November 29, 2010

Using Anamorphic Lenses with HDSLRs

I'm assuming for this post that you've read the bonus chapter on basic cinematography concepts that's included in the free expanded DSLR Cinematography Guide. Anamorphic lenses are used for CinemaScope productions, wherein an oval lens stretches the image vertically compresses the image horizontally in order to fully utilize the imaging sensor. To achieve a 2.35:1 aspect ratio during projection, a corresponding anamorphic lens must be used on the projector. This is all well and good, but is it possible to use an anamorophic lens on a DSLR, instead of just cropping the image in post?

It's possible, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it. Vid-Atlantic productions makes a $65 "clamp" that allows you to mount an anamorphic adapter to your regular lens (with up to a 52mm lens thread). While the lens gives the characteristic lens flares that we associate with big budget productions, it also distorts subjects near the edge. Check it out:

However, while the clamp is cheap, the anamorphic lenses themselves can run $2k per lens. With this problem in mind, via planet5D we have word that DP Timur Civan has been working on a cheaper solution of his own. No word from Timur on exactly what the device is or how it works, but he has applied for a patent, so presuably that's the reason for his being coy. Here's a demo of his homemade device in action:

I get the appeal of shooting in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, but it's certainly not easy (unless you just want to mark your viewfinder/monitor and then crop in post). If you'd like to know more about anamorphic lenses, check out this post at planet5D.

Your Comment

11 Comments

I must admit we have such a horrible fetish for cinemascope movies. Throwing out resolution, letterboxing...but then I do it to, cuz it just looks so cool.

November 29, 2010 at 9:32AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Kevin V

The best way to get a 2.35:1 frame on a 16:9 (1.78:1) frame is to use the Panasonic AG-LA7200G 16:9 anamorphic adapter Unlike most of the other anamorphics it only a 1.33 anamorphic unlike the film lenses which are 2x or sometimes 3x anamorphics, so you don't waste any of the frame and you can have FCP restretch it out for you.

The only other thing I have to add is that Anamorphic lenses compress the information horizontally, it doesn't stretch it vertically, this is an important distinction because the FOV math involved. In the little testing I've done I have fallen in love with the look of anamorphics on DSLR and I plan on shooting my next short with one.
Also, if you want a wealth of information as well as tests on HDSLR anamorphics you should check out EOSHD as opposed to Planet 5D, the author is obsessed with shooting with these lenses.

November 29, 2010 at 10:23AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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"I’m assuming for this post that you’ve read the bonus chapter"

I haven't read any of the chapters.

Why? The ebook page is just a blank page.

At least it is on my work computer and home computer.

I've emailed you about this twice and never got a reply.

I'm quite familiar with the opt-in/free ebook process as I'm a professional Internet marketer so you might want to have a look and fix that link as it may be effecting your email marketing success.

(Unless I'm the only one having this problem which would be odd as I've tried it on two different computers in two different locations and I've downloaded scores of ebooks after opting in to people's email lists)

December 2, 2010 at 7:17PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Omar

@Omar,
I'll agree with you about the E-Book, I've had a problem having it freeze or not download since I signed up for the newsletter a few months ago. I was not as proactive in reporting it assuming it was an issue with Safari. I think it's a good thing to let it be known.

December 8, 2010 at 1:33PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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I respond to every email I get about it, perhaps yours isn't coming through successfully. Here's the problem: try RIGHT-CLICKING on the link, and saving the PDF to your desktop. I've tried to stress this on the download page but people seem to have problems downloading PDFs. The link is good and always has been. I will try to further clarify this on the page!

December 8, 2010 at 1:40PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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Ryan Koo
Founder
Writer/Director

Any one have a great suggestion on what to use to mark your viewfinder for post crop?

December 3, 2010 at 12:45PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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get a cheap LCD protector, a sharpie, and an exacto blade, use the soft focus to assist your framing for action safe, this may be your best. stencel the action safe out on the LCD protector and then cut it out with the Xacto, you can cut it so the lines are still on the protector or if it's cheap enough the soft focus of the protector should help you enough. This may be kinda bootleg but it should be a solid DIY fix.

December 8, 2010 at 4:40PM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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I get many emails about the adapter I built. Figured I'd give up the recipe. I had plans to mass produce it, but Vid Atlantics Cinemorph beat me to market. We independently came up with the same idea. Basically it's a streak filter with an oval, bokeh modifier, built into a UV filter.

I however made an adjustable streak filter. You essentially use a Qtip and some vegetable oil, and very very very lightly grease a straight line down the center of the uv filter, right down the middle of the oval. Use a ruler. You can make it at home in about 8 minutes. That's how long it took to make mine. If you want a stronger flare, make the grease line thicker, if you want it less prominent, wash the uv filter, and touch e Qtip to a napkin with a tiny drop of oil on it. You need very little.

Good luck.

January 9, 2013 at 12:04AM, Edited September 4, 10:54AM

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i need help,,i purchased a bausch and lomb x2 anamorphic projector lens,,it is so clean and crisp,but when i put it into the clamp onto my 55mm prime lens,,it looks blurred and distorted,,i cant focus it,,i dont know why,,,do i need a longer lens focal length?my camera is a panasonic micro 4/3 gh1,,,so the 58mm is over 100mm.i cant figure out why it is blurred,the glass is pristine,,how do you use the anamorphic lenses on a lens on a micro 4/3 camera/////help...

March 13, 2013 at 4:12PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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steven

Hey Steven! The Bausch & Lomb has a minimum focusing distance of 50ft. There are a few ways to work around this, but the easiest is to buy a diopter and put it in from of the whole setup. A cheap 85mm set on amazon may get you started (they usually come in +1, +2, +4, and +10 per kit). You must still focus the 'prime' lens and the b&l together for this setup to work.

December 1, 2013 at 2:14AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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The 6.4 update for the Atomos Shogun included modes to de-squeeze anamorphic vision ready for display, with 2.35 and 2.40 overlays - leaves the de-squeezed footage windowed to the middle of the screen, but does make the job easier of filming and focusing.

December 18, 2015 at 11:52AM

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Stewart Fairweather
Cinematographer
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