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Anamorfake It Until You Make It!

Anamorphic on a Budget

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Anamorfake It Until You Make It!

November 13, 2019

I’ve seen the effects of my research while watching anamorphic adapters on eBay. Prices have been consistently going up since 2014 and good adapters are increasingly harder to find. This made me sad because the whole point of the Anamorphic on a Budget project was to achieve the anamorphic look without breaking the bank. Then adapters became expensive and the look was locked away from those without as many resources. That left me wondering if there was another way to craft the anamorphic look.

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So I spun the process on its head and started looking at the final image. I wanted to reverse engineer the look as if I never knew anamorphics existed. What other tools had I at my reach that could put me on the right track? Over the last two years I combined various techniques to craft the anamorphic look. I did it in a way no one could tell if the footage is really anamorphic or not. As I went down this path I came to the conclusion that most anamorphic adapters are overrated – in price and performance.

Then I compiled all the data into a guide that is close to two hundred pages long. Almost half of those go into detail on lens modding tutorials. Post-production techniques, mods that don’t require opening lenses and related products such as streak filters and plugins fill the other half of the guide.

To prove the point that it’s nearly impossible to tell anamorphic apart from anamorfake I made a little quiz. I’m using my own footage and shots from a few friends. I figured it would be a fun way to reveal not even seasoned shooters can get the shots right.

Can you tell anamorfake shots apart from real anamorphic ones?

I’m betting you can’t. I’m so confident in my prediction that I’m giving a 15% discount code for the “Anamorfake It Until You Make It” guide in the off chance you get all ten images right! Click the “NEXT” button below to start.

Anamorphic

Kowa Anamorphic 1.75x

October 27, 2019

Here’s a big and super rare scope that fits into the exotic family of 1.75x scopes! And it’s a Kowa. Oh, this could be good!

USEFUL LINKS:

All the RED links on this post are part of eBay’s Partner Network. If you purchase anything through them you’re helping this project.

Anamorphic

Sankor Anamorphic Type 5e

October 20, 2019

Here’s the obscure Sankor Anamorphic Type 5e coming straight from Japan. How does such a good lens stay hidden for so long? Are they just that rare?

USEFUL LINKS:

All the RED links on this post are part of eBay’s Partner Network. If you purchase anything through them you’re helping this project.

Anamorphic

The Truth About Phone Anamorphic Lenses

July 24, 2019

If you’re anything like me, you have an eBay saved search with the keywords “anamorphic lens”. If you’re a little more like me, you check that every day. For me, that’s the morning, before getting to work. eBay used to ping me every time something new popped up, but those times are gone. I almost don’t buy lenses anymore but I still check the search. It’s my way to stay up to date on prices, what’s more common and what disappeared from the market.

In recent times, I noticed an increasing number of phone anamorphic lenses. Not just used ones in the wake of Moment’s Kickstarter delivery last year, but completely new brands. Their prices ranging from $20 all the way to $150+.

This happened in a matter of months. What has changed?

An overview of Kickstarter campaigns and marketing

Anamorphics for phones first came to life in the end of 2013, through a Kickstarter campaign, but by Moondog Labs. It got funded on time, sold a little over 450 units and reached $57k in funding. Almost double than their $30k set goal.

moondog labs phone anamorphic lens

Moondog Labs had a product aimed exclusively at iPhones. It needed to be updated every time Apple released a new iPhone model. Their product was so different that there weren’t even apps for desqueezing the image on your phone at that time.

The lens costed $125 on Kickstarter and has been priced at $175 after its release. I’d say it was a fad. Some people thought it was cool. “Tangerine” was an interesting movie shot with it in 2015, I made a review for it years too late. The need to buy a new lens every time you upgraded your phone was a big let down for me. Plus it was incompatible with anything but iPhones.

The whole thing kind of faded into the background.

In 2017, BeastGrip tried their luck with the same market, also on Kickstarter. Same price point as Moondog Labs, but with 37mm rear threads and a weird case to hold it in place. The project was funded in little under ten days. They sold roughly 350 units and raised $155k for an original goal of $80k. It sold less than Moondog Labs’ lens, but Beastgrip’s campaign focused on other products too. That helped getting the whole lot funded.

beastgrip pro phone anamorphic lens
Beastgrip’s PRO 1.33x anamorphic lens + phone cage

It also didn’t go very far and disappeared into the generic pool of phone lenses.

Moment changes the game

Last year Moment kicks their campaign online. They were funded in 40 minutes, reached whooping $1.6M for a $50k goal, and sold 9500 anamorphics on official pledges only (not considering add-ons). Their campaign also featured other items but its pinnacle was the anamorphic lens.

moment phone anamorphic lens
Moment’s anamorphic lens

The first thing we notice from watching the three campaign videos is how phone cameras have improved in five years. The second thing to notice are the different approaches to the gear. Moondog Labs is straight to the point, technical, and fills their video with somewhat generic shots made with their lens. Beastgrip tries to be more exciting with some epic shots, but the video is more focused on their DOF adapter. They really want to turn your phone into a DSLR.

beastgrip dof adapter
From Beastgrip’s Kickstarter campaign. I don’t want to attach my full size lenses to my phone. I got cameras for that stuff.

Moment did everything different. Their video, almost 25 minutes long, goes on a trip while they take the lens to several instagram and youtube influencers and film their (mindblown) reactions. They focus on how much fun they’re having while shooting and selling what comes to everyone’s mind when they think anamorphic (if you’re not sure, the keywords are “cinematic” and “flares”). The audience reach they got from the featured influencers is well above 4M viewers.

4M views is a large number but $1.5M in funding is the kind of number capable of motivating a market. That’s what happened. During Moment’s development and delivery, other companies realized they could make money from anamorphic lenses for phones. They also dropped prices much lower. So while you have Moment, MoondogLabs and Beastgrip priced to retail around $175, most of the generic versions on eBay range between $20 and $60, for they have no name to back a higher price tag. If you try Amazon the prices are more uniform, though, at $150.

ebay phone anamorphic lenses
Some examples from eBay. Have you ever heard of any of these brands?

Is this bad? Probably yes for Beastgrip and Moondog Labs, maybe for Moment too (although they just made huge bank) but for shooters, this is good. It creates variety, innovation and competitive prices as each company tries to get a larger share of the market.

Words of caution

For the beginners considering phone anamorphics as an entryway to shooting scope: these lack oval bokeh and many of the visual traits of real anamorphics. You’ll get flares and a wider aspect ratio, maybe some barrel distortion, but that’s about it.

test shot with moment phone anamorphic lens
A sample from Moment’s website/campaign. They picked super favorable lighting.

One thing fundamentally wrong with almost all of these lenses: their mounting system is garbage. Pretty much all of them have a different way of mounting to your phone (thanks to the endless variety of phones’ sizes and shapes). Beastgrip does the best job by making their lenses with 37mm threads. Moondog Labs also joined in this trend, although they offer different mounts as well. Standard threads give the lens more versatility, allowing you to connect it to regular photo lenses through the use of step rings, or to swap the phone behind it as long as you keep the 37mm threads in place. All other phone anamorphics are either dependent on special phone cases (such as Moment) or cumbersome attachments. There is an opening in the market for unifying these lens mounts – even camera makers could find some common ground and share lens mounts!

Another thing that worries me with this sudden flood of brands and products is quality control. Anamorphic glass is very finicky and doesn’t handle imperfections well. Bad quality control means poor quality glass getting to users and the loss in image quality is not negligible. If we look at the impact of sample variance with Kowas and Sankors that were never manufactured in stupidly high numbers, think of what would happen in a Helios 44 scale of manufacture. That is likely what is happening with all these new phone anamorphics.

I don’t believe there’s a difference in design. These basic 1.33x squeeze lenses follow the same formula as a Century Optics or Panasonic LA7200 adapter: two cylinders with fixed focus, failing hardcore at close focus and fast apertures. Your phone has no aperture mechanism, so that’s sorted out. Only close focus still fails (and I’ve seen it happen with my Moment lens as well as the MoondogLabs back when I had it)

disassembled panasonic la7200 anamorphic lens
Panasonic LA7200 anamorphic adapter taken apart. Two cylindrical elements for 1.33x squeeze.

What should I choose?

To settle the matter of what’s the best option out there: when Moondog Labs’ lens came out, phones were not quite up to speed but they kept improving. Since everyone is using the same optical design the difference comes from the coatings. Coatings will determine light transmission, overall tone (warmer or colder), contrast, flare colors and fine resolution. I don’t trust the smaller brands with quality control, so the choice stays between the big three.

test shot with moment phone anamorphic lens
test shot with bestgrip phone anamorphic lens
test shot with moondoglabs phone anamorphic lens
Moment, Beastgrip and Moondog Labs’ flares.

Moment’s flares take the color of the light source, Beastgrip’s are warm and green and Moondog Labs’ are purple and blue with some amber streaks. I’d go for Moondog Labs any day because of its consistency and its original goal: they didn’t want to be *lit*, or turn your phone into a DSLR. They made an honest product and kept working on it, hoping that the results would bring the audience (kind of what I do in this blog/channel). It takes a painfully long time for that strategy to work, and I hope it pans out soon.

Here’s a head-to-head comparison with footage to back up my theory!

Before you go: if you’re anything serious about shooting content on your phone you’ll need a few more things to get good-looking pictures. The first of them is the FiLMiC Pro app to desqueeze the image on the fly and give you manual control over your phone’s camera. Then throw on a variable ND for more control and a gimbal stabilizer. Your phone is crazy sensitive to movement and that translates into the footage. After all that you are ready to shoot some good phone footage using the anamorphic format!

TL;DR

Lots of options to choose from when picking an anamorphic lens for your phone. I’d steer clear of the cheap unknown brands. Try to score a used Moment or Moondog Labs (prefer the latter) on eBay (just follow the links) and gear up your phone before trying to shoot scope with it.

Anamorphic Day-to-Day

Trust Your Internet Friends.

July 21, 2019

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always had internet friends. Not some random person across town who I’d meet once in a while. My friends were people I had never met in real life. Interacting only through written form and trust.

When I moved to São Paulo in 2008 I had internet friends there before I boarded the plane. Now I’m gone, and so are they, living in Mexico. The same happened with Vancouver. Some of the people I work with today were good internet friends more than a year before I moved in.

I have intense trust issues in real life. Like anyone else, I’ve been disappointed, tricked and felt helpless in the company of people I believed I could trust. So I changed. I’m afraid of challenges I can’t tackle by myself. If everyone else bails on me, I’ll still be able to get to the end of it alone.

This perception has always been different for me online. Maybe I just don’t feel as vulnerable as in real life. Anonymity walls and physical space grow between all involved parties. That’s where my friendships thrive. That got a huge boost because of the youtube channel. Suddenly people from all over were talking to me. With some of them I was able to strike meaningful and long conversations, going past the professional interaction.

That’s how I spent a month in Japan last year. That’s how I spent a month in Europe this year. I went across five different countries and spent time meeting in person lots of folks. Folks I only knew through the internet.

It involved work, planning and going with the flow. As I come back home, I got a handful of white hairs. They came from trying to figure out accommodations, juggling the money I had, understanding foreign languages, train schedules, bus schedules, plane schedules and, most importantly, people’s schedules.

With a tinge of pride, I say: all of this while being off Facebook. Ha! When I first thought of this trip I imagined the social network would’ve been the hub for all planning and scheduling. Yet, I quit it in December and I held my ground, resorting to many other contact forms to reach people.

I come back home with a different mindset when it comes to trusting people and a very positive experience in Europe.

Keep being awesome, internet!

Anamorphic Specials

Atlas 40mm Anamorphic Lens Review

May 12, 2019
atlas 40mm anamorphic

Before I start the actual review, I must say that I’m a big fan of Atlas Lens Co.. The release of the Atlas 40mm anamorphic lens was groundbreaking at the time. Their lenses are a huge step towards making anamorphics accessible, and accessibility is what my work is all about. I’m not saying they are CHEAP, but they certainly are cheapER than all other cine anamorphics – and that is fantastic.

OVERVIEW

I got the Atlas 40mm in December of 2018 when I went to Connecticut to spend the holidays with my girlfriend’s family. Nick Kova – who I met through the channel – met me in New York. He offered to lend me his recently delivered Atlas 40mm for the two weeks I was there. I am super thankful to Nick for trusting me with his lens. You should thank him too, otherwise this review wouldn’t exist.

I am unable to lie: I had a blast shooting with the Atlas 40mm Anamorphic Lens. This was my first time using a proper cine anamorphic lens. It changed many things on how I perceive anamorphic shooting. First of all, 40mm with 2x scope is incredibly wide. I shoot with both eyes open. One eye in the viewfinder for focusing and the other eye on my surroundings for moving around. This was the first time a lens was as wide as my natural field of view.

One might think a wide angle is good for establishing shots, right? But the close focus capabilities of this lens allowed me to make some of my most interesting close up shots, showing a fair amount of background along with my subject.

I shot all the footage using both the Sony A7s2 and Panasonic GH5. While the GH5 has its own anamorphic mode, the Sony offered no support, making an external monitor key to framing. Due to gear incompatibility and form factor (I wanted to stay as small and light as possible) I ended up shooting everything handheld. Handheld as in camera + lens + (sometimes) monitor on the hot shoe mount.

This made for some really shaky shots every once in a while. I also got a huge arm workout. The weight translated as wobbliness in some of the footage (see below). The compromise gave me the ability of stuff the camera in my backpack when I was not shooting though. Not to mention every rack focus shot was a finger workout.

atlas 40mm anamorphic close up

Even though the lens can go to T2, I found my sweet spot to be between T2.8 and T4. This gave me the best out-of-focus areas and enough sharpness that I could boost in post-production without hurting the footage. You can see this in more detail at the Sharpness & Resolution section.

If I had the money right now, I would not bat an eye investing in one of these. Even among the whole Orion lineup I feel the 40mm is the most versatile and interesting focal length. I shot for full two weeks with it and never felt I needed a longer or wider lens.

The price tag is still prohibitive if you are comparing the Atlas 40mm Anamorphic lens to adapters. The reliability of it makes up for a big chunk of that cost difference. A cine lens will not let you down or have you struggling with clamps, focus, diopters and whatnot. That is where I am investing. It’s time for me to get out of the adapters game and move into cinema anamorphics.

What are the downsides of the Atlas 40mm then? Some people claim it is a really soft lens, but that was not my experience. Sure, at T2 things get a bit mushy, but no lens is super sharp wide open. T2.8 looks great. I feel the lens loses its magic past T5.6. The subject blends with the background and separation is gone. Bokeh feels strange at times (more on that later) and flares are quite saturated. Those two aspects do not bother me, but they might be red flags for other shooters.

TECH SPECS

The first thing I noticed when I picked up the case with the lens is that this baby is HEAVY. It is a solid cup of metal filled with thick slabs of glass. At 2.2kg (5lbs), the Orion 40mm made both the Sony A7s2 and Panasonic GH5 feel like little toys.

Not only heavy, the lens is also pretty big. The Atlas measures 18.9cm (7.4″) in length with a 114mm (4.5″) front. This front is a standard value for cinema lenses, making it compatible with countless filters and matteboxes. The gigantic front made me work extra hard to find perfect lighting, unable to rely on a variable ND. I had packed the Fotodiox ND Throttle adapter, featuring built-in variable ND. This made things easier for shooting with the A7s2.

atlas lenses info chart
Orions’ data chart from Atlas Lens Co.’s website. 40mm highlighted for this review.

Speaking of adapters and lens mounts, the Atlas’ come in PL mount by default. You can also get an optional EF mount at extra cost. The one I used was already fitted with an EF mount. If you are swapping mounts you will end up using a handful of shims. These are provided with the lens and you will use them to adjust your flange distance properly. I have heard from different owners this is a time consuming challenge. It is hard to spot critical focus when the lens is wide open. Because of that it is hard to tell if you have the perfect distance between the lens mount and the camera sensor.

atlas anamorphic lens mount

Still on the subject of weight and size, all my adapters sucked. There was a noticeable amount of play either between the lens and the adapters or between the adapter and the camera body because of how heavy the lens is. The adapters I was using for the Sony were the Fotodiox Pro Fusion ND Throttle and the Metabones Mk IV. The Panasonic had the Mitakon Zhongyi Lens Turbo V2 for focal reducing capabilities. I have been using these adapters for years without ever having this issue before.

A couple ways to solve this play would be to use adapters that have a foot for support and connect the foot to the rig’s rails or the camera cage. This addresses body/adapter play. The Metabones and Fotodiox had a foot, but I was shooting without a rig, silly me. The second part is to use cine-type adapters that have a twist lock onto the lens, like a cine camera does. These are on my list for future upgrades.

I only noticed the play on the footage many weeks later when I edited this video and threw out too many shots due to the footage looking extra wobbly. This was not the Orion’s fault in any way: it was mostly my loose adapters, lack of a proper rig, IBIS going crazy with anamorphic and rolling shutter plus slow motion on the A7s2 – known Sony issues.

Focus goes from infinity down to 0.56m (2ft) at minimum focus, with 300 degrees of throw and markings in both feet and meters. Iris ranges between T2 and T16, featuring 14 aperture blades for smooth bokeh. Both focus and aperture rings have gears for motors/follow focus. The lens does not change size while focusing since all the movement is internal, that also means the front does not rotate, which is great (#iscoramaFlaws).

There is a fair amount of focus breathing, widening your field of view by about 5% when focused at infinity compared to minimum focus. It is not a big deal on most shots, but if you have a big rack focus you will definitely feel it. 5% at 40mm 2x Anamorphic is a pretty big deal as you can see in the shot below.

atlas 40mm anamorphic lens breathing
Rack focus from infinity to minimum focus at T16, rescaled to keep objects’ sizes constant and show vignetting to demonstrate focus breathing.

PRICE AND AVAILABILITY

Each Atlas lens costs $7,999. Payment is split into a $4,999 deposit and the remaining $3,000 to be paid before delivery. Talking to Dan Kanes and Forrest Schultz at NAB this year I learned that the average waiting time between putting down an order and receiving the lens is about six months in 2019.

There are two 3-lens sets of Atlas. The 40mm is the wide-angle of the original set, or the A set, matched by 65mm and 100mm lenses. Buying a set is the same as buying individual lenses ($23,995 for the set), split into a $7,995 deposit and 16,000 payment before delivery). The deposits are all refundable and you can easily upgrade from a single lens deposit to a full set deposit.

SHARPNESS & RESOLUTION

I had limited space for shooting these charts, so the focusing range is short. Still, we can see many things from these samples. Taken with the Panasonic GH5, these images have a higher pixel count than the usual ones I use, from the A7s2, allowing for closer inspection on how the lens performs.

At T2 the Orion is quite soft but you can still tell critical focus and read small text even 3m away. There is lots of blooming on all highlights in the center, intensified by purple fringing on high contrast edges. The blooming and fringing dials down towards the edges, where we see the usual loss of sharpness and considerable light falloff – about a half stop. The text is still pretty readable though.

As we stop down to T2.8 – which is my favorite stop for this lens – the blooming goes away and the purple tinge is under control. The image is not as sharp as T5.6 or 11, but calling this lens soft at this point seems like ignorance. The corners are still quite unsharp, not much improvement over T2, and just a bit darker – less than a quarter stop. The subtle light falloff and softness in the corners at this point contribute to creating mood in the shots, narrowing attention to the subject and not to over-detailed corners.

Speaking of detail, the lens is sharp from T5.6 onwards. Corners improve noticeably with just tiny smudges at the very edges and very little light falloff. Not much changes as you stop down from there, as we can see from T11. Sharpness still goes up a touch, making it sharp edge to edge and light distribution across the frame is the biggest difference at this point, with much more uniform values from center to corner. The one odd thing is, at minimum focus (0.6m) we start to see yellow/blue fringing on high contrast edges at the corners of the frame. These were not there at faster stops and are not quite visible with the lens further away from the subject.

lens performance
lens performance

DISTORTION

The Atlas 40mm anamorphic lens has a horizontal field of view equivalent to a 20mm lens. It is expected that it would show warping on straight lines. Anamorphic distortion is a big deal and it greatly contributes to making shots more immersive. Distortion helps creating an extra layer of depth onto a two-dimensional image. Below is an animated grid going from rectilinear to the the Atlas’ distortion profile. Notice how the vertical lines have very little movement compared to the horizontal ones.

distortion

FLARES & BOKEH

The Atlas’ streak flares are a rich, saturated blue which, honestly, is a stone’s throw from SLR Magic’s flares. This blue is such a specific hue it can easily be picked in post-production. Then you adjust it to your liking – including color changes to some extent. You can also see some teal elements reflected in there, plus a short vertical streak that adds more dimension to the overall anamorphic flare.

lens flares
Panasonic GH5 4:3 Open Gate + LensTurbo V2 + Orion 40mm – T2, ISO 400, WB 3200K, 180° shutter

The blue gives good sci-fi vibes – sci-fi and blue flares are in a tight bond since Alien (1979). Some rainbows are visible when the light source is up close to the lens. Blooming is pretty controlled when we consider a light source is pointed directly into the lens.

On such wide angle, the flare becomes smaller and smaller as I walk away from the camera. This means if you want bigger flares from far away you should get some big and strong light sources. Did anyone say M18?).

If you want to see more flare samples, PremiumBeat has a free pack of Atlas 40mm flares!

aperture rack
Iris pull from T2 to T16 on the Panasonic GH5 + Lens Turbo V2. ISO 1600, WB 3200K, 180° shutter. Lens focused at 0.6m (2ft). Distance to subject: 3m (10ft)

When I was testing for bokeh looking at a Christmas tree, everything looked great. But I noticed it can have a strange shape at times – I like to call it snowman bokeh, although it looks more like a bell-shape – and you can see it in the video at the top of this post between 0:35 and 0:55. I do not know what causes it. In other scenarios, as bokeh approaches the edges of the frame it gets cut off into triangle and bean shapes.

From my empirical observations, this has to do with the placement of the highlights and the focused distance. On close-ups these strange shapes almost never show up, but as soon as I started to get further from my subject, bokeh would get messy.

All of this to say that you can get amazing bokeh with the Orion 40mm – but you can also end up with some less-than-perfect ovals. Speaking of ovals, I noticed the stretched bokeh is not quite oval. Here is a quick comparison between the lens’ actual bokeh versus what an oval would be. If anything, the Orion has even more streched out-of-focus highlights, contributing for extra waterfall effect and subject separation.

atlas 40mm anamorphic lens bokeh
Left: Orion bokeh. Right: Computer generated perfect oval bokeh.

SENSOR COVERAGE

According to the data sheet provided by Atlas, their lenses cover a 31mm image circle. What does that mean? In quick terms it means you are fine shooting with any S35 sensor (24.89 x 18.6mm), ARRI Alexa, all the way up to the 4:3 3.4K Open Gate mode (23.76 x 17.82mm) and RED Gemini (30.72 x 18mm), 5K 6:5 Full Height (21.6 x 18mm). The Gemini is RED’s best camera for anamorphic shooting.

In my situation, the GH5 did great with the 4:3 Anamorphic Open Gate mode even with the focal reducer attached. It shocked me to get a clean crop the center of the frame when shooting with the A7s2. I managed to get a clean 2.40:1 frame after all!

atlas 40mm anamorphic lens image circle
atlas 40mm anamorphic lens sensor coverage
atlas 40mm anamorphic lens sensor coverage
atlas 40mm anamorphic lens sensor coverage
atlas 40mm anamorphic lens sensor coverage
atlas 40mm anamorphic lens sensor coverage
Sony A7s2 shooting full frame 16:9 4K + Atlas Orion 40mm T2 2x Anamorphic with aspect ratio cropmarks

On the first day however, I did not bother testing the sensor coverage on the Sony and shot some slow-motion footage using the A7s2’s S35 crop mode. This yields full coverage from the Orion and delivers the wild 3.56:1 aspect ratio of 2x scopes and 16:9 sensors. I particularly like this width and believe one can make very interesting projects with it, although I admit it is not the friendliest of aspect ratios.

CONCLUSION

When I started writing this review, I had not gone through all the tests and the data. All I had were my notes and my thoughts about the experience of shooting with the Orion 40mm. After a few days of looking at clips, creating distortion maps, analyzing flares and bokeh, drawing diagrams and interpreting charts, I came to a conclusion. I like this 40mm better than when I had only my thoughts.

It is easy to point out the features I love about this lens. I am also on watch for its limitations. I am happy with its distortion and focal length. 40mm is unattainable with 2x adapters. It allows for very strong compositions. Bokeh could be cleaner when we look at the snowman and triangular shapes. If I am to be very nitpicky, flares could be less vivid for a “straight out of camera delivery” scenario.

It is unfair to compare a cine anamorphic lens to adapters but I will do it anyway! The time and stress I saved by connecting a single piece of gear to the camera before heading out to shoot made a huge impact on the images I produced. You can look at my previous videos and the tests on this post to compare. Perfect exposure was achievable! Magic hour was doable! I shot pretty spontaneous footage too. That would have been impossible had I spent ten minutes fiddling with an adapter rig.

I know I am not the only one that struggles with adapters, especially at the beginning of any shoot. This is where cinema gear makes a difference and justifies its price tag. Skip alignment checks, clamp quirks, diopters. Skip triple testing every piece of the optical chain. No more checking infinity on taking lens, then on anamorphic, then on focus on variable strength diopter. All of these things are already built into the Atlas 40mm anamorphic lens – or any cine lens!

Focusing on the downsides, we can argue the lens is too big and heavy if you compare it to an Iscorama 36 or a Kowa B&H. But once the adapter rig is fully built, I bet it is just shy of the Atlas’ weight and size. In some cases the adapter rig will be bigger and heavier!

The price tag is steep compared to adapters. Even being the absolute cheapest anamorphic lens in the cinema league $7,999 is no pocket change. The issue here is that it is accessible enough compared to Zeiss’ or Cooke’s anamorphics at $30k+. This creates a feeling of “just out of reach” that upsets the prosumer market. I made up my mind and, if I have the chance, I will get one of these for myself. I want to put it on a proper rig and shoot content other than tests with it.

In all honesty I am done stressing with adapters for my career. This is a perfect segue into better gear to match my skills while not giving up the budget aspect I value so much.