Anamorphic on a Budget – Rectilux Extreme Low Light Test!

November 22, 2015

I’ve been meaning to shoot this since I got the Rectilux, but only recently was able to get my hands on the 85mm f/1.2L II, so here it is, Halloween shot on full frame, high ISOs – it’s a bit grainy – and the shallowest depth of field, with every shot at f/1.2.


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Ever since I got the Rectilux I got people asking me how does it perform at fast apertures. I shot a few stills back when my sister was still around Vancouver, using Canon’s 50mm f/1.2L, and they turned out pretty good, but we kind of still had enough light around and it was a very ‘controlled’ environment, and I could take as many pictures as I wanted, my sister wouldn’t run away!

So I kept this idea around and, later on, I got the chance to grab Canon’s 85mm f/1.2L II, so I felt I already had the gear to face such challenge. Halloween was getting closer and it seemed it wouldn’t rain much that night. Rob mentioned the Parade of Lost Souls, which happens in East Vancouver, and that was supposed to gather a lot of people and different lighting scenarios. He also borrowed me his Edelkrone Pocket Rig and I strapped the 5D3 on top of it. Before going out I locked both lenses’ focus rings on infinity using electrical tape and set them to Manual Focus. It wouldn’t be nice fine-tuning everything in the middle of the street, especially the 85mm, which doesn’t have a mechanical focus ring. For safety and better handling I added a lens support to the rails of the pocket rig, and by this time the whole thing was already pretty heavy at over 4kg for a handheld rig.

I took it pre-assembled and just finished things, like alignment and triple checking the threads to make sure the Rectilux wouldn’t fall off during the shoot, when I got there. Using MagicLantern RAW video feature I set my recording window to a 4:3 aspect ratio, of 1478×1104 pixels. It was absolutely vignette free for the 85 and just faint dark edges when I used the 50mm, but the distortion, oh man! Just look at how the corners behave. This would be the most extreme use of this setup in terms of wideness (if that word even exists), resulting in a 2.66:1 aspect ratio after stretching the footage.

Everything was shot at locked f/1.2, ISO 2500 and 1/50th for shutter speed. While there I had my doubts if anything would be visible at all, and if the grain wouldn’t ruin it all. Turns out Halloween is a pretty good aesthetic excuse for grainy footage, so that was clear. The thing that impressed me the most was the ability to get sharp focus at f/1.2, with both Canon lenses. The Rectilux was fitted with a Kowa B&H inside and this test makes very clear the quality standards these two pieces of glass combined can achieve. I was gonna try to throw Canon’s 135mm f/2 into the mix, but none could be found in time, so the extremeness of the test remains, with nothing slower than f/1.2.

I was walking around the Parade and filming people, pulling focus on the fly without an external monitor, just with the 5D3’s screen, so you can say it’s sharp enough to see it with the naked eye in a tiny screen. The hardest part was swapping the taking lenses by myself on the street, so I ended up getting a few misaligned shots in there as some of you might’ve noticed.