

The anamorphic look has been around for a long time, but its popularity at the budget level has increased in the last few years thanks, in part, to the availability of inexpensive interchangeable lens digital cameras. If you’ve been interested in how people are getting the look and what they are using, Ryan Connolly over at Film Riot has put together a video giving an overview about your options out there and some of the advantages and disadvantages for some of the options. Click through to watch that video below:

One thing to keep in mind with these adapter lenses is that not all of them have the same squeeze factor, so in order to correct the footage in post, you may end up cropping more with some of them unless you want a super wide aspect ratio like 3.55:1 — which is what an anamorphic adapter with a 2X squeeze factor does to all 16:9 sensors. Other adapters may have a 1.5X squeeze that will give about a 2.66:1 aspect ratio when corrected, so you’ll be cropping a lot less, but the effect will also be less pronounced. To get close to the typical Hollywood 2.39/2.40 aspect ratio used today without really having to crop on a 16:9 sensor, you’ll have to use around a 1.35X squeeze adapter. The AG-LA7200 from Panasonic is extremely close to this ratio, and it’s one of the few adapters that can give both high quality and a proper aspect ratio on most DSLRs and other digital cameras.

The CineMorph anamorphic filter from Vid-Atlantic is an interesting option, as it doesn’t actually change your aspect ratio, but allows you to get some of the effects of having an anamorphic filter without many of the issues that are associated with those lenses. The major drawback to that filter is that you must use fairly long lenses to keep from vignetting, so it isn’t as versatile as some of the anamorphic adapters out there. I am interested to see more results from that filter as it solves many of the problems that using adapters in front of your lenses can create.

What kind of anamorphic adapters/filters do you use? Which do you prefer on your own shoots? Feel free to share any examples you may have in the comments.



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  • I just did a sci-fi test shoot with the Panasonic AG-LA7200, and loved the look of it.

    However, the thing you have to be hyper-aware of when considering anamorphic is the diopters. To make this AG-LA7200 nice and sharp required a different diopter every few feet. I ended up with a kit of 5 of them and was switching them out constantly.

    • Joe Marine on 12.2.12 @ 7:15PM

      Looks really great Zeek, nice job. :)

      Which diopters specifically did you use? I know many people struggle with this so it would be great to know the brand and what power they were.

      • Some diopters are definitely expensive. We paid $200 for a 105mm .3 diopter – that’s super rare. The rest of the kit is 82mm which are not expensive, but only useful on 50mm+ because of the vignetting. The 105mm works on my 35mm and on my 24mm with a slight amount of vignetting (on a Canon 5D mkIII)

        Overall we had a .3, +1, +2, +3, +4, and a 10x. We used the .3 the most (it covers the 6-12ft range on the 50mm), and the +1, +2 for closer stuff. We occasionally used the others for different for atmospheric super closeups.

    • Pretty awesome video. I heard the diopters are either hard t find or fairly expensive. Did you find this to be true?

  • Have been shooting cheap anamorphics for a while. They are a pain to use. But very nice images.
    That filter is just plain cheating :D

  • I shot a short film recently (trying to wrap up post soon) with Lomo round fronts on the Red Scarlet. I decided to keep the extremely wide aspect ratio because I enjoyed it and preferred not to crop. It was fun to shoot something on the anamorphics, I do love the style but I’ve seen some lean on the lens squeeze a bit too hard as a crutch.

  • bryan pentecostes on 12.3.12 @ 4:22AM

    I’d rather use a optefex or vid-atlantic streak filter to get the horizontal streaks. I wouldn’t use the anamorphics because alot of the things i shoot are run and gun.

  • This is what a 2x anamorphic looks like on a Canon 550d with a Nikon 50mm pancake. There are a couple of diopter shots in there as well (Tokina 0.4).

    • Oh! its a very sweaty film so don’t watch it with children in earshot. Also ramp it up to 1080p

  • *Sweary*

  • Bucket list for me includes shooting something on Panavision glass. In the meantime I’m going to be shooting a big project on Hawk C Series Anamorphics. Really love the look from anamorphic lenses. Just feels like “cinema” to me.

  • Forget the $99 if you just want streak lens flares…..

  • First, if you are considering theatrical which means DCP, scope in DCP is only one aspect ratio, 2:39. 2048 x 858 for 2K and 4096 x 1716 for 4K. If you use any size, you will have visual and/or technical issues.

    Second, we considered shooting anamorphic for the last short we shot but the lens quality issues and shooting compromises are not ideal. If you use right crop and scale, we found the image sharper than using the current set of anamorphic adaptors. Unless you get really good glass, it’s going to be a softer look – so only go that way if the lens artifacts and flaring is more important the big screen quality.

  • I have a t3i and the stock, and 50mm 1.4 canon lenses. I always felt that cropping was a waste of pixels, and that someone should make a lense that records the distorted/stretched image auto use all of the sensor, and then squeeze in final cut or whatever, glad to know these exist, but googling, nd searching in amazon brings up nothing. Where do I find an adaptor I can put on my lenses to make them record this “anamorphic” manner (true, not simulated like that adapter mentioned at the end of the article)?

  • Daniel Mimura on 12.9.12 @ 7:54AM

    I *love* ‘scope…but the optics of all the options out there are pretty bad, except for the unpurchasable Panavisions (and they’d be too expensive even if they were for sale). There isn’t even a rental house here in seattle with scope lenses. (You gotta rent from Panavision, and they’re in Dallas, LA, Chicago, NY…I forgot where else, but far from here…)

    The Hawks…even though I love the ‘scope look…they look pretty bad. I saw that Soderberg’s Haywire and even on bluray, you can see the flaws all over the place. For lenses that cost about $60k for a used set of four, I’d definitely stick with rentals on that.

    As much as I’d love to shoot a true anamorphic movie, I don’t think it’s feasible for awhile (for me…for most people shooting with low budgets, but planning for enough production value for festival/theatrical screenings). If shooting digitally, besides the outdated Panavision Genocide, only the Alexa Studio and the Alexa M’s are 4 perf sized. Sony, of course coming from video and not film like Arri didn’t make the new F55 4 perf…it’s still super-35 sized. The options for truly doing anamorphic right are pretty scarce.

    They shot the Total Recall remake with panavision c-series lenses, and it definitely has the scope look, but it’s missing a few things…they lose resolution too b/c the shape of the MX sensor is the wrong ratio, and they also lose some of the anamorphic effect b/c the lens is made for a taller, less wide image plane.