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Anamorphic lenses on digital cameras. Why?


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#1 Bruce Greene

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Posted 28 May 2016 - 01:31 PM

It seems to me to be the latest craze.  Anamorphic lenses on digital cameras for a digital release.

 

My question is:  What do you like about using anamorphic lenses vs. cropped spherical lenses for 2.39:1 release.

 

I understand that one gets a few more pixels when using a 4:3 sensor with anamorphic lenses, but 4k (or even 2k) spherical /cropped capture looks pretty darned sharp and noise free.

 

Is it the distortion in anamorphic capture that you like?

 

Is there a difference in the field of view of the vertical vs. the horizontal?  IOW, comparing an anamorphic lens to a spherical lens that captures the same horizontal angle of view, is there a difference in the vertical angle of view?

 

I ask this because now that we're capturing on digital devices vs. the film of the old days, the difference in technical quality is not great (sharpness, noise/grain).  So it must be something else.

 

For me, sometimes I like the anamorphic effect, sometimes not.  But I rarely feel that the difference is so great as to make a great difference in the experience of watching the movie.

 

So why is there so much desire to shoot with anamorphic lenses and the extra size, weight, focus, and possibly lighting requirements?

 

I'm truly interested in your thoughts.  Thanks!


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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 28 May 2016 - 01:40 PM

I think it is mainly for the optical artifacts, for various reasons -- one is nostalgia, they remind the filmmakers and perceptive viewers of classic anamorphic movies that they grew up with, and the second is that shot at wide apertures, there is a softening that takes the curse of "too sharp" digital images.

 

You can suggest the expanded horizontal field of view though to me that doesn't make much sense when you can just use a wider-angle spherical lens.  And unless your digital camera has a 4:3 sensor that is the same size as 4-perf 35mm then odds are that you'll be cropping the sides of your anamorphic image shot on a widescreen sensor just to get back to 2.40, but at a loss of horizontal width, plus your focal lengths and thus your depth of field will be closer to what you'd get with a spherical lens.

 

And as for depth of field, with the newer high-quality T/1.4 spherical lenses out there, it isn't hard to get a shallow focus on the level of the T/2.8 anamorphics out there.

 

So for me, it boils down to the artifacts, the stretched bokeh and the horizontal flares.  And I think in a crowded field of competitors, some people feel that having some odd optical artifact helps them stand out from the crowd.


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#3 Tyler Purcell

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Posted 28 May 2016 - 07:05 PM

I second David's theory. A lot of my friends who use anamorphic on digital, are using it for the lens flare and other optical artifacts. One of my friends uses anamorphic's exclusively and his stuff is really pretty.  

 

If I had my druthers, I would use the Hawk 1.3x anamorphic's on a digital feature without question. The idea of matting down the top and the bottom to get 2.35:1, doesn't really interest me as much. Even though for that aspect ratio, the digital projector will be cropping the top and bottom. 


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#4 Shawn Sagady

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Posted 29 May 2016 - 03:34 AM

I think its all about texture and style, it gives a very unique quality to footage.  I did a project with 1.3x animorphic and we were forced to shoot one angle without the anamorphic due to mechanical issues, and no matter how hard I tried I was never able to make that angle feel like it fit with the rest of the shots, it just felt sharp and boring.


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#5 Miguel Angel

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Posted 30 May 2016 - 10:43 AM

I just want to say that I think that David nailed the answer. 

 

In today's digital cameras people are trying to break the "digital" look by using filters, old lenses, shooting wide open and such. 

 

Anamorphic lenses on the other hand offer different artefacts and flaws that spherical lenses don't, not only that but also there are some anamorphic lenses which nobody would have used in the past because they were considered very bad (like the Cineovision lenses wide open), however on digital cameras they create a look which is less digital and hence acceptable or desirable and they are very in demand. 

 

I do think that anamorphic lenses have a different feeling that spherical lenses can't achieve even if you shoot wide open with spherical lenses. 

 

Of course, if you want to be very close to your subject without any kind of diopters.. anamorphic lenses are not the ones! 

 

 

So for me, it boils down to the artifacts, the stretched bokeh and the horizontal flares.  And I think in a crowded field of competitors, some people feel that having some odd optical artifact helps them stand out from the crowd.

 

It definitely helps in some fields, like the commercial one! :)

Have a lovely day!. 


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