Referring to flaws as features because you don't have the resources to fix them is an excellent marketing ploy, but it does have the potential to limit the usefulness of these lenses. Time will tell, I guess.
I think in this particular case, they may be able to fix it easily as it seems there is an aggressive mask or shroud built into the front of the housing. I suppose if they hear enough complaints right now, they can do something about it as they say these are still prototypes. As you say, time will tell.
Still, I think we may be setting our expectations a tad high for such affordable anamorphic lenses. A few years ago, I paid $3k USD for a custom cine re-housing on my $2k 1.5x Iscorama 36 and never dreamed I would be able to own a proper 2x cine lens set like this for less than $20k! I was recently looking at comparable three lens vintage mis-matched Cineovision sets for like $80k. And those were of potentially dubious quality.
I've spoken directly to two manufacturers of budget anamorphic lenses ($5k-$8k-ish price point/each) in the last year, and they've each told me they don't want to tackle one of the following specs due to high cost or perceived lack of market: 2x front, proper cine housing with focus marks like we are used to, fixing wide lens distortions, PL/EF mount. So to me, the Atlas Co. specs are well above and beyond the price-point.
The features announced or shown already are quite astounding:
- 2x front anamorphic
- classic vintage look, contrast
- corrected for mumps (on the 65mm at least)
- single-focus lens with decent close focus
- common 110mm front with lip for clip-on MB
- well-spaced, engraved, and windowed focus marks on both sides!!
- manageable size/weight (I wish it could be 2lbs lighter!)
- (what appears to be) high quality anodizing and painting (though still a prototype, could be not as nice on production models)
- excellent choice of starting focal lengths (40, 65, 100)
- user interchangeable PL / EF mount (they'll need to add a lens support foot for EF)
- supposedly easy to service (Duclos, Focus Optics, etc)
I think the focal length choice is especially important and rather overlooked. I find most of the 'magic look' of anamorphic really starts showing up between 55-75mm. Below that, you usually get less classic bokeh and more distortion issues and softness.
So a lens set that starts with a 65mm is rather smart and makes me think these guys know what they're doing. A lot of people are saying, why not start with more classic focal lengths like 35, 50, 85mm? Well, how often do you wish that your 35mm was a 40mm, 50mm was 55mm, and 85mm was 100mm? I'd say pretty darn often with anamorphic, actually.
Most vintage 'scope 35mm focal lengths have a lot of barrel distortion and seem to be softer than the mid-focal lengths. With a 40mm on 4-perf or a 4:3 sensor, you could usually get away with that as your widest lens in the set, as long as it doesn't look terrible like the Kowa 40mm.
But again, time will tell.