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The main squeeze

Updated: Sep 16

What is an Anamorphic lens - what effect does it have?

If you know, you know... If you don't, let me try and explain...

anamorphic flare example

Lenses are the means by which light is focused onto a camera film plane or digital film sensor. The 'covering power' of a lens is the area its focused image will cover. Lenses to cover the area of a 35mm frame are small and generally fairly compact. The lenses needed to cover the area of a 10x8 negative are pretty huge.

... Now enter the world of Anamorphic lenses; originally created so that a wider range of aspect ratios could be 'squeezed' onto a standard film frame... But, since their invention, art has taken over; generations of cinematographers have fallen in love with the unique look of an anamorphic lens. Who doesn't love those stretched flare effects?

Below is the anamorphic frame as shot - (note the round starburst on the 'phone light)

anamorphic shot example

And now in post production, let's see the vertically stretched frame 'un-stretched' - see how the camera light flare below now has that funky cinematic stretch

anamorphic example stretched to cinematic width

The world is divided into spherical and anamorphic lenses. Spherical are, of course, more common and are the go-to for most. Spherical lenses project images without affecting their aspect ratio. Anamorphic lenses project a version of the image that is, as we see in the above example, compressed along the horizontal frame. And to present the final image, Anamorphic lenses require re-stretching in post-production in a programme like photoshop in order to be viewed.

It's a lot of hassle - so why bother with anamorphic?

...Because these lenses have that unique 'cinematic' look.

Technical considerations aside, the joy of shooting with an anamorphic lens is in the glorious flare and bokeh effects these lenses uniquely offer.

We have just taken delivery of a superb SIRUI 35mm T2.9 for our rental stock. We strongly recommend you try it out!

Pics below -

SIRUI 35mm T2.9 close up

SIRUI 35mm T2.9 close up shot

SIRUI 35mm T2.9 detailed shot

Blog copyright Matthew Whiteman 2023

Camera images copyright The Latent Image 2023

Historic images copyright various

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