Venus Optics has never feared making unique and weird lenses. Now it’s tackling anamorphic glass!
The first lens to come out of Venus Optics was a 60mm f/2.8 2 x Ultra Macro, a full-frame lens with a 2:1 magnification factor. What made it unique at the time was that it focused to infinity.
Then the mad lads from China tackled wide lenses with near-zero distortion with their Zero-D line. Following that, they set their eyes on super fast glass with f/0.95 and a killer zoom lens.
But there was one lens design that Venus Optics hasn’t tackled yet—anamorphic.
Today, that all changes with the release of the Venus Optics Laowa Nanomorph series. Check it out.
Tiny Lenses, Big Character
The Laowa Nanomorphs from Venus Optics include the 27mm T2.8, a 35mm T2.4, and a 50mm T2.4 with a 1.5x constant squeeze ratio.
And these things are tiny. If you thought the Sirui anamorphic lenses were small, you’re in for a surprise. Now you can finally give your gimbal footage a real anamorphic look.
The new Laowa glass cover Super35 sensors and comes in Canon EF, PL, Canon R, Sony E, M43, DJI DL, Nikon Z, L mount and Fuji X.
This opens them up to literally every modern camera on the market, save for cropped medium-format sensors like the Fuji GFX 100s and the ARRI Alexa 65. The 1.5x squeeze ratio is also constant, so you shouldn’t get issues when racking focus like with the Sirui lenses or SLR Anamorphot adapters. Sadly, you won't be able to use the EF and PL mount lenses with a focal reducer as they protrude into the camera body. Even some EF and PL mount cameras may not be compatible.
But back to the good news. The new Laowa lenses have pretty solid close-focus distances. The 50mm will get you 0.7 meters (or 27.5”), while the 0.6 meters (or 23.6”) for the 35mm.
According to Venus Optics, its new nano-sized anamorphic lenses have a patented anamorphic design in a tiny and compact cine housing. They’ll come in two flavors, with amber and blue flare versions.
"But how do they look?" I hear you ask.
A Closer Look
While we’ve known about the Laowa Nanomorphs for a bit, they haven’t been seen in the wild yet. That is until Alexandru Don got his hand on a pair and used them on his Sony A7 IV.
Call us biased, but Don's footage looks gorgeous.
He even tried them out in full-frame mode, and while he says the vignetting is minimal, we, unfortunately, beg to differ. However, the effect they provide is definitely something creatives would use in certain limited situations.
Let's take a deeper look at the ins and outs of these lenses. Tito Ferradans, our go-to expert in anamorphic on a budget, recently got a set to review.
Take My Money!
Now, hold on, there. Don’t let your Gear Acquisition Syndrome flair up.
On paper, the Laowa Nanomorphs from Venus Optics look like a sure bet. But when creating affordable lenses, there are always sacrifices to be made. The Sirui lenses had issues with matching their glass and differing squeeze ratios when focusing. After watching Ferradans' review, it's clear that while these lenses are a fantastic anamorphic solution, they're not the perfect workhorses like lenses made by Cooke or ARRI. However, they get damn close.
The Venus Optics Laowa Anamoprhics will retail for $999 per lens for mirrorless mounts and $1,499 for EF or PL. If you get one through the campaign, there are 5%, 10%, and 20% discounts on offer. You can check out the IndieGoGo campaign here.
Being an early adopter also has its benefits. The first person to grab a lens during the campaign can snag it for $1. Yes, that is not a typo. One. Single. Dollar. If you're reaching for your credit card right now, we won’t stop you.
Whatever happens with the Laowa Nanomorphs, we’ve definitely come a long way since gaff taping vintage projector lenses to our cameras.