What is Anamorphic Lens?
An anamorphic image is captured or processed image to distort the natural aspect ratio of the image information. An anamorphic image is a term where an image appeared ‘squashed’, and will only appear correct when viewed from a certain angle, through a certain type of lens, or after being resized. This type of lens can help the filmmaker to capture a wider field of view than it normally would by adding another glass element that squeezes the image horizontally.
The anamorphic lens can give photographers or cinematographers a unique effect in their photography and film. An anamorphic lens captures an image that appears stretched or compressed in motion pictures and still photographs. This then can give the photographers and cinematographers the desirable result in effect and artefacts in their project.
Anamorphic Lens vs Spherical Lens
There are generally two types of lenses being used in filmmaking processes, such as spherical lenses and anamorphic lenses. Let’s dig into the differences between these lenses.
As mentioned above, anamorphic lenses project images by distorting their natural aspect ratio. This type of lens needs to be stretched in the post-production phase or before the image or film is displayed to the audience. Meanwhile, spherical lenses project images onto the sensor without affecting their aspect ratio. Prime and zoom lenses are the two basic categories of spherical lenses.
Based on their shapes, anamorphic lenses have an oval-shaped bokeh that may affect the look of the lens flares, while spherical lenses produce circular and out-of-focus elements. Anamorphic lenses can produce a wider aspect ratio, such as 2.35:1 or 2.39:1. Whereas traditional spherical aspect ratios are more square, with the 1.33:1 and 1.85:1 aspect ratios using a common super 35 format lens.
Examples of Anamorphic Look
Different characteristics will be created from the variety of anamorphic lens’ construction. Below are some examples of an anamorphic look.
Bokeh is a term for the trademark oval effect made by anamorphic images. Bokeh can do this effect by squeezing the image horizontally, so an anamorphic image that’s out of focus can stretch vertically. If you want a stronger oval effect, you can just squeeze the lens stronger.
2. Depth of Field
Anamorphic optics can give your video or image’s background a better blur effect than equivalent spherical lenses. Anamorphs can create a noticeably shallower depth of field as they can magnify objects closest to the camera disproportionately. By using the anamorphic effect, you can help objects stand out from the background. To have a greater depth of field, you can tighten the lens grip.
3. Fall Off
When you move away from the centre of the frame, both anamorphic and spherical lenses can undergo a fall-off in sharpness. This flaw is often used as an advantage by some cinematographers, as the fall-off in sharpness helps them create softer and more organic images. This effect is more noticeable in the anamorphic lens, especially on vintage lenses.
Distortion will happen as vintage wide anamorphic lenses approach the edges of the frame. But the use of older anamorphic may cause faces or other objects to deform when they get too close to the camera. This is also called ‘scope mumps’.
5. Lens Flare
If you hit an anamorphic lens with bright light, it will light up and flares. This lens flare would streak horizontally across the frame when you hit it with bright light. These days, modern lens coatings were made to eliminate these anamorphic flares, while some manufacturers made different kinds of coatings that may encourage the forming of these flares. Different coatings can produce different coloured frames.
6. Focus Roll Off
Focus roll-off is the effect created by anamorphic lenses that shows a more ‘organic’ transition between in-focus and out-of-focus elements. Many photographers and cinematographers greatly appreciate this feature helps the subject and background blend more realistically.
Also read: What Is The True Meaning of Cinematic Video?
Choose Your Lenses Carefully
Now that you know what an anamorphic lens is and how it is different from a spherical lens, it’s time for you to pick carefully the lens you want to use for your video. You can choose by learning more about the differences between both lenses by watching a lot of movies and finding the one that suits your story the best. Or you can also consult with a professional production house that aids you in the process of making your content.
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