Now that we are fully entrenched in a 16X9 world, (Don’t tell the broadcasters in the smaller markets) we have embraced the trend in widescreen images for everything. Anamorphics and 2.35 crop is reaching high popularity. From Panavision and Zeiss creating perfect optics to the recently announced Letus Anamorphic adaptor for the GoPro it is everywhere. I think it is great. As trends go, this is one that does not bother me (like 3D).
Now that I have a GoPro, I have to have one of these. The coolest thing is that they took the Superview feature on the GoPro that I really didn’t understand and made it useful. In Superview the camera records the full 4:3 sensor and stretches it to 16X9 1080. Ok, so in Superview your images will be more distorted at the edges but you get a bigger frame. With the 1.33 anamorphic adaptor it records that 4:3 image squeezed and stretches it out to 16X9 1080. No post processing required. You can also record in regular 16X9 and post stretch the image to achieve 2.35:1 images.
I’ll post a sample here as soon as I get mine.
So I had a chance to spend the weekend with a set of vintage Hawk anamorphic lenses. I was focus puller on a short project so I didn’t have a lot of time to try out the abilities of the lenses but did see some interesting things the D.P. pulled off. They were paired with the Alexa Plus 4:3. First of all they are beasts, like any large format cinema lens the glass is heavy but these were all in the front element. Given that these were vintage and from what I could tell not overhauled they had peculiarities. The 35mm was very wide, but only the center of the frame was truly sharp. The other lenses in the set were a 50, 75, and 100. A PL 2X was used to add a little more focal length to the set. The 100 looked fantastic as almost a long normal lens. The second thing about these lenses was the witness marks were all over the place. At each lens change I had to set up marks through the eyepiece using the zoom function on the camera. This is not out of the ordinary on a large shoot, but it would be nice if you could make adjustments to the focus using the marks on the lens. Finally, the stiffness of the focus ring made focus changes tough. It even caused the old Arri FF 2 to squeak. Thankfully we were not filming on a quiet set. Without seeing the final image taken through post I couldn’t say decisively how well these old lenses performed and whether or not it was worth the trouble. I look forward to working with anamorphic lenses again.