Anamorphic lens look without the expense for HDSLRs and Indie Filmmakers

by planetmitch5 Comments

Many love the look of Anamorphic lenses (read this planet5D post to learn more about anamorphic lenses or this story), but they're expensive and you've got to jump thru some hoops to get the video in the right aspect ratio. Well, Timur Civan has been at it again – remember the 102 year old lens (the video post, the stills post)? Well, Timur's working on a new device to create the anamorphic look without breaking the bank. You can see a sample video down the page a bit.

This yet unnamed device “doesn't actually squeeze the image into the frame like an anamorphic, when the image is cropped to 2.4:1 the combination of the lens effects, and the aspect ratio will help sell the effect for a fraction of the price of renting a single anamorphic lens for one day. I figure this device will help many independent filmmakers create a beautiful high quality cinemascope effect for a low price, in camera in a fully customizable configuration…”

Redrock Micro

In this post “Anamorphic Look For the Indie Filmmaker.”, Timur describes a bit of what he's working on.

“The goal of independent film-making is simple. Make the film you want to make, without answering to a studio. The beauty in this is the Auteur of the film retains the full creative control of the content of the film.

The down side, is that without a studio, the financial backing often is significantly less than one would receive in a studio situation. Today we can achieve stunningly good image quality from HDSLR cameras half the size, and half the cost of just the battery of a 35mm Motion Picture Film camera. There has never been a time where more image quality was derived per dollar in the moving picture. The HDSLR can offer the indie filmmaker a damn good representation of 35mm film's essential characteristics. Light sensitivity, shallow depth of field, low grain imagery, interchangeable lenses, 24P and the 60P over crank. All the convenience of tapeless Digital HD Video and most of the look of 35mm film. A dream scenario. The beauty of this is that everyone can now have the look of film, in a nice tidy 1080P package.

For many people looking to make narrative films, the 16×9 aspect ratio doesn't quite fit the scope of their idea. Enter the cine anamorphic lens. These beautiful, oft hand made lenses optically squeeze a wider image 2.4:1 aspect ration image onto the film plane. The problem with anything thats hand built, ESPECIALLY in the film industry… is cost. Anamorphic lenses as beautiful and desirable as they are come with a hefty price tag, both in terms of rental and support equipment.

One way around this cost, many indie filmmakers wanting that look often matte a 2.40:1 image out of their 16:9 footage. Thats great, but the difference is this. Anamorphic lenses provide certain tell tale characteristics, that get imparted onto the image. The two main characteristics are the bokeh and the lens flare. The bokeh on an anamorphic lens expands vertically as a point goes out of focus faster than it expands horizontally. The result is oval shaped out of focus circles, a by product of the front element that compresses the image horizontally.”


Cinema-scope characteristics optically created without Anamorphic lens. from Timur Civan on Vimeo.

This is test footage for a device i am building that seems to be shaping up quite nicely. It mimics the beloved characteristics of the anamorphic cinema lens, but without the complexity, size and most importantly the price. Currently the Iscorama anamorphic lenses are going for about +$2,000 PER LENS! I decided i could make something that got me the effect without the price….. I have been working on this for a while, and the pieces have finally come together.

I think the unit provides beautiful footage, that looks lush and “expensive”, but most importantly, for a DP like me, the effect is optical, and can be seen on set, and can be adjusted. the amount of flare, and strength of the aperture effect is fully adjustable.

It works on more than one lens, and i am currently researching how to make it effective on all lenses.

Currently it works on 50mm, 85mm, 105mm and 200mm lenses. When working in a cinema realm, you rarely use any lenses wider, for narrative story telling, though i am trying to make it work on 35mm lenses as well…. if anyone has a L series 35mm and wants to help test out the system, please let me know!

So, click now and go read Timur's entire post “Anamorphic Look For the Indie Filmmaker” and don't be shy about commenting below as well.

(Photo credit: snap from the video)

Zeiss Cinema Lenses


  1. Ive got a 17-40 , 24-105, 70-200 L series glass would love to play with this idea,

  2. Would it work with a 35mm Leica R lens with an EOS mount? If so I would be interested in testing.

  3. Pingback: Using Anamorphic Lenses with HDSLRs - NoFilmSchool

  4. Pingback: Using Anamorphic Lenses on HDSLR | CamTweaks

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