Anamorphic Lens vs Specialty Lens Comparison

by Barry AnderssonLeave a Comment

We haven't done a lot of posts on Anamorphic lenses in a while but I found this video to be interesting. Anyone that has done any amount of research knows just how desirable the Iscorama Anamorphic lenses are. The problem is they are VERY expensive and the number if them in the world is very limited. So if you are one of the lucky ones that own one (I myself have a 36 and 52 Iscorama and LOVE them) you aren't always excited to run out and use them and risk damage to them.

So for those that love the anamorphic look and maybe don't have the money to dedicate to a true anamorphic lens, I found this video to be of interest. It shows a cheap lens with an adapter that can “mimic” some of the anamorphic traits of a true anamorphic lens.

One of the biggest issues for me when shooting with my anamorphic lenses is the minimal focal distance. You have to be 4-6 feet away from anything in order to get focus. If you want to focus on anything closer than that you need to use diopters. That makes it almost impossible to use filters with diopters so it limits me in many shooting situations as I like to have subjects close to the lens oftentimes.

With the specialty lens in this video you can focus almost right up to the lens. That is a huge advantage if you want to keep your lens cheap, get an interesting image and have it be very usable in most real world shooting conditions.

A drawback in using a non-anamorphic lens is in order to get the anamorphic aspect ratio you must crop off pixels from the top and the bottom of the video. This throws away good data from your video. However, now with more and more budget friendly 4K cameras you can now shoot 4K video and crop the top and bottom and get more resolution than you could in the past with a non-anamorphic lens.

Check out the video and let us know if a “specialty” lens like this is something you would use.

Happy shooting!

Iscorama36 vs FF38

Via Vimeo Description:

dogschidtoptiks.co.uk

Take a FF58 with Quasi 1.5 fixed aperture and test it with the Iscorama 36 (anamorphic lens) and the FF38 (wide angle attachment). It should be noted that the FF38 attachment is an uncoated pre production version so the production model with yield marginally sharper results, as well as slightly more contrast.

The video shows the slight differences in sharpness and field of view, but does not factor in ‘character' since subject matter doesn't benefit from the lens characteristics. Obviously the FF38 will not deliver oval bokeh or anamorphic streaks, but when paired with a FF58 with oval aperture (see other tests), the horizontal field of view is almost exactly the same as the Iscorama36 and the oval aperture delivers some of the bokeh we all know and love.

The main differences are that the iscorama footage uses the full 1920×1080 sensor area even when the footage is squeezed to the 2.66;1 ratio. Whereas, the FF38 needs to have the top and bottom portions of the captured image cropped to give the same aspect ratio. all of the pixels are used in the iscorama shots, but around 1/3rd of the pixels are cropped away when the ff38 is cropped for the same aspect ratio.

Snap from the video "Iscorama36 vs FF38"

Snap from the video “Iscorama36 vs FF38”

Shooting with a greater resolution to start with will have less of an impact on end results, however the optical quality of the FF38 makes up for the loss in captured pixels caused by cropping in post.

What is very clear is that the FF38 offers a distinct advantage in close focus capability (0.15m). By comparison the Iscorama36 maxes out at a rather limited 3.5ft (due to modification). a standard iscorama is limited to a minimum focus of 6ft making diopters essential.

Why the comparison? I guess its because the FF38 is approximately the same size and weight of the iscorama 36. it also allows the user to obtain the same horizontal field of view as if they were using an iscorama on their FF58. Since 58mm is the widest you can use an iscorama 36 on full frame sensors with, the combination of an oval aperture FF58 and a FF38 attachment, as well as good resolving power of the camera itself, the benefits of shooting anamorphic are less of an advantage over simply cropping.

I love my iscorama and wont ever get rid of her, but the value of such an item makes using it less enjoyable than a newly designed optic that can be replaced for around 1/6th of the price if it did get damaged in use.

(cover photo credit: snap from the video)

Barry Andersson

Barry Andersson is an award-winning director and cinematographer. Mr Andersson takes his real world experiences and shares those images and lessons with everyone from the US Marine Corp combat camera teams, many of the leading teams of the four major sports leagues, leading universities around the US as well as leading productions looking to take advantage of the latest technology.

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