I suspect that there are many on the site who know a lot about anamorphic lenses, but I also suspect that there are very many who don't – and while I know some things, I can always learn more.
One of our readers mentioned this article to me on twitter and I found it very valuable and knew many of you would too. It comes from Red.
Understanding Anamorphic Lenses
Anamorphic lenses are specialty tools which affect how images get projected onto the camera sensor. They were primarily created so that a wider range of aspect ratios could fit within a standard film frame, but since then, cinematographers have become accustomed to their unique look. This article discusses the key considerations with anamorphic lenses in the digital era.
Two classes of lenses are typically used in production: spherical and anamorphic. Spherical are more common and are the assumed lens type unless specified otherwise. Spherical lenses project images onto the sensor without affecting their aspect ratio. Anamorphic lenses, on the other hand, project a version of the image that is compressed along the longer dimension (usually by a factor of two). Anamorphic lenses therefore require subsequent stretching, in post-production or at the projector, in order to be properly displayed.
Anamorphic lenses were originally designed so that wide format imagery would fully utilize the film area of standard 35 mm frames. Otherwise wide format imagery would have left the top and bottom of the frame unused, and required cropping these out using masks in the projector:
Anamorphic lenses therefore improved image quality by both enhancing vertical resolution and reducing the appearance of grain. For example, using a standard spherical lens to capture 2.40:1 imagery on 35 mm film only utilizes 50% of each frame’s area. With anamorphic, 100% of the frame area contributes to the final image.
Read full article at Red.com “Understanding Anamorphic Lenses”
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(cover photo credit: snap from source in post)