Hien Le talks about the advantages and uniqueness of the ANAMORPHX lens adapter from Letus Corp.
"As you know, I always research on notable Vietnamese who contribute or are involved in various levels of filmmaking. So Hien Le is one of them. He's the owner of Letus Corp and one of the products they produce is an anamorphic adapter."
Before reading further, please see this article to understand what anamorphic is. http://www.red.com/learn/red-101/anamorphic-lenses
So the purposes of this blog post is give some information that I have gathered online about anamorphic shooting. If I'm too confusing or just wrong, please please let me know.
1) What are the benefits of shooting anamorphic?
- You get to rip off J.J. Abram's films by having horizontal lens flares.
- The oval bokehs (who the hell will notice them).
- Higher resolution (You only get high res if you exhibit in high res with high quality equipments) and assuming who you'll be showing it to have keen eyes to see all that high res.
- Wider horizontal angle of view while keeping the vertical angle the same therefore increasing focal length and yielding shallower depth of field (Not a lot of wide angle lens can do this so by far this is the most enticing but still not enough to convince me). You can read more bout this here.
2) What to consider when getting anamorphic optics?
Anamorphic optics (either an adapter or a lens) have a factor number on them (1.33x, 1.5x, or 2.0x). The larger the number the more horizontally squeezed the image will be. These numbers actually effect ONLY the horizontal viewing angle. The higher they are the more squeezed up horizontally you'll get. Vertical viewing angle stays the same. It also depends on the aspect ratio of the image that your camera produces. So the factor number combine with camera's aspect ratio form the final aspect ratio of you movie. For example, if your camera puts out 1920x1080 video in 16:9 aspect ratio (most cameras do) and you use a 1.33x anamorphic adapter on its lens, you'll get more information on the left and right sides of the image because they are squeezed in by the adapter. Ideally, if you take this 16:9 squeezed image and you stretch it back out into a 2.36 corrected aspect ratio and then exhibit your image using an anamorphic projector or a normal projector with an anamorphic objective lens adapter, then you can enjoy the benefit of shooting anamorphically.
"How did I get 2.36? Well, when the "image" is squeezed 1.33 times horizontally, the vertical resolution (which is 1920) contains visual information that is equivalent to 2554 lines of vertical resolution. So if you take 2554 divides1080, you get 2.36 approximately. It's pretty close to the 2.35:1 anamorphic aspect ratio in the industry."
But if you later take the 2554x1080 2.36 corrected aspect ratio and fit it back into a 1920x1080 16:9 exhibition shape, then you don't really get the resolution benefit because you are taking that wider image and re-sizing it to fit into a 16:9 shape to show because you don't have the means to show it in 2.36:1 natively.
What you still get regardless are the lens flares, the special oval bokehs and background blurriness, and the wider angle of view. But these are superficial stuffs. All in all, shoot in anamorphic only if you can show it natively in anamorphic. You can even use a 2.0x Anamorphic adapter to get even a wider resulting aspect ratio than 2.36, but the key is to preserve that for exhibition. And there's no point of using an anamorphic lens with 4:3 mode on cameras that are already equipped with a 16:9 censors. You're downgrading its capability to get lens flares pretty much.
3) Differences between using an Anamorphic Adapter vs a Native Anamorphic PL lens
There two types of anamorphic optics. One is an adapter, and the other is a high end super expense anamorphic lens. The adapter goes in front of an existing lens and therefore changing its property. Using an adapter is like using one lens on top of the other.
I learned some advantages and disadvantages from these two types by watching this video on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oar3rXa8fXI. The video is very simplified so it leaves a lot of important detail out.
- good: Cheap, readily available, works with most cameras
- bad: hard to use because you have to set focus two times--one for the adapter and the other for the host lens. Like I said, it's like using two lenses so it will slow down production time. Not as high quality sometimes you get light loss and also edge distortion or the mump (fat face) effect.
Anamorphic PL Lens
- good: Easy to use (because there is only one lens so you only need to focus once. This is crucial in cinema production for the focus puller, steadicam work, or special effect shots involving meta data linking), and higher quality since the optic is all calibrated by the same manufacturer.
- bad: very expensive (ranging from 20k to 40k each), PL mount compatible only, hard to find (especially in single. Most places only rent out in sets).
4) Different choices of anamorphic adapters and lenses and where to buy/rent them?
- For Prime Lenses: Letus AnamorphX, SLR Magic Anamorph adapter, Iscorama 36
- For Camcorders: Panasonic LA7200, Century Optics and The Optex adapters
PL Anamorphic Prime lenses:
Rental Places (Info. Courtesy of NeumannFilms):
The main reasons people want these adapters are that they want more image information on the sides and keep the resolution high, assuming they already have the mean to properly show the finish product in its anamorphic format. As far as the bokehs, lens flares, and the shallow depth of field or whatever to call them, they're just over hyped and can almost always be done with a normal spherical lens or in editing.
I guess the biggest benefit of shooting anamorphic is that you are getting two optical characteristics in one lens. One is you are getting a very wide angle of view at the same time you are getting a longer focal length therefore it gives you shallow depth of field. For example if you are using a 1.33x adapter on the 50mm lens, your horizontal angle is like a 35mm. Since 1.33x wider than 50mm is about 35mm. However, your depth of field is the same as a 50mm. Now imagine using a 50mm lens with a 2.0x Anamorphic Adapter. You can get really wide and very shallow depth of field. One of the advantage of these features is that when shooting in a tight space, you get that shallow depth of field film look at the same time having a wide horizontal viewing angle that will cover more space (left and right side). It will probably help alleviate some set up complications when shooting in a tight space and also help in focusing the audience's attention where need be.
I have shot with some low end anamorphic adapters like the Century optics and the Optex. They distort a lot. I don't see getting a high end adapter to use with a prime spherical lens. It just not worth it for me. I would rather raise money to get a true anamorphic lens set and get someone who has experience shooting in anamorphic if the project calls for it with the right exhibition method. What do you think?