July 19, 2016

Watch: Lomo Square-Fronts in All Their Quirky Glory

This LensProToGo video shows off the personality, the quirks and the lovable flaws of Lomo Squarefront Anamorphics.

One of the beauties of renting a variety of products is that you can be pretty honest about the benefits and drawbacks of everything in your stable, which is shown off brilliantly in this video by online rental house LensProToGo. The Lomo Square Front Anamorphic lenses have their drawbacks, and if you are going to rent them to folks, you might as well get all of their "personality" out front and center in your promos to be sure that anyone who makes the decision to use them knows what they are in for.

The video covers the basics of anamorphic shooting in general very well, and really digs into the reality of working with these lenses in particular: the breathing of the images, and the quirks of their physical design (hard to mount follow-focus, and backwards focus ring, etc.).  The only thing missing is some discussion of the difference between front-element anamorphics and rear (or middle) element anamorphics. 

lomo square front
Front element of a Lomo Anamorphic Square-Front. You can see the stretch applied to the elements in the rear through the front anamorphot.Credit: Courtesy of LensProToGo

With products like the Hawks, which are middle-element, or the Russian Photon Zoom, which is rear-element, you aren't guaranteed the famous streak-style lens flare that we associate with "anamorphic" looking images, and if they do appear they are more mild. The square-front Lomos are a front-element design, meaning the glass element that does the squeeze is in front. This particular lens design—which can easily be seen in the image above where the lens writing is being distorted by being behind a front anamorphot—gives particularly great streaky flares. The later round-front Lomos are middle-element, so if you want streaky flares, the square-fronts are a great, cost-effective tool to get there. I also personally find that the "anamorphosing" of the Lomos (both square and round front) leaves the image looking a bit smeared or stretched looking. With a digital finish you could theoretically correct for this, but it's part of the personality of the image you are paying for.

lomo distortion
Lomo Square-Front distortion.Credit: Courtesy of LensProToGo

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2 Comments

That optical distortion seems to be a little too much for my taste.

July 20, 2016 at 8:10AM

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Norbert F
DOP
154

It's crazy, right?

I will say: if you shoot your whole project with the glass, it isn't as noticeable, it just really jumps out at you when you intercut footage from the square-fronts with modern glass.

July 20, 2016 at 10:56AM

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Charles Haine
Director/Writer/Colorist