Besides having a cool name, anamorphic lenses can also make your footage look pretty cool. And cinematographers and filmmakers all over the world have fallen in love with these types of lenses.
We’re no different here at our video production company in Manchester. Anamorphic lenses are a favourite, and it’s time to share the love with all of you. So let’s take a look at these lenses, how to use them, where they fall short, and why they’re a must-have for any filmmaker.
What Are Anamorphic Lenses?
We’ve already stated that anamorphic lenses are cool, but we’re guessing you want a little more detail than that. Let’s keep this short and not overly technical, shall we?
An anamorphic lens allows for a wider field of view, so you can get more within a single frame. These lenses do this by changing the dimensions on one axis and capturing more footage on the camera sensor.
Something to note about this, though, is that you must stretch the footage in post-production. Well, you don’t have to, but if you want that cinematic look, we’d advise that you do.
But did you know that anamorphic lenses were first used in France in the First World War? Soldiers used them to get a wider view when looking outside of their tanks. Luckily, we now use them to create epic pieces of art instead of ensuring our lives aren’t on the line!
So other than getting a good look around a military tank, what are anamorphic lenses used for?
What Are the Uses of Anamorphic Lenses?
You know that awesome cinematic look? That’s the work of an anamorphic lens. Many filmmakers will use these lenses to create a widescreen cinematic experience that’s flat-out satisfying to watch.
But what exactly is it about these lenses that can create such a beautiful cinematic style that we’ve all grown to love? Take a look:
Wide field of view
You can capture more within a single frame, and the footage has minimal distortion in the centre, unlike wide-angle lenses. However, the edges of the frame look more dreamy, but that only adds to the cinematic feel.
Widescreen and black bars
We all know the cinematic black bars on a movie’s top and bottom edge. Anamorphic lenses are recognised for this due to squeezing a wide aspect ratio onto a screen with a narrower one.
Anamorphic lenses create a horizontal stretched flare, and filmmakers can’t help but drool over this aesthetically pleasing visual. It may sound like something small that would probably go unnoticed, but it adds to the artistic feel of any footage.
Bokeh is how the lens captures out-of-focus lights. A spherical lens captures a ball-like bokeh, whereas an anamorphic lens captures an oval bokeh. Again, filmmakers love it!
Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Anamorphic Lenses
Cinematographers and filmmakers can’t get enough of anamorphic lenses. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have their pitfalls. Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of any filming equipment and technique is always a good idea.
So, let’s give you a deeper dive into anamorphic lenses and why they’re epic but also why they suck.
First, let’s get the downfalls out of the way.
Anamorphic lenses have a more complex construction than spherical lenses, which hikes up the price. So if your purse strings are a little tight, this type of lens may not be an option.
Having a lower t-stop means that anamorphic lenses don’t let in as much light. That means you need a well-lit scene if you’re using an anamorphic lens.
If you want a faster lens that lets in more light, a spherical lens would be a better friend to you.
Fewer focal lengths
If you’re the type of person who loves to have several bags full of lenses of different focal lengths, don’t even look at an anamorphic lens. They don’t have as many options as spherical lenses, so you simply may not be able to capture your genius vision with an anamorphic lens.
That wasn’t too rough, was it? But just in case you’d forgotten that anamorphic lenses are amazing, here are the reasons why.
Dramatic lens flare and bokeh
Spherical lenses, quite simply, do not create the same effects and aesthetic as anamorphic lenses. And if you’re all about cool lens flares and oval-shaped lights, spherical lenses just aren’t going to cut it.
Don’t underestimate the effect an anamorphic lens flare or bokeh can have on the style and beauty of a film.
Depth of field and view
Anamorphic lenses give you more, and who doesn’t want more? When you want to capture a wide field of view, you have to pick up an anamorphic lens.
Similarly, the magnification of an anamorphic lens increases the depth of field. This means objects in the foreground appear to burst off the screen, pulling you into the action.
Cinematic and artistic
Chances are, beautiful footage with a cinematic style makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Spherical lenses will make footage look more raw and real. But to truly get that cinematic look, an anamorphic lens is what you need.
What are anamorphic lenses? Well, if you had no clue at the start of this post, we hope you have a better idea now.
Anamorphic lenses have taken the filmmaking world by storm, and many swear by the epic effects and aesthetic this type of lens can create. While they’re not a lens you should choose for everyday filming, when you want to create an artistic look, don’t reach for any other lens.