Great Joy’s take on an affordable anamorphic lens is still technically in its crowdfunding phase, but it’s already garnered more than $367,000 of support out of thin air. Can the $1,400 anamorphic lens really get the look?
This year was shaping up to be the Year of the Cloud, especially with what Atomos, Frame.io, and Blackmagic Design have been bringing to the market. But that could all be changing as affordable anamorphic lenses are popping up left and right.
Great Joy, a small lens company, had already put out a solid option for filmmakers—the 60mm T2.9 1.33x Full-Frame Anamorphic.
But now, the China-based company has revealed another lens for filmmakers to get that sweet sweet Hollywood look, a 50mm T2.9 1.8x Anamorphic.
Its most prominent test pilots have already released a ton of incredible beta footage—the lens delivers big-picture quality, far beyond anything we’ve seen in its price range. If you love to shoot anamorphic, this is definitely a lens you should look at.
And we're going to do just that. Here’s everything we know about this new lens.
Why the Industry Is Obsessed with Anamorphics
The anamorphic look is coveted for many reasons—scale, grandeur, and those sexy, inimitable lens flares. Usually, this privilege will run you a lot of money, even if you’re just renting it for the week. A cinema anamorphic from Cooke will run you almost $30,000 per lens. This is why lenses like the new 50mm for Great Joy are such interesting options. It's cheap.
Here's another look at the new piece of glass from Mathieu Stern:
From what we've seen so far, the value that this anamorphic lens has to offer your production is pretty clear. It has a dreamy, seductive appeal that turns any scene or story into a thoughtful reverie, a moment of clarity, or an absolute nightmare, depending on how you spin it.
A Few Key Great Joy Features and Tech Specs
If you live by the numbers, you can expect all of the following upon arrival:
- Aperture: T2.9 - T22
- Focal length: 50mm
- Squeeze factor: 1.8x
- Image circle: 33mm x 24mm
- Close focus: 0.7m
- Weight: 1.04kg - 1.09kg, depending on your mount
- Lens elements: 16
- Lens groups: 12
Aside from the standard PL mount, the anamorphic Great Joy lens is also available in all of the following flavors:
- EF mount
- E Mount
- MFT mount
- L mount
- RF mount
Yes, you read that right—these things are as DSLR/mirrorless cinematography-capable as your trusty, rusty nifty fifty. Pop it on any camera, no lens adapter required.
What Makes a Great Budget Anamorphic Lens?
Getting the look you want should never come at the cost of the rest of the project—the best anamorphic lenses for budget filmmakers often fail to truly capture everything we love about big-ticket lens manufacturers like Zeiss and the like.
To call the aesthetic that Great Joy puts on the table “charming” is an insult. Everything we’ve seen from it so far is on par with many of our favorite anamorphic lenses, imperfections and all. The two-year warranty only sweetens the deal.
Sharpness, Even at Full Speed
T2.9 may not seem like a lot for DIYers used to the look of a wider aperture. Here, though, it sings, as we can see from Stern's video. Also, the 50mm focal provides all the bokeh you may want.
Honestly, it’s a great handicap for DPs who shoot wide-open more often than not. We found that we developed a significant appreciation for images that don’t feel like they’re swimming in bokeh—the Great Joy lens might open your eyes up in the same way.
A Subtle, Unique Quality We Love
As with any anamorphic lens, distortion will always be an issue to consider. This, for many, is where the price point begins to present itself as an issue—why even bother spending at all if all you can afford is something second-rate?
If you love anamorphic shots but shy away from the over-the-top, sci-fi-esque lens flares characteristic of the category, you might find a winner here. This is one intersection where the Great Joy lens becomes an incredible compromise.
It affords you the freedom to use direct light sources, even as in-frame practical lights, without taking away from the actual content of the scene itself. You get the anamorphic vibe, without distracting your viewers from the heat of the chase or the calm before the storm.
What Else Can Lovers of Anamorphic Cinematography Expect From Great Joy?
If you watched the anamorphic test footage and feel yourself drooling, you’re in luck—the brand plans on releasing both a 35mm and an 85mm version later this year to complete the set.
Your 50mm Great Joy lens is about to find itself in good company. It’s going to be an incredible selection to have on hand if you’re as obsessed with anamorphic lenses as we are. Narrative work, documentary work, and commercial work are all great ways to exploit everything this lens has to offer.
Affordability, Even on a Budget
If you stake your claim before the IndieGoGo page is retired next month, you’ll get this lens for only $1,389, a full $310 off the MSRP.
If you just did a double-take, we’re right there with you. A Canon L-series lens will cost you more. It’s one of the most jaw-dropping selling points you’ll find alive and well here.
Great Joy is leveling the playing field in this way—the quality is truly cinematic, a quality hitherto unseen at this level. Even the most down-to-earth production will be able to accommodate this luxury. Culturally, it’s just what the doctor ordered.