USING ANAMORPHIC PROJECTION LENSES ON DSLRs (YES! Practically too!!!)
Since we first got our hands on a Canon 5D nearly 2 years ago in July of 09, we’ve been after that Cinematic Anamorphic film look. Its certainly possible and many people have caught on by now, in turn, driving up the price of the good lenses like the Iscoramas, Kowas, Sankor, Singer, Eiki, Proskars, Lomos and others. Most people know to avoid using those large projection lenses that are plentiful and cheap on eBay. For a few reasons; mainly because of their size, they can NOT be clamped and mounted to regular photographic lenses that are needed to work. They also have impractical minimum focus distances of 15, 25 or 50 feet. The good lenses (made for taking and projection) that people are going after have 5 to 6 feet distance and through the use of diopters, they can get even closer. But using a diopter also voids achieving infinite focus. We’ve found quite a few Projection lenses that work very very well and have become our lens of choice for professional projects. And they work great using our Vid-Atlantic Vamp Clamp found at http://www.vid-atlantic.com/anamorphic
We’ve been testing and shooting projects quite frequently with these…I personally use one as my go to lens all the time…even before the Iscorama 36. I love the more dramatic anamorphic bokeh on these!
Some of them seem somewhat newer. 5 foot minimum focus distance and they are all sharp and seem to have picked up where where many lenses have left off in the 70’s and 80’s. They say 2x but they are really more like 1.7x and you still must focus both lenses. They’re also multi-coated, so no super dramatic flares. But trust me when I say they’re SHARP! We picked up a few last July and we didnt say much about them as we wanted to be sure they were all similar and somewhat consistant. We’ve used these on a few professional projects already and will continue to use them. At this time I counted 25 of them on ebay.
You can see in the photos which lenses I’m talking about here. These lenses come apart. Some are 3 parts and some are 2. You can simply remove the anamorphic attachment top part and use a clamp like ours from our site which happens to fit very nice and snug with all of them since they’re all the same. Attach a 50mm or tighter lens for cropped frame cameras or a 75mm or tighter lens for full frame cameras like the 5D. We’re also going to have some professionally painted black to look like the new Panavision G series anamorphic lenses. We’ll be offering this service to anyone who is interested in the future. We also rent these out occasionally.
One reason this style is so popular right now is because everyone including their mothers are shooting with DSLRs or Reds, using regular Spherical photographic lenses and everyones videos end up looking the same. If you’re trying to get the CinemaScope look of films like Inception, Heat, Indiana Jones, Die Hard, Close Encounters, Donnie Darko, or many other films and music videos, you NEED to be shooting Anamorphically, not just cropping! Whether its these lenses that we’re speaking of now or some of the other good ones available on eBay, they allow you to escape that plain old look and add a bit of Epic Excitement to your projects.
They’re called Isco Star or ULTRA Star Compact anamorphic. (Compact meaning that it can be used in tight spaces, and giving us a 5 foot min focus). Sankor also has a lens like this, but beware of those as there is no way to clamp it. The Isco’s conveniently have a protruding base element on the back which makes it perfect for clamping. So far, according to the specifications of all other clamps that are available for sale, ours is the only clamp that will work with these lenses. They can be found for $60 at www.vid-atlantic.com/anamorphic
The video above was shot using the red Isco lens on a Canon t2i/550D. I’m not happy with the sharpness in the video, but I blame the t2i and the poor old Nikon used (as well as operator not properly focusing both lenses). We have other projects done with the 5D but since they’re for professional works in progress, we can’t show those yet. I’ll get some newer 5D clips up soon.
Also since this lens doesnt work like the much sought after Iscorama’s where you focus your photo lens to infinity, and only need to focus the Iscorama attachment, you will need to focus both lenses. So using our CineMorph filter is a good idea for when you need those Run & Gun shots or when you need quick rack focusing capabilities. These filters can be found exclusively on our site at www.vid-atlantic.com/cinemorphic
See the video below for a before and after example using the CineMorph flter on a regular photographic lens.
Some people are choosing to skip using Anamorphic lenses all together and going entirely with this filter. There are a few cons along with the pros so please check out the site for more info on using these: www.vid-atlantic.com/cinemorphic