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#1 Dalton Swift

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Posted 02 February 2008 - 04:40 PM

Could someone please explain the process of anamorphic photography, and what the advantages and dis-advantages are ?
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 02 February 2008 - 05:17 PM

In 4-perf 35mm photography, anamorphic lenses have a 2X horizontal optical squeeze and expose a negative area that is roughly 1.20 : 1 (more less Academy Aperture width but Full Aperture height.) The 2X squeeze means that when it is unsqueezed by an anamorphic projector lens, the onscreen image is about 2.40 : 1 (actually 2.39 : 1, but side curtains and screen masking, etc. make it actually a little different from theater to theater.)

All 35mm release prints are 4-perf and either are "flat" (non-anamorphic, or spherical) images composed to be cropped to 1.85 by a projector mask, or "scope" (anamorphic) with a squeezed image meant to be unsqueezed by an anamorphic projector lens to 2.39.

So whatever other format you shoot in, 4-perf or 3-perf Super-35, or Super-16, or HD... the final film-out has to be in one of those two 4-perf 35mm projection formats, matted widescreen or anamorphic widescreen.

The main advantage of anamorphic over shooting Super-35 and composing for cropping to 2.39 (and then converting this in post during the film-out to a 2X anamorphic image) is that the anamorphic process uses more negative area total than cropping Super-35 to 2.39. Larger negative means less grain, more detail.

Other than that, anamorphic lenses have certain optical artifacts that some people love, some don't. And anamorphic photography tends to have less depth of field because you use longer focal lengths on average -- since a 40mm anamorphic lens is basically a 40mm spherical lens with a 2X anamorphic element that "sees" twice as much horizontally (sort of like a wide-angle adaptor but only in the horizontal direction), it acts more like a wider-angle lens than a 40mm in spherical photography. So basically, if you shot Super-35 composed for vertical cropping to 2.39, you'd use a 20mm lens, whereas in anamorphic, you'd use a 40mm lens. And a 20mm lens allows more depth of field than a 40mm lens.

Anamorphic lenses tend to be slower, heavier, focus less closely, are more expensive to rent, flare more, are harder to find to rent, there are fewer specialty lenses available, and the zooms aren't as good as the spherical ones. Other than that, they are great!
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#3 Chris Keth

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Posted 02 February 2008 - 06:28 PM

Anamorphic lenses tend to be slower, heavier, focus less closely, are more expensive to rent, flare more, are harder to find to rent, there are fewer specialty lenses available, and the zooms aren't as good as the spherical ones. Other than that, they are great!


Good thing I am already in love with the look of anamorphic pictures. Otherwise you might have dissuaded me right there! :lol:
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