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Anamorphic lens advice


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#1 Dominik Bauch

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Posted 09 September 2018 - 09:23 PM

I'm looking into Anamorphic glass and would ideally like to go modern. I've shot with Kowas and didn't love them. Flare is ok in my opinion and the distortion is pretty extreme in areas. 

 

Anyone have real world experience with the Arri Master Anamorphics? Sure they are clean but technically it's not tough to add some vignetting and light edge blur in post to mimic older lens artifacts. They are supposed to be more gentle look-wise than Master Primes and some amazing stuff has been shot with those.

I love the relatively light weight, low T-stop and the fact that every part of the frame is in play but I'm just concerned about the supposed clinical nature of the image...

 

Are these in high demand and is the resale price high? i.e. are these a good investment?

 

I would love to look into Hawk V-Lites but they are aggressively rental only... The size and weight are awesome plus the look is more classic.  

 

Cooke Anamorphic i SF seem amazing but the weight is a real issue. Ideally I'm trying to still be in gimbal weight territory. 

 

Any  thoughts or advice much appreciated.


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#2 Neal Norton

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Posted 10 September 2018 - 01:59 PM

Hi Dominik:

 

The Arri Master Anamorphics in my opinion are superb lenses by almost any measure.  They also offer flair attachments that can be added if you want to mess up the image in camera.  If I could not shoot Panavision anamorphic I would choose the Master anamorphics for primes and I also really like the Angenieux Optimo 30-72 T4 and the 56-152 T4 for lightweight zooms.

 

The other lenses you mention are not very good in my opinion unless you really want to create a distorted or stylized effect.

 

As to the investment idea. . . if you cannot put these lenses to work right away and have a secure avenue for continued rentals then I would do something more conservative with my money.

 

Neal Norton

DP


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#3 Dom Jaeger

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Posted 10 September 2018 - 09:20 PM

At 40-odd grand a lens for Master Anamorphics, I would suggest renting a set to test them out if you're serious about investing in them. They are among the most expensive lenses on the planet, so even rentals tend to be only for cashed-up productions. 

 

Top level lenses like these tend to hold value pretty well. If you look at Ultra Primes or even Super Speeds, they continue to sell for a premium. I think Zeiss lenses in particular are always going to be valued for their build and image quality, no matter what the current fashion is. Whether S35 format lenses will still be in high demand as camera technology progresses is another question, but I suspect there will always be some market for them.

 

But I know some DPs and ACs who have invested in expensive lenses only to regret the purchase. It ties up a lot of money,  rental return is relatively small compared to the outlay, and you also need to factor in the insurance, maintenance and repair costs that come with working lenses. 

 

I would definitely talk to any local rental houses that you might be thinking of consigning the lenses with (presuming you want to subhire them to make some return) and find out what lenses they would be interested in subhiring, and what the subhire contract might be. Also check what they have in their inventory - if they already have a set of Master Anamorphics for example, they're not going to rent yours out ahead of their own set. 


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#4 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 11 September 2018 - 02:41 AM

 If you look at Ultra Primes or even Super Speeds, they continue to sell for a premium. I think Zeiss lenses in particular are always going to be valued for their build and image quality, no matter what the current fashion is. Whether S35 format lenses will still be in high demand as camera technology progresses is another question, but I suspect there will always be some market for them.

 

Super Speeds now seem to be old enough to be 'Vintage'. I remember 10 years ago you could pick up a set of Supers for about $15k . Now, they're selling for $50 or 60k. Even in the rental houses, where Super Speeds used to be cheap, workhorse lenses, they've suddenly become desirable.


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#5 AJ Young

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Posted 12 September 2018 - 12:36 PM

Here are my many thoughts:

  • The lens purchasing and selling game is a gamble, very much like the stock market. K35's are extremely expensive, Zeiss Super Speeds (like Stuart said) have ballooned in price, and now Kowa's are even climbing up in value. I guarantee that there will always be a "new" vintage or modern lens that explodes onto the market. What lens will it be? Will I make a return on my investment? Now you're gambling.
  • Zeiss Master Anamorphic, from what I've been told, have rear element anamorphics. The plus side is that you get the 2x squeeze factor, the downside is the lack of everything we love about anamorphic (distortion, flares, etc). Again, this is what I've been told.
    In LA, Master Anamorphics are hard to come by at rental houses; they're pretty expensive to buy/rent and most houses don't split up the set. Resale value then means you'll have a hard time finding someone who wants to buy them at market price. (Because of how expensive the lenses are, your primary interested customers will be rental houses)
  • Gimbal and anamorphic typically do not go well together. Good anamorphic lenses are heavy while light-weight anamorphic lenses have problems (like Kowa's). That being said, it's not impossible to put an anamorphic lens on a gimbal; I recently did a shoot where we had an Atlas 65mm on a gimbal. However, the operator was dying after every take.
  • Cooke Anamorphics, in my opinion, are some of the best anamorphic lenses you can use outside of Panavision. However, the Cooke SF Anamorphics have more to be desired; they don't flare like an E-Series or Kowa which is disappointing because the SF stands for Special Flare.
  • I've never used an anamorphic that performs well wider than a T4, so I'd be cautious if a lens opens to a T2 or more and shooting at those stops.
  • DIY Anamorphic via a projection lens and a spherical taking lens is quickly taking off. Clamping together the lenses with the right single-focus solution could provide a solid, light weight, and great anamorphic lens for gimbal work. (I recommend looking into Schneider Cinelux 2x and ISCO Blue/Red Star Lenses for starters)
    However, there are inherent problems with DIY anamorphic, which is a whole conversation on its own.

Like what most others have said, testing out the lenses yourself is the best thing you can do. Because you're in LA, there are plenty of top tier rental houses you should contact including:

  • Alternative Rentals
  • Otto Nemenz
  • AbelCine
  • Keslow
  • The Camera Division
  • And tons more

Doing an extensive test may be a stress on the company's business, so I wouldn't be afraid to throw a couple bucks there way.

 

Of course, if you just have your next production rent through one of these rental houses, then you'll be able to convince them on a test day! ;)


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#6 Kyryll Sobolev

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Posted 12 September 2018 - 02:04 PM

i have just worked on a project with zeiss master anamorphics (DP was guy godfree)

 

they are exceptional lenses, but very clean image indeed

it is up to you to decide whether you like it

 

AJ, i think you may be talking about a "flare set" for these lenses, which would replace the front and rear element.

otherwise they are true anamorphic (you can see that very well in this video )

 

for dominik's questions:

are these in high demand - probably

is the resale price high - yup

are these a good investment - for a rental house, yes :)

 

if you are a cinematographer, these would be an exceptionally expensive tool to have for occasional use

unless you can agree to consign them with a rental house ahead of time

an like AJ says, this type of investment is akin to the stock market. if you have cash to burn, these lenses will pay for themselves over time


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#7 AJ Young

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Posted 12 September 2018 - 04:11 PM

AJ, i think you may be talking about a "flare set" for these lenses, which would replace the front and rear element.

otherwise they are true anamorphic (you can see that very well in this video )

 

Thank you for the correction!


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#8 Dominik Bauch

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Posted 12 September 2018 - 05:52 PM

Thanks for all the feedback. 

Definitely a tough one, there really isn't a no brainer out there. Of course different projects call for different looks but in an ideal world there would be a modern anamorphic lens that is under 5lb and retains classic anamorphic characteristics without costing insane money.

Absolutely planning on testing thoroughly. I'm just trying to figure out if Master Anamorphics are desirable enough to be a selling point to own a set. 

Sharegrids Anamorphic lens test is super useful to start with. I just wish they had been able to use some Panavision anamorphic glass as a comparison.

 

Crazily Kowas are close to $100k anyway, so I don't think that Master Anamorphics are that ludicrous considering the benefits. if only Cooke anamorphic weren't so heavy....

Assume that Master Anamorphics can be used without a lens support on an Alexa Mini? Obviously 100+ will need one.


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#9 Kyryll Sobolev

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Posted 13 September 2018 - 08:50 AM

we used the master anamorphics on a mini without lens support (our lens set went up to 135mm)

the camera is obviously very front-heavy, so we had to extend the build backwards to ease handheld operation - which occasionally backfired, when we needed to get close to a wall or be in a corner

 

i had 18" rods, with only about 4" on the front end, while the back end of the rods held the battery and preston mdr

i think on average our build length was 34"-36" from clip-on matterbox to battery

 

another option was to shorten the rods, but use a hotswap battery plate and carry 2 batteries to offset the weight

 

we did not use a lens support on this movie, but if you do a car rig/process trailer with these lenses i would certainly suggest it

in fact, i do dailies on a show here that uses a cooke 65mm macro anamorphic (11.46lbs weight), and we don't use a lens support for it

 

i wonder what the PL-mount specs are for max weight...


Edited by Kyryll Sobolev, 13 September 2018 - 08:51 AM.

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#10 AJ Young

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Posted 13 September 2018 - 12:46 PM

if only Cooke anamorphic weren't so heavy....

Assume that Master Anamorphics can be used without a lens support on an Alexa Mini? Obviously 100+ will need one.

 

I shot a whole feature on the Alexa Mini with Cooke Anamorphics and we never used a lens support. The camera mount can handle the weight, I guarantee! :)


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#11 Dominik Bauch

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Posted 13 September 2018 - 02:58 PM

Good to know, thanks. And here I was being nervous with a 30-76 Optimo zoom...

How did you like the Cooke Anamorphics. I've seen tests with a decent amount of purple fringing in the highlights wide open?


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#12 AJ Young

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Posted 13 September 2018 - 04:07 PM

How did you like the Cooke Anamorphics. I've seen tests with a decent amount of purple fringing in the highlights wide open?

 

I loved them. The 40mm has little distortion and the Cooke look is always welcomed. Flares are really controlled as well.

 

I tend to go no wider than a T4 when shooting anamorphic, regardless of the brand, because the image begins to fall apart quick when getting close to wide open.


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