February 23, 2014

Beautiful Footage from Cooke's New Anamorphic Cinema Lenses

Many cinematographers love the look of anamorphic lenses. Many others are quite fond of Cooke Optics because of their distinctively warm and creamy aesthetic, lovingly known as the "Cooke Look." Imagine the delight of cinematographers all over the world when Cooke announced during last year's NAB that a brand new line of high-end anamorphic cinema lenses was in the works. Pure elation. Now we've got some of the first test shots to surface from these world-class anamorphic lenses, and the results are just what you'd expect, optical excellence and pure cinematic beauty.

The following two videos contain anamorphic test footage from two different cinematographers, John De Borman and Patrick Blossier respectively.

To my eye, these lenses look to have everything that one could hope for with anamorphic glass. They are sharp (from corner to corner, no less) and contrasty, but with the gentle sense of warmth and smoothness that one would expect from Cooke lenses. The breathing from focus shifts is far less dramatic than many of the competing anamorphic lenses on the market, especially the older ones.

Additionally, Jon Fauer managed to snap off a sort of "stress test" shot with the 40mm anamorphic to see how it hold up in conditions that would normally cause some strange optical artifacts. Click the image for full size:

And here's what Fauer had to say about the shot:

The beard is sharp, the skin tones are smooth, and there is remarkably no internal barrel flare from the desperately overexposed window. The shadow area retains detail. The pitch black area at far right remains black. Anamorphically funky and nice!

Overall, these Cooke anamorphics look to be a fantastic option for discerning cinematographers looking to combine the Cooke and anamorphic aesthetics. Without any doubt, it looks like a match made in heaven. These new lenses should be released within the next few months, most likely at NAB 2014.

What do you guys think of the test footage from these new Cooke anamorphic lenses? Do you like the combination of the Cooke Look with anamorphic optical characteristics? Let's hear your thoughts down in the comments!

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Your Comment

34 Comments

Why 720p? Why not 1080p?...

February 23, 2014 at 7:46PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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I'm positive this isn't the reason, but I remember once digging in the depths of a very technical web compression forum, and reading that 720p color quality holds up better. No idea if it's true!

February 24, 2014 at 10:44PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Zack

This is great. However, I think the biggest question still unanswered is flare. None of the test footage I've seen has shown deliberate flares. Although only one characteristic of the lens, many shoot anamorphic for it. It would be interesting to see if cooke has taken a more modern or low-fi approach to their coatings.

February 23, 2014 at 8:04PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Jon Chema

It has green anamorphic flares usually coming from the corners from what friends of mine have told me and past footage I've seen online. Zeiss Master Anamorphics have better color rendition but no flares. They're a little too perfect. Nothing still beats the Panavision C and E series. Those are the best anamorphic lenses ever. But if you want to rent those, it's gonna cost more and you have to rent a camera. Panavision knows whats up.

February 24, 2014 at 2:20AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Nick

Bingo. C-series rules. It's not just the flares but the imperfect focus pulls because of the internal components that give the older lenses their character (excluding the really old 50's era ones that had the mumps.

March 5, 2014 at 4:41PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Daniel Mimura

If you shoot anamorphic for the lens flare the Cooke lenses and tools like them would be way out of your league.

February 24, 2014 at 9:49AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Mitch

Looks fantastic, but what camera was it shot on? I assume an Alexa.

February 23, 2014 at 9:57PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Film Voltage

Sweet bokeh. So much better than their spherical lenses, which I'm not a fan of.
People are gonna bitch about having to use a blue streak filter though!
Frankly, I think they look great. Must buy a lottery ticket!

February 23, 2014 at 10:43PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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JD HOLLOWAY

+1.

February 24, 2014 at 12:53PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Marc B

Any comparisons between this and the SLR Magic anamorphot?

February 24, 2014 at 12:32AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Samuel

LOL

February 24, 2014 at 4:22AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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john jeffries

Perfectly valid question for low budget film-making. The Cookes are out of reach for most filmmakers and would be keen to see what the SLR's can do (beyond the few tests I have seen) side by side.

February 24, 2014 at 4:30AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Dan

Pair SLR Magic with the right lenses and learn how to make the best of it and you'll get good results. I was really impressed by this footage shot with SLR Magic on on BM pocket camera: https://vimeo.com/87343978

February 24, 2014 at 6:13PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Slr magic lens is a toy compare to this. Such insult for cooke thinking alone comparing.

February 24, 2014 at 12:44AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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bruce

.... yes... very insulting....

?

February 24, 2014 at 1:41AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Some people thought it was an insult to compare some Japanese made lens to Leitz in the 1950s until some famous photographers started using it as their perceived higher quality than Leicas lens.
Don't dismiss anything until you have evidence.

February 24, 2014 at 4:31AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Tulio

I don't know why you guy are comparing Cooke to SLR magic. So much different here. It is not only look different between a 2X and 1.33 ratio conversion, but also many other factors that add value to a lens. You ever see anybody comparing a Ferrari to a Corolla? Yeah they both have 4 wheels.

February 24, 2014 at 6:10PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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BRUCE

Second video at 3.30 of the Ferris wheel. Distortion at the bottom of the frame of the 75mm. But to be expected with anamorphics and not really a fault.

February 24, 2014 at 4:43AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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JPS

That first video, wow. Not just the lens, but location, light and subject. What a great face.

February 24, 2014 at 4:44AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Davíð

Finally an anamorphic post that isn't just about lens flares. Plain and simple great looking footage.

February 24, 2014 at 5:01AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Pat

A WORLD apart from SLR Magic Anamorphot. This is THE look.
It would be great to see a real world test like this of the two, in the hands of someone capable like John De Borman, just to see how close a low budget anamorphic lens can get. Because this just looks so cinematic. You'd have to put the SLR M on an Alexa as well though. I wish SLR M would do that, commission someone good as opposed to the amateur enthusiasts they use that simply go outside and shoot their daughter or cat, etc.

February 24, 2014 at 5:25AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Lance Fresh

Considering the even decreasing cost of cameras, it's likely that the lower priced anamorphic lenses will find their audiences as well. This is high end and something to aspire to.
.
FWIW, one of my friends was once in a clothing business. Talking about men suits, he said to me, "Go to the top designer store, look at what they offer, then try to find something that most closely resembles that style within your budget range". In that sense, Cooks deliver the type of footage when money is no object. Now try to figure out how to get a reasonable facsimile of this look that won't break your bank. Nissan Z350 may not be a 911 but it ain't a bad car in and of itself.

February 24, 2014 at 6:03AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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DLD

[ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0Q7zGfRIiY ] SLR Magic anamorphic + CZ lenses + A7R. One can skip to about a 2:10 mark for the nighttime bokeh shots.

February 24, 2014 at 6:25AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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DLD

That's nice footage, no doubt about it. But it still doesn't really look 'anamorphic' (to me), it looks like the picture could have been cropped that way. I see none of the characteristics that make the Cooke footage look so appealing. Maybe the .33x is just not as effective as the .50x distortion. Looking at the SLR M footage, I don't see the value in it. Apart from the blue flare from that which does look nice.

February 24, 2014 at 6:42AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Lance Fresh

+1, IMO the real anamorphic look comes from a 2x stretch and what I really like about it is the bokeh and distortion, the flare might work for some (very few) situations but I'd rather not have it in the way I have seen it on the SLR magic adapter.

February 24, 2014 at 7:59AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Raul

Lance, given the likely budgets, SLR Magic is made for the (DSLR/DSLM) 16:9 rather than (Alexa) 4:3 sensors. But I understand your and Raul's POV.

February 24, 2014 at 8:56AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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DLD

Right. Wouldn't it be great though to see what someone like De Borman could do with the SLRM (on Alexa/16:9), when on a test like the Cooke one. I'm intrigued as to how it would look. It would probably do wonders for SLRM's marketing (as opposed to a DSLR blogger filming in the backyard, etc). Would love to see a company like that really try and sell their product the way Cooke are.

February 24, 2014 at 9:19AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Lance Fresh

[ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lfsFM0-Axg ] -
a combo of the SLR Magic Amorphot with their own 35mm Prime T1.4 on GH2. It's not Cooks but I'd be curious to find some footage of 12mm primes with the same adopter.

February 24, 2014 at 1:11PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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DLD

Very perfect... too perfect. In my world, I use anamorphic lenses for an effect. These Cooke lenses lack the imperfections that I love (obnoxious lens flare and odd distortion). However, in the high end cinema world, they are a perfect match! I love the subtleness of the background distortion, perfect for dialog, without being distracting.

February 24, 2014 at 10:36AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Gorgeous!

February 24, 2014 at 11:40AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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To me the "Cooke look" is the balance of technology and aesthetic. These lenses are exactly what I would expect from a cooke anamorphic. There are a lot of anamorphic lenses to choose from if you just want flares or character, but first impression these anamorphics show that perfect cooke balance. Balance that would be appreciated on a big screen.

February 24, 2014 at 1:32PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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I see an elephant in the room. But nobody else mentions it so maybe it's just normal for high quality anamorphic lenses.

I see a big fat curve in the right side of the still image. It looks like one side of a doorway. Why is that so horribly warped?
What is wrong with my picture here? I'm a corporate video producer and sound mixer for other crews so what do I know about fancy film lenses. Not too much.

But someone please enlighten me a little.

Thanks

February 27, 2014 at 9:46PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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wsmith

I noticed that too. A 40mm lens wouldn't be distorting like that normally.

April 16, 2015 at 7:03PM

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David Gurney
DP
1664

Sorry to resurrect this, but I noticed this too while I was on set of a film shooting with the Cooke Anamorphics. I can't believe people aren't up in arms about the ridiculous pincushion distortion on these lenses. It's normal for wide angle anamorphics to have distortions, but usually it's distorting the other way, i.e. straight lines are bowed inward. In this case they're bowed outward, to me it's just awful. I guess you can slap the Cooke label on anything and everyone loves it.

March 24, 2016 at 3:33PM

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Sheldon Walker
Director of Photography
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