What is an Anamorphic Lens?
A Look Inside the Lens
Whether you're new to filmmaking or a seasoned cinematographer you may be wondering, what is an anamorphic lens? And what does it do? Luckily We’re here to break down everything you need to know about an anamorphic lens.
The term “anamorphic” comes from the greek words meaning “formed again”. The primary function of an anamorphic lens is to widen the range of aspect ratios that fit within a standard film frame. A wider field of view enables you to capture more in frame while maintaining the integrity of your image ratios for widescreen viewing.
However, the abilities of an anamorphic lens go far beyond squeezing images. This type of optic empowers cinematographers by also eliminating reflections and enhancing lens flares. Now you might ask....
How do these features work?
1. Oval Bokeh
iPhones and most DSLR cameras are designed with a spherical lens that projects a circular image through the camera's sensor. The oval shape of the bokeh on the anamorphic lens is what stretches the x-axis and creates a wider horizontal frame for shooting scenes.
2. Horizontal Lens flares
One of the most unique features of the anamorphic lens is its ability to enhance lens flares when exposed to vivid light. The lens has positive and negative cylindrical elements to create a long flare compared to a round one as seen in conventional lenses.
3. Cinema Engineered Glass
With the iPhone filmmaker in mind the anamorphic lens is created with multi-element, multi-coated, and anti-reflective glass. The multi-element lens eliminates color distortion that a single lens wouldn't be able to cancel on its own. The multi-coated and anti-reflective glass makes the lens more durable and maintain contrast levels.
And...Why are they so important?
Ultra Wide Aspect Ratio
- Ultra Wide aspect ratio created by the oval bokeh lets filmmakers capture more wide angles of their surroundings. Famous directors such as JJ Abrams and Steven Soderbergh are known for shooting cinematic masterpieces using this method of horizontal squeezing.
- However, when shooting wide format footage using a wide angle lens videographers commonly run into issues with close-up distortions. The anamorphic lens allows you to maintain the correct aspect ratios when filming with a wide angle.
- When shooting with anamorphic you will need to de-squeeze your content using editing software. We recommend using Final Cut Pro or Premier which are both available for download in the app store.
- If you want to learn more about de-squeezing footage shot on anamorphic you can follow this step by step guide.
Dramatic Horizontal Lens Flares
- The ability to focus light flares is arguably the most unique feature of the anamorphic lens. When shooting in night mode the lens creates long flares from vivid lights. This bright light might present itself in the form of headlights, street lights, or maybe even a sunset or sunrise.
- When enhancing lens flares by lengthening them it creates a lighting effect similar to what you see in the movie. And the best part is, it's all achievable from your iPhone by getting compatible Anamorphic Lenses for your model.
Cinema Engineered Glass
- Cinema engineered glass is necessary whenever a complex optical is required. Multi-element lenses are important at any time a single lens is insufficient in preventing aberration or wavefront distortion.
- With a multi-element and multi-coated lens glass, the anamorphic optic is able to stop distortion and fortify the lens against any damage. Not to mention its anti-reflective functionality that cuts through reflections and creates a superior performing glass.
Using an anamorphic lens can help any videographer record videos with the same cinematic effects that you see on the big screen. From ultra-wide angles to horizontal lens flares this lens attachment turns your iphone into a high powered and versatile movie camera.
To learn more about shooting with an anamorphic lens checkout this youtube video by Brandon Harvard. Want to see the lens in action? Watch this video to see a cinematic 4k video shot on an iPhone SE.
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